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Single (3)

Updated: May 31, 2019

Another night, another Game of Thrones marathon with Jarrett. Since the first episode a few days ago, it’s kind of grown on me. Jarret pauses the show when we start kissing and get too distracted. I don’t think I could ever get used to how he makes me feel.

“Hey,” I say after we finish. “We should go somewhere. We always hang out here super late. We should do something else sometime.” It all comes out in a rush, and I only now realize how much Montana’s words have affected me.

Jarrett’s mouth smiles, but his eyes don’t. “Yeah, maybe some time.”

I feel embarrassed until I’m outside, walking back to my house, shivering. My request isn’t that far-fetched. Couples go out and do stuff, right?

Are we a couple?

I think about it. We’ve never talked about what we are to each other. I’d only been over to his house a few times since that first night, and we haven’t done anything else other than text. What does he think about me?

The next night, I lay around, waiting for his text to invite me over, but it doesn’t come. Around 11:30, I pick up the courage to text him.

Me: Hey, you asleep already?

I wait for his answer, but it never comes. I turn off the lights and try to sleep, but my mind won’t stop spinning. I’m sure he just fell asleep. But what if? Maybe I’m getting on his nerves. Maybe I shouldn’t have said anything. Maybe he doesn’t like me anymore.

When he doesn’t text back in the morning, I’m frantic, so I call the only person I know who’d have experience with this.

“Jaz, what does it mean when you’re hanging out with a guy, and everything’s going great, and then he just doesn’t answer your text for almost a whole day?”

Jasmine raises her eyebrows. My signal is bad, so she’s grainy on my phone screen.

“Where are you?”

“Just a friend’s,” she says. “Back to the guy. What happened with him?”

I tell her the condensed version.

“Sounds like you scared him with that commitment convo.”

“What commitment convo? I just asked if we could go somewhere.”

She scratches her chin. “He just wants to hang out. He doesn’t want the strings attached. I know these kinds of guys. They don’t want a relationship.”

My heart drops. “I don’t think you know him. Of course he wants a relationship. Why else would he want to hang out?”

She just shakes her head with a knowing look.

This is getting me nowhere. I hang up and stare at the wall. My phone buzzes.

Jarrett: Sorry, phone was dead. Tonight?

The jitters come back. He does care about me.

It isn’t even dinnertime yet, and I’m restless. My friends’ words won’t let me relax. Could they be right?

Maybe I should just go over to his house. Surprise him. We could go on a walk. We could even walk to the Wendy’s down the street. It would be fun to share some fries or a frosty.

Before I can think it through, I’m walking to his house and ringing the doorbell. I’m faced with his mom, I guess, who’s surprised to see me and says that Jarrett isn’t home yet.

“Are you one of his school friends?”

When I get out of that awkwardness, I turn to leave and see a car pulling in. Jarrett’s in the passenger seat. And a girl is driving. A pretty girl. She’s laughing at something he said. He parks, and before he gets out, he leans in and kisses her.

And my heart breaks.

“What did he do when he saw you?” Jaz asks, rubbing my back.

I can barely get the words out over my heaving breaths. “He—was—just like why are you here. And—that we aren’t dating—and he still wants—to hang—out.”

Jasmine shakes her head like she knew it was going to happen this way the whole time.

Montana hugs me. “He doesn’t deserve you.”

“I’m—so—stupid,” I sob. “Going over there—whenever he wants—doing whatever—he wants.”

My friends keep talking, comforting me, but I feel humiliated.

A week later, Jasmine is gushing about a new guy who just found her online, and she’s trying to decide if she should leave her current boyfriend for him or not. Montana is shaking her head the entire time but won’t speak up.

“Are you serious?” I slam my book that I’m trying to study from shut. “You don’t even know the guy. For all you know, he could be a player.”

She rolls her eyes. “Just because you fell for someone like that doesn’t mean they’re all like that. He’s so hot and cool and really sweet.”

I swallow back my feelings and try to talk logically. “I think you just like the idea of him, not who he is. You haven’t even seen him in person.”

As Jaz goes on to defend her new love interest, I’m hit by what I said. I was “in love” with the idea of Jarrett, not the jerk himself. He never did anything for me, and I really didn’t get to know him. I just wanted to be in love so badly that I jumped on the first thing that developed between me and a guy. I hadn’t realized how desperate I was for a boyfriend until now.

I feel better than I’ve felt in a week. Jarrett hadn’t broken my heart. Not really. I’d done it myself, building up a guy in my mind to make him exactly what I wanted in a guy when he wasn’t anything like that in real life. In a way, Jarrett had taught me a valuable lesson. Yeah, being single sucks, but at least I’m not kidding myself. At least I’m living a real life instead of fabricating one.

“You know what, Jaz?” I cut my friend off. “I learned a lot from the whole thing with Jarrett. You do whatever you want, but I don’t want to mess with my own feelings. I’d rather be single than dating the wrong guy.”

Her eyes grow wide, and even Montana looks at me in surprise. “I think that’s the wisest thing you’ve ever said.”

I smile and relax in the thought that I’m actually where I’m supposed to be. “Maybe it is.”

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