I must have asked myself this question a thousand times. You see, I once thought that life was boring. I used to hate all of the endless, unchanging days. But all it took was a single moment with one person to change my life forever.
I met her on Canada day. The sun was busy burning the clouds like a child with a magnifying glass scorching ants, the glare from sunglasses shone all around, and I could taste the humidity in the air. We were two bored teenagers staring into oblivion. I sat beside her and she was the one who broke the silence.
“This weather’s amazing. It always seems to rain where I live.”
I found it funny. I had always thought of Vancouver as the rainy city. She had just turned eighteen and was visiting Vancouver before returning to New York for college. We started talking about writing, relationships, and psychology – she told me she wanted to become a high school counsellor. We talked for hours, and even though we had just met, it was as if I was talking to an old friend. I felt like I might have known her my entire life.
Before we knew it, we were surrounded by the night and covered in a blanket of starlight. The shimmer of the moon on her face, and the tiny specks of blue in her eyes, created a lull in time. In that single moment, we were the only people on this lonely planet of ours. Under the soft glow of the moon, I thought I could see my future in her eyes. I could see green fields with skies of blue, sandy shores framed by sunsets, lazy mornings of sunrays, and nights lit by twilight. I knew at that instant my life would somehow be different, no matter what happened afterwards. I remember thinking that for one moment in my life, the universe had conspired to bring us together. I know that moment may have only been a sliver of time in our lives, but all I wanted was to remain there forever.
And I would’ve fought with everything I had to hold on to it.
But how does one fight against time?
The next day, she asked to meet with me again. She wouldn’t say why, but I knew I couldn’t say no. I sat in the center of the park, watching the green arms of the trees sway in the wind, and listening to the birds singing songs of a distant winter. My mind couldn’t help but wonder how such an ordinary day could be so magnificent. And then I saw her. Streams of tears ran down her face, smudging her mascara. The despair that I saw in her eyes made it seem as if she might never see a sunny day again.
Then I remembered the way she looked the night before, and somehow I saw that beauty still in her – the way the sun illuminated her face, and the way her gold-tinted auburn hair bobbed in the wind. I don’t think I ever realized just how beautiful a person could be until I met her.
She walked up to me and sat down, trying to mask the sadness with a smile.
“Hey, can I ask you a question?”
I wondered if she felt that same assurance and warmth that I felt when I was with her. It was like we were each other’s sanctuary, providing some measure of comfort and solace from the world.
“Of course,” I replied.
She told me that things weren’t going well with her boyfriend – that even a week’s worth of a long distance relationship was straining them. She told me that love couldn’t possibly be this complicated. Then she asked me something that would change the way I would see the world for the rest of my life.
She looked at me with tired eyes.
“If a person says they love you, but they don’t feel it half the time, what does that mean? How do you know you’re truly in love with someone?”
I didn’t know what to say. I wanted to tell her that she didn’t deserve to be with someone who didn’t love her, but I felt the cold, icy hand of fear on my shoulder. I froze. All it took was one subversive thought to hobble my heart and overturn what I knew I had to do.
“Do you love him?”
I wish I had known that she would break up with him later that week. Maybe then I would’ve kicked myself before saying what I had said next.
“Then fight for him. Because love is one of the few things left in this world that is still worth fighting for.”
She looked at me with the eyes of a child, and I knew that I had given her hope. I had given her hope, but it was at the expense of my own.
“You really think so?”
I wanted to tell her to move on. I wish I could’ve screamed out loud and told her that I loved her, but I didn’t. And I felt sick to my stomach for once again playing the role of a friend – carrying the burden of being just another nice guy.
And so I comforted her and told her all of the things that she already knew. I told her that she was such a wonderful person. I told her that even if it didn’t work out with this one guy, she should never give up on love, because she, too, was something worth fighting for.
Over the next few days, we would continue to talk and grow closer to one another. We would sit for hours on end, having entire conversations through simple glances and silent laughs. We spent one morning in a park listening to music and dancing like no one was watching. One afternoon, she told me about another guy that she’d met a couple of months before at her old high school. She said he was a nice guy – kind of like I was – but she rejected the idea of giving him a chance because she knew they’d be moving away from each other after graduation, and that the past few days had proven long distance relationships just don’t work.
I guess it’s rough for nice guys all around.
We carried on seeing each other for the entire week, but what I will never forget were those long, sleepless nights that we would spend just talking about things. We would talk about everything – our lives, the past, the future, and all of our secret hopes and dreams. We even shared some of our writing, and I will always remember how she called me an over-optimistic, soft-spoken writer; she joked that she was my muse. We became close friends, showing each other every little detail about ourselves. Over the course of a few nights, we had come to know each other intimately.
By the end of the week, we probably only had twenty hours of sleep between the two of us. But we didn’t care, because we had finally found the one thing that no one else had ever cared to do for either of us before – we both found someone who took the time to listen to what we had to say.
And I mean actually listen. It was a perfect moment in my life.
But perfect moments come to an end.
And although I’m still young, I can’t help but feel I’ve obtained some small measure of wisdom in exchange for the piece of my heart she would take with her every time I would hang up the phone, whispering ‘I love you’ one moment too late.
She is back in New York now, and even though we’ve grown apart, I can’t stop thinking about her. I wonder about her. I wonder how she is, how her college life is going, and if she’s happy with her new roommate – I spoke with her room mate once, and it seemed as if she had ten too many cups of caffeine. I would later describe her room mate as ‘peppy’ to her. She laughed uncontrollably at that – like she was a child, once again seeing the humour and wonder in this everyday world of ours. I wish I could make her laugh like that again. I miss her so much. I wonder if she ever realized that she is wonderful in so many ways.
We haven’t really spoken much since then, but she did ask me the question a final time, late one night.
“How do you know you’re truly in love with someone?” She whispered.
She says she has finally found the answer, and that it has something to do with happiness, but I’m still not certain as to what the answer might be.
Anyways, I no longer think the important thing is to question yourself, but to simply cherish and enjoy the precious few moments that you have with someone. Even if it means having to let them go in the end and just going on with life.
But if you can’t do that, I suppose you could always write a memoir.
I am completely and utterly enchanted by Michael's writing. Find his blog on Wordpress (hearts and truths) HERE. Or click on the first sentence of the post. You won't be disappointed. You know you want to...