“What am I going to do, Sam?”

Specificity is the key here. What are you going to do about what?

“I think I’m still in love with her.”

With who?

“Whom.”

And who exactly is this Whom?

“No. I’m saying you should have said ‘With whom?’.”

Really? You’re going to correct my grammar with dodgy punctuation like that at the end of your sentence? Really?

“You can hear my punctuation?”

We digress. You think you’re still in love with WHOM?

“Artemis.”

And who exactly is Artemis?

“A fake name I started using to refer to a girl I’ve known for a long while now. On the off chance that someone is listening in on our conversation, I would prefer it if this all stayed anonymous.”

That doesn’t really answer my question, though. I didn’t ask about the name. I asked who she is.

“She is a girl that I first met at the summer camp I worked at. We met while we were both campers and later we were both on staff together. I’ve had a crush on her forever, but I always thought of her as being out of my league.”

Is she?

“Yeah.”

And why do you think that?

“Because she’s gorgeous and bright and cheerful and could really have her pick of any guy she wanted. There’s no logical reason to pick me.”

You do realize how little logic has to do with such matters for most people. Right?

“In theory, yes. But the idea of ‘leagues’ has persisted for a reason.”

I can accept your point. Tell me more about her.

“Well, there was a very brief time where I thought that maybe I had a shot with her. We had been talking back and forth quite a bit and were starting to become even closer friends. I had gone from one relationship to another and the second ended on bad terms all within the six months leading up to our ‘talking’ period, so I’m sure I was a mess emotionally at the time.”

You obviously think that is important enough to point out. Why do you think that is?

“To be honest, I think I’m trying to convince myself that I’m not really in love with her.”

And why would you want to do that?

“Because she has been with the same guy for several years now, lives far away, and is still out of my league. If I’m legitimately in love with her, I would feel like I need to act on it. If I’m not, it would be much easier logistically.”

Because nothing says romance like logistics.

“Exactly.”

So how did you mess up?

“I decided to pull an April Fool’s joke on Facebook. It was brilliantly plotted over the course of the day and reached a climax when I announced that I would be transferring schools to the university she was attending. I had several other friends there, so it wasn’t aimed directly at her, but apparently she got excited. Someone close to her later described the joke as ‘cruel’. Our relationship was never really the same after that.”

That sounds like she really cared about you.

“Cared. Past tense.”

Does she care about you now?

“I don’t know. We haven’t really talked in years.”

I get the feeling that you didn’t expect her reaction.

“Not at all. I had always assumed that I was WAY more invested than she was. To be honest, her being hurt, while it made me feel terrible, kind of made me feel good about myself.”

How so?

“If I was worth enough for her to be upset about not being closer to her, maybe I was worth something after all.”

You’ve mentioned issues with self-esteem before.

“I guess it’s always been at the back of my mind somewhere. I grew up with an older brother who we’ve always joked was ‘perfect’, but the jokes aren’t as jokey as they seem.”

How did you feel when she talked to you?

“Wonderful!”

Why?

“I guess it’s the same thing I said before. She made me feel like I was worth something. There was one time while we were both campers that I can still remember vividly to this day. We were standing there with a group of a couple other people and I guess I did something. To be honest, I don’t remember anything that came before, but she started giggling and hugged me.”

And that made you feel . . .

“Worth a damn.”

You do see the theme developing here, right?

“Well . . .”

Come one, now. Don’t play dumb. ‘Worth a damn’? Really?

“I guess you’ve got a point.”

This girl, for some reason, has always made you feel ‘Worth a damn’. You’ve always had issues with self-esteem, and she’s always made you feel good about you.

“So you’re saying I may not have been in love with her, but with the way she made me feel.”

More or less. You seriously considered attending the same university as her, right?

“Yeah. I did. Not because of her, but because I had a lot of connections there. I narrowed down my options to two schools and I chose the other. I’ve always thought that if I had chosen that school, my life would have gone in a completely different direction professionally and personally.”

And she became a part of that alternate life when you played the April Fool’s joke.

“I suppose so.”

I’m going to guess that for a while there, you hardly thought about her at all.

“Now that you say it, yes.”

And it was only recently that you started to regain your infatuation.

“Yeah. So?”

How have you been feeling about your life lately?

“Like I’m paddling with all of my might and not going anywhere. Like I’m drowning in a sea of profession with no energy to forge a personal life and no real connections outside of my job to make such a life easy.”

So you’ve been unhappy with your life?

“Yeah.”

In particular, your personal life?

“Yeah.”

The part of your life that she would be a part of in the alternate timeline?

” . . . yeah.”

And you’ve been feeling distinctly . . .

“NOT worth a damn.”

So are you really in love with Artemis or are you in love with how she made you feel and what she represents to you?

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