DRIVE ME IN YOUR CROWN VICTORIA

(Originally published on 22/11/2016)

What happens when you love someone too much and then everything crumbles down to ashes?

I fell in love with a boy. A boy who I thought was going to love me for a very long time. A boy who changed his mind.

Last September, I was feeling ready to meet someone and start a serious relationship, but even though I was hoping to meet someone, I wasn’t really looking. I felt ready, I was in a good moment of my life and was ready to build and share my time with someone.

By mid-September I met a guy. A tall, handsome, 21-year-old pre-med student who asked me out on a date. We talked for a week before actually going on that date and you could tell chemistry was there, so I was really excited when date night arrived.  We went to have some sushi, he was wearing tailored pants and a red shirt, which made him look even more attractive with his long- slicked back hair.  You could tell he was an introvert by the way he was speaking and the way he would show his emotions, but I thought he was adorable. We spent dinner talking about our goals, movies, art and it felt amazing, it was fluid, it was not pretentious, it felt right and natural and exciting.

After sushi, and an incredible conversation, we crashed to his lab late in the night and he was showing me the entire pre-med building, and there, surrounded by lab equipment supplies, listening to him talk about his projects with cells and how he would have to inject them with protein every day in order to keep them alive, I looked at him while he was looking at somewhere else and I thought: “This guy could really be ‘the guy’ ”

We walked around all UTRGV campus and then, after being sited in front of a fountain playing with our hands, we started walking and, unexpectedly, he grabbed my hand and never let me go. I was walking over clouds.

We went to the movies because I really wanted to watch Bridget Jones’ Baby. We had a blast of fun that night, and by the end of it, we kissed. We kissed, and it was one of those kisses where you don’t expect them to kiss that good, but they do and suddenly you melt in a way you never did before. It was perfect.

Next day I saw him again, he asked me out for brunch and 10 minutes later he was outside waiting for me in his car. Waiting for me in his Crown Victoria.

This guy – we will call him “Ernesto”- and I, were, at that moment, amazed by each other, and like I said, he was a Pre-Med student (a senior one) and he was about to find out which med school he had gotten in, so he was planning on going to Austin in a few days to celebrate. I was very excited for him, I was very excited for meeting a guy who was my age and also had a very mature and determined mind,  and then again, unexpectedly, he said “I want you to go to Austin with me” And I, of course, being as wild and free as I’m used to be, said yes.

Ernesto spent the week speaking with his friends so we could both stay at one of their apartments for the weekend, he seemed very excited for taking me with him, and I was too. I have to say I was actually trying to keep things a secret for many of my friends and even my family, because I was so happy that I was scared. Don’t you ever feel like whenever you are incredibly happy and filled with joy, as soon as people knows about your happiness, everything just fades away? Real or not, I wanted things to work with Ernesto, so I just told to my friend “Claudio” and my sister what was going on. And just like that, without telling anyone, a week later I was holding Ernesto’s hand while he was driving us to Austin.

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He got into Southwestern Medical School, so that meant that he was going to leave to Dallas by fall 2017, or maybe a little sooner, and that would also mean a problem for developing a relationship, but we didn’t care, we were together in Austin and we stayed with his friend “Crista”, whom I have to say was by far adorable.

I remember our kisses, how we held hands walking down the street, how I would hold him while he was driving, how he would take my hand and kiss it. I remember how we went to swim to that lake and how we were sitting at the top of Covert Park at 3am holding tight to each other, kissing and enjoying the view.

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I remember walking at the Domain and spotting a beautiful rainbow right before us.

He said to me: “Te quiero” before going to sleep on our first night in Austin… it felt so good …and mostly, I remember how, during our last and final day there, we went to the Texas Capitol and, after walking through its halls, we took a sit on the façade steps and there, we started talking about us, about what we wanted, about how we both wanted a serious relationship.

