The phone rang. I checked her message. “You’re insane”, it said.
That wasn’t entirely wrong. I was insane.
I acknowledged her comment as an answer. That was the last message I ever sent her. She never replied. I had to let this go.
Some days later, I deleted the whole conversation. Then I deleted her number.
I needed to move on. This relationship was dead.
One year later, however, I still think about her every day.
How It All Started
We met in July some years ago. She was my “colleague”. We were working in an event company, so she was more “the girl I was drinking with because that’s what the job was about” than my colleague in the strictest sense of the term.
At first, I didn’t think much of her. She was cute, but I didn’t feel anything special about her. She was just this fun girl I was working with sometimes.
As time went by, we got to know each other. Alcohol helped. We found out we shared many traits of characters and lived experiences. I started feeling attracted.
Late August, I casually suggested we go for a drink one day. She accepted, and we went for beers in early October.
The culture in Brussels being what it is, we ordered beer, got drunk, and decided it was a good idea to go to the office where there were more beers (and they were free).
On our way to the building, I had the irresistible desire to cue her about how I felt. My heart started pounding.
There I was in one of these critical moments where you don’t know whether the girl you like will acknowledge and share your feelings, or if she will reject you altogether.
I got my hand out of my pockets and moved it towards her fingers balancing on her side.
My heart was pounding faster than on a marathon.
Our palm touched. Her hand didn’t move away. It stayed. Even better, she accepted my move and pursued it herself.
As her fingers were wrapping themselves around mine in a tender yet hesitant manner, she said something I’ll never forget: “Aurelien, why are we holding hands”. “I like holding hands with the girl I am on a date with”, I responded.
We eventually got to the office. We talked, danced, argued, and kissed.
“You kissed me”, she said half-surprised, half-content, after our lips had intertwined for about 15 seconds.
I guess I had.
We left the office and decided to go to sleep. We took one of these public bikes and she jumped on the back. I cycled to the station closest to my place where we gave back the bike.
We kept on having an animated conversation on our way to my apartment when happened one of the most bizarre moments of my dating life.
As I was talking about a topic I felt passionate about (I don’t remember what it was but certainly remember the engagement), she suddenly stopped, turned, and faced me. She looked at me in the eyes, pushed me against the wall like she was about to steal my wallet, jumped on me, and kissed me with a passion I have not felt since.
After this short interlude, we got into my place, kissed some more, and she eventually decided to head home, wishing me a good night.
She subsequently ignored my messages for the entire following week.
We Started Dating
Two weeks or so later, we started seeing each other regularly. Don’t call it dating. Neither of us was ready to accept this verb as the official status of our relationship. But let’s face it: we were dating.
Our relationship had flourished in a very special context. She had quickly pinned me as a competitive contender, which equally was herself.
Shortly after we first kissed, I had started teasing her about how much she liked me and how I didn’t like her at all in a gentle and playful manner. She’d tease right back at me.
Our relationship, if we can call it that way, was born out of the escalation of these playful games lovers tend to practice at the beginning of their dating.
Every day, we’d scarcely exchange on Whatsapp before making fun of the one that was going to ask the other out first. She had more patience than I did, so I’d often cave in.
She’d then tell me she was out with friends and could not see me, only to call me at 1 AM, drunk, asking what I was up to. Sometimes, the doorbell rang at 3 AM and there she was, looking at me as if I had forced her to come.
I loved that look. I’d joke about having other girls in my bed, so she could “sleep on the sofa”.
This always ended up with us spending the night together, her sleeping on my chest with a big smile on her face, while I wrapped my arm around her body.
I loved everything about this girl. Her long blond hair covering her neck, her big brown eyes searching for cues on my face when I teased her, her cute nose that moved up when she was laughing, and that I used to kiss from time to time.
I loved her quirky personality, the messages she’d send about her adventures at work, and her propensity to send me voice messages when drunk.
Above all, though, I loved the way she showed me she cared.
Our relationship wasn’t based on boring flowers and dinner dates. It was based on the quality of teasing we’d make the other endure. She’d gently make fun of any marks of affection I’d manifest towards her, and I’d be more than happy to return the favor.
