True love stories never have endings.
~ Richard Bach
“What did you like about me?” Beppe looked at me with his curious hazel eyes.
“You.” I let out a grin as I brushed his hair with my hands.
“Really… I want to know” He was becoming more anxious.
I looked away into the space and searched for words that can describe my feelings for him. But I didn’t know which words…
“I don’t know…”
“Okay… Is it because I’m Italian?” Beppe looked a bit more curious.
“No… of course not. It’s hard to explain. Now I want to ask you a question, what made you ask for my number in the first place?”
It all started with my smile.
“I don’t know what we are. You said you won’t talk to me anymore if I start having sex with some of my other applicants.” I playfully told him as I looked for a hint of jealousy in his eyes.
“Well… of course.” He shyly looks away but remained to be in posture.
“But we are not in a relationship. I thought we agreed that we are friends-with benefits since we can’t be in a relationship.” I looked down on my plate of bagel and cream cheese as I waited for his response.
“I don’t know, I can’t promise anything to you after September.” He looks at his bottle of water and chugs it down while he looked away out through the window- into the traffic.
“I know that. See the thing is, I don’t want to regret anything in my life. I don’t want to face the shoulda, woulda, coulda. I had that before and it haunted me for two years. I’ll never do that again.” I stare in marvel through his chocolate, hazel eyes as I took a bite from my bagel, which was covered with cream cheese.
“I agree with what you said, but Khristine, I don’t want to hurt you.”
“Hurt me? So how about this, we don’t think and talk about September and we simply … start living life to the fullest. No regrets.” I smiled widely to him.
“Mhmm.” He smiled back looking a bit uncertain.
And that’s how our story began.
“Ma va… you didn’t? I was going to ask you that question first.” He stood with his maroon button down shirt looking at me with disbelief as he held a small note in his hands.
“Like I said a month ago, I never want to regret anything so I went ahead and took that shot. So… are you?” I searched his face for a hint of rejection or an affirmation for my proposal.
“No… Khristine I’m supposed to ask that question.” He waved the note and looked at me with disbelief. I guess he was indeed at the point of asking me that question, but hey, at least I was straightforward.
“Okay… then ask.” I crossed my arms and darted my eyes on him.
He folded the note. He stood with his firm posture and asked,
“Do you want to be my girlfriend?”
I smiled widely and felt my cheeks flushed with heat,
“YES of course I do! Let’s give it a try, shall we?” I suddenly gave him a hug and smelled his scent bewitching me to smile.
We ignored the risk of the inevitable September and challenged ourselves because we knew that it was all going to be worth it.
“Are you happy?” I felt the wind blow heavily through my hair and I felt myself apprehensive of his leaving.
“Of course. When I’m with you, I feel happy and comfortable.” He stood on one foot by the pole right next to the restaurant, relaxed, while his eyes were fixed on mine.
“Well… I hope you take care of yourself when you’re in Canada and please be safe! I want you back here breathing Virginian air.” I felt more apprehensive and tried my best to feel more relaxed and in control as I gave him my note.
He pulled me close and gave me a kiss. He held my neck softly as he whispered to my ear,
“Ti voglio bene.”
“Umm…okay?” I stood there in confusion of what he meant.
And so… that was the first separation; the first test.
“So can you tell me what’s in that bag?”
“Okay… close your eyes first… now open it”
“Wow. What’s that?”
“Okay… remember those little notes I gave you? Well… I made this box so that you can put anything that reminds you of us. It’s small so it’s easier to store it anywhere. I didn’t know what to give you for our first month-sary so I decided to do this. Okay…well open it.”
“See… I’m sorry, it’s been a busy day at work and I didn’t even get you anything. I’m really disappointed right now.”
“No need. It’s our gift for the two of us. We both each have the same small picture frame. What we need to do is we each put a picture of us in those picture frames. A picture that you believe was the happiest moment that we have shared together. We both need to take pictures, so no stealing pictures from each other! And then once we both put pictures in our own frames, we swap. You take mine and I take yours. Deal?”
“Wow… I’m impressed. This is really a great idea Khristine. Thank you very much and I’m sorry that …”
“Well hold on, you have another note inside”
He reads the letter as an airplane came past us.
“I want you to look back to this moment wherever or whenever you are when you come back to Italy. I want you to remember that the simplest things in life are best remembered when you are caught in a pandemonium. So now… make a wish!”
Though childish as it seemed, it was the best present I could think of for the two of us- capturing every memory, every note and every small souvenir into a small, blue box.
We were lying on a green grass on one beautiful, cool Sunday .
“It’s such a beautiful day. It’s Sunday and it’s not that much hot either. And I like that we’re just relaxing here and laying here on the grass while wishing that summer never ends…” I looked over to him because he was half-sleeping as he sheepishly said,
“…And September never comes.”
He dreaded to leave. He wasn’t straightforward in sharing his emotions, but I felt it.
When September came, the intensity of the idea that we will separate soon, heightened
“So are we breaking up right now?” I searched his face, hoping that it was all a dream.
As he looked down on the tiled floor of the airport, he said to me, “We have to. But we don’t talk about it, we don’t mail each other about it, we simply just let it be.”
“Okay…” I looked away and held his hand tightly.