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We both knew that he was going to move to Dallas a year before my graduation, we both knew that there was going to be a moment in time when things would complicate, but that did not matter, I said to him “I don’t care if we have a year, I want to be with you” and then, in the most sincere and natural way, he asked me to be his boyfriend.

I was so happy. I was really paralyzed with happiness.

We returned to the valley after that amazing weekend, and I was totally crazy for him, I really was.

But how much soon is too fast? When I told one of my best friends about everything that happened in Austin, he was afraid things were going a little bit too fast. I said to him that yes, indeed things happened too fast, but we spent entire days together and everything just felt natural and real and romantic. He was happy for me, but he also adviced me to be careful… and I should’ve listened to him.

The first month of our relationship went too well, we had fun, we had chemistry. We are two very different people in many ways, but so similar in many others. We complemented each other, there was a balance.

People would say how much good that relationship would do to me, since Ernesto was the first guy my age that I have ever dated. I was used to date men who were at least 5 or 7 years older than me, men who were already completely out to their families, with their own places and with a concrete knowledge of the things they wanted. With Ernesto was different, he wasn’t completely out to his parents, and I even had to hide in the closet one time his parents got home earlier than expected. Things that I found funny and that I didn’t care about, because I loved Ernesto.

I felt it, it was real, I loved him. I would feel “butterflies” in my stomach just by thinking of him. I hadn’t felt “butterflies” for anyone since I was 16 years old. I had never said “Te amo” (“I love you”) to anyone before, because I wanted to save that for someone I could see a future with.

One night I told him. I said “you scare me”, he asked me why and I, after a few moments, said: “Me das miedo, porque te amo”/ “You scare me, because I love you”. It was so hard saying “Te amo” to him. I wanted so badly to tell him, but I was also nervous because that is a very strong phrase to say to someone, saying “Te amo” is like getting completely naked in mind and soul.

He smiled like never before, breathed in and pulled me towards him kissing me passionately, and then he said “Yo tambien te amo”/ “I love you too”.

In a different occasion, we went to the beach in the middle of the night, and we stayed there looking up to the stars, talking and just loving each other, it felt great, the ocean looked so powerful, we were surrounded by darkness and a sky filled with millions of stars upon us. It was as if we were out of this world. It felt like we belonged.

That night we were talking about things way ahead of us: about me moving to Dallas to be with him, a house, traveling together around the world and children’s names. It was one of those conversations in life that you never forget.

Thing is, Ernesto was never used to show emotions to many people, he said that I was the person he had showed more emotions and feelings to, but sometimes he would paralyze.

There were moments when he didn’t even seem excited to be with me, he was all serious and cold and dry. He seemed absorbed.  He said “This is the way I am, Im sorry, I don’t speak that much sometimes” and I understood, I was dating an introverted guy so, that was normal, right? But that lack of emotion and feeling puts anyone to think and imagine stuff like: did I say something wrong? Is he okay? Is he happy? Is he having trouble at school? He said he was “just chilling” and I, again, understood him.

He was not like that all the time, of course he was sweet and we would talk about many things, but there were those moments, those weird moments where it seemed as if he wasn’t happy to be with me, or at least that’s how it looked like. He once said he was “paralyzed” because we were at a very good place and did not want to ruin things. He once said that the future scared him. He had too much going on with school, laboratory, an upcoming conference, exams and applying to scholarships for Med School, so I tried to understand him, I was his boyfriend and I was there to help him and support him in every way, if he was being silent it was because he was comfortable with me and also thinking about the future. Nothing to worry about.

But an overdose of silence and lack of emotion isn’t always good.

I tried not to pay attention to that, and instead I focused my mind in the good and lovely things about our relationship.. But things changed when we talked about our past. He said he had been seeing a guy in the past, let’s call him Raul, and that things didn’t work out between them, so they never became boyfriends, they just stayed as “friends with benefits”. One night, and, I don’t know if he did it because of that, but… one night, he took pictures of me in the car and I was laughing because I looked terrible, and after a few minutes I took his phone because I wanted to see my pictures. As soon as I unlocked his phone he took it off my hand, searched my pic and showed it to me before putting his phone back to where it was. I didn’t say anything, but to me it was like “Why did he do that? What don’t you want me to see there?”

