I Think I Might Be A Bit Happy And I Don’t Know If I Like It
I went to the US for my year abroad. I went on a road trip to New Orleans, got into a relationship that ended with me leaving the country and lots of other nice things happened. But I’m not going to tell you about that, because I didn’t feel like shit and when you don’t feel like shit, it’s incredibly difficult to write. You see, creativity often comes from a source of pain. You create something to deal with something. Also, reading about someone who feels good is incredibly dull. There’s a reason the story of Harry Potter ends when Voldemort goes into limbo. Harry is only 17 years old but his story is still over because the darkness has gone. It’s kind of the same thing. My Voldemort is the voice in the back of my head telling me to kill myself. It’s still there but in limbo. I don’t hear it as often and when I do, I don’t take it as seriously. So, this is where I leave you. I hope I didn’t bum you out too much. Thanks for reading my story. Please don’t think too much about what you’ve read here. It’s not like it’s real. Not all of it anyway.
I’ll talk to you later.
My habit of writing about things before they happen has me once again looking back at a paragraph and things have turned out drastically different than I anticipated. As stated in the above paragraph, one of the many endings I’ve written to this story, I “got into a relationship that ended with me leaving the country.” That’s not exactly how things ended. To be honest, they haven’t ended at all. But more on that later. First, let’s get into my first, and so far, only, to my knowledge at least, gay experience.
On the fourth of October 2015 at 12:27 PM, I felt the need to sit down and write the following: I made out with a guy last night. I could feel his stubble. I was going to go home with him, but when I came back outside after getting my jacket, he was making out with another guy behind a shed. The other guy seemed to be genuinely gay, so I wasn’t too pissed off that I had just been ditched. The first time I spoke to Cory, it got way too deep, way too fast. He asked me whether or not I think we have souls, I said since if you cut me open you won’t find a soul, I don’t think we have souls. We talked about religion, how I wasn’t raised to believe in anything, that my mother was a Christian… sort of, and how I walked up on the roof of my school when I was twelve with the intent of jumping.
“Do you respect me?” He asked. He was very soft-spoken and I couldn’t really make out if he was wearing eyeliner or mascara or if his eyes were just like glowing diamonds in the dark. Maybe I was just drunk.
“Of course, I respect you, why wouldn’t I?” He was silent for a second.
“Are you straight?”
“If we were to kiss right now… I dunno.”
“Are you attracted to me?” I asked.
“Yes, I’m attracted to you. Why would you want to do this with me?”
“Because I feel like it would be a great experience to have, if one of my kids end up being gay, I could tell him that I had sex with a guy so he’d feel more accepted.”
“So, you’d be using me?” He said.
“Yeah I guess,” I said, feeling like much more was at stake in this interaction for him than for me.
“I guess I would be using you too.”
“We could use each other.”
“So, do you wanna get out of here?” I asked.
“I’ll just go inside and get my jacket.” When I came back outside, he was gone. I waited in the rain for maybe an hour. I’m starting to hate going home alone. I walked around the house and when I got back to the front, there he was, waiting for the other guy who was saying goodbye to his friends in the house.
“So, are you going home with him?”
“Yeah, I think we’re going to have sex.”
We kissed. Having the person you’re making out with be just as forceful as yourself was both weird and fantastic. He put his forehead to mine as we exchanged phone numbers, droplets of rain making our screens blurry. I fully appreciated the new experience of being intimate with someone roughly the same height as myself.
“He can’t see you with me.”
“Okay,” I said and kissed him again. He kissed me back before he pushed me away and jerked his head towards the house where a door was opening. His night started as mine ended. I texted him a few days later. He didn’t respond. But today we matched on Tinder so fuck I dunno what’s gonna happen…
…Nothing happened. Apparently, I’m not attracted to dudes before I have my tongue in their mouth. And barely even then, which in all honesty feels a bit lame. Wouldn’t it be interesting to be a bit bi just to widen the playing field? After having explored gay tinder for a while, I came across this tall bearded gentleman who started talking to me. The conversation didn’t last long. After approximately 90 seconds he told me that guys who were as tall as him were a turn-on for him.
That was when I noped the fuck out. I dunno why that creeped me out so much but it did. That’s as far as my gay adventure took me before I was back in London and Reuben was aggressively rubbing the inside of my thigh one night. I took his hand and put it back in his lap at least four times before I stood up and walked away. It turns out I wasn’t even nearly as gay as I thought I was. Quite frankly I’m disappointed. It’s like when you hope for a gay kid to spice up your boring suburban life, but only get yourself in kid form. How dull.
