The first time we met, we had been dating for about four months.
The first time we talked was because a friend thought we would be a nice match, gave me her phone number and I called because I couldn’t find a good reason not to. The first time I saw her was when I picked her up with my old beaten up car, and she was pretty, I thought. Not extraordinarily beautiful, unbelievably sweet like say the poems about love, but far too pretty for me anyway.
It was a nice date, nothing too wrong with it, so naturally there came a second, then a third, then a fourth, then a fifth and without previous questions I referred to her as my girlfriend on the phone. She was a very good kisser, though not the best of my life. She was funny, ironic sometimes but never rude. Her taste in movies was much better than mine, but she was never pretentious about it. My parents liked her and my mom said she probably had good genes. She gave me books I always loved on our month anniversaries and pretended very well she liked the ones I gave her. She was perfectly okay.
Then one day, a regular Thursday four months and a few days in, I met her. She rang the doorbell to my apartment, as usual. I opened the door, as usual, bottle of wine set up and television turned on for our usual in night. She smiled at me a painfully artificial smile without a hug or a peck, definitely not usual, and sat on the carpet next to the sofa, not unprecedented but also not usual. And before I could say anything, she started crying. I had never seen her cry before. She never cried during movies, even when I could not help myself.
She cried for a long time. First, I tried asking what was wrong. She kept crying. I tried touching her arm or lightly holding her, but it was like I wasn’t there at all. So I quietly set next to her for the long time during which she cried, and I waited in the silence wondering if there was anything she was herself waiting for. I really needed to pee, but I didn’t want her to feel, even if for two minutes, that I was done with her crying. I didn’t want her to feel like she was alone, because she was my girlfriend and I liked her and she was pretty and she was my girlfriend, so I sat there and waited.
When she at last stopped, I asked again, and she looked right into my eyes, as if deciding if she should answer. I saw a glimpse of her pulling away, and with my eyes I begged for what I didn’t even know I wanted. Then, she started talking.
She told me about where she went to visit her little sister every Thursday. She told me about the nurses around her and the way her eyes seem devoid of life, more every week. She told me about what her mother hides under her bed, and how her eyes too seem to be losing their light. She told me about that guy she used to date and what the things he said when he was drunk. She told me things so filled with darkness I did not comprehend how I could have known her and not seen any of it escape through her eyes.
Then she told me nicer things. She told me about how it feels to hug her sister when she lets her, and how every Christmas her mother cooks and doesn’t take pills and it’s almost like it used to be. She told me about the day she broke it off with that college boyfriend, and how she grabbed what would fit in a backpack, drove and drove until she was at the beach listening to the sound of the waves. Her favorite sound, she said.
And I saw her. And I was sorry, in a way, because I understood so clearly the reason why she ever let herself be with someone who didn’t see how phenomenal every single part of her was.
That Thursday night, after I finally peed and she washed her face, something so simple and yet more important than anything else shifted. When I looked at her, puffy red eyes, cheeks tinted magenta and lips curved in a smile sad but so real, she was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen before. She was an unbelievable collection of so many fascinating details, so many little things I had yet to know. I could not believe how I had ever looked at her and not stared deep within her eyes, in them a question which I could spent a lifetime answering. I could not believe she was there, all along, on every date, and I had, still with her by my side, almost let go this unremarkable truth within her eyes. And that night, when we kissed, it was the best kiss of my life.