He affects me in a way that I don't understand. We had a quick dinner at the Italian restaurant across the street from college. He told me, when we finally met after he'd finally finished work, 30 minutes later than he'd predicted, that he was too tired to stay over at my place tonight. He hadn't been sleeping well, he said. He was absolutely knackered. He knew that he wouldn't get much sleep if he stayed over, and so tonight was not a good night for that. But let's get a meal, he said. Would you like that?
I came home tonight feeling like I am walking on a tightrope. I thought about his impending departure and suddenly the reality hits me - the reality that I had known from the start. This isn't going to last. When he leaves, that's it. That's our final destination. Am I placing too much faith in my rational mind and unreasonably expecting it to save me from heartbreak, my rational mind that knows the facts of the situation, that there is scant long term potential regardless of his impending departure because of how fundamentally different we are? Or is this even the correct conclusion to reach? If these fundamental differences would impede the flourishing of any sort of romance or relationship between us, then why do I feel this way, as if comfortable squeezing my square peg into his round hole, as if balancing on a tightrope together, our hands intertwined?
We had dinner tonight and it was just dinner, and he was even tired, even slightly anxious about his work schedule the next morning; it was just dinner, we spent maybe a couple of hours together, we talked about ordinary things; it was just dinner. Nothing out of the ordinary happened. He didn't suddenly declare his undying love for me or change his mind about travelling. It was just dinner.
But there he was, across the table from me in a restaurant 'stuck in the 90s' (his words), having dinner with me despite his exhaustion - keeping our date despite his exhaustion. I want to hold him close to me as he falls asleep. I wish I could take away some of that burden, put in place the perfect conditions for him to sleep properly. A bed of feathers and down, a blanket of warmth. I don't even have to be there. All that matters is him and his rejuvenation.
He affects me and I don't understand why. I don't understand this attraction. I don't understand why I like him. I am beyond a list of traits now, beyond intellectual curiosity about his otherness, beyond opposites attract; way beyond the attention that he bestowed on me during those months that we got to know each other from opposite sides of the coffee machine. There is something more, something deeper, and tapping into it is reckless, giving in to it is irresponsible; but its lure is undeniable, and I am led, irresistibly, into the very heart of the matter. I won't just miss him when he leaves; I think I will be devastated. I will look for ways to replace him, find a few men on Tinder, go on a few dates, hoping that these new pairs of lips will help me forget the gaping hole that he will leave in my life, in my heart. But there won't be another one like him; there won't be someone else for whom my attraction is based on nothing that I can fully rationalise, towards whom I am drawn almost involuntarily.
I am not sure what I am more afraid of: falling off the tightrope, or reaching the other side.
He was really sweet yesterday when I was at FB cutting down the Yale paper to somewhere around the word limit. I was there for 4.5 hours, had two cups of coffee and a cheese toastie; paid for only one cup of a coffee. At one point, about 1.5 hours into my editing session, I sat slightly slumped over my laptop, my face partially buried in my hands.
He came up to me quite unannounced, put an arm around my waist. It was brief, for he was working, but it felt really comforting. 'What's wrong?' he said.
'I'm tired and hungry,' I whined in reply.
'Do you want another coffee?'
'Are you making it?'
'Yeah,' he said, and came back a few minutes later, a flat white topped with a swan.
He gave me some leftover salad too at the end of the day.
I appreciate these small things that he does. I appreciate that he spent time with me tonight. I realised yesterday that it'd only been two weeks since we talked about the 'relationship'; it'd felt like much longer, probably because I was so absorbed with the chapter/paper, and doing just one thing for two weeks tends to stretch out time like an elastic band. But the past two weeks had been the most effortless since we started dating. He'd kept his word; he'd put in more effort. He tells me that he'd enjoyed seeing me, he makes plans, he keeps in touch when we don't see each other for days (except when I get coffee, but to me, that doesn't really count as seeing him).
He is fundamentally such a good person: so reliable, so dependable, so present. I think I will be heartbroken when he leaves.