Before we carry on with this very serious subject of a clueless son of a bitch venturing into the field of love and rejection on very shaky legs, let’s have a laugh. At me. You see, I’ve told you about the first time I tried to do stand up, and how it didn’t go very well. There was actually a second time. When I got to UVA, I decided to try out for the improv groups, since basically every person who I admired and whose job I wanted had been in one.
The auditions were nerve-wracking. Imagine going into a room with 40 strangers, being called up two and two, being given a word, and then you’re supposed to create a funny scene out of that, making people laugh. I can’t believe I did it. I really can’t believe I did it six times, as I got cut in the third round for both groups. For one of the groups, The Famous Slayers, if you had done two improv scenes the previous audition, they wanted you to do at least one stand-up set the next time. I got my stand-up out of the way early.
Having learned from the one and only previous time I had done it, I brought a printed out copy of every word I was going to say, putting the paper on a notebook to at least maybe give the impression that I had just scribbled some notes on a page when in fact I was holding on to that piece of paper for dear life, making it soggy with my hand sweat. This time went much better, in that people actually laughed. I feel like people who do comedy themselves are quicker to laugh than others because they understand and appreciate the craft. They may have also just been trying to be nice. I think that was it if I’m honest.
On Wednesday the 30th of September 2015 at 10:13 PM, I had made it about halfway home across campus after a first date I had scored after meeting a girl at a party. Apparently, I had stared at her all night after she had talked to me about Ed Miliband and British politics. Miliband and Labour had lost the UK election in May of that year, 2015. I don’t really have any memory of the excessive staring, I remember having a look-see once in a while, but then again, I also don’t remember how drunk I was. I could have been completely off my face.
Some other girl had asked me if I shave my balls. I was afraid she was going to ask me to show them to her. She didn’t. Anyway, I got the number of Marie Larkin, a girl who knew a thing or two about UK politics, which was incredibly rare for an American. Yanks, as a group were about as well informed about the surrounding world as victims of abstinence-only sex education, are about the risks of teenage pregnancy. That is to say, they are all woefully ignorant.
We texted back and forth for a while. I asked her what she was up to around 2 am one night which I found out a long time later she thought was incredibly creepy. I was just interested in a booty call, she was trying to figure out if she was going to go on her first date ever. You could say we had different stakes in the game. Halfway across campus in the middle between our dorms, there was a student center with a Wendy’s. Behind it, as much out of the way as you could get in those brightly lit corridors, I sat down to write down the interaction on my phone. I decided to start writing about the moment when we were about to say goodbye for the night after I had walked her home. I’ve added some more recent perspectives to it:
She pecked me on the mouth. A few days before I had gone on a date with another girl (I don’t know how I became such a playaaaaa) and she was a little bit offended when I offered to pay for her at the place we were at. Considering I had met her through the UVA group supporting Bernie Sanders for president, perhaps I should’ve figured out she would be a staunch feminist. We watched a movie and made out one late night in a classroom but once I started to move my hand up her skirt she said “not on school premises,” which I thought was a suggestion that we carry on somewhere else, but she never asked me back to her room despite mentioning she had a dorm room all to herself after her roommate never showed up at the beginning of the year. That felt like a real missed opportunity.
She was Chinese-American with violinist yet hippie parents, so the culture gap was large but we had a surprisingly good rapport for the time we actually texted and dated. However, this recent reaching-for-the-check-experience made me suggest we split the check at my first date with the woman who would become my first actual girlfriend. Not knowing she had a more traditional bent, this made her think I wasn’t enjoying the date at all, which I was. Evidence of this was that I was comfortable making jokes you really shouldn’t make on first dates with religious Americans.
She had noted my dark brown hair and said the American view of Swedes was that we were all blonde. I said I used to be blonde as a kid but my hair darkened at the same pace as my soul. Not believing in the existence of souls, I thought this would be an obvious joke. I had yet to learn that this girl not only believed in souls but also the existence of heaven and hell. It’s likely that at some point she will force me to get baptized so that we can spend eternity in heaven together, apparently, you can’t get in if you haven’t suffered an attempted drowning in holy water by a man in a dress. Hopefully, your reaction to this is: Dude, she’s fucking crazy, run! Because that was my reaction, minus the run part. Remember, I can relate to crazy.
