On a class trip in the 7th grade, * Nathan * and I started dating. Of course, it was never referred to as dating, and the entire 36 hour cohesion unfolded through a series of conversations between our respective comms managers, or, as they were known in 1997, friends. At some point in our relationship, I was gifted a heavy chain necklace, purchased from the lone souvenir shop on the Florida Key to where we’d been bussed to learn about The Environment.
Perhaps it was due to our fumbled attempts at in-person communication, or the fact that we never really liked each other before we became a couple – but shortly after the necklace was delivered, Nathan and I broke up.
That evening, a member of my PR team, Courtney, advised me to destroy the necklace.
“Throw it into the fire,” she suggested. And there was a fire. A big one, blazing in the middle of the tropics, for all us adolescents to sit around and discuss the sexual experience we didn’t have.
The gesture seemed a little much, to rid of a perfectly good choker into a bonfire just because * Ben * couriered over news and a smirk that Nathan and I were no more. Plus, 45 minutes earlier marked the first time I’d ever received a gift from a male non-relative.
“I just – I don’t know. Do I have to?” I asked. It was all happening so fast. Life! Love!
“Yes. This is it.” Courtney’s chin dropped and she fixed her steely eyes on me.
And that was it, because I chucked the jewelry into the blaze and had nothing else to do. It was too dark to see it burn and I flopped my arms in the air.
I flopped my arms above my head on an August morning in 2014, once. I was standing outside the endocrine association of the West Village (confusingly located in Chelsea) and I was sweating in the heat. I’d just been told I had Grave’s Disease.
I had an answer now and that was it. In the afternoon I began swallowing pills to treat a disease I’d learned about that week.
Courtney and the gang dismantled and as I headed back to my bunk I saw another of the class couples, sitting on a log together, giggling in each others’ faces. Something in my heart pinched. I was suddenly aware I was missing something that I didn’t know how to explain.
Those floppy-armed, stricken versions of reality cried to sleep both nights, bittersweetly unaware that wasn’t it. Not even a little bit. Not at all.