“Can I erase from my mind anything that you said or
Any time that we spent with each other?
I don’t want to waste away another cell on a memory
When you’re just another meaningless lover”
“I Would Hate You If I Could” by Turnover
There are moments I wish I could forget everything he ever said to me. They come in flickers and leave me in shivers. This is what happens when you share a relationship with someone on the foundation of communication alone. As much as I have drowned my heartache in Turnover’s blend of indie rock and dream pop, I am incredibly aware that he was not, nor will he ever be, “just another meaningless lover.” The roots of this entanglement were playful. After returning home at the end of my first year, I decided on a whim to make a Tinder account for laughs. Instantly, I found what I was looking for: witty bios, cute guys, and a platform for mingling with strangers.
One night, I received a message from a new face. “How are you doing this fine evening?” it read. Next thing I knew, the nerd in me was sure to mention that I had spent the evening revisiting Dracula. For a second I believed that was the end of our short-lived interaction. However, I was pleasantly surprised when the man asked for my number and called me. I liked him almost immediately. I can still recall him asking, “so are you like from the brainiac part of society?” after telling him I was a Cornellian. He wanted to go out that same night, but my father stopped me with his infinite ‘I was a soldier once too’ wisdom. I thought about him constantly for two weeks, hoping that he would call again, hoping that I could see him before he was scheduled to leave.
Time progressed, and I forgot about the soldier until moving back into my dorm in August. I had a new add in Snapchat that I hesitated to accept for weeks. In the spur of the moment and curious to know the face behind the username, I accepted it. It was him. From that point on, we spoke regularly. This turned into phone calls, which led to developing strong emotions. Those emotions brought me to decorating boxes, filling them with goodies, and visiting the post office more times than ever before to send him care packages. And most significantly, they inspired me to fill up every page of a blank sketchbook with diary entries, quotes, song lyrics, art, poetry and Bible verses. This book was the physical embodiment of the deep care I had for him.
I invested all my emotional energy into a person I had never seen in the flesh, yet he felt truer than anyone. He was painfully honest about himself and was unfiltered when he spoke. This left a lasting impression on me to go take a deep look at myself, and examine my own worst parts. For that I will always be grateful. On Valentine’s Day, however, it became clear to me that I needed to let him go. Complications arose and there was a fog of uncertainty clouding us both. As much as he had helped me face my own worst enemy, I could see that the relationship was unbalanced. We became uncomfortably close and found ourselves at a breaking point encompassing a month full of silence, arguing, lies, and false promises. It completely consumed me. I’d sit in class trying to focus, but it was useless. My peace had left and I desperately wanted it back. It was a difficult decision, partially because this relationship was a secret, while the other half of me wanted to believe that perhaps he loved me too in his own flawed way. It was devastating to finally acknowledge that the person who I poured into was not able to pour into me, yet this was a necessary truth.
The question was, “How do you break up with someone you were never formally with?” Since online relationships are becoming increasingly real, this question hangs in limbo. Considering the hookup culture presiding over this generation, this question is heavy too. If you never established that you were together but did exchange “I love you”s and other intimate moments, does that make the relationship any less impactful? No. No, it does not. But due to this flimsy structure, it makes the healing process gray. It leaves one in a state of anticipation. Will he call again soon? Is he coming back? Is this really the end? Will it happen again? Do I want it to happen again?
As cheesy as it sounds, you really do have to let go with faith. You must believe that if it’s for the best, they will pursue you. You must open your eyes and realize it’s not worth chasing after someone who is exhausting all your resources. You must cut the cord completely to truly have a period of rest. It’s going to hurt, but keep in mind while doing so that you were not foolish for loving someone.
Now, I find myself back to where I started: waiting on a phone call that is never coming my way. I’ll be ok. That’s a promise to myself. In the words of my best friend Kelsey, “showing love to someone is never a mistake.” And with that, I will never regret falling for the soldier who I never met.