But let’s get back to the moment where we’re about to say goodbye after our first date and she pecked me on the mouth, but I of course wasn’t satisfied with that.
“Can’t we make out for a bit?” I asked. (This would be ruthlessly mocked for years to come for apparently being way too cavalier).
“I have never kissed anyone before,” she said.
“Really?” I suddenly found myself asking the question I once so despised. I wasn’t really surprised or shocked, I just didn’t know how to react.
“Yeah, how do I do it?”
“Just go with it,” I said being completely oblivious to the fact that I might be pressuring her into doing something she didn’t want to do. #MeToo was still years away.
“Yeah, ok,” she said.
She seemed fine, but it’s also possible I was oblivious to how she was really feeling. It’s not like that’s never happened before. And so, we made out for a bit. In these last nine months the tables have turned quite abruptly. There I was all of a sudden making out with someone who had never done this before. I know this doesn’t sound very impressive, but for me it was a huge step. I was now the experienced one. How did this actually happen? Sure, she was younger than me but I was surprised that I felt more comfortable in this area than anyone at all ever. I may have only arrived in the United States seven weeks ago but I have already made out with a few people, even spent the night with one of them, and I’ve managed to add several phone numbers to my contacts list. Things which seemed impossible not too long ago.
“I like you,” she said.
“I like you too,” I said. Turns out I’m actually a nice person. Or a manipulative bastard. I haven’t decided which one to go with yet.
AAAAAAAnd sceeeene. God, it’s always horrid to have to relive your own awkward forays into sexual or romantic connections with the opposite sex. I don’t remember it being awkward with the guy. It was fairly straightforward. It must be great to be fully gay.
Coming to a point in my life where I gave less of a shit of how I appeared to other people had its good moments and its less good moments. For instance, one of the first things I said to Marie over text was that I don’t use emojis because it’s a tool for people who are too stupid to come up with the right words to express themselves. To me, that was a sarcastic quip about the state of our youth. To her, I was a pretentious asshole. I think both of those assessments may be true. I guess sarcasm doesn’t go over well over text.
I mentioned having slept with a girl in those first seven weeks in the US. It was a short but decidedly delightful story. At a party at the arts frat (It was as weird as it sounds, basically imagine the typical frat, just with a bunch of art students. A bunch of gay hipsters and hippies, it was ridiculous. I mean holy fuck, when they had a party called “Down the rabbit-hole” they really meant it.) I no longer remember how I ended up at, I met a British man who started talking to me and we eventually became friends.
A few weeks later he invited me along to the same frat with his group of friends, including an attractive short Indian girl. I think she started flirting with me in the line to get in, but it could’ve just been talking. Considering that she later dragged me onto the dancefloor and started grinding on me, I have to say I think it was actual flirting. The last time I tried to kiss a girl who was grinding on me, it didn’t go well. This time, it did. She didn’t push me away or seem disgusted by me so that was a win.
I just grabbed her and kissed her. It’s so not me, I have no idea who I am anymore. Someone patted me on the back as I was hunched over, macking with this shorty on the dancefloor, maybe it was the British man, maybe it was his Turkish friend who I had also hung out with a few times. It was all very international. I didn’t really care who it was. All I cared about was getting some ass. We went outside and made out some more. She looked at me and said: “I’m on my period, I’m not having sex tonight.”
“That’s fine, we can just make out,” I said. She laughed.
An Uber was called and we went to her place. Her roommate wasn’t there but her huge German Shephard was. I liked it, and it seemed to like me. I suggested we put down a towel and have sex anyway. (We as in the short Indian girl and I, not we as in me and the German Shepard.). I was after all thirsty as fuck. She, the Indian girl, wasn’t having it, so we just made out in our underwear.
I’m not gonna pretend I didn’t try one too many times to get her underwear off. I don’t like admitting that since I’m such a bitch about feminism and the like, but I probably went a tad too far and she probably had to stop me one too many times than what should be considered okay. On a scale of how dudes in general act, I’m of course a fucking saint. But that’s not really how we should measure things, because if we do, then a lot of horrible things would suddenly become okay. I kissed her again the next morning, she pushed me out the door saying her dad would be there in fifteen minutes.
Maybe that was a lie, maybe she just wanted to get rid of me. If it was, I guess that was fair enough. Also, the way girls have to say “I have a boyfriend” to ward off guys is despicable, since it really just means the guy only respects a girl’s “no” if it’s because she “belongs” to another guy. It’s like they’re fucking cattle. And here she was, using not her boyfriend, but the presence of a man to get me to go away.
