The Summer of Heartbreak

This was inspired by the Red Writing Hood writing prompt over at Write on Edge this week. The topic: romantic heartbreak using a fictional character or non-fiction experience.

*****

While I was never one that believed in “love at first sight, ” something drew me to this guy the first time I saw him stand up in a crowd on a spring day in 1996. He was cute, funny and I loved that he was so comfortable speaking in front of a crowded room. He was wearing a green polo shirt and jeans. I have to get to know him, I thought, as I made my way back to the punch bowl (literally) where he was standing.

A mutual friend introduced us and immediately we clicked. After that spring day, we saw each other on campus; met for coffee; and had amazing two-hour phone conversations. He helped me move into my new apartment and offered to grocery shop with me. He even hung out with my roommate and I to watch Reality Bites.

This guy was different. I liked him … really liked him. And I knew he liked me too. Although we were not even dating (just hanging out), I felt – for the first time – this relationship was like no other. This would go somewhere.

And then things changed.

He went to visit a (female) family friend out of town for two weeks and upon his return, the phone calls were few and far between. Messages I left him were not returned or returned with a slow pace. He avoided getting together.

What happened? I wondered every day. What had I done?

I was dying to see him again, as I truly missed our wonderful conversations. We finally agreed to meet on campus for a smoothie during summer school (so romantic, I know). We talked, but the conversation was strained and different. Something was missing.

He gave me a ride home and I found in his car’s stereo a cassette tape. When I asked about it, his reply was, “It’s a mix tape from a friend.” I later visited him at his apartment where I saw on his bedroom wall several photos of him and some new friends (one of which was a girl that appeared in several of the photos).

I was so sure our relationship would lead somewhere. So what went wrong? It was later that night that all the pieces flooded into my head and came together in front of my eyes, a la the ending of The Usual Suspects.

The photo of him and his “new friend” on his apartment wall.

The mix tape she made him in the car.

The fact that he seemed distant and not willing to talk much.

And the fact he stopped calling when just a few weeks before he couldn’t stop calling.

My stomach lurched and my heart sank. And I knew. He was dating this girl and I was old news.

The next morning I woke up and that first ten seconds upon awakening felt like everything was normal and okay in the world. And then I realized, it’s not; and the loneliness came flooding back. This was sorrow. This was heartbreak.

*****

A lot has changed since Bryan broke my heart that summer day 15 years ago. So much so that we’ve been together as a couple 12 years and married 10 with a nearly 4-year-old daughter. I guess the heartbreak was worth it after all!

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