You were wearing a Hawaiian shirt when I met you. Should I have taken that as a sign of the way things would go? In a way, I have you to thank for a lot of things—you pushed me to take chances, to go for what I actually want, to figure out what that is. Things were good while they lasted, and you left me wanting more, just from someone else. You clarified for me that my time is precious, that my love is valuable and should be given freely but consciously. We were not enough for each other, but I hope I was as much a step in the right direction for you as you were for me. You loosened me up, reminded me that I could catch someone's attention, dazzle them with my wit, keep them coming back for more. You were exactly what I needed at the exact time I needed it.
We planned a big trip. It was too early in our relationship, and when your friends bailed, I already had my passport and a knot in my stomach about whether or not it would be right. You distanced yourself from me as fun and casual turned to questions we were not ready to answer. You ended things cleanly, and I realized that—when you left and all I could think about was how I would lose the money I'd spent on my plane ticket—things were not right anyway. I pouted in Jenna's room and she said, "You didn't like him anyway!" I knew she was right, but I was accustomed to taking rejection personally.
I took that trip, my first time out of the country. Meg came with me instead, and our week in Costa Rica solidified our friendship in a way I will always be grateful to you for. I went beyond my comfort zone on that trip; I laid on beautiful beaches and read One Hundred Years of Solitude; I stayed up late and smoked cigarettes on the porch of our hotel while Meg slept. I went to dinner by myself and ordered wine and felt grown up. Meg and I ordered pina coladas and caiparinhas at a bar where locals stared and we giggled and did not care. We said, "I can't believe we're here!" over and over and we meant it. We went to a movie night at a cafe where we watched Slumdog Millionaire and ordered milkshakes. We hiked up the steepest hill to a waterfall. We saw monkeys in the trees on our way back. We feared for our lives in a chartered van up a mountain; we had to go to sleep to ease our anxiety about his driving. We had massages and spent way too much money on dinner and frozen drinks.
I don't think of you often, except when that Feist album comes on or that one Ingrid Michaelson song we used to sing together in that tiny room of mine at 20 Lopez. Or sometimes I think of that time we snuck into the chapel at MIT and you played piano while I sang at the top of my lungs, my voice echoing high into the ceiling and feeling so grateful to be alive in that moment. We thought we heard someone come in, so we snuck out the back way and ran down the hall until we collapsed on the back porch, the lawn stretching out before us like the night.