The night after that, I grabbed his phone while we were together, and we were looking at his photos of when he was in Rome, and there, in his gallery I found myself looking at photos of Raul. He had photos of him there, and I said “Why do you still have photos of a guy you tried to have a relationship with? Why do you have photos of the guy who was your friend with benefits?” He said that they were friends and that he didn’t have feelings for him, that it was his past and never really worried about deleting the pictures, and I expressed how uncomfortable I would feel if I ever knew he was going out to meet him for coffee or anything like it. He said not to worry, but now I was worried, now I was jealous.

It was because of small things like that that I started to worry about our relationship, plus the fact that he would sometimes stay silent for long periods of time. I felt like I was the only one doing everything and putting all of my emotions and effort for making things work, and for understanding him.

During the final weeks I would feel as if I was speaking to a wall, I would say something funny or tell him about my day on the phone and he would stay in silence, sometimes, for over a minute. I would ask, “Ernesto, are you there?” and he would just say “Mhhm”.

I have to say, it was because of those things that I was becoming a person I didn’t like at all. I was constantly nervous, I was scared of losing him, because I knew that there was something wrong. I would ask him almost every day, “are you okay?” and doing that made me feel like a very annoying guy. It looked as if I was a psycho boyfriend who wanted attention. He had to study and do school work, so sometimes he would not speak to me in over 8 or even 12 hours during our last days together. And I didn’t care about that, I didn’t care if he didn’t speak to me all day, but when we did talk late at night there was no quality of a conversation, he was dry and cold and with nothing to say, and that did worry me, that I did not like.

I told my friend Claudio about that, about my worries, because I was starting to feel like a super crazy boyfriend who was imagining stuff, and then, Claudio said something: “Maybe he just doesn’t like you enough” “Maybe that’s why he is so effort and emotionless” “You’re not imagining stuff, it seems to me like he doesn’t know what he wants”.

In our final weekend together, I told him about how one of my current best friends used to be, not my boyfriend, but something similar four years ago. He smiled and asked: “So, why don’t you want me to see Raul or text him if you do see and speak with Garret? I tried to defend myself, but it was pointless, I knew that my thing with Garret and his thing with Raul were no different, and just when I was accepting that he was right, he said “Well then now I’m going to talk to him”

I said: “Oh, so now you’re going to text him”

He replied: “Well, yes I am.” with some sort of a smile on his face.

“Well, yes I am.” in a tone that sounded as if he had been waiting so long for texting his ex- friend with benefits. I got so angry at him, but then he tried to fix his sentence by saying:”I’m not saying that I will text him, I’m just saying that now I don’t have to feel bad for when he calls me and not being able to pick up the phone, now I can answer him”

It was a few weeks before that day that I lost the butterflies, I felt scared when I thought of him and didn’t feel those butterflies and, after that fight, I knew that things were heading off the road.

I was feeling crazy, I didn’t know if I was in my right to feel jealous or worried. I knew that those things were not right, but then when he defended himself, he would do it so graciously that made me even question myself. Am I exaggerating? Am I really being a bad boyfriend?

Our final week went by slowly. I was nervous and sad, I knew things were heading to an end, but I had hope. I had hope that all of the good things of our relationship would weight more than the stupid bad ones. You fight for love, you don’t cave in, and that sounds really beautiful, but only if it is not one-sided.

I saw him for the very last time on a Saturday, he had told me on the phone that he had doubts about the relationship and that we needed to talk. So, we went to eat to a park… the same park we went to the morning after saying “Te amo” to each other…how funny.

