365 Days In Paris: Love Lost

I’m devastated. And so paralyzed by losing Alex that I can hardly move. I don’t know how I’m supposed to get through my day, and feel as if I’ve almost forgotten how to walk, talk, sleep, eat, or think. Things will get better, I know. But for the moment, I’m really in the thick of it, and kicking myself for knowing I’d likely find myself here in the first place.

The week was quiet after Alex left Paris last Sunday. Later that same evening, I heard from him on IM. He told me he had gotten home safe and had a great time. I tried to keep the conversation going, but he was fairly unresponsive, and remained that way in the following days. I figured he was taking time to digest, and that the best thing to do was to give him some space. But around Thursday, my heart couldn’t take the silence for much longer, and after a public breakdown I had to email him. “We obviously have a significant history,” I wrote. “And the wonderful time we had together last week left me wondering if we’re getting back into it, or if I should expect not to see you again.”

Staring at my computer screen and shivering, I moved to the floor, hugging my knees to my chest and backing up against the radiator. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t think. I couldn’t even cry. After sitting like that for about an hour, movement then became almost impossible, as if the slightest breeze would cause the Jenga tower in my heart to topple. If I just stayed still, then it couldn’t get worse.

His email back actually gave me hope. He expressed a similar sentiment about feeling great with me and thinking about us, and could we talk on the weekend? I felt positive.

On Saturday, Alex and I finally got around to Skyping, and our usual happy banter put my mind at ease during the first 15 minutes of the conversation. Then things got serious. Were we “getting back into it”? I don’t want to get into his side of things at all because this column is about me, not Alex and his issues. But in a nutshell, I laid my cards out on the table and was very clear: I know how I feel about you, and I know I want to see where things go. But for me, there couldn’t be any in-between place for us.

I needed to hear either a “No, I don’t want to pursue a relationship with you,” or a “Yes, I want to see where this can go, too.”

I tried to be clear that the “yes” didn’t mean we had to automatically sign ourselves up to be in a super serious relationship. For all I knew, it might not even work for me. But the fact is that things were and are so intense between us that the “yes” side of the spectrum weighed heavily, and didn’t seem to be the type of thing he or I could actually take lightly. For Alex, it was clear that the choice was so hard that he almost didn’t want to make it. But after two hours of hemming and hawing and “I just don’t knows,” he finally said it: “I just can’t do it.”

I realized I had spent the past hour trying to convince someone to do something. A conversation I had with Amelia last week came back to me—I had told her that one of my adamant beliefs about life and humanity is “You can’t change people.” How had I failed to see that all this time? I had willingly forgotten and become blind to one of my own ethos. But there it was, staring me in the face: At the core, I knew I couldn’t change Alex and make him love me. You can’t change people. You can’t make them love you.

I didn’t know what else to say other than, “OK. If that’s how you feel,” and signed off from Skype, realizing as I did that it could possibly be the last communication I ever have with Alex. I knew I had done right to be firm about the all-or-nothing thing. I couldn’t be his friend. It was too painful. But what killed me when I ended the call was knowing that a part of him still wanted me. How was I supposed to move on, knowing that?

Staring at my computer screen and shivering, I moved to the floor, hugging my knees to my chest and backing up against the radiator. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t think. I couldn’t even cry. After sitting like that for about an hour, movement then became almost impossible, as if the slightest breeze would cause the Jenga tower in my heart to topple. If I just stayed still, then it couldn’t get worse.

After a while, I crawled into bed where I attempted to watch a movie, but felt annoyed by the voices and sounds that seemed to charge out of my computer and hit my body. Later that night, I was finally able to do something about it all—I phoned my sister in Los Angeles and broke down.

“I think … I just …. ” I said, sobbing, “I think I need to come to see you. Can I come see you?”

“Of course, honey. Let’s look at fares. You can come to L.A. anytime. Wherever I am is your home, too.”

“Yes. I want to come home. I need to come home.”

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