Ivette almost never cried.
She had a policy of not crying in general, but specially for boys, while we were all crying our eyes out during those first college years when we knew nothing about how to manage heart breaks, she was blowing it all off with a clear “fuck it”.
So I was pretty shocked to see her barge into my dorm room and throw herself, pretty devastated and literally bawling into my pillow. I asked her what happened and her answer was one single word: Juanma.
I fell on my knees too, of pure SHOCK.
Her boyfriend of about six months was going away to another campus and they had broken up on the last day of classes. I have to give it to her though, she was devastated, but still very much in her mind when it came to making a clean cut decision; she was not trying a long distance relationship. I mentioned it as an alternative to being a mess of snot in my pillow and, sobbing as I had never seen her before (and I knew her since ninth grade) she shook her head and very clearly, almost loudly said “that wouldn’t be fair”.
With the same force that it took her to flop into my bed and collapse in a fit of tears, she suddenly picked herself up, dried her face, re-did her hair in front of my mirror and very calmly walked out to meet the rest of the world again. Poker face on, strong heart mode.
I never heard her complaining about that again.
She talked to Juanma again and we even visited him once. They were very much friends and that, I remember, was what I found the most incomprehensible. It took a lot more strength and courage to remain friends with someone you so wanted to be with than to just put him in the past and never talk about him again.
I’m certainly not as strong in the romantic side as Ivette.
Separating from the father of my daughter is the first instance in my life when I can’t do as usual and soak the past in gasoline and then walk forth after throwing a lighted match over my shoulder. It feels like someone’s filing my teeth with metal; not unbearable, but obviously not pleasant.
Something amazing happened the other day though. I reached out to Ivette, told her I would like to see her and give her three month baby boy a little thing. She was all “I WANT TO SEE YOU!” It had been something like thirteen years since the last time we had seen each other.
Well, we hugged and talked about half an hour (it was the only half an hour available in her day) and coming back home I felt that connecting with her connected me with a very solid part of myself, one that I desperately needed to “see” again. The outgoing, silly and curious person that I was in college suddenly was very present.
And that made me feel stronger.