“Yeah, I slept somewhere else,” I said to my incredibly nerdy roommate the next morning when I got back to our room, insinuating that I got laid and that was something I did on the reg, even though it couldn’t further from the truth. I was acting out the role of a guy who gets laid, I couldn’t be myself because getting laid was still not part of the repertoire that came with being me. The girl and I texted back and forth for a bit but I never had the balls to outright ask her to meet up, so it all ended up in nothing.
That same nerdy roommate was in the room the first time Marie and I wanted to get freaky and instead of asking out loud for him to stay in his friends’ room, we texted back and forth while having a conversation about something else, while she was in the room with us. I MEAN OH GOD HOW AWKWARD IS THAT???? On Halloween, after she had pretended not to see me because she was apprehensive about going home with me despite saying yes to whether I should come to pick her up at the end of the night, we fell asleep in a bed that was about as wide as one of my asscheeks.
We had marks on our legs after fooling around, falling off the bed onto the floor, and just carrying on down there. The next morning, we woke up, and my roommate was sleeping in his bed. What the hell had he seen when he walked in? We got dressed and left without waking him up, or he at least had the decency to act as if he was asleep.
She told me afterward that when we walked over to her place that morning, she felt incredibly guilty for what she had done. I didn’t really understand what she meant, she hadn’t done anything wrong. She said she had felt slutty and not in a good way. I’m still not entirely aware of how much of a Christian she really is. That shit really fucks you up, even though she doesn’t see it that way. Of course, she doesn’t, she’s been brainwashed! Yet another time, we had to get dressed in a rush as my nerdy roommate opened the door, and I had to stop him from entering the room saying, “Could you give us a minute?” I can barely fathom that I’ve been a part of such college-movie-esque antics.
I can hear you thinking, Oh no, is it gonna be all lovie dovie bullshit from now on? I can’t keep reading about someone who’s happy, that’d be horrid. Not to worry! Fortunately, with happiness comes an emotional investment which can also make you really depressed. So, we’re all good. More sadness to come, just you wait.
It’s obvious why we fit so well together, Marie and I. As cheesy as it might sound, we’re broken in all the same places. Two massacred puzzle pieces who just happened to have been squashed and torn apart in such a way that they now fit together like a glove.
Right after I came home from the airport having just dropped her off for her to get back to the US after she came with me to Sweden for a while after the end of the school year and we were going to be apart for an extended period of time for the first time, I sat down and wrote the following:
I really don’t like talking about my private life if it involves admitting I like someone else. But after six years of having a face that’s been as dry as a desert, it turns out that my tear ducts actually do work, so I guess I have to tell you about this. I left the dorms after one term at UVA and moved into a room in a house off-campus. She came over to my place every night, we were basically living together. We had a lot of sex and with that came of course the pregnancy scare. We had used too much lube in the beginning while we were both trying to figure out how to do this thing, basically turning my dangle into a numb, dead chorizo unable to feel anything and certainly unable to finish. My dick was like a piston in a car engine that had lost all control over itself. Slowly but surely, we figured it out. She was on the pill, but still incredibly cautious.
Towards the end of one evening, all my blood was decidedly not in my brain, and so we got ahead of ourselves and where things finished became unclear. Back then, we had no idea what this meant, except a possible pregnancy, even though the pills are about 99 percent safe if you use them correctly. In order for her to not have to worry, I went and got her a morning-after pill the morning after (An aptly named product indeed). The girl at the register was very kind and seemed to be used to having to guide scared guys through this process for the first time. She worked in a college town pharmacy, after all. Preemptive strikes must be a dime a dozen.
We had spent almost all of our free time together for the last two and a half months and it had gone very well. She only pissed me off about five percent of the time. We went to DC together and stood in front of the White House in the moonlight. We spent the night in a hotel. It was the first time we could do it without having to worry about anyone walking in the door or hearing us from another room. The bed may have fallen over. Things were just easy with her. I could be my broken self and that was okay, because she was, if possible, even more broken than I was, and you know I like that shit. Depression is attractive, don’t ask me why. That box is probably best left closed.
She took things too far all the time, made jokes about euthanizing babies and being raped by a horse. You know, things that make you fall in love with a girl. We went camping in the mountains, where we couldn’t figure out how to get the fire started and had to ask some kind strangers for help. They assumed we weren’t American since we couldn’t start a fire. I’m pretty sure at least a few of the over 330 million Americans would struggle to start a fire, but what the hell do I know? When we couldn’t get the fire started, she thought we would have to pack everything up and drive the three hours home, in the middle of the night, when we could just go to sleep in the tent. She’s very all or nothing in her thinking, it’s very black and white. Not about the world, just in the way she thinks she has to do things.