He said to me that he was unable to encompass everything, school, exams, moving to Dallas and me, that our relationship had a lot of obstacles in the future, so he didn’t see the point of it. I was so angry looking at him giving up that easily. He mentioned that moving to Dallas would be difficult, and I said, “Well, I thought we had already talked about all of that before becoming boyfriends, before you decided to ask me to be your boyfriend. I thought we had a plan” I (stupidly) tried to tell him how we could face all obstacles, but he said he didn’t think he had the will to do so. I was shocked.

Then he said how he didn’t feel jealous about me seeing my friend Garret, even knowing we used to have something four years ago.

I said, “Great, because there’s nothing to be jealous about”

And he, trying to find the words, added: “I wouldn’t feel jealous if I knew that you are sleeping with him”

I wanted to scream in that moment. What did he just say?

I asked: What why?

– I don’t know- he replied

– You do know, Ernesto, say it like it is. Why wouldn’t you feel jealous? I mean, I’m your boyfriend.

And just like that, after trying to keep his words, he finally said:

-Porque no me importa. (Because I don’t care)

My heart was breaking. I asked him what was going on…what was he talking about?

-You said you loved me- I said about to burst into tears

– Te quiero… (I appreciate you)

-¿Entonces por qué me dijiste que me amabas?/ Then why did you say to me that you loved me?

-Te amo… pero no así./ I love you, but not like that.

I didnt understand.

I was crying, and he looked so okay with everything. He said that his career was important, that he had to be the best of the best, that he had a life. I exploded and I said, “Well, guess what? You’re not the only one with a life, Ernesto, I have a career too, I want to be the best too, I work hard too, you are not the only one.

He never really said it, but it is obvious that the main reason of our break up was that, like Claudio said to me, “he just didn’t like me that much”, and that is why he just didn’t feel the will to fight for us.

But, how can someone say “I love you”, make plans with you, kiss you and hold you when you sleep together, talk about children’s names and then suddenly say that they don’t really love you in that way, and that they just don’t want to fight for you? How can they? What kind of people is that? How? Can anyone please explain to me? How?

After that, he drove me back. I walked out of his car trying to be strong, trying to maintain myself, just to end up crying in the street, alone and heartbroken, feeling stupid and clueless.

I think he’s a quitter. Because as soon as things became weird, he preferred to step aside rather than working together. Rather than working for the things he said he wanted with me.

I know that all of this time, I tried to understand him in every way. And it is until I write this, that I see how many times I mentioned his things, HIS future, his school, his time. And what about me? What about ourselves, people? How can we try to understand someone that much but not being able to even care about ourselves. I have a career too, I work hard too, my education and my goals and my career are just as important as his. I focused on understanding him all the way. Who understood me?

I’m not saying that I am perfect, I know that I made mistakes too, but I think I just loved him “too” much. I also think that maybe we found ourselves in the wrong time, maybe if things were different, if things were easier, we could be together, but I’m not sure. I’m not sure if things would be different. People don’t just stop loving like that.

All I know now, is that I want to be with someone who truly wants to be with me too, with someone who fights for me, with someone who says “te amo” to me and means it. With someone who doesn’t think his career or his projects are more important than my own. A man who knows what he wants.

I write this as a therapy, and because I know I gave too much. I feel empty and I feel sick to my bones right now. And also, because I know I’m not the only one going through this kind of situation.

Maybe this is my way for learning not to go so fast… that it doesn’t matter how amazingly nice things are going, I have to go slow… that  if someone tells you “Trust me when I say I love you” he might be lying to you.

If there’s someone out there feeling heartbroken, I hope that my story with Ernesto works as a medicine for you. Because you need to know that it is okay to love “too much” and to give yourself to someone, for that makes you a great human being… but you must also be careful and prepared, because even who you least expect it, even the most introverted and nerdy guy out there… even he can break your heart.

I’ll keep our good memories forever in my heart, because I really, truly loved him. I’ll remember our moments, our kisses and Austin, I’ll remember his laughter and our jokes… I’ll remember how it felt to sit next to him in his Crown Victoria… even if he drove us off the road.

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