Campus Life an ellie for your thoughts

Dear Ex-Girlfriend

A letter to a lost love. It’s time I moved on.

Editor-in-chief's note: This article has mentions of drinking.

Dear ex-girlfriend,


I miss you.

I said I love you, and you said it back.

When I met you in the fall, you were just what I needed.

It was the start of the semester when I met you. You joked about being a grave digger as your job outside of school. I was in bed, probably eight drinks in. You made me laugh for the first time in days. I texted something, and you didn’t respond. I checked the next day and your contact was gone from my phone. I thought we clicked, but I guess we didn’t, and that was alright.

A couple of weeks after, you texted again. I was watching a show in the basement of McCormick (my dorm, if you remember), I was lying on the couch half-asleep, and my friend had tagged along to watch with me. We were eating crisps together, and I was halfway through my third seltzer. You texted something funny and made me giggle. My friend asked me who I was talking to, and I told her about you.

On our first date together, we went to Newbury Street. That place still reminds me of you.

I was finishing up a meeting on campus and ran straight across the bridge to meet you. I wore a white button-down and, on top of it, I had on a black trench coat with flowers sewn on. My French teacher from 7th grade had given it to me.

It was dark by the time I got to Newbury; the street was all lit up, the hanging lights overhead swinging softly in the wind, all the people walking beside me and around me with their own dates and their own lives.

We couldn’t find each other for thirty minutes, do you remember? We spent all that time looking for each other because I had walked to the Mass Ave side and you got off the train on Copley. You heard my voice for the first time when I called you as I was running all over Newbury looking for you, and you called my voice cute.

Eventually, I found you. You were ordering a cup of tea from a bakery for us to drink together while I was looking for you. It was Levain, I think. I sat on one of the chairs right outside, and you found me while you were coming out with our tea, and I said Hi.

You were gorgeous.

You had on this black lace dress with dropped shoulders and these black leather boots that made you look a foot taller than you actually were. You had on this black coat with sequins in the back in the shape of angel wings. Your hair was in a messy bob, and it was dyed a faded blue. You had your glasses on; you said you didn’t think you looked that good in them, but I said they made you look even better.

We walked down Newbury together, and it was the best night I had in a while. It was really lovely, and all of the things I was so wrapped up in—work, school, life—everything went away as I looked into your eyes and we talked and—really—it was really, really lovely.

We went to Newbury Comics and looked around. We ate at a pho place. We went to the Nuts Factory and joked about planning a heist at the store. We got to the end of the street and doubled back. We talked all night.

You told me, among many other things, about your medical problems, about your mental health problems, about your family problems. You said no one had ever understood. I said I did, and I made a promise to always understand.

We were heading back and the wind was getting strong, so we hid under the Boston Architectural College Library for a bit.

We had our first kiss on the bridge. You were cold, and I had given you my trench coat to keep you warm.

We went right back to McCormick, and you spent most of the night at my place. You left a few hours later; I wished you’d stayed.

One day, I walked out of recitation for my cognitive neuroscience class from the Northwest Building at Harvard—you loved neuroscience, and I remember us having the fiercest debates about the brain. I don’t remember them at all; all I remember is how your face lit up whenever we would talk about it—and I texted you.

“Hey, I had a great time with this really nice girl the other day, but I misplaced her phone number. Can you help me find a way to reach her?” I said playfully.

“Oh no, she must be a very special girl.” You played along. “She must have been very lucky to meet a person like you.”

The next few months went by in a blur.

On our second date, we went to a nightclub. We didn’t last long there; we had pissed off the bouncer by heading in too early, then leaving and trying to come back, and then leaving again way too early.

We made out against the graffiti-lined wall, cigarette butts strewn around us on the sidewalk. We went back to McCormick. You didn’t stay for that night again either, and I spent the rest of the night by myself, head in the clouds, waiting for our next encounter.

I found out how alike we were. We made a promise to each other to watch every single Hunger Games film because we wanted to see Songbirds & Snakes at the cinema together. We never did. We watched Rick and Morty together, and we would have nights where we talked about it all night long. We talked about all of the different things we liked. You liked the same things I did, and I liked you.

Sometimes, you called me in the middle of the night crying, asking me to tell you that everything would be okay; I told you it would be. When I would call you in the middle of the night, you would say it right back.

During Thanksgiving Break, I thought of you. You told me about how you talked to your uncle about us, how he said we were perfect for each other.

One night, when we were together, we made it official. You were crying into my shoulder; you said you didn’t want to lose me. I said you wouldn’t—I said that I would always be here for you. I made a promise to always be here for you.

I don’t regret making that promise.

I was your first girlfriend. You had never let yourself be in a relationship before because you didn’t feel you could trust anybody to stay if they knew who you actually were. You said you tried, and no one ever listened. You trusted me, and I understood what that responsibility meant. I listened, I listened every day, and I would have continued to listen forever and ever if you had let me.

