in retrospect, I knew it was over when I tried to kiss him goodbye and he pulled away with a look I'd never seen before: something final, something distant. From there, it was anxious grasping at straws on the subway, the bus, and the plane; was it something I'd done, or simply who we'd become, or some other endlessly examined permutation of discontent. I came home and went to/threw myself at work the next morning, at which point it was another week before I tried contact, and another week and a half before we resolved things.
I shouldn't say resolved, really: we broke up. He'd started with doubts that ended with falling out of love with me and in love with a city, and I was tired of his inability to communicate things until they were past fixing, his response to my attempt at some level of adult discourse, and the generally shitty way he treated me the last time we were actually together.
I had an early shift at work, a house party in the evening, and two days off immediately afterwards, which seemed like an ideal time to do an unpleasant thing, so while I sat on Kai's couch and ate an enormous burrito, I worked through the things I wanted to say, how best to walk away from a thing I'd been trying to salvage while knowing it was unsalvageable; in short, how best to let it die.
Then the response came: apologetic about the treatment I'd received, 20/20 in hindsight, explicative of how distance and novelty and a desire to make a place his own meant that what we had no longer fit in to the context of the rest of his life, and though he'd reached this decision weeks ago, he couldn't actually say it until today.
It was a relief, honestly; I didn't think my chances of getting him to change the things I was bothered by were very good, my recent acceptance to PJ school meant at least another two years of distance and I was sort of glad we both wanted out, because it made the phone call easier—it was brief, and oddly mature, and we'd agreed it was a good first relationship, that everything but the last 2.5 weeks was something we'd look back on fondly, and that the other was a pretty alright guy. He thanked me for not being crazy; I joked that it was only going so well because neither of us knew how these things normally went. Nobody cried, no voices were raised, it was how I'd always imagined adults in relationships went about solving problems, which made its placement right at the end of ours both wrenching and funny.
I had a night of bad decisions, which I live-tweeted and then storified for posterity. It's here, if you're curious.
Since then, it's been hangover recovery, general ennui, skipping things on shuffle when the first four bars make my stomach flip over because I'm not sure how I'm going to react and in public is not the best place to find out, right now, and reflecting.
We did have a good run, and built a relationship from an offhand Tweet about porn funk in Montreal elevators, five weeks of texting, and the weirdly happy accident of a spare ticket to a Godspeed You! Black Emperor show. It took me to Portland, for maybe the best second date/five day vacation you could ever want, to Nanaimo and back to Montreal on diversions from weddings, Kelowna to meet the parents (and understand his adolescence/restlessness/the space from where our eventual end arose,) and to Toronto twice more, once just enough to see that we could maybe carve a place out of our own, and once to see just how wrong I was, earlier.
I'm left with a mountain of tweets, somewhat thankfully archived (but available to marketers and the Library of Congress, somehow,) an explosion of photographs, an archive of texts I don't know what to do with, a bunch of music he put on my external drive, a letter he sent, an emoticon we invented, four bottles of single-malt, and a year of memories of the first man I loved.
It's darkly funny that he told me he didn't love me any more almost precisely a year after he first told me he did and also that we bookended our time together with photowalks along railroad tracks, and I have no doubt hindsight will fill in other gaps, both bitterly and sweetly.
From here, though, all that's left is to take the positive with me, learn from the rest, let myself mourn, a little (but not wallow,) take comfort and joy in the grace and strength of my friends, and get ready to face whatever's next.