Learning to Fall

December 19, 2011
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This is my second day in Abu Dhabi. Last winter I came here for a few days to see if I would spend my a semester of my second year of college here under my school's study abroad program. While I was here, I fell in love with the city. It reminded me of home. Abu Dhabi's tall buildings are so unique. They way they lean against the shore makes me feel home. But I'm not. I'm in a whole different world. Sometimes I look out windows to see the Strata tower. I lose myself in its twists and turns. The skyscrapers make me dream. Especially when the sun has set leaving a nice yellow-orange tint against the buildings. It makes the tower that looks like a sail boat stand out. So here I am. School hasn't started yet. I came a week early with my parents and little sister. It's only day two and my parents are already bugging me. I waited until Lily fell asleep to sneak down to the hotel lobby/bar. I mean, it's not bad; me sneaking down here. And Lily isn't much of a child that needed looking after, either. She's 14 years old. I'm surprised she didn't sneak down right behind me. And there I was- sitting a sofa – chair big enough for me to curl up in and drown myself in the voice and sounds of the cheap lobby bar entertainment. I felt like a cat; curled up and aware of my surroundings, but alone and calm.

“Hi,” a voice pulled me back to the surface. Some guy with a half-empty cup and a crooked smile sat in a chair next to me.

“Um... hi,” I don't think he'll leave so easily.

“Can I get you a drink?”

“Underaged, but thanks.”

“I didn't say it had to have alcohol. I was just offering, but okay.”

“Sorry, I guess, then, yeah, I'll have a soda, thanks.” He mouthed the order across to the bartender who also looked underage. The bartender brought it over and turned to the guy and asked if he should wait for him in the car.

“No. It's okay. I'll walk. Thank you, though. See you tomorrow,” he turned to me and explained, “I work here with him and he drove me here today.”

“Oh, you work here? As a bartender? Are you even old enough?”

He laughed and said, “yes, barely.” The rest of the night was filled with awkward conversation and small talk. He told me a little about himself: that he lived in the city in a small apartment. He went on, but I wasn't listening. I was starring into his eyes; at his eyes if he wasn't directly looking at me. The black of his pupil was hugged by golden and greens tints that were then outlined by a light brown. I snapped back to reality and realized it was late and told him I had to go.

“Wait! Um... can I see you again?”

“You don't even know my name.”

“But you seem like a nice person.”

“Sure. Tomorrow night, uh...-”

“Alex. My name's Alex.”

“Okay. I'm Angela. See you tomorrow.” Then he gave me that crooked smile.

The next days went by quickly. I spent the days with my family exploring the school campus and visiting Heritage Village, a reconstruction of the country's past, and the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. I spent my nights with Alex talking. Just talking. The hours that we would talk went by like minutes; like seconds. The day after my family left, I spent most of my time with him. He took me around the city, too. I never told him my nickname was “Ang,” but he started calling me that. When I was around him, there were butterflies; the kind that float around in your stomach. He said he had them too.

I started school a few days after. I still tried to see him, but it was hard with us both going to school and him working. He would call me everyday, though. At least.

One night, as the moon shined in through the living room window, he turned and asked me what would happen when the semester was over.

“What do you mean?” I asked him while distracted by the half of his body highlighted by the light. I could see him rubbing one arm with the other.

“What will happen to us?”

“Us? Is there an 'us'? What are we?” I asked him knowing full-well that there was an “us”. There was something. But I couldn't answer his first question. I don't know. What will happen when I go back to my skyscrapers and neon lights? Home.

“Yes! There is, isn't there?”

“Yes, of course. I just don't know what will happen...” I gave him a soft kiss to calm his nerves.

“Ang, I love you.”

And there it was. That's it. He loves me. Since the beginning, I've told him the truth. He asked me every question in the world and I answered him honestly even if I had to get over my feeling uncomfortable. But what was this? This is two strangers talking and getting to know each other and fooling themselves. That's it: we were fooling ourselves. I was fooling myself. I fooled myself into thinking I was different, too. This isn't me. I am like a little girl when it comes to feelings. I'm so insecure. We never committed to each other. How do I know he doesn't have love for someone else? How does someone love so quickly? We've only known each other for a little while. Love? What is love? Who is he? Who am I? Where am I? Is this true-

He kissed me. To calm my nerves. I felt a pressure like a clasp holding my whole body still. I let out a whisper; the only lie I ever told him. “Alex, I love you, too.”

I don't know what I got myself into, but I ran with it. Time went on and I kept lying. Only one lie, but I ran with it.

Time went on. We both got busy with school. After all, it was the reason I was here. At least twice a week, Alex and I got together and he'd show me the city. His favorite spot to eat was a restaurant with a view of some of the skyscrapers. The one with a sail boat was in view, too. When we ran into someone he knew, though, he was like a different person. I saw how different he acted. Not necessarily in a bad way, but he was different. He'd see someone and light up. He was so outgoing around them. He wasn't really like that with me. He was calm. Did I have an effect like that? Was my presence like a field that would change him? When he'd see me, his eyes would light up, though. But is that the same? I would tell him to go with his friends, but he said, “No, I want to be with you.”

I decided to stay a month after my semester ended (my summer) to be with him as much as possible. I lived every moment we had to the fullest. I know things don't work out, especially for me; especially long-distance relationships. And that month was perfect. I am not a liar.

I got back home. We still talked, but it was different. We were happy, but we avoided the reality of the situation. The distance. The commitment. The lack there of. He said, “Be my girlfriend.” But I hesitated. Things don't work. He'll find someone new. Even the idea of it is ridiculous. I never said no. I never said yes. I avoided it.

We talked everyday. I had morning classes and he had evening ones so we'd talk at night. We used our webcams and messaging. We were always looking for new ways to talk. We'd steal glances from each other. I'd just stare at the screen examining his outline. His dark hair. His almost-perfect face. We'd make silly faces at each other to make the other smile. I looked forward to the chats every day.

After a couple weeks, we talked less. I would look for him, but he would say “sorry' or “I'm tired.” The tables turned.

Then they just stopped. The messages and letters stopped. Our webcam “dates” stopped. I knew it would happen. I knew it.

I wonder if she's pretty. I wonder if he looks at her like he did me. I wonder if she steals looks at him. I hope, whoever she is, she doesn't lie to him. I hope he doesn't lie to her. He shouldn't trick her.
He's good. He had me going for a second. I completely fell for him. But what happened? Did he not love me anymore? Could that change so quickly? Did he realize long distance relationships are disasters waiting to happen? Did he forget about me yet?

He falls too easily. He falls in love too easily. I don't. I am strong. Well, I was strong, but I fell too easily.

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lovemenot said...
Dec. 26, 2011 at 2:02 am
This story is beautiful, the details are so rich and fulfilling. Its like you're watching what happens in slow motion. It makes sense and flows and shows genuine emotion. And it shows that love is tricky and doesnt work sometimes. Thank you.
PrettyFireflies said...
Dec. 25, 2011 at 3:15 am
ohh, strength =) anyways, you have an amazing story there.
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