Over winter break, I thought of you again. 

I couldn’t wait to spend all spring semester with you, to learn more about you, for you to learn more about me, for us to watch Songbirds & Snakes together.

I said I love you, and you said it back every time. The first time I said it during one of our dates, right after Thanksgiving Break, I was terrified. I didn’t know how you would react. But you said it back. Every time I said I love you, you said it back.

Then, one day, you stopped.

One day, you stopped saying it, and one day, you stopped saying anything at all.

I didn’t know why. I still don’t.

You never told me what went wrong.

Now, sometimes, when I’m with someone else, their soft snores filling up the space in my room, I still think of you. When they snuggle up next to me, eyes closed, nestled into my shoulder—still, my mind wanders to you. And the happiness, the ease, goes away, and my world starts to revolve around you, again, every time.

I don’t remember you ever doing that, nestling into my shoulder. We cuddled sometimes, but you were always distant.

Hell, as I’m writing this letter, I’m nestled into someone else’s shoulder, listening to their soft sleeping breaths. It’s 10 AM now, and they’re still fast asleep. I like them a lot, but I like you more. I would still pick you.

I never blocked your number, and I probably still won’t. I’m leaving this line open if you ever want to talk.

Sometimes, I wonder what would happen if you did text me back. 

I saw you post on your public Instagram once, back in March, a new painting you did. You never did ask me to follow you on your private one, and you never showed me your public one either. I was worried about you, and I looked for it. I wanted to make sure you were okay. 

You were—you are.

I’m not.

I cried that night: harder than I’ve cried in years.

You were always a secretive person. You told me some, but I never got a full picture of you. I never really knew who “you” were, I’m realizing. You never brought me to your apartment. You didn’t tell me until the days before you stopped replying to my texts that the name I was calling you (that you had told me to call you from our first meeting) was your last name. The first planet from the Sun, atomic number 80, the messenger of the gods. I don’t think I ever got to call you by your first name.

I told you everything about me; we talked for hours on end about so many things. You did tell me some, but no matter how hard I tried, I didn’t end up getting all that much from you. I wonder how much of what you did tell me was actually true. Did you ever even tell your uncle about me? Did he ever even say that we were meant for each other? Did you ever mean it, all the times you said you loved me back?

I want to believe it; I really do. I want to believe that you meant everything. I want to believe that when you said you’d take me to meet your grandparents, you meant it. I want to believe that the stories you told me about your family were all true.

I want to believe you when you said you loved me.

I will believe that you did because it would only hurt me again if I didn’t.

I don’t really know why you’re still here, even though it’s been so long since you left. My previous relationships have never left me this broken. I think it’s because I never gave myself time to heal—it’s always been one person after another. The only times I “got over” a relationship was when I jumped right into another one. In the times I didn’t, I found a way to hate that ex: they scorned me, or they did me wrong, I would tell myself. And I wouldn’t need to move on: because I wouldn’t care.

I can’t hate you; I could never hate you. But I can’t keep doing this to myself; I can’t keep loving you. I’ve loved you for months; I’ve loved you past these other little flings that never got off the ground, that tried their best to fly and flap their wings, that didn’t make it.

And all the while, I waited for you. I waited for you to text.

You never did.

I was your first girlfriend, you said, when we made it official. I made you a promise that I would always be here for you. I don’t regret making that promise.

I’m writing this letter, one that you will probably never get, to say I’m moving on—or at least, I’m trying to. It’s 6 PM now, and I’m just about done with this letter. I had to stop a few times: to cry, to drink, to walk out and have a smoke and scream at the sky, to figure out what I could possibly say to you.

Well—it’s 11 PM now, and I just woke up. I woke up wrapped in a thin blanket in the front living room of my co-op, and the room is dark. A half-empty seltzer sits on the table next to me. The double sliding door leading into the center room is closed, with a little bit of light creeping in from the centerfold. 

From the other end, I can hear my friends singing together and messing around on the piano without me. All day, I thought of you. All day, I cried while thinking of you. All day, I drank myself half to death while trying not to think about you. And all the while, I missed my friends hanging out without me—I missed life happening without me.

I am so sorry for whatever I did that made you want to leave. I am so sorry for whatever happened that made you need to leave. I wish we had dealt with it together, like we did all those times before: the late-night calls, the crying on my bed together.

Some nights, I wait for your text, hoping against all reason that you will write to me. You never do. Still, I wait. Because I promised you I would listen. Because I promised you I’d always be here for you, and I will never regret making that promise.

You probably hoped I’d forget about you when you turned off your phone after seeing one of my texts for the last time, hoping I’d just move on. I hoped so, too. In an earlier iteration of this letter, I called you by name—I wanted to do it for the first (and last) time. And maybe I will if I ever see you again.

But until then, I’m going to try and make life happen again.

Because I said I love you, and you didn’t say anything back.


Forever yours,