See part one here.
Inhale. Close your eyes as you breathe in. Relish the feeling of your lungs as they expand. Hold, for just a moment. Exhale.
Take some time for yourself. Find the quiet corner of a small cafe. Sit with your back to the wall, take out a book, and breathe. Order a cup of nice tea. Wait for it to come. It is okay to be motionless sometimes.
You spend so much time in motion. You are always rushing from this class to the next, from this room to the next, from this person to the next. Slow down sometimes. Dig your heels into the moment you are in right now. Close your eyes and feel. Check in with yourself. Are you okay? Remind yourself that it is okay to not be okay.
You can feel yourself getting antsy. You were not built for this. You were made to run, to fret, to rush, and the never-ending schoolwork is inundating you. You worry about getting to class early, about turning in assignments on time, about being late to lunch with an acquaintance, about not having time for extracurriculars — you have absolutely no time to worry about yourself. You’re always good, fine, great, and how are you? You’re the kind of person who jumps the gun in class, who organizes and color-codes your email inbox, who leaves no Facebook messages unread, who always texts first and always texts back.
She often texts first. You take turns really, spinning conversations out of stray thoughts and funny observations as you go about your day. She always responds within half an hour, usually within five minutes. You check your phone every time you remember it exists, and her name generally, comfortably, adorns your screen. You spend your days texting each other constantly. But this is no normal day. She has not responded to your hello. Your I’m sorrys go ignored. You panic. Please talk to me. Hello? No response. Can we talk? Nothing. You feel defeated. I shouldn’t have said anything. You realize that the tactic of sending rapid-fire messages to break through her silence will not work. Intensifying your barrage of texts will only wear down your sanity as you face emptiness after emptiness, her name absent from your home screen. Send take your time and I’ll be here, then put your phone away. She needs space, and you need to wait. The days will pass whether you check your phone every hour or not. Is she thinking about you? Does she know you’re thinking about her? Doesn’t she know the agony she’s causing you? But you are not the point right now. Be patient. Wait for her to come to you.
Sometimes you will lose your appetite. The very thought of food churns your stomach like blunt blender blades going through bananas and peanut butter in slow motion, and you feel the way it looks. You will go consecutive meals without touching the rice on your plate. Between classes and meetings, you will spend eons at your desk, your pencils sitting in silence beside you, your pens unable to tempt you with their rich blues and dark greens and bright reds, your hands still. Blank sheets catch your glazed vision with their emptiness when you occasionally focus your eyes, but they are gray and dull pages. They call for you, but your fingers have no music right now. Her cutting silence is a knife across your vision, and your designs leak out through your eyes.
You will go longer than you’d like without seeing her. You will spend a lot of time waiting. At times like this it is easy to get anxious. At times like this you will not be okay. You will want to shake your fist at the skies, to curl up and cry. You will hate time for standing between you and her. What you must remember is that at times like this, time is here to help you. Every moment that time spends with you brings closer the moment that you will next see her. Remember that time is your friend. When your roommates are asleep and you are curled in bed with your face pressed against a wet pillow, time is the only one awake to hold you as you tremble. When you can stomach nothing else, time feeds you morsels of hope. Every second brings you closer to when she will come to you.
And she will. One morning, you will reach for your phone to check the weather, expecting a blank screen, and see her name. Your chest will expand and your throat will tighten. All of the possible contents of that message will flash across your mind, so allow yourself a moment to cringe before steeling yourself to read her text. And when she texts you, realize that it means she is thinking of you. For that moment, no matter from where or to where you are running, you are suspended in her thoughts, motionless, even if just for a moment.
And after you have waited longer than far too long and cried your body mass’s worth in tissues and tears, she will ask to meet you on a bench in the park. And because so much time has passed and so much has happened, you will feel strange. You will want to shatter the silence, to clear your throat and open your mouth to speak. Don’t. Wait for her to close the silence. You promised her space; she has the right of containing it. Don’t be afraid. It is okay to be awkward sometimes. It just means that two people who want to be in the same space have forgotten how to share that space, but remember that you both want to be there. Even when you are lonely, you are not alone. You have waited by yourself for longer than you’d ever like, so drink in the awkward. As painful as it can be, you are together. For one moment in your chaotic world, the pieces fit, no matter how jagged the shape. Point out a particularly fluffy dog as it prances through the falling leaves, and bask in her laugh. Stay in that moment for as long as you can. Remember the first time she suggests, in an attempt to fill the silence, that you would look good in a snapback hat.
Eventually there will come a day, minor by anyone else’s standards, but you, looking in, see it as the gem it is. You will say something that makes her laugh a little too hard, and she will lean against you as she shakes. Friends do this all the time. But she is not a physical person. From outside looking in this is just the first of many normal occurrences, but you see it as the awkwardness slowly getting sanded down to smoothness. You know it is a process and that it takes time. You know waiting will not be easy because you have been there before. But you know now that time is your friend. When she leans against you, you know that her touch will not stay. So when she leans against you, do not move. It is okay to be motionless sometimes.
The speed at which you settle into a routine will surprise you. She meets up with you for lunch, and your laughter weaves into text messages during class. On the weekends you find reasons to see each other, and her bed becomes the default for comfortable post-dinner conversations that drift easily into silence. With one more chuckle you adjust your hat and pull out your phone, and as you look at your screen you feel slight pressure on your outstretched leg. She has decided that your lower leg is a footrest. You tense then relax. You are okay with this. Later, when you are contemplating whether to change your position to temper the pain shooting down your shin, she removes herself. You look up in confusion and disappointment and realize she is allowing you to adjust your position. Once you settle down, she plants her foot back on your leg, and you nestle into your seat. Eventually you have to return to your own bed in your own room, and you reluctantly get up to leave. You notice her hesitation before she hugs you goodbye. Smile as you walk out of her door and stomp in the puddles on the rainy walk home.
You notice that she enjoys stealing your hats, one in particular. She takes it from your dresser, your desk, even your head. She alternates between staring intently at it as she turns it between her fingers and playfully placing it on her own head. You smile as it droops past her crown and slips over her eyebrows, obscuring her vision and making her ears stick out from the sides. Pretend to be annoyed.
One day you notice that she has placed the hat beside her to have both hands free for her computer. You squint as it sits obliviously on her bed and wonder if you can move fast enough to grab it while she is distracted. She is using you as a footrest as usual, but you decide to try anyway. You lunge for the hat and get one hand firmly on its brim before she pins you against the wall with her leg in her flailing attempt to pull the hat free. The two of you giggle as you both try to loosen the other’s grip, and when she doubles over in laughter you notice an open line to the hat. You pull yourself forward and get your other hand onto the hat while landing yourself squarely on top of her, and she laughs in surprise before continuing to struggle. You wriggle for a better grip until you simultaneously notice how every move presses your bodies firmly together, and you pause. Her eyes find yours, and you hold her gaze, occasionally darting your eyes down to her pink lips. You wonder how they taste. The hat slips off the bed.