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The Big Feeling

September 14, 2015

I remember the day that A, a 16-year-old camper at the camp I was working at this summer, followed me around for hours telling me how much he missed his girlfriend. She had just left camp at the end of the first session, which was just the day before. He told me all sorts of things about her–how wonderful she was, how she made him feel, and how they had promised to write each other everyday.

I listened with a warm heart. I smiled at his young love.

But that was what I chalked it up as: young love. I looked at his sad puppy dog eyes; I could tell that he missed her a lot, but I thought he’d get over the whole thing quickly. After all, that was what it was: young, puppy love. In that moment, all I could do was sympathize with him. I thought he’d find someone new to pine over in just a day or two.

But now, I understand. I truly understand so much about what A was going through.

I met an incredible man this summer: M. It didn’t start off the way it is now—we were just having fun, that was all. But somewhere along the way, we “caught feelings” for each other. Somewhere along the way, we started to really care about each other.

He asked me if I loved him. I said that I didn’t know. I asked him what is love? He said, he didn’t know.

He asked, is love the same as care?

I don’t know, I said. What’s the difference between caring about someone a lot and loving him?

I told him that I certainly knew I cared about him. I care about you a lot. He said he cared about me a lot, too—that he spent most of his day thinking about me, that I made him happy, that I made him want to be a better person.

But my friends are convinced that I don’t just care for him but that I love him, too.

Am I really in love but just too afraid to admit it because I’m afraid of getting hurt? Of being disappointed? Of feeling vulnerable?

I asked my friends to describe to me how they know they love their significant other–what is love? All of them had different answers. Most of them scrambled to find words; they either choked and couldn’t mutter out more than a few words or they said too much without saying anything. One friend went on for 30 minutes and then tried to condense his answer, which took another 10 minutes. All of them would look far off into the distance to try to pinpoint to me exactly what love was. They said, it’s hard to describe.

Still, I’m having a hard time aligning my feelings against their definitions.

All I know is that right now, I have this big feeling.

He’s flying out to England on Wednesday and isn’t coming back for two years, maybe a brief visit next summer but no plans to come back for good for another two years. We said our see you later’s—for I don’t say goodbye’s—last Tuesday. Yesterday was the first day that I didn’t cry at all. Not once. But I was still sad—still sad even though we had been texting each other since Tuesday.

When will I get over this sadness? When will it hurt less?

Some moments, I feel perfectly fine. I feel as though I cannot cry anymore. Cannot be sad anymore. Cannot care anymore. Some moments, I’m perfectly optimistic about our future. We had, after all, agreed to remain the closest of friends—to Skype, to call, to write. I think, this is not a total breakup! We will still be in each other’s lives.

But then I go back to missing him, missing him a lot. Missing him beside me. Missing him around me. Missing him just being there.

Today, I cleaned and organized my room in preparation for the start of a new school year tomorrow. I wanted to put us away so that I could concentrate on moving forward—on going back to my old life again, on going back to the old me again.

But as I sorted all the things I kept from our time together—receipts, photographs, little notes—I began to panic. I was trying to remember dates so that I could label all of the things, but the dates were fuzzy. How could I not remember? I started to write down memories frantically. I don’t want to forget! I screamed in my mind. I scrambled to remember every last detail. I want to remember them forever. I want to remember every little moment, every little word said, every little intimate moment of lying in bed just staring at each other. I want to still be able to hear the laughs, to still be able to see those changing shimmering eyes; I want to still be able to feel his embrace.

As though he were still here.

And although I am still sad most of the day—most of days—and although the sadness comes in waves, sometimes big and sometimes small, I don’t want this big feeling to ever leave me. I want to have it so that I can remember him always. No matter how much sadness it causes me. Because I believe that one day, I won’t be sad anymore but will just be happy—happy that I am forever changed because he is now forever a part of me.

LOVING

We made love spinning through space, a savoury, saucy ball of flesh, a lone, hot little ball shining and steaming with juicy aromas as it turned and turned through Helena’s dream and through the infinite void and fell as it spun, gently falling to the bottom of a huge bowl of salad. There it lay, the little ball that was the two of us, and from the bottom of the bowl we could glimpse the sky. With great effort, we made our way through the dense lettuce foliage, the branches of celery and the parsley forest, and could make out a few stars sailing in the farthest reaches of the night.

– Eduardo Galeano

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