Well of course I'm thinking it right now! This whole thing is stupid!
See what? It is! Who cares if I wanna leave early? Even you barely know her and you're mad at me?
Yah! 'Coz you think I'm annoying you!
Oh my God, this isn't even about us! This is about your co-worker's lame potluck that you feel obligated to go to because she has no friends. If we go, that counts! We don't have to stay the whole four hours.
But it is about us! It's about you understanding what's important to me!
Eating homemade potato salad and playing the scrabble tournament is important to you?
This is stupid.
That's what I just said!
You know what, I'm willing to let that one go, can you just tell me if we can leave early or not, please?
Josh, you tell me.
Look, I'm sorry I brought it up. Can you just decide and I'll do whatever?
No, Josh, not this time. I'm not gonna tell you what to do because you're just gonna use it against me saying 'I always do what you say.' No more.
Hey, this one wasn't my fault. There's no reason for this.
You're right. There is no reason for this.
It wasn't always like this. I can't really remember when it was but I know for sure we weren't like this. She used to be... my unicorn. You know, unbelievable. Crazy special. The girl I thought could never exist. But, as time went on, from one stage of our relationship to the next, the path that started off so innocent and fun has taken us to that. But, like most, we started off as strangers, at Stage 1: Meeting. Thanks to a shoelace, actually.
STAGE 1: Meeting
Excuse me. Excuse me, your shoelaces are untied.
No prob. WhenIshudowhhp... Tsss... Woah.
I could have not planned it better even if I tried. But thank goodness the city hadn't fixed their park trails in five years.
I didn't tell her that it was my first time running in about nine months and somehow, we ended up going for almost five miles that day. It's so pathetic to see how guys would do just about anything for the right girl, but it paid off because I got her number.
We really hit it off that day. I think so, at least. I blacked out for a few minutes but when I woke up, I remembered I made a pretty good connection. From that point on, we were at Stage 2: The Chase. Some say it's the best part.
STAGE 2: The Chase
All I wanted was to know more about her.
All I wanted to do was to hang out with her.
The only person I wanted to talk to was her.
She was the number one priority.
What the hell, man?
And every time I saw her, butterflies.
She was everything that I thought could be perfect in a girl. And as soon as it felt right,
Would you be my girlfriend?
With this simple word, we began our relationship, taking us into Stage 3: The Honeymoon.
STAGE 3: The Honeymoon
Everyone calls it this, and for good reason. It was the time when we could finally fully express our affection to each other and do all the things we wanted to do as a couple. It was a dream come true. The girl I wanted to be with so, so badly was finally mine. But eventually, the fire cooled and both of us simmered down to normalcy. By the end of it all, we had a bajillion pictures with each other, knew every detail of our everyday lives, and like any normal healthy couple, we entered Stage 4: Comfortable.
STAGE 4: Comfortable
What do you wanna do tonight?
I dunno. Whatever.
Now, being comfortable isn't necessarily bad. It's when we could truly be ourselves. But it depends on what you do with that comfort. Some use it positively, continuing to work at their relationship and grow together, but others allow it to create distance and, for Marissa and I, it made us take each other for granted.
Hey! What are you doing? It's Tuesday, why aren't you dressed?
Oh, yeah. I totally forgot. Can we skip it? I don't feel like going.
This whole thing was your idea.
I... I know. I just kinda have other things to do. Um, next week, yeah?
*phone ringing* You're not gonna get that?
I'll call her back after this level. Hey watch out!
Whether it's taking each other for granted, or people changing over time, the bottom line is, someone stops staying and feelings aren't as strong as before. This could happen over a few months or a few years. For us, it was one and a half years when we hit Stage 5: Tolerance.
STAGE 5: Tolerance
When Marissa and I got to this stage, I couldn't believe it and I was pretty disappointed. Somehow, the girl I was so crazy about a year ago had turned into someone who just wasn't that special anymore. It happened so gradually that I didn't even see it coming but there we were, just tolerating each other.
Oh gosh. Don't even ask me about my day.
