I fell in love in the summer between my freshman and sophomore year. I flew to England to visit my mom. She lives in Edinburgh, Scotland. I live at in Los Angeles as a student at the University of California, Los Angeles. Yep, I’m one of those kids who live a million miles away and pay just as much for their education over here. Look how exotic I am.
Anyway, for those of you unfamiliar with a summer in Edinburgh (so, everyone), let me give you a run down. The Edinburgh Fringe Festival takes over the entire city during the month of August. It’s the biggest arts festival in the world. During it, the population of Edinburgh triples. Anyone who works in theater in the United Kingdom goes to Edinburgh that month. Conclusion: It’s pretty damn fantastic.
I’m a theater nerd, and I started my theater journey (wow, that’s pretentious but also accurate) in stage management. So, when I was lucky enough to get to stage-manage two shows during the Fringe two summers ago, I felt overjoyed.
Before you decide to stop reading and ask where my sad love story comes in, just wait. This is like a slow burn—like actually falling in love. The suffering in waiting is the fun part.
I was brought on to stage-manage two different original children’s shows. One was called Robin’s Hood, a unique musical story with a minority Robin, female Will Scarlet, jazzy cover songs and hilarious writing. The Great Big Beautiful Sky was a show about an autistic boy making a friend through an online game, and was incredibly touching for both those on and not on the spectrum.
Both shows came from a university in England, featuring different actors. All five were in Robin’s Hood, but only two of those five were in The Great Big Beautiful Sky. One of the latter was my guy.
We all lived in the same apartment, but it took us a while to become friends. I was their stage manager, but their director, writer and all of them were super close. They’d been rehearsing for months. I, on the other hand, landed two days ago and didn’t know what the hell was happening.
Slowly, we all got closer. I bonded with some more than others, but by the second week we all did almost everything together. We were a family, and it was amazing.
But, of course, the best part was meeting him.
I’m going to keep him unnamed for both of our sakes. But rest assured, it was a great name. He was basically everything a girl dreams about. He would be the male lead in just about any Netflix special. He was smart, kind, considerate, attractive, attentive and just an overall wonderful guy.
So, naturally, I fell in love with him.
It was funny because the others started seeing we liked each other before we did. I literally had to have his best friend drunkenly tell me how much he liked me before I actually believed it. I guess our closeness increased when we had cheerleaders surrounding us and supporting us.
I remember the night of our first kiss. We had all gone out to a nice bar, happily chatting. He and I had been talking about nonstop though, effectively ignoring the others. We talked about everything: our families, our pasts, our dreams for the future. Everything. It was the night that really showed everyone that we had so much to talk about. We couldn’t stop.
We went outside for a few minutes, but it got cold so we went back inside. We headed to the bar to get another drink (we both were basic and drank vodka lemonades). We locked eyes, he leaned in, and that was the moment. Fireworks went off.
Or, to be more accurate, all of our friends cheered and clapped right behind us. Still, firework-like I suppose.
That moment spiraled into us spending almost every moment together. We went to as many shows as possible together. We laughed and talked endlessly. We went to sleep and woke up together.
I remember towards the end of the summer, we knew each other almost inside out. On one of our last nights, he pulled out the most beautiful necklace. I was born in January and so my birthstone is a garnet, a deep red stone. Even better was that I loved red, and wore it all the time.
So when he brought out a red diamond it took my breath away.
As he put it on, though, it was different to all of those fairy tale stories of the boy gets the girl a nice necklace. He told me that no matter what happened, this necklace wasn’t just a gift from him. It was a gift to myself to believe in myself, and achieve my dreams because of what I do, and no one else. It wasn’t just a nice object, it was a symbol. A symbol for strength in myself. It wasn’t to do with him. It was to do with me.
I’ve worn the necklace almost every day since. It gave me strength in some of the worst moments. I held it when I did the bravest thing I’ve ever done.
And that’s not because he gave it to me, but because he showed me what I had in myself and how to believe. He showed me I could do anything with that necklace. And as it turns out, I could.
And so, when the summer ended, it was the worst feeling in the world.
I remember walking them all to the train station to go back down to London. He and I held hands. We weren’t looking at each other, just straight ahead. I knew the lump in my throat that held back the tears. I couldn’t handle seeing the color of his eyes before he left for months and months.
But the moment came.
I looked at him before I said goodbye to the others and the tears just started coming. I hugged them all with tears pouring down my face and as they all got on the train, I ran into his arms.
We were both crying and making promises and saying I love you more than a million times as if it would make the separation a little easier.
It obviously didn’t.
They got on the train, left, and I was left there standing alone, trying to get a hold of myself. Every time I go back to that train station, that platform, I remember. I remember how broken I felt, how I didn’t know if I could even walk back home.
We couldn’t take a single day without calling each other.
I was ready to give up. I felt I couldn’t take the pain my heart was putting me through. He told me to keep going; we would see each other soon; it would all be worth it.
I tried everything to believe him. It would be worth it. I’d had so many small flings that feeling this way for someone took my breath away. I finally understood what it meant to love someone, and I lost them just as quick. My heart was so broken.
This lasted until October. And then, I just couldn’t do it anymore.
I broke it off. I cried for days, as did he, but we had done it. We officially broke up.
I knew it was the right thing to do because the week after, it didn’t hurt as much. I kept the memories of our time together to keep my heart afloat. I missed him, I promise I did, but the expectation and the pain wasn’t as much as I anticipated.
I felt freedom. And I felt that there was an end to the heartache in my future, which wasn’t there before.
I cannot speak for anyone on whether long distance is a good choice. For me, it wasn’t. It was also L.A.-England distance. That’s a hell of a lot.
I know that it was better for both of us to end it. We see each other every time I come over. Both he and I moved on and are happy with our lives. I can’t promise that if we hadn’t have broken up then we would still be together. But who can be happy at 20 years-old living across the world from the person you love?
I don’t regret any moment I spent with him, and I never will. I admire those who can do the LDR thing, but I wasn’t one of them then, and probably am still not now. I have hope that we will both find someone we love just as much again, and maybe, they’ll actually be on the same continent.
Regardless, I thank him for showing me what love is. I will never forget.