Once upon a time, there was a girl.
A girl who was not remarkable in most aspects, be it looks or intelligence or abilities, but those who knew her knew of her loving heart and desire to make those she loved happy.
Being very shy, the girl did not venture too far from her home most days, and though she longed to find her one true love, she knew that it would be a difficult task to do so given her aversion to meeting new people, especially boys.
The girl had a longstanding, unrequited love with a boy of her acquaintance. They met when they were young, but the girl did not fall in love with him until much later, when a mutual friend confessed she had feelings for him. Suddenly, the girl saw him in a new light and shortly thereafter, fell head over heels into her first love.
It was a giddy, innocent love that meant her greatest joys were walking to class together with him, sneaking glances at him in the hallway, and occasionally sitting next to each other in social situations. Her friends teased her, but she did not care – all she cared about was him. Once they sat side by side in the backseat of a car, their legs pressed close. He had accidentally moved into her and examined her arm by way of apology – when his finger gently touched her skin, she thought she would never feel so much happiness or desire ever again in her life.
But this story is not about her first love, which ended as quietly as it started. The girl knew it would never come to pass due to several external factors and in any case, never confessed her feelings to him. They parted ways, occasionally speaking, but eventually her feelings came to an end and she moved on, though she regretted never telling him how she felt.
This story is about the girl and the boy she would eventually meet.
Over the next several years after the girl’s first love ended, she had a few glimpses of happiness but nothing substantial ever manifested itself and in her sorrow she thought perhaps she was incapable of truly loving another, or something was terribly wrong with her.
But one day, she attended the dinner of a friend and in walked a boy who she had never met before, though she knew of his existence. Something in her heart stirred for the first time in a very long time.
The boy, as it turned out, was not living in the same city as her and had another girl waiting for him at home. The girl was disappointed, but had so much fun talking with the boy that she hoped that perhaps they might remain friends. When he had to leave however, all she could muster was a weak “Goodbye” and cursed herself for not saying more. She assumed she would never see him again.
She had tried online dating for years (for she still rarely met new people in person), but no one had ever captured her attention and she scrolled day after day, hoping to see a face that might stand out to her. She couldn’t stop thinking about the boy, but knew he was a lost cause.
Of course, love never happens when you expect it. One day, as she scrolled, a familiar face popped up and in that moment, the girl knew – she would not make the same mistake again. She reached out. And the boy responded.
They fell in love and shared their lives together and the girl knew that there was no greater happiness on this earth than to know that she loved the boy and that he loved her in return. True, they had different interests and sometimes they didn’t see eye to eye on their long term compatibility, but the girl thought that if one had love, what more could one want? This love, she knew, was everything her first love was not.
Love was exciting and passionate — it was much more than coy looks and a few shared words. The boy encouraged her, loved her, and most importantly, understood her better than anyone she had ever met in her life. The girl was deliriously happy.
One day, the boy decided to start a new journey far away. Though she was heartbroken, the girl was confident that they would be reunited soon and was thrilled that the boy was pursuing his goals. Though the distance between them was large and the manner in which he left was rather quick, the girl didn’t think too much of it and busied herself to help her count down the days until she could see him again.
Until suddenly, the boy realized that perhaps he didn’t want to be with her forever, that perhaps it was unfair to her to string her along while he traveled from place to place, figuring out his goals and chasing his dreams relentlessly. The boy was afraid his plans did not match up with hers and felt it best to end it.
The girl was devastated. The girl spent days and nights crying, trying to figure out what had gone wrong. Love was not, as she naively believed, the solution to everything.
She understood in her head, but her heart refused to accept. She knew that love was a two way street, that she would never be happy if her beloved was never sure if he had made the right choice, if he himself was truly happy. Yet she could not let him go.
They met up again to exchange items and to say goodbye, but the girl felt that there was still so much left unsaid and feelings left unresolved. The boy did not disagree, though he could not bring himself to tell her that he needed her, that he could not imagine a life without her. The girl, sensing his hesitation, proposed that they would meet back up in six months. They would not speak to each other and that they could meet new people if they wished during that time.
The boy promised to tell her within six months if he had decided on what he wanted. And the girl promised she would not sit around waiting.
On the 530th day of their love, the girl and boy went their separate ways.
The girl did not regret anything, but wondered if she had made the right choice or simply pushed him into a corner. She wanted him to come to his own conclusions, for he knew hers well enough and there was nothing more to say. The boy thought that she might meet someone better, more deserving of her love but that thought offended her. The girl’s heart was hers alone to give away, and the boy still had it.
The girl knew she had to prepare her heart if he did in fact decide that he could see a life without her, that she was not essential to his happiness. She knew full well that it was entirely possible the whole thing was just a sad case of two people in love whose timelines did not match. And she had to prepare for heartbreak again.
Her friends worried for her, fearing she would sit around waiting and become collateral damage in his quest to figure out his life. But the girl knew it was a risk she was willing to take. She had regretted not sharing her feelings before, she would not do it again.
She did occasionally allow herself to imagine the unparalleled happiness there would be if he came back with his heart open and arms wide. The girl prepared her heart for this ending too. She knew that their love was something special and was determined not to give up so easily.
The girl knew there was no such thing as happily ever after. But she still believed that she could add to her story, no matter what, with: “And so they lived happily.”
So dear reader, is this a story of hope or of foolishness?