We went to New York and the Jewish neighborhood in Brooklyn. Nobody was there except some men with curly hair and thick suits in the scorching heat. On the way there, some kids were playing their music very loudly on the subway. I wanted to murder them. A mom was loudly verbally abusing another mom in front of her kids who were running around the subway car. When we sat down in the seats her kids had vacated ten minutes earlier, she looked at us as if she wanted to fight us. I prefer biking to public transport.
I took her to Sweden with me for a month to meet my family and just be. We did it in a wheat field in the sunset. We went down south and sat on the beach. She enjoyed everything, she thought everything was beautiful. Or at least most of it. Way too soon it was time for her to go back to the States to go back to college and for me to go back to London to start my last year of university. I drove her to the airport. She had been crying a lot, she was worried about leaving, but now it was actually happening. We had to repack her bags, the bag she needed to check was too heavy. That bought us some more time together.
It didn’t really hit me until she was through security. She turned around and waved to me one last time, tears streaming down her face. It’s been six years since I cried because I was sad and not from laughing at some stupid joke that I just made myself, but now I actually could not stop the waterfalls from being turned on. It was as if it was somehow out of my hands. The last time it happened, it was at a time when I was generally miserable and I was trying really hard not to have a row with my dad, then I had a big row with my dad anyway and I wanted to die. As you do. But this was different. I didn’t think I would ever get like this. Some girl walks away and is gonna be gone for a few months and I fucking cry? Jesus fuck, I’m such a cheeseball.
I mean, she cried about leaving all the time for months in advance but she’s a girl on antidepressants and hormones and shit. I’m “dead inside,” or so I’d like to believe in some pseudo-masculine bullshit way. The image hasn’t been exactly shattered, but at the very least tattered. It wasn’t a little either. A single tear didn’t slowly and cinematically make its way down my cheek. It was the full waterworks. I put my sunglasses on so people wouldn’t see me being a human being. It is after all disgusting. I ran around to the other side of the security line to be able to see her take her laptop out of her backpack and put it through the x-ray machine. I ran back around the security line to the place where I had told her I’d be.
We waved to each other one last time. I took off my sunglasses so she could see my eyes. She had said that she’d kinda wish I’d cry so she wouldn’t feel like such a mess in comparison. I unhappily obliged. She picked up her now even heavier carry-on, turned around, and started walking to her gate. I just stood there for a bit, in case she came back. Ten minutes passed. She didn’t. I walked to the bathroom and locked the door behind me. I started making noise because of the crying, you know like a kid who doesn’t get the ice cream he/she/it wants. I tried not to be so fucking dramatic, but I couldn’t make it stop.
It took me about five minutes to gather myself and pretend to wipe my ass to make it sound like it was a regular toilet visit. I washed my hands, looked for a way to dry my hands with another man who also failed to find a way to do so. We both ended up just flinging our hands around in the air and moistening our shirts and pants. As I was walking to the car I was listening to Tiny Dancer by Elton John, it had been stuck in my head since we had heard it on Danish radio down south. I saw LMFAO practicing his tennis forehand against the side of his taxi in the parking lot. I made it to the car without too much of a struggle, but in the car, the waterworks came back on. I got home, and my mom asked how I was doing.
“Ok,” I said, looking at the floor in case it started again.
“Maybe it was a bit harder than you expected,” she suggested.
