It’s the day before you break up with me and I’m sitting in the car with my mother. We’re stopped at a red light and she asks about you excitedly. I don’t date much. This is as new and fun for her as it is for me.
“So, what do you like about him?” She presses, a smile dancing on the corners of her lips.
I think about it. I think about our dates, about your style, about the way your hair falls. I think about texting in haikus, about our political beliefs, about the pictures we send each other. “I just feel like we’re on the same wavelength,” I eventually respond. “We just get each other.”
Maybe that’s how I knew, driving out to Long Beach the following evening, that you were going to end it. You hadn’t done anything juristically different that week, only mentioned you were tired, a bit stressed by work. It was just an inkling, just an itch at the back of my brain, but somehow I felt it — What if he breaks up with me tonight?
The diner is grimy but likable, hundreds of pictures anarchically filling the walls. You order a burger. I order a salad and blueberry pie. We make small talk about our days, our weeks, work, school. I can tell something is off and you can tell that I can tell that something is off and so we both ignore it as we sit peaceably in the booth with puffy plastic-lined cushions. It’s not the right time. Not yet.
After we finish we walk to the beach behind the building. It’s solitary. The sun, bleeding out her radiant glow, abandons us as she dips below the horizon line. You grip my hand tightly and I know you’re anxious.
We walk up the beach, mounting and descending the small hills of sand. It’s not romantic — the grains sting my feet and I’m out of breath in a few minutes. You talk about feelings you don’t understand, and I listen intently as you struggle to articulate, as you attempt desperately to better explain the ambiguous descent. I appreciate the effort, but you don’t need to finish for me to understand where the conversation will land us.
Your hands, once so welcome, feel misplaced on my skin now. I shrug them off only to find the chill of their absence worse. I want to reach out, place my hand back in yours, press my face to your chest, but it feels wrong. I know now, even before we’ve said it, that you’re not mind to touch anymore.
The problem with waves is that they crash. The tides endlessly pull them in and out, shift them around, upturn them and unfurl them and tumble them into and away from one another. I always believed we were on the same wavelength, and maybe we were. But the wave eventually crashes into the flat, dampened sand, as predictable and inevitable as nature and all her algorithmic processes.