The theater was dark enough that we could easily have been alone. Just us and the story on the screen. It was, otherwise, a moment to remember, yet it was laced with whispers of the fresh past. Those whispers spoke of moments to forget. Moments I longed to forget.
We were on what most would call a date. We even called it that. Looking back, though, I am sure that it was something else; yet something nevertheless benign.
Neither of us dated for fun. That wasn't how we worked. We dated for a relationship. Not for fun. Not for sex. Not to feel good. Sure, those could be part of the journey - but they were not the goal. We sought long-term partners. And we knew that wasn't what we'd get from each other, at least, not out of this date.
It was because she was going to spend the approaching summer and, hopefully, the following school semesters studying in a foreign country. She never told me where, and I don't know if she yet knew. But I had asked why.
It was about finding herself. How everything felt alien to her, and how she didn't feel comfortable or content with where she was, as an institutionalized teenager following the ebb and flow of a system that wasn't quite hers.
I can't say I didn't feel the same at times. But I never felt like doing anything drastic about it. I had concerns of my own. My own demons to fight before I could move on.
So we'd spent the time talking out of intellect and creativity, as young artists and scholars. I was a writer. She was an actress. And I never let a word or action betray the urges of romance and attraction that I kept veiled behind it all. Tears that wouldn't fall ached within my face.
That's why the context of this moment was hardly a date. It was just a friendly healing of the heart between two adolescents who, try as they might, couldn't make things any more than platonic. And I guess I liked it that way, at the time.
The characters on the screen of the theater were discussing love. We both wanted a laugh, so we'd gone to see 'Forgetting Sarah Marshall'. It was not the wisest choice, and left us with awkward grins. We both had our fair share of former lovers, foolish ardor and unrequited affections to contend with as we watched.
The conversation about love and relationships reflected this awkwardness. One of the characters was trying to explain his own standpoint on it all, about how he had come to believe that romance and relationships were a waste of time. He argued that it was best to get straight to the 'essence of... f**k'. As if that was the only genuine way two people who loved each other could spend time together.
I turned my head towards her. I dared not touch her, in any way. And I told her the awkward truth that was on my mind, "I've had that same conversation before... with my ex."
And, without asking, she knew which side of the argument I was on. She laughed, "Really!?"
The deception, the insincerity and the manipulation of the relationship sent my head and heart into a knotting tailspin. I felt lucky to have escaped with my virginity intact. But that was just a word, a frail concept. I felt like my innocence was very damaged.
The character who had debated this atrocious viewpoint, seemed like an unrealistic character to me, because the qualities his viewpoint expressed made him seem inhuman. He was shallow in such a way that, until that point in the movie, I couldn't have believed he was real.
But now that I had realized that he was just like her true self, that it had taken her two months to show, I was baffled. I felt ashamed, surprised and amused all at the same time.
We returned our attention to the movie. But I don't think either of us managed to get the awkward grins off our faces for a good, long moment.
As nicely as our ideologies may have meshed, and our talents impressed each other; the two of us never saw each other since. She's not in the country anymore. But we keep in touch.