*whispers* I won't.
I swear my co-workers are trying to get me to quit!
Where do you want to eat tonight?
Wherever you wanna go.
Can you just decide? I asked you.
And I'm being flexible, you pick.
Oh jeez, you're like a five-year-old, someone else has to tell you what to do.
Normally, I'm gonna let that go but I'm having a bad day, too, so
What did you just say?
Arguing is one thing but feeling dissatisfied and unhappy with the relationship is another. We tried various times to try and make changes, to fix things but, like so many couples out there, it wasn't enough. We became one of those relationships where it wasn't bad, but it wasn't great. And lemme tell you, that's never a good way to describe a relationship.
Well, I guess I'm gonna sleep now.
It wasn't long before we were in Stage 6: Downhill. There's not much time left once you're here. The effort to try make to make things work just isn't worth it anymore.
STAGE 6: Downhill
Problems continue, arguments don't get solved... I don't even really remember what we argued about.
I can't talk to you right now. You're...
Why won't you just...
I can't believe that y...
Well how could you jus...
What did we argue about?
Marissa and I, sad to say, are nearing the end of this stage. What's next is what happens to everyone at some point, the end of the line, the worst stage ever. Breaking up.
STAGE 7: Breaking Up
I don't know when it'll happen or how, but I hope we can leave it on good, mutual terms, if that's ever truly possible.
I think it's for the best.
And this is when the two of us will start a new path, one that leads right back to where we started, strangers. The change will be so drastic and so blunt that we'll probably wanna get back together right away just to restore what's normal.
Hey, Marissa. I miss you.
Are you drunk?
But this does not always happen and the distance will grow. Eventually, the two of us will move on, or find someone new.
Oh my gosh. Donald. Donald! Don... Come here! Don... Who is that? Who's she with? Tell me who that is.
I'm sorry, man.
And even when we both get over the past and try to remain friends, things will never be the same.
Josh? Hey, it is you!
Hi! Nice to see you.
Yeah, you too. You still running around here?
Well, when I visit home, yeah.
Yeah, I moved up to San Fransisco a couple of months ago, but I'm just here to show my boyfriend the park.
Oh, he's here. Josh, this is Alex. Alex, Josh.
(daydream: *punch to left eye*)
Nice to meet you, man.
Well, uhh, we should catch up some time. I'll text you later, OK?
Our lives will continue on in different directions toward the inevitable end, becoming strangers again. And everything we shared will become fragments of memories from so long ago, I'll question if it even really happened. And all that'll be left is this, a box of random stuff from a faded period of time when this stranger was the most important person in my life. What a shame.
"This is to remind you of how hard you fell for me when we first met. Haha. Josh, I'm so glad we have each other in our lives. I know that no matter what, we'll make it through; and we'll always have a tomorrow together. Happy Anniversary!"
Holy crap! What the hell are you doing?
Sorry, sorry. I mean... I mean, I... I'm sorry, Marissa. It's just... It's just a potluck. I don't know why I'm being so difficult.
No, no. It's not whatever. It's important to us. Not the... I mean, not the potluck. This, this is important to us, to me. Let's not do that anymore. I'm sorry, please.
Yeah? We're okay?
I... I'm s-sorry. I'm being dumb. I-I'm so sorry, we're gonna be okay, yeah?
It's alright, babe.
(backtrack: 5 months earlier, near the end of Stage 4)
Do you realize there's only two options for our future together? It's either we break up or we get married.
Never really thought of that.
Think we'll get married?
Jeez, that's a loaded question. Why? You wanna get married to me?
I don't know right now.
Do you wanna break up with me?
Of course not.
Well, it's gonna be one or the other.
What do you think will happen if we don't end up together? Are we gonna hate each other? D'you think we'll keep in touch?
*sigh*I think that if life separates us and we end up in totally different places, I'll always remember when our paths aligned for this period of time... And I'll be thankful for that. I hope that wherever you are, you'll be thankful, too. I think that's the best we can wish for.