“Yeah,” I said and walked out of the kitchen. I didn’t expect to have all these emotions, and since I met her, it’s like a different person has slowly grown out of me. A less cynical person, someone who doesn’t hate the world so much. I think I like this person better than the last one.I have a bit of a thing for thinking dark thoughts and thinking it’s unique. JD Salinger was allegedly upset about the fact that The Catcher in The Rye sold so well. He didn’t want that many people to understand his “deep” thoughts. Marie told me everyone has the dark thoughts I have. That didn’t make me feel bad about having them. It made me feel hopeful that this will sell damn well and that I might make bank. Please people, relate away. I’m not special at all and it might be a door to a goldmine. Looking back at the things I used to write is always horrific, but it’s more disheartening than usual when I read the odd paragraphs where it becomes obvious that I thought being dark and brooding was cool. I still love a dark sense of humor but that’s just for shits and giggles.She said “I love you” first. It was at another rowing party, the party where we had met had also been one. I had signed on to row for the UVA men’s team and she was on the women’s team. We were on a patio on the back side of the house where we could be alone. Or rather, where she could sit on my lap so we could make out, causing anyone who opened the door to immediately go “Oh” and turn around, closing the door behind them. Going to a party with a girlfriend felt like cheating. You were guaranteed to score. It was great, you don’t have to pretend to enjoy talking to a girl to get into her pants. It takes the edge off and it makes you less anxious. She had apparently discussed whether or not she should tell me she loved me with a friend. Marie suggested that she should get drunk and blame the “I love you” on the alcohol in case I didn’t say it back. The friend thought that was a terrible idea. But she did it anyway. And I did say it back. Without hesitation. Thoughts along those lines had floated around in the back of my head for months, but I was a complete newbie when it came to romantic feelings so I didn’t know how it was supposed to feel or what I was actually feeling. But it felt completely right to say it.Her telling me she loved me was remarkable for a number of reasons, but mainly because of the things I had already told her about myself that should’ve caused her to run away screaming, but didn’t. I had spent that first thanksgiving with her and her family, she had invited me because she felt bad, because I was in a big new country with holidays I had never taken part in, and my other alternative was to stay on campus. She didn’t actually want me there, it was an empty offer. I did not and still do not have the social skills to figure stuff like that out so I said yes like an asshole. One late night we were getting to know each other on a deeper level and I opened up about my suicidal thoughts and how there has been many a time where I’ve wanted to impale my mother with a bread knife or knock her out with a frying pan full of stroganoff. She started to cry. I didn’t really understand why. I had the girl that I loved crying in my arms and I couldn’t feel a thing. I was almost laughing though I had no idea why. I joke a lot about being a sociopath but at that point, I felt like the jokes had some truth to them. The way she interprets things is nuts. Or maybe I am nuts. I later learned that she was afraid I was going to attack her on our drive back to campus. Homicidal thoughts about ones’ mother apparently mean you’re just a regular murderer. Great.I didn’t find out until a long time later that she almost broke up with me after that. It would’ve been understandable if she did. Actually, it was dumb of her not to. That’s enough of a reason to wife anyone up. She told her mom about the whole ordeal and HER MOM TALKED HER INTO STICKING WITH ME, WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK IS THAT ALL ABOUT?? The first night I was in the house, her mom had thanked me for walking her home after our dates, and I had responded that I shouldn’t have to, but the world sucks, feminism is needed like crazy and other progressive-guy-mumbo-jumbo. She had probably never heard a man self-identify as a feminist and talk about women’s rights as something positive that she had a minor stroke and argued her daughter into sticking with this prospective mom-killer simply because he thought gender inequality was something bad.The first few days of that first thanksgiving holiday, we slept in separate bedrooms, which I thought was incredibly conservative. It really was like going back in time. She did sneak down to my room in the middle of the night so we could fool around for a bit. I had bought plane tickets home for Christmas back in August. Even when I was back in Sweden, we texted constantly, I completely changed my sleeping schedule to account for the six-hour time difference so I could stay up till she was going to bed. She hadn’t felt ready to actually have sex during these first couple of months, and I had been as respectful as I could have been while still being teleported back to the sexual frustration of the years of my early puberty every 15 minutes. As soon as I landed in Sweden and we were going to be apart for three weeks, she said she was ready. Of course, she found that moment optimal to tell me. And so, I spent Christmas deep in thoughts which shan’t ever see the light of day or we shall all perish. She picked me up at the airport when I got back a couple of days before classes started back up. My flight was delayed, but she and her parents stayed up anyway, with food laid out as I arrived. We talked until about two am. Then we finally made our way up to the third floor and her bedroom. She was ready, but still nervous. Let’s just get this out of the way – there was blood. Not