Step 1: Don’t. Scoff at the thought as you’re driving home from work. The best way, you think, to ruin this night is to try to tell the kind of story you know nothing about. Love stories are best left to a pint of ice cream and a Jennifer Aniston movie.
Unfortunately, by the time your car pulls into an empty spot in front of your apartment, that stupid boy with the stupid brown eyes will be stuck in your stupid head and you will kick yourself the entire way upstairs and though the front door.
Step 2: Pour a glass of wine. Coffee mugs, pint glasses, and a glass measuring cup from the dishwasher will also suffice. The important part is the wine.
Step 3: Open your laptop and resist the urge to slam your head against the keys. This is stupid. It’s okay.
Step 4: Start at the part where you met at orientation. Talk about how he was shy, but your new roommate brought him over to meet you because they had just had a great conversation about movies and this was the time to make friends. It’s also probably worth it to point out that you were a mess of anxiety and nerves at this point, partially from the fact that you were in a foreign country and partially because you were on the downside of your brain’s favorite cycle. You won’t remember at first, but this is relevant because quiet and shy people made you even more nervous for some reason.
Step 5: Remember that time you went with a group of friends to see Up in 3D and when you started crying behind your glasses, he nudged your arm just softly enough that you could feel it, but nobody else would call attention to your tears. Laugh because after this, you would make him watch Marley and Me with you because you knew he wouldn’t laugh at you when you sobbed through the end. In fact, he let you hide under the blanket.
Step 6: This will be where you remember the couch in your living room. You’re probably going to have some trouble deciding which memories to use here.
Step 6b: Think about that all-night conversation, sitting indian-style on either end of the old couch until 4 in the morning talking about your entire lives up until that point. It’s the first time you’ll tell him how amazed you are by the way he stops at every swing set he comes across, and the way every sentence that leaves his lips sounds like the most genuine truth you have ever heard. You told him how hard it is sometimes to be happy, and he smiled at your demons, offering to compare scars anytime you needed to. From that point on, with him, you wouldn’t feel like you needed to ever again.
Step 6c: Sigh as you remember the STUPIDLY perfect way your head fit on his chest, just between his neck and collarbone, when you would fall asleep on movie nights. You were usually the only one to fall asleep during the movie, but he wouldn’t move an inch no matter how late it or how absurdly uncomfortable that couch was. Sometimes, you would wake up but keep your eyes closed just so you wouldn’t have to leave. Neither of you ever mentioned it, no matter how inevitable it became.
Step 6d: Use both.
Step 7: Go ahead and skip over the semester ending, and you both flying back to the States, and going back to school together. IMPORTANT, however: This is where you want to point out the part about the continents. How you both managed to meet on one side of the world and make it back to the other still holding the ends of the ties that bound you. And how, by a stroke of coincidence and opportunity, you followed each other across THAT continent to land in California together.
Step 8: Throw your hands up in the air and let out an exasperated sigh because holy FUCK if that’s not the stuff Jennifer Aniston movies are made of then you are so, so screwed. Then drink more of the wine. The wine is your friend.
Step 9: Talk about the birthdays, and how he insisted on taking you to Disneyland on your birthday because you both shared such a love for anything nostalgic and young, it could literally move mountains. And how he made you an adorable hand-drawn birthday card and didn’t even try to force you to ride the Tower of Terror but sprinted across the park to grab the perfect seats for Fantasmic.
And then, talk about how you took him dancing for his birthday a week later – downtown, at a club that transformed into a 30′s swing joint on Sunday nights, costumes mandatory. You’re going to want to shake your head as you remember how you had to drag him on to the dance floor, him gingerly holding your hand and shoulder as if you had never fallen asleep on his, but that will go away as soon as you picture the way he breathed the word “Wow” when he met you at your apartment earlier that night. It’ll still make your heart stop. Wine, go for the wine.
Step 10: This is where the wheels fall off. Rub your hands over your face as you’re struck with the realization that only the crappiest stories have no logical end.
Step 11: Kill the rest of the wine.
Step 12: Try to come up with a way to explain how you went from Chinese food dates on the beach to radio silence for months at a time. How there were no signs, hell there was no acknowledged relationship for 3 years so why would there be, and how everything just ended. He stopped answering your text messages, cancelled your lunches. Popped up again every few months to apologize and invite you to the beach, only to cancel the morning of and disappear again, so you stopped calling.
Try to come up with a way to make a satisfying ending out of that. Realize you can’t. Swallow the lump in your throat already and type the words, girl.
Maybe it was all in my head.
Step 13: Shut your laptop and call it a night. You will be drunk and you will feel lighter. You will also want to run as far as possible from the words on that screen. That’s because it was an awful story.
But your chest will burn a little as you turn out the lights and crawl under the blankets, and you’ll realize that it was, in fact, a love story.
Step 14: Go to sleep. Maybe, just maybe, you told it right this time.