Time spent together was a constant flux of teasing and jokes, with each of us taking turns to highlight how we didn’t like the other in a playful manner.
We were engaged in a “who’s the smartest competition” which neither of us intended to lose.
As we were fooling around in bed one night, she deeply looked into my eyes and said “you really like me don’t you?” I was trapped. I said “no”, but couldn’t prevent the big smile that directly formed on my face.
One night, as I was waiting for her, I had written on the whiteboard of my living room “all girls but her name“, to highlight my feelings. As I was taking a shower, she had discreetly taken the pen and changed the “all” in “no” so the board said “no girls but her name“.
One may wonder how insufferable a relationship with someone always out to get you must be. That would be a misunderstanding.
As the day passed, we had less energy to hide our mutual affection and find smart comebacks. We’d slowly come closer together. We’d lower our defenses. The sight of challenge she’d constantly arbor in her eyes would dissipate. All that stayed was love and benevolence.
This girl may have had spent the day playing games with me, but deep down, she cared — she just didn’t want to show it too much.
One night, when I had invited my friends for dinner, she leaned in, and without anyone’s notice, took three of my fingers in her hand, under the table.
She didn’t let them go.
That gesture remains to this day the most caring mark of affection anyone ever manifested to me.
And It Became Unhealthy
The connection I experienced with this girl was nothing like I had ever felt before. She had gotten to my heart faster than lightning.
And that was a problem.
Growing in the family I had grown in, I had a history of struggling with emotional expression. I had been hurt so deeply by people closed to me that attachment had become a warning sign for me to get the hell out of a relationship. As a consequence, I was a master at creating “relationship exits”. Translation: I f*cked it all up.
Love transformed into obsession. I wanted more of the connection we had. Our similarities weren’t enough — I needed to find out about other traits we were sharing.
As far as what had been revealed, we were already pretty similar. As we got to know each other more, we didn’t find new resemblances, but more differences. Huge ones.
Eventually, we stopped talking for a couple of months. I didn’t know what to do. She wouldn’t answer my messages, and I didn’t want to appear needy. So I let it go.
Lucky enough, fate came into the picture and we ran into each other during a company event. We were back together that same night.
2 months later, I left for Colombia for 3 months, somehow completely oblivious as to what I was throwing away.
Believe it or not, we still hadn’t had any “talks”. I was telling myself we weren’t dating while it was clear to everyone that we enjoyed spending time together.
The bond we had was more than just about sex. There were feelings and emotions.
But I didn’t want to admit it. I didn’t want to get attached.
Two weeks into my trip, we fought by message. I promised myself to never speak to her again.
Relationships were not something I had the habit to embarrass myself with.
I have learned my lesson since then.
After my trip to Colombia, I eventually came back to Brussels. I had asked her to keep my watch safe while I was gone, so we met so that she could give it back to me. We subsequently argued in the street for two hours. She left in the middle of the conversation.
We stopped talking. Then we met again. And the whole cycle repeated itself.
When we weren’t madly in love with one another, we were despising the other up to the point we’d promise ourselves never to speak to each other.
We were completely deluded, living in a reality that did not exist, up to the point where we even talked about…starting a company together.
When you deny reality for too long, it eventually comes back and slaps you in the face. And that’s what happened.
This story eventually leads us to that fatal night.
After we had fought once again by message, I asked her how she was feeling two weeks later.
That was her reply. That’s the last message she ever sent me. I can’t blame her.
I was insane.
Whatever love there was at the beginning of our relationship had completely disappeared and transformed into madness.
There was nothing more to do. Nothing more to say. I acknowledge what she said. And we never spoke again.
I never saw her again. I don’t even know if she still lives in Brussels. I have tried to forget her. But every day, the goosebumps I have felt on the first nights we spent together come back to haunt me.
Every day I think of her cute nose, her hands taking mine, her head on my chest, and her slow and regular breath that gave me a rhythm to focus on so that I could fall asleep.
Strictly speaking, we spent very little time together. But the moments we had were among the happiest times of my life. The ones where you feel the connection you have with someone is so strong they could read your mind.
It could have been a beautiful story.
But I screwed it allup.
It is today, nothing but a distant memory.
An alternate reality that could have been, but never came to be.
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