because some hypothetical hymen being broken, because as we all know that is a myth to subjugate women like so many other things are in this world. Like beauty standards and periods being made embarrassing by preposterous social standards. A long road lay ahead of us till we finally figured out how to do sex properly. Having spent a long time in the wasteland that is male virginity, I knew from my internet readings all that could happen and what was normal and what wasn’t. This was nothing out of the ordinary.She came to Sweden the next Christmas after we had spent the fall on separate continents. She had to leave on the first day of the new year to go back for winter training. We spent New Year’s Eve with my sister and her friends in Stockholm. On the bus back at around two or three am, she started looking at me weirdly. When we got off the bus, she walked away from me. I asked her what was up. She said I was ignoring her. I was exhausted, and I just wanted to get home and go to bed. The truth came out soon enough. She didn’t want to leave. She tried to avoid being too emotional about it because she thought that would make me want to leave her. Ah yes, someone being sad to leave you really is grounds for a breakup. The insanity. I remember when she first told me she was on antidepressants. I remember the first time she forgot to take her antidepressants. It was obvious that she needed her antidepressants. What she didn’t know was that those breakdowns I witnessed didn’t push me away, they more or less did the opposite. I saw myself in her. Most often my feelings have stayed on the inside, but all the anger that I have experienced is essentially just a different shade of the same color. I’m not gonna sugarcoat this, it was some dark shit. It was out of control sometimes, and there wasn’t much I could do to stem the flow. I wouldn’t feel much in the beginning, sometimes I would even think it was annoying. But sometimes late in the night, I would surprise myself by also having something that could be likened to emotions. It was like my body was telling me that I cared in a way that my mind couldn’t. I could never see the feelings coming because they weren’t there intellectually. She’d think I was faking it to make her feel better, that I was patronizing her. How the hell I would ever be able to fake any emotion of any kind was beyond me. I’d get pissed off, but the anger never lasted long. She thought I’d think it was weird, that it wasn’t normal. She always seemed to forget who I was or at the very least had been in those moments. I wasn’t going to throw this away any time soon. I know I’ve had a lot of dramatic thoughts surrounding ending my life and what makes life worth living, but regardless of what happens for me career-wise, I can see myself sticking around all the way until old age takes me, just to hang out with her.One day in early 2017, she called me while I was at university at a weekend to finish up a group project. I walked out of the room and into one of the empty radio studios. It was morning where she was, she had just got home. From another guy’s house. She had slept with someone else. I didn’t think I’d care but my stomach fell when she told me. I went silent for a bit. I really couldn’t speak. It’s not like I was ever any better. I was even the one who had suggested we’d sleep with other people while we were long-distance and she had said no, she said it would ruin her emotionally if I ever did that. And now she was the one who had actually broken that rule. She felt incredibly guilty and it was like I lowered a rifle from her temple when I made it clear that I wasn’t ending things. You see, when there’s a fight within me between logic and feelings, logic always wins. Always. It’s not even close. In my mind’s eye, I saw a version of myself more reliant on feelings stand up and start to bash everything in the studio. Microphones, computers, chairs, and desks were all flying across the room in a thousand pieces. The real me was just sitting there, figuring out how to react using some fucked up version of emotional math. My thought process went thusly: Do I think sleeping with someone else should be a huge deal in a relationship as it often is considered by a lot of people? The answer was no. Do I think I would have been able to resist the urge if I, like her, was hit on by an attractive member of the opposite sex and was offered to go home with them? The answer was no. The conclusion was clear. According to my own logic, this should be no biggie, regardless of what I actually felt. So, I started trying to make her feel better, which just made her feel even more guilty. I made out with a German classmate a few weeks later to retaliate. Bad move since I also lived with her and had to deal with the resulting awk.I was obviously trying but failing to take advantage of this situation where I could legitimately fuck someone else without really ending up on lower moral ground. Perhaps that rather cold calculation already has me on lower moral ground. I frenched the German. I texted Alina asking if she wanted to pick up the friends with benefits things. She asked, “Don’t you have a girlfriend?” I said we had an open relationship while we were long-distance. This was at best 12 percent true. She said she was in a “committed, monogamous relationship” and that she wasn’t interested. I was drunk and got drunker. I felt awful. I called Marie and told her all about it. She was very understanding and supportive. That night we both realized that this weird hunt for more genitals was just hurting the both of us so why the fuck were we doing it?So I might be doing a lot better than I used to, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the suicidal thoughts went anywhere. Just because I’m not actively considering hurling myself off a bridge and spread my nonexistent wings towards the night sky only to have the water surface crush my