We met while I was abroad in January 2013. By February we were inseparable. By March we were exclusive. By April we said I love you. And by May we broke down in each other’s arms saying goodbye in a bus terminal because I had to go back to America. The image of him falling to his knees in the street as I pulled away is one I’ll never forget. I clenched a letter he had written and held back tears walking through Dublin airport. And by June in a single phone call, it was over.
I didn’t intend on falling in love and it took 3 times as long to fall out of it. But if I learned anything about loving with a deadline, it made me appreciate things even more.
We knew the risk and took a chance anyway.
We knew what we were getting into and people told us we were crazy for starting something we knew might very end. But we couldn’t deny the feelings that were between us so we went for it.
We learned to live in the moment.
There was a cold realization that time was running out with every day. We looked at the calendar but never for too long. And instead of being overcome with sadness we chose to not think about it. We chose to value each other and value every day we did have.
Freezing time isn’t something anyone has control of but love is strong enough to slow it down at least a little bit.
We only fought about the important things.
I can remember only 2 fights we had. Because when you don’t have much time, you aren’t going to waste it being angry at each other. It was the way every relationship should be. He taught how simple love could be.
We fell in love faster.
There is never a time it takes to fall in love. I think you fall in love with people in the intimate moments you share whether it’s physical or emotional. It was in every late night conversation where we might have had one beer too many. It was in every surprise coming home to flowers I didn’t ask for. It was in the little things like cooking dinner or slow dances. It was looking at each other and saying, ‘you’re my best friend.’ It was waking up every day next to someone and just being happy to be alive.
We didn’t talk about the future just the day ahead.
We avoided conversations about the future. We talked about class or exams coming up or the next party. Maybe it would have made it easier to talk about the big things when reality hit us between the eyes. But there was something so different about simply living for the day. There was something different about knowing this could end badly but right now it doesn’t have to. He taught me to be a little more carefree than usual.
He taught me what real love was.
5 Months later at the age of 21, I boarded a plane to Dublin against my parent’s wishes. With me, I had 150 letters for the 150 days we didn’t speak. Each one ending with I still love you.
My first love taught me exactly how far I’d be willing to go for it. I think part of me will always him even a little for giving me someone to believe in that deeply.
Part of me will always love him for teaching me what the real thing was and having those standards to compare every relationship to.
While it didn’t work out, four years have passed and I still consider him one of my best friends. I look forward to the day we meet again. Because despite every ugly tear I cried afterward, I wouldn’t have traded any of it for the world.