You: Sophomore, bought me a beer the night Obama was re-elected
Me: Freshman, about to have my first relationship with somebody else
I will never be as happy on an election night as I was November 6, 2012. A couple months into college, I’d yet to have the necessary cliché of my leftist political awakening. I believed Democrats were good and Republicans were bad and the fate of the world rested on whether Barack Obama was re-elected. I watched nervously from my dorm room as my bro roommates made fun of me for caring so much. I cared so much. And then he won.
My best friend from high school was a sophomore at NYU, but I’d been avoiding them in an attempt to start college anew. That night I didn’t care. I just wanted to celebrate. They told me to come meet them at Brad’s, the bar on 4th street that didn’t card at the door, and I hurriedly put on my shoes energized by the cheers I heard in the background. I ran the ten blocks filled with hope.
It was good that Obama won, because I really wasn’t in the mood for anything else in my life to go wrong — let alone something of national importance. See, two days earlier I’d had my first date with my Dream Girl. It had not gone well. In general my first months at NYU had not been the big change I’d hoped for in my love life. The first person I tried to date had an ex-girlfriend who kept threatening to kill herself every time we went out. And when I met this with an endless well of closeted queer understanding, she hooked up with my roommate apparently as the quickest way of ending things with me. I guess when you’re 18 sticking your tongue in a frat guy’s mouth is easier than articulating: My ex-girlfriend is abusive and I’m not ready to be in a relationship with the dykiest boy in our dorm.
But I didn’t care about her anymore! Because while that drama was wrapping up my Dream Girl had slid into my Facebook DMs. I hadn’t even considered the possibility that this older girl in my scholarship seminar might be into me. But here she was messaging me and flirting with me and asking me to hang out. She was shocked — shocked! — I hadn’t seen Garden State and she invited me over to watch it. After the movie, we talked until we felt comfortable drifting toward silence. I leaned in to kiss her. And she said no. I pulled away and kept talking like nothing had happened, but the end of the night she looked disappointed that I didn’t make another move. I was so confused!
So here I was two nights later at Brad’s barely thinking about her or the first girl, because Obama was re-elected and nothing else mattered. I squeezed through the crowded bar and met up with my best friend who was in your writing program. They introduced me to you and a few other people and bought me a beer with their fake and we all started chatting, buzzing with liberal elation. My friend asked me about the date and I recounted the whole story. You swooped in.
“This is why you can’t worry yourself with girls your age,” you said. “They don’t know what they want. Date someone older.”
It was a good line. Unfortunately, I said, “Oh she is older!”
You were unfazed and kept flirting. You bought me another beer with your fake — why didn’t I have my own fake?? — and we had such a nice time chatting. I left Brad’s filled with beer and hope fully intending to ask you out.
But then two days later Dream Girl and I kissed. When I asked about the other night she denied ever saying no. Apparently it was just an exhale and/or I was crazy and/or she was lying and I still don’t know what was going on. This person would become my first girlfriend.
A couple weeks after election night you messaged me: “How’s it going with the girls” and I informed you that unfortunately it was going great. We didn’t talk again for two years.
My girlfriend was studying abroad in Florence for the entirety of her junior year. We decided to break up and then we decided to get back together and then I decided to move up my own study abroad so we could travel together in the spring. By the time I arrived in Paris, our relationship was falling apart. She broke up with me via text message before we reunited.
I’d opted for the cheapest housing which placed me in a chambre de bonne — French for fun-sized studio apartment. I reflected on my first failed relationship filled with melancholy as I looked out my tiny balcony. It wasn’t my Paris fantasy. But it was a Paris fantasy. The only thing separating me and centuries of great artists was my toilet seat was pink and cushiony and said Spécial VIP on it.
I spent my first months in Paris jumping from crush to crush always slipping back to my ex. I wanted to move on but I just wasn’t ready to let go. Then I got a notification that you’d commented on an Instagram post of my balcony. Your name yanked me back in time to a moment when my ex was just Dream Girl and hardly that as you were taking over that title. A whole alternate history where my first girlfriend was a Taurus instead of a Scorpio.
Your comment said that the previous semester you had stayed in this very same chambre de bonne. According to my journal, at the time I called this a “literary coincidence.” You deleted your comment so I messaged you on Facebook underneath our two year old messages about how I was doing “with the girls.” You admitted to deleting your comment because you thought it might be weird. But you confirmed that this had in fact been where you lived. You were Spécial VIP.
I’d love to say that this conversation helped me get over my ex, that we started chatting, and when I got back to New York I asked you out. Unfortunately, once again, timing wasn’t on our side. Unfortunately, once again, my ex interrupted. Her much-delayed visit was finally happening the next day. I let our conversation fizzle to focus on the past.
I don’t know you so I don’t know what was lost by my choices. Maybe all we missed out on was a bad first date. Or maybe we missed out on so much more. I guess we’ll never know. Anyway, thanks for the beer. Obama 2012.
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