Why don’t I know you (or, the quad, number 4)

It wasn’t at first a conscious decision, not to name these four guys. Thinking about it, I don’t feel like they need names. They’re all just what’s past. It has been six years since 4 and I ended things.

I still know exactly how the breakup felt. It felt like I was drowning and I had forgotten how to swim. And in a way, that is exactly what was happening. I was helpless and suffocated by my own thoughts and fears. Being single in New York City, no clue what that even meant, was beyond my comprehension. Everything that happened since, created the person I am now.

I met 4 in Prague. He was in my study abroad program, part of the NYU Bubble, as they’re called. We lived in the same dorm building. It wasn’t until one month before going home that we met in Radost FX, the club where Rihanna shot the music video for Please Don’t Stop the Music. I followed our mutual friend over to number 4’s group, and noticed him immediately. I looked him in the eye, and let, “Why don’t I know you?” escape from my mouth. We always laughed about that.

The weird thing about 4 is that I draw a blank on what it felt like to be with him. I can remember some. He was handsome. When I worked at Late Night, he appeared on-air in a celebrity doppelgänger segment, because he looked like a hybrid of Tom Brady and Robert Pattinson. He came from a much wealthier upbringing than I did and he was well-traveled. He grew up in Connecticut. He was a fellow-NYU student and studied Music Business, but would go on to work in Television, like I did. He was different from the others. And he was two and a half years younger than me.

His mother hated me, she made that known. It was jarring and hurtful. His sister became my sister. I loved her, dearly, and still do; she is still very much a part of my life. He was in a wedding band, and I followed him to his events. I loved watching him on stage. I learned to polka dance, poorly. It was a Ukrainian wedding band. His family was heavily ingrained in this Ukrainian community that was super tight-knit and huge and somewhat cult-like (to my standards at least, which, despite having a Polish father, were culturally limited). All these traditions, from the old country, I had found both eerily odd and fascinatingly charming. I went out with my friends a lot, still, that was important to me. And he came out with us a lot, too. He was quiet.

We fought. There were a lot of fights over “the principle of the matter” and “fairness.” And he hated my drinking, but in that respect, I was just getting started. We had great times though, and a good rapport and a supportive relationship, really. He was an actual partner. When I look back now, I realize what I never did then; all my frustrations with him, they were because I wanted him to be someone else. Ironic that we argued about fairness, but how incredibly unfair I had been to him. I’d text Jessica, my best friend (there you are), as I lie awake in bed next to him, to tell her how trapped I felt. I hear a lot of people complain about their significant other in ways that I know mean they want to change them. I want to shake these people. I want to stop them from going through what I went through, from putting another person through that, too.

He broke up with me, after three years. I think we could have been great friends, but we made an error in trying to remain best friends, for a full year immediately following our breakup. For us, that wasn’t right. I was clinging to this idea of whatever it was we’d had, because I was so scared of being alone. He was, honestly bless his heart, so reluctant to hurt me and also, scared of what it meant to let go. A lot of resentment built between us, and eventually, any semblance of any sort of camaraderie we had or could have had, faded away.

Number 4 was my most significant romantic relationship. I wish there was a fuller way to write our story, but, there isn’t. He’s just a ghost now.

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