Hi, Paul. Don’t you remember me? Not so long ago, you told me you loved me and that I made you feel loved. And, after I baked one for you, you said I was your cupcake.
When I met you, I wasn’t planning on falling in love…but I took one look and somehow knew. You made me feel like a kid again, as though I was falling in love for the first time…and then I realized it was the first time I had really fallen in love. When I met you, I didn’t realize how much that love would grow – how that first attraction would reach beyond passion to the comfort of knowing there was someone I could trust to always be there for me, to honestly love me.
On our first date, I remember we went back to my one-bedroom apartment after dinner, and you took me in your arms and we slow-danced around my living room. You were respectful enough to go home after kissing me good night, so when we arranged to meet again a week later, it felt more natural for us to become more intimate. I knew you were very successful in your job at the bank where you worked, and I could tell that you really liked me. Nonetheless, I was taken aback when, a year later, you asked how I would feel about selling my one-bedroom condominium and buying me a two-bedroom apartment in the same complex. I thought about it a little, but I could tell that it was your way of showing me I was important to you, so I agreed. Later, you remember, we sold the two-bedroom for a small house further north, and later still, we sold that house for an even larger one. I knew without a doubt…the luckiest day of my life was the day I met you.
Meanwhile, I was still working in an unimportant job in a large, impersonal office. Not only was it meaningless and boring, but it didn’t even pay well. Once, we were talking about it, and you asked if I could have any job I wanted, what would it be? I knew right away that the business I would be excited to be in was to become my own boss as an independent antiques dealer. I imagined how I could buy old, used items, manage the inventory, and find the best marketplaces to sell them in at a profit. I had even “dipped my toe in the water” by going to tag sales on weekends and listing my purchases for resale online. You were quite interested in my idea and said it was similar to equity trading in that my success depended on an ability to spot undervalued assets. When you suggested that I quit my office job and offered to help me start an antiques business, I couldn’t believe my good luck. That was the moment when I knew that I loved you with all my heart.
Once I’d thought about it though, I knew it wasn’t something I should have let you do. As long as I can remember, even as a kid, I’ve had a problem with money: it’s obvious it’s all tied up somehow with my lack of self-esteem, and while I know that, I don’t know how to deal with it or control it. I used to shop compulsively for clothes, and even though I had closets full, it seemed I only felt good when I was buying things, and I didn’t feel attractive without a constant supply of new clothes. Whenever I was unhappy or lonely or depressed or felt inadequate I would shop. I always had trouble paying the bills, but I couldn’t stop. When I got the “antique bug,” that became my compulsion. The hunt for treasure was addictive, and it seemed I had found a way to justify shopping: I could sell what I bought.
It was expensive getting started in the business, but you always regularly gave me a check every time you visited. Even when I had other expenses, like for my car or repairs for the house, you would always pay for them. And afterwards, we could relax in the house. I knew you had been disappointed in other relationships: your previous girlfriend was dishonest and didn’t take your love seriously, and the woman you had lived with when you first returned to the city was disrespectful and often expressed hostility toward you. With me, I did everything I could to prove to you how