“I’ve definitely become more of a cynic since we’ve really started spending time together,” he said once.

“That’s no good. I’m sorry.”

“No, I think it’s good, and that being an idealist is just…wrong. It’s not realistic. Some things are more important than happiness.”

A month later we are in a graveyard. I have spent too much time in this cemetery, reading, writing, crying. It’s nice because it feels like you’re in a park, but no one is ever around. It’s beautiful in the fall—the light shining through the orange and yellow leaves and reflecting off the stones, creating rainbows and a golden blanket over the grass. But now it is the dawn of winter, very dark and drizzling slightly, just a little too cold to go without a couple layers of flannel or fleece.

I want to know everything about him. That’s the only way I can know how this might end, so I can prepare myself. I told myself before that I wouldn’t make myself vulnerable enough to experience complete heartbreak, that if I got into another relationship I’d make sure it stayed shallow, not letting someone break the skin of my mental state and mess around in there. I’d make certain they wouldn’t know any more about me than, say, the readers of my writing. Then again, I also told myself I’d be safe. I tell myself a lot of things.

We spend the majority of our free time together. He is definitely my best friend. I never planned to care so deeply about him. We hug often, but we don’t hold hands. I think that it is nice to never hold hands. It makes it more important when I’m in his arms—it feels almost desperate. It also means that there’s something small missing, so I don’t feel like I’ve broken my promise to myself completely. I’m not completely vulnerable if there’s something I want that’s not there, however tiny. I’ll be OK. I won’t be broken.

I light a cigarette. I don’t know why. I found it in the glove compartment of his car. He takes it from me without really moving and stomps it out. I wonder if I should pick it up and dispose of it properly, but it’s too dark for me to find it even if I wanted to.

“I miss so many people,” I tell a long-distance friend later that night. “All my friends are becoming distant. I’ve already lost some, and others are slipping away. Out of all the people I’ve ever loved, less than a handful are left.”

I think about how I am no longer vulnerable to anyone. They’ve all left me. I want them back. ♦