Love Lessons: The Princess, The Castle, & Me

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Our love started unexpectedly.

I walked into the bar and saw you sitting alone, drinking a manhattan on the rocks. At first I hated you — another Bumble date I should have just stayed home from. Then you started to open up. You told me about your family, your friends, your job. I liked that you were important. I liked how you looked at me.

You were the prince in that bar, and I wanted to be your princess.

I started spending nights at your place. Then weekends. We took the train to meet your family. You gave me a key. You opened up about your divorce. You made me feel like I was the only one who really knew you.

We saw movies, and shows, and ate at the best restaurants in town.
When we were together, people looked at us like they knew we were royalty.
During the day I felt like just another girl, but at night with you, I was a West Village princess.

When we were together, people looked at us like they knew we were royalty.

Then, One morning, I woke up.
It was a Tuesday.
Something had shifted — I couldn’t quite place it.
I made you breakfast, carrying it to the table on a tray.

That week, I placed it.
You were more concerned with your phone than with our conversation.
I had gained weight. You noticed. You made sure I knew that you noticed. You started making more and more comments about Trump.
You knew my history with sexual assault, but it didn’t register for you.

We started fighting. You would go to work, I would sit in the window looking down at the same street. 4 floors up. 40 steps.

The princess who felt electric with keys to the castle was gone.
The girl who was numb, sitting on the fire escape, smoking and drinking coffee was here.
I had met this girl once before.
I was scared by her. This girl didn’t eat or sleep. Then, she ate everything and slept too much. This girl didn’t shower or leave the house. She missed calls from her family and friends. People started to show up to her house wondering where she had gone. Her professors called her family, concerned that she was failing all of her classes.
I knew this girl. She scared me.

This time however, no one was there there to force her away.
Her mother wasn’t there to crack open the door and watch her sleep, wrapped with worry.
Her father wasn’t there to stare at her across their favorite restaurant table, pain in his eyes. Her sister wasn’t there to ask the right questions and pull her out of bed.
Her friends weren’t there to take her outside so she could feel the warmth of the sun.
You weren’t there — because you didn’t know you needed to be. And because you didn’t care.

So this new, unfamiliar, girl sat on the fire escape, drinking a coffee, smoking, wondering how the hell she wound up here. Alone, in the castle she would had given anything to be in months earlier.

Then, on a Monday at work, something changed.
A boy from down the hall started staring at her from his office.
Making small talk at the copier.
Asking around about her.
Why did she looked so tired?
Was she okay?
Bringing her cupcakes on Fridays and coffee on Mondays.
Sneaking out of meetings to walk around the block with her.
Making plans about the future and joking about the past.
He met this sad, new girl and made her feel that old, familiar feeling. Her made her feel electric.

I started to come back at work. The sad, new princess would leave the West Village, go to work, and I would come back. The boy at work knew me better now than you did.

We started talking. Then grabbing dinner. Then spending time alone.
You knew I wasn’t where I said I was, but you didn’t care.
You kept staring at your computer and watching the news.
You thought I was your sad princess. You’d given me the keys to the castle and introduced me to your mother. Wasn’t that enough? So what if you didn’t listen when I said I was having a bad week, or when I said it bothered me that you kept talking about my weight? You had given me the keys, and that’s what I really wanted.

Or so you thought.

On a Thursday, I woke up alone. You were already at work.
I showered, made coffee, and put on my clothes. I looked around the castle, seeing if there was anything I had left that I wanted to see again. I grabbed a t-shirt of yours, packed my bag, and left.
The new girl was gone. I was back. I came back to the castle the next day and ended it. You packed up my hair dryer and pajamas in a bag with a bow and handed it to me. Your eyes were vacant. You didn’t understand. I didn’t need you to.

You lingered around for the next few months, peering into my life — prodding me. You knew how to bring the sad princess of West Village back.
You’re the only person who knows how to bring her back.
You tried a few too many times.

Half of them you were successful.
My friends staged an intervention.
I felt like an idiot for ever going back to the castle.
The boy from down the hall quickly lost interest and faded away. I went to therapy.

I died my hair.
I bought some books.
I reached out to old friends.
I ate healthier. I also ate mozzarella sticks.
I drink margaritas with salt and danced.
I cried alone in my room in Brooklyn.
I met you one last time.
You bought me some expensive shoes, and then told me it was over.
I wear those shoes all the time, they remind me of that sad, sad girl. The princess of West Village. Like carrying a locket around of a relative that died, I wear those shoes for the sad princess.
She’s the old girl now.
If she came back, her friends would be there to pull her out.
She has people who care about her now.
You are not on that list.
She changed her emergency contact at the doctor last week. The last piece of her life you were a part of.

I’m happy I came to the castle and met you. Before you, I'd always needed a man to prop me up and make me feel whole. You showed me that if I can meet the old girl twice and come out alive, I can do anything.

Fuck that princess.