Last summer, Alex and I were in the same place for the first (and only) time. After doing the long-distance thing for well over a year, we both decided to live in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. He worked a summer job and I commuted four hours a day (seriously) to work in New York City. Anything for love, right?
That was our magical summer, full of more together-time than our entire relationship had been up to that point. Incidentally, it was also the summer right before our breakup—clearly it wasn’t magical enough to keep us together. Still, it was good.
Now, as the weather gets warmer and I walk the same streets as I did last year, I’m reminded of that summer. Especially in the evenings, when I’m leaving work and heading home (which, thankfully, is now closer than a two-hour bus ride). I can remember walking up 8th Avenue to the bus station every night last year, often talking to Alex as I went. I always looked forward to seeing him when I got back, maybe grabbing some dinner and curling up on the couch before we went to sleep.
As enchanted as that summer seems now, at the time it often felt like a train wreck. We had gotten used to the distance, and having each other around all the time meant we fought more than usual, bickering over stupid things and arguing about the future. One July night, we had a fight so massive that Alex threatened to give up and move back to his hometown. But by the end of the summer we had worked through those kinks, and all in all we had a lot of fun. Now when I look back on those months together, they shine with the kind of rosy glow only time can bring. I’m not sure if hindsight is 20/20, but it definitely has gilded edges.
We split up a few months into the fall. Our breakup was slow and stormy, full of late-night arguments over what went wrong and how we might be able to mend the unmendable. Eventually we came to the conclusion that we couldn’t give each other what we needed anymore, and it ended.
My roommate recently told me he never thinks the end of a relationship is indicative of the time you had together. As our gilded summer shows, that’s definitely true for Alex and me. Our breakup wasn’t all that dramatic (no Jerry Springer-worthy backstabbing here), but it certainly doesn’t reflect who we were as a couple. Our summer, on the other hand—that was us at our finest. Plenty of romance, a healthy dose of disagreement, and a ton of laughter. Ingrid Bergman and Humphrey Bogart will always have Paris; Alex and I will always have that summer in Bethlehem.