We met online, on ok cupid to be exact. I was expecting short messages but you wrote back at length and struck me as very sincere.
You told me you also liked abandoned places and dogs. You made me laugh.
We wrote like pen pals for several months. I began to look forward to your responses more and more.
Then out of the blue you came to my city to help your sister move. You asked if I was free. I was.
You knew my neighbourhood because you'd studied in my hometown a few years before.
You knew the nearby national park, the wild coastline, the rusted ship hull perched on the rocks, the green golf course.
It made me feel like you knew me already, like we had a shared past just on different timelines. You asked me if I felt like returning to the national park, I was delighted to.
I met you near the fake castle at 'Lapa.'
When you walked towards me my stomach flipped. You were taller than I expected. More handsome. You spoke in a soft, deep voice.
I felt myself become soft and giggly.
You drove us in the four wheel drive you bought off your dad to the national park.
We put on sunscreen in the car and talked about the dishes your family cooked in their restaurant in your hometown.
I got excited over the deep-fried ice-cream. It's easy to make, apparently. You used your hands to mold an invisible example.
I noticed you had a birthmark the shape of a snowflake on your cheek, just a shade darker than your skin. I thought it was lovely but I kept that to myself.
We wandered down to the coast over the green hills, down the windy track and over the bridge that connected the peninsula to the mainland.
We sat on a a tiny golf course and talked about life as the salty air blew our hair and ruffled our clothes.
After we returned to Lapa and we ate Thai and you took my recommendation - the satay noodles. I was so happy you liked them. You paid and for the first time I didn't feel guilty.
"Do you want to meet my dogs?" I asked. You asked if that was ok to visit my family home, you didn't want to impose. But I knew my family was out and we could pet my dogs for as long as we liked.
I felt excited to show you my family home. I wanted you to know me, my life, my history. I wanted you to know it all.
You were so sweet with my dogs. It made me melt.
You told Rosie you liked her spots whilst you caressed her head, and you felt sorry for Billy His neurosis was all too apparent with his angry barking and frantic jumping.
I showed you my old room, I don't know why because there was nothing in it to see. I'd just moved out. But for some reason it felt important to show you.
You were interested nonetheless and I was touched.
It was time for you to go then. We got back into your four wheel drive and you gave me a lift.
You wanted to drive me all the way back to my new house, but I convinced you not to knowing you'd get lost and wouldn't be able to find your way back. You agreed reluctantly.
The traffic light turned red and I realised it was a good time to jump out of the car. I didn't want to though. There was an awkward moment where you looked at me and I looked at you.
We were both unsure what to do... Kiss? On the cheek? On the lips? Hug? But you were driving...and I was shy.
"Bye! Thank you!" I got out of the car with my cheeks burning and my heart skipping like a stone across a pond. You waved and quickly disappeared into the traffic.
That night I was so happy I splashed out on my budget and bought raspberries and lactose free ice-cream. I ate it on the couch as I giddily told my housemate about the day.
I got a text from you that night telling me you enjoyed meeting me, that you had a really nice time. You thanked me.
I replied asking when you would be back in Sydney, that I wanted to see you again. But I got no reply.
I tried again, just to strike up a conversation, trying not to let my anxiety gain the upper hand. You replied days later with something vague. I felt like a fool.
I texted you again, trying not to let my insecurities get the best of me. But no response.
I realised maybe I'd gotten it wrong. Maybe I'd misunderstood. Maybe you'd just wanted a friend.
I didn't feel entitled to clarify with you. I told myself that would be weird. You'd think I was clingy.
Really, I think I was just too proud. Too scared.
I told myself it was ok we fell out of touch. Long distance wouldn't have worked anyway.
You were too busy studying medicine to visit me. And I couldn't afford the train to visit you.
I began working on forgetting you.
8 months passed. I didn't hear from you and honestly, I did forget about you. I dated other people but never for long. It never seemed to work out.
Just a few weeks ago I noticed it was your birthday on facebook I wished you a happy birthday
You responded to it with a love heart
I refused to check if you responded the same way to other's birthday wishes. I didn't want to know.
It was weird to discover I still cared.
Soon after you sent me a private message, telling me you were sorry you'd been out of touch and asking how I was. You were as sweet as I remembered
It took me by surprise.
And I won't lie... ...your message made my heart glow and hurt at the same time.
I insisted you didn't need to apologise, and I meant it. I wished you luck for your final med exams. I told you to think of nature, dogs and delicious food to get you through.
I also told you that I was fine, that my year had been "challenging but rewarding."
That was bullshit. This has been a horrible year in so many ways.
I didn't lie to you because I didn't think you'd understand, but because I couldn't bear to give more of myself to you. What was the point?
But I can't help it. Now I'm thinking of you almost every night before I sleep. Sweet romantic imaginings.
For example, I like to imagine your arms around me, or that you are next to me in my bed.
That we're together, that you're mine and I'm yours.
I imagine us being in nature together
going to the beach
buying a dog together
sharing an apartment
Sometimes this makes me feel stupid . Other times I just don't care.
I don't know what will happen now. Probably nothing and I don't know you enough to expect more.
No one made any promises.
Maybe we were just a 'nearly' thing.
And I just have to trust that 'nearly' is the best thing for me right now.
So 'nearly' it is At least for now.