"Have a nice life!"
It was the classic scenerio. Boy likes girl, girl likes boy, girl must leave boy.....akward goodbye scene. A year ago today Ben and I had our goodbye scene. We thought it was the end, but it was just the beginning. Last fall I wrote a paper about our less-than-dramatic farewell. Here you go :)
The BusIt was 3:30 in the morning. Any other day I would still be cuddly and warm all snuggled in my bed next to my pink fuzzy rabbit named “Bunny.” This day was different. I was about to get on a bus that would take me to a plane that would take me to the other side of the globe. I was going to spend the next month with 50 other art students travelling around Europe and I was very excited. But first I had to get off of the couch where I had fallen asleep the night before. My phone vibrated next to me on the pillow where my head was resting. I opened my eyes and tried to focus on the name scrolling across the screen. It was Benjamin Salter Betts. Ben was my long-time crush, my best friend, and my ride to the bus stop. He had dark brown hair, clear brown eyes, and towered over my petite stature. He loved 80’s music and High School Musical. We did everything together and that morning was no different. I answered the phone with a lethargic “hello.” He was calling to make sure I got out of bed and to see if I wanted a bagel for breakfast. I told him I would like a plain bagel with plenty of cream cheese please, it’s my favorite food.
Two weeks before that early morning, Ben and I had had a little discussion. The night was a little frigid for April and I was wearing a light jacket. Ben kept asking me if I was chilly and I pretended to be tough and kept telling him that I was fine. We were sitting on a large, cold boulder near an intersection where we could watch the cars drive by. He was wearing the green jacket that I loved. We sat just close enough that our arms were touching but not too close because we were “just friends.” We both had feelings for each other and had hoped that someday our relationship could turn into something more lasting but there was a giant and unavoidable glitch in our plans. I was leaving for the summer and he was planning on an internship that next fall. There didn’t seem to be any chance that our paths would cross again. We both agreed that long-distance relationships were not a wise decision. If we were lucky enough to meet again in the future, we would try for this whole dating thing again. It was decided that the two weeks before I left would be full of fun but after that we would both move on to whatever life had planned for us.
I rolled out of bed that early morning and put on my glasses. I rarely wear my glasses. They are out of style and they turn into sunglasses when exposed to UV light. How embarrassing. I didn’t want to wear my contacts because I knew they would just dry out once I fell asleep on the plane. The rest of my outfit was also tailored around napping on the plane. I put on an old t-shirt, some comfortable jeans, and a pair of flip-flops. I didn’t bother washing my hair because it would just get oily and matted by the end of the day anyway. At least I brushed my teeth. There was a knock at the door and I hurried to answer it before my roommates woke up. There stood Ben with my bagel, all handsome in his green jacket. I felt a little bad because I hadn’t showered.
Nothing really changed after the discussion between Ben and me. We still did everything as a pair but now we pretended there were no romantic intentions. We watched movies, changed the oil in his car, and cooked meals together. One day we made fried chicken strips. They were crispy, delicious, and covered in Creole seasoning. We made enough to last us all day. That night we stayed up late sitting on the couch eating chicken and looking up our hometowns on Google Earth. We talked about our families and friends from back home. We talked about places we want to go someday and things we want to do. I told him about how I planned on traveling the world as a photo journalist and living out of a backpack. He told me about his dream of starting an advertising agency and raising a family in Southern California. I wanted to hold his hand really bad that night, but I knew that would only make things harder when I left, so I didn’t.
I felt kind of bad when Ben picked me up from my apartment and I looked like I had just rolled out of bed. He looked dashing in his green jacket and blue jeans. He wore his grey and white Adidas. He handed me my breakfast, grabbed my suitcase, and we headed to his car. I immediately started jabbering about how excited but nervous I was to go to Europe. He had to open my car door for me. All the handles had frozen off long before I met Ben and I still hadn’t learned the skill to maneuver the lever correctly to get the door open. It had gotten below freezing that morning so I sat in the car while he wiped the frost off his windshield. I knew this would be the last time I would see Ben for a few months, possibly even forever. I had no idea how I was going to say goodbye.
Two days before driving me to the bus stop, Ben took me on a final date before I left. We went to see a dance performance on campus and then met up with some friends for ice-cream. Ben got a Gorilla Munch Crunch with banana and I got a flavor that turned out to be disgusting because it had coconut in it. We sat at a table waiting for our friends to join us. We talked and we laughed. I felt so lucky to have such an amazing friend who I could talk to about anything. I never felt awkward or embarrassed and no conversation was ever boring. Ben made me feel special and beautiful and I loved being with him more than anything. After eating we headed over to his apartment to watch a movie. I was exhausted but I didn’t want to leave him. He told me that he didn’t want me to leave. That night when I got home, I broke down and called a friend from back home. I cried and told her that I didn’t want to go to Europe anymore, that I had made a mistake. I was too much in love to want anything else. She told me I was being crazy and that I would get over it once I stepped off the plane.
The car ride to the bus stop seemed to last just a few seconds. Ben hardly talked and I just rambled on about plans for my trip. When we got to our destination, the bus was already there. I wasn’t ready to leave. I could see my other classmates loading up their luggage and boarding the bus. Ben and I reluctantly headed out into the cold. We dragged my blue, beat up suitcase over to the bus and stood silently next to each other while the driver lifted it into the back. We slowly walked over to the door of the bus, dreading the impending goodbye scene. I wanted to tell him how much I loved him, how bad I would miss him, and how long the summer would be without him. Two weeks before none of these feelings seemed all that significant but now they were the most important things in the world to me. Instead, I just thanked him for the bagel and for being such a good friend to me. I told him not to have too much fun without me. We gave each other a hug, not to fast, but not to slow either. We both knew we would miss the other, but neither of us wanted to show any kind of weakness that morning. We wanted to be strong for each other. No tears were shed, no love was pronounced. Only comfort and support was shared in that quick embrace. Then I turned from Ben and walked onto the bus.
We all know what happened next. Ben broke his promise of staying away from me to write me a very adorable "I miss you" letter while I was in Paris and the rest is history :)
p.s. Ben will tell you that I barely even hugged him...and I'll admit it...even though I didn't want to leave Ben...I was pretty darn excited to get on that bus.