He faced me and told me:
“Alright Khristine, we don’t say ‘addio.’ We only say goodbye for now… okay?”
“Yes, of course.” I said as a flicker of hope sparked inside me.
Who knew it boiled down to arrivederci and a presto.
Through skype, the sense of “being together” was still alive.
“So just tell me if you have found someone okay? I won’t mind.” I lied. I will definitely mind.
“Same goes to you…It would be hard to be that someone who will hear it.”
As the agreement goes, if one of us decided to move on with some other person, one of us has to back off. And that’s what we’re both scared of… losing each other completely.
“Can we talk in skype maybe later tonight?”
“I can’t. I’m working tonight.”
“Well maybe tomorrow then?”
“No. I have to work all weekend.”
“Okay… is that an excuse?” He sounded a bit irritated.
“No….. I told you I am working in the weekends till Sunday” (I don’t come home all weekend because I either babysit or take care of an old lady).
“When did you start working all weekend?”
“I told you about this before. It’s my new source of income. I guess you weren’t paying attention?”
“When did you tell me this…?”
“In facebook, in skype…. anyways, Beppe, you know what, we still talk like we’re in a relationship. Like… it’s frustrating because I don’t know what we are… where we are as of right now.”
“I know…boh, I’m confused too.”
Then there was a pause.
“I don’t want to lose you.”
“But you lost me when you went back to Italy. I mean… I’m not your girlfriend anymore. People say I should move on.”
“Okay then go ahead.”
“Look, you said you didn’t want to be in a long distance relationship.”
“I thought we both agreed that we shouldn’t be in one?”
“I know… but maybe I wanted to? I don’t know…” I truly did. After hearing from other couples wanting to be in a long-distance relationship, I believed that Beppe and I can make it.
“Tell me, why are you really mad? What disappointed you yesterday? You didn’t sound happy when I was talking to you in Facebook.”
“Well… it just seems so frustrating. Have you read any of my e-mails?” I already knew that he did, but he never manages to reply.
“Yes I have, but as I told you before, it takes awhile for me to reply.”
“Right. Well, I guess that option of e-mailing you should stop.”
“Then go ahead.”
“Are you mad? Come on… can we talk about this later? I hope I’m not bothering you.” I felt stupid for asking this question.
“Listen, I was the one who called you, of course you’re not bothering me.”
“Right. Well I’m in the middle of shopping.”
“Can you send me a Facebook message and tell me when you are available- in American time?”
It didn’t stop there. Three days later…
“Beppe… I think it might be better if we don’t talk for now. I don’t know… I think we need space.”
“Is that what you want?”
“I honestly don’t know. It’s just hard… it’s really hard for me because I see you everywhere.”
We both paused and he looked a tad disappointed.
“Do you think I don’t suffer too Khristine? Of course I do but yours is harder… Maybe… maybe what you said is right.”
I didn’t say anything… I wanted him to elaborate more because it seemed like he wanted to say more.
“I’m just scared that if we stopped talking, you will delete me from facebook, you will not send me any e-mails and you will never talk to me again. I don’t want to lose you.” That was his ultimate fear and I saw it in his eyes.
I pictured myself doing that and it’s not far from happening- except the Facebook deletion.
“So what’s the decision?”
“As I told you before, I’m going to Switzerland for a month and I will come back here in Italy around November 20th and then go down to Geneva and Calabria to visit my nonna and my other relatives. So that leaves us a month to not talk to each other. I will be back in December and we will see how it is between us…”
“Oh okay.” That was all I can say.
“So are we going to stop talking to each other then?”
“No… let’s just… let it be. If we see each other online then we talk to each other. If we don’t talk, then let’s not make a big deal out of it. Let’s just see what happens. For now, I have to go.”
That night, I found out recently that he didn’t fall asleep. He typed a letter, which he has sent to me a week later.
A week later with no contact, I thought it was the discreet “okay” that we will stop talking. However, on a Tuesday morning at 6:13 am, I received a text message from him apologizing for his absence for a week because he had to visit some of his friends and internet was not accessible.
“I thought we stopped talking to each other.” I said quite annoyed because I was kind of getting used to it.
“No, no, never. Even if you never want to talk to me, I will still talk to you.”
“Did you get my e-mail?”
“What e-mail? You sent one?” I was really surprised that he sent me an e-mail. Finally!
“I was going to send it to you a week earlier, but I couldn’t use the Internet so I sent it to you yesterday.”
“Alrighty, let me read it.”
Here’s the gist of what he said:
He didn’t want to purse a long distance relationship because he experienced it before and he didn’t want to end things between us on a bad note. He never wanted to lose me completely because of a break-up that will hit us with the final blow. According to his friends and based on his experience, he believes that it is better for us to separate, because he believes that two couples need to mature and maybe when their paths cross again, they will be more confident to raise their love story to another level without “ghosts and shadows from the past.”
I read his letter more than 5x and I couldn’t agree more. He is right. After all, we are still both young. I know that even if he may or may not be in my future someday, I still need to grow. I need to grow into a strong and confident woman who will need to face far bigger and far challenging problems in the future.
Even if time changes people, there will always be a space for Beppe in my heart. For now, I need to heal.