The following personal essay was sent anonymously to The Gabbler this past Friday. In the submission email the author, self-described as “a young, heartbroken female,” explained her many attempts to publish this piece on Thought Catalog by posting it as a comment on all pieces catalogued in the “Love & Sex” category. She soon found herself completely barred from commenting on the website and turned to The Gabbler to post the piece in the hopes that “the warm, pulsing heart that [she’s] crawled into and made [her] home” would read the essay and “leave that dirty slut who will never love him” like the author of the piece does.
When I see you with her, your new girlfriend, my heart begins a slow click click click up my throat before cresting the hill and plunging back to my stomach, right into that hole that you used to fill. It’s not even the way you kiss her, like the war is over and you’ve finally found your way home. Or even how your hands delicately dance their way over her shoulder blades and down her spine into her jean pockets, like this is once again eighth grade and you and your then-girlfriend Michelle are posing for the “Cutest Couple” yearbook photo. Because, yes, I know about Michelle. In fact, I know everything about you.
But, no, none of this starts the crawling, pounding pain in my heart, like the way you look at her with total and complete recognition in your eyes. As if to say “I know who this person is and why she’s looking at me with a gleam in her eyes and a smile on her lips.” You’ve never looked at me that way. No matter how many times I’ve carefully calculated and plotted for us to pass on the streets, calibrating your daily routine and average walking speed to determine exactly when you would turn the corner and walk past my smiling face. Never, in all the time I’ve been here, hiding in the bushes across from your apartment, going through your garbage, following you to your job every morning, and then, later, after work to your favorite bars. Never have you once looked at me with anything even amounting to a basic understanding of who I am and why I’m here.
In fact, the only time you’ve ever looked at me in the eye was that day we met in the cereal aisle at Whole Foods. I’m sure you’d remember if you would just dig deep and follow the clues that I keep leaving on the front step of your building (does that bag of organic granola really mean nothing to you?).
Let me remind you. We were both standing on opposite ends of the aisle, completely engrossed by the vast number of delicious, nutritious, and organic options, when some bratty 3-year-old ran into your leg and you dropped your basket. I rushed to your side to help and you looked straight into my dark brown eyes. Yours were the deep cerulean of the Caribbean Sea and in them I saw a warm pool where I could finally curl up safely for all eternity. I saw my forever in those blue eyes and felt my endless passion flow from your perfect lips as you mumbled “thanks.” And when we both reached for your fallen bag of organic spinach and our hands brushed I felt a current of electricity shoot to my very core.
When you didn’t ask for my number, I abandoned my groceries and followed you home. Your apartment building was just like you, shabby but safe and cozy warm. And the building across the street had just enough shrubbery to hide this lonely, heartbroken girl while I watched you and nurtured our love on my own.
I only had to watch you for a few days to find out that you were single. Friday nights out with guys, getting rowdy in the local dive bar, awkwardly smiling at every pretty face in the room. Except for mine, hiding carefully in the darkened corner. And the amount of Chinese takeout that you ordered! You, like me, had a lonely heart beating in your chest. I knew it was meant to be and so I kept watching you, feeding our love with the details of your life and my stomach with the same Chinese takeout that you so enjoyed (they were more than happy to deliver to my station in the bushes across from your apartment for a little extra tip).
But then, one day she showed up. And now you’re with her. This girl who doesn’t even know you like I do. Can’t know you like I do, because she’s never spent a long, lonely Friday digging through your garbage to learn your name. She can’t understand the pure ecstasy of pronouncing those six beautiful syllables and finally knowing that my heart, my life has a name.
She certainly doesn’t know about Michelle, your middle school love. Why would she? I doubt she loves you enough to find out the company that printed all of your yearbooks in middle and high school so that she can buy a back order of every year, claiming to be your old neighbor little Stephanie Jones, who lost everything in a horrific fire and just wants her memories back. So this new girlfriend of yours certainly wouldn’t have seen that picture of Cutest Couple. And she never would have known that Michelle and your former best friend Johnny (as evidenced by the “Best Buds!” caption in the photo of you two) would one day become Prom King and Queen, after what must have been an earth-shattering heartbreak.
Unlike her, I care enough to know these things about you. I have every newspaper clipping about you, since that homerun you scored in little league at the age of eight. I’ve read through your entire Facebook page, back to when you signed up back in 2006. It’s like you set your privacy settings so low because you wanted me to find you. Because I know you must love me, too.
I have built our love, knowing that one day you’ll see my beautiful brown eyes peeping from behind the bushes and remember that day in Whole Foods. You’ll come rushing to me, open your arms wide and kiss me like you kiss her, like the war is over and my lips are your home. And I will fall into your eyes, drowning in that endless blue.
Until then, I’ll be watching you with her and I’ll know what you still don’t: I exist and I will always love you more than she does.