skull, it doesn’t mean I’m not having those kinds of thoughts. They just changed form. I no longer walk around trying to figure out how to end my life. You know those moments when you remember a time in the past when you embarrassed yourself or fucked something up and it’s like you’re back right then and there in that moment again, and you feel all those feelings again and all you want to do is sink through the floor and die? I’m sure you have moments like that. Well, when I do, my response is compulsive suicidal thoughts which usually go along the lines of: Shoot me in the face, shoot me in the face, shoot me in the face, dear God won’t someone please shoot me in my fucking face. Or you know, just: Kill me, kill me, kill me, kill me into oblivion. It’s like suicidal Tourette’s, I can’t stop it, it’s like the thoughts have to come out and if I don’t let them, they’ll just come out as convulsions or dry heaving or vomiting. I managed to keep anyone from seeing them until the other day when Marie caught me at it in the car doing weird throat noises. I tried to explain/joke it away by saying that “I was just expelling demons.” Sometimes demons escape your mouth, it’s like Hades speaking through you from the depths below. It’s not nice but it’s nothing to freak out about. To me, it has never been that big of a deal, mostly because it’s been so much worse that now this seems good by comparison. That was not the impression she got. She already knew my mental health history which is why I was surprised that she was surprised. She was horrified and upset that I hadn’t told her about this before. I mean, why would I tell her something that was just a normal thought process in my everyday life? I understand it’s probably not a thought process that’s all that common, but for me, it didn’t seem like a big deal. The thoughts also come whenever I feel like I fucked up a social situation. Sometimes I feel like I’m I just that semi-autistic kid again, trying to figure out how to act in order for people to not think I’m a freak. I haven’t really figured it out yet. It’s like the ghost if not of Christmas’ past then just the ghost of my past comes to haunt me, only to tell me what a pointless piece of shit I am.We went to Norway in the spring of 2018. We drove from Stockholm, spent a night in the forests on the Swedish side of the border, and went on from there. It’s remarkable that it took me so long to go there. It was truly spectacular. She fell asleep about an hour after passing the border. When the landscape started to transform from green summer meadows to fucking glaciers, I woke her up. The landscape was mindboggling. It literally went from summer and sun to snow and ice from one hill to the next. I was worried we wouldn’t find a place to put the tent. Then we started driving down into one of the fjords, and the landscape went right back to green fields filled with flowers. The mountains were steep and the serpentine roads were narrow, which made me nauseous, at least when she was driving. That first night in the fjords, we found a little spot off the road among some trees to put our tent. We put up our chairs and had something to eat. We had discussed getting married so that I could come to the States. I hadn’t proposed yet. To me, it wasn’t obvious that it was my responsibility to propose. To her, it was. She’s traditional in some ways that I will never reconcile with, or understand.That first night in Norway, we sat in our chairs by our tent and watched the sun set on the mountains encompassing our valley. She worried about having to leave, even though she just arrived.“Ugh, I just neeeeed to be with you. I can’t be away from you. I just can’t.” That sounds cheesy as hell, but she didn’t say it in a particularly sweet or loving way. It was barely emotional. She said it like she was a heroin addict saying “Please, don’t take away my heroin.” That’s when I knew it was time.“It’ll be fine,” I said. “Soon enough we’ll be together all the time.”“Well, for that to happen, something else needs to happen,” she said, slyly looking at the ground. She had been hinting strongly for months, if not a year at this point, that it was high time for me to propose. I had accepted that this was not an area where I would be able to push my feminist agenda any further. I would have to ask her. She had also hinted that this trip would be a nice opportunity to ask a certain question. Her hints were never that covert. She was half an inch away from saying “YOU WILL PROPOSE TO ME IN THE NORWEGIAN FJORDS OR SO HELP ME GOD I WILL RIP YOUR BALLS OFF.”My heart rate picked up. “Well, I don’t have a ring, but we could just use a rock?” I looked at her. She was stunned. I don’t think she was sure it was actually even going to happen. “Would that be okay?”“Yeah,” she flustered, not really knowing what to say. I got up and started walking towards the mountainside. I picked up the first rock I could find, not really paying attention to picking a nice-looking one. This was a spur-of-the-moment thing, while still being a part of a predetermined plan. The rock had already been chosen by fate simply by ending up being there at this particular time. Not that I believe in fate, but it sure as hell makes it sound a lot nicer than “I used this rock because I didn’t have the time or money to buy a ring.” I ran back to her, got down on one knee in front of her chair, held the rock in front of her, looked her in the eye, and said “Marie Larkin, will you marry me?” Her face showed disbelief, shock, and excitement. She screamed, got up, and threw her arms around me. She leaned back to look at me. “I guess I should actually say yes, so yes.”She might want to take my name someday and like the massive hypocrite that I am, I really like that. I would never ask her to, but I do like it. It’s the difference between what I want and what I think. I want her to take my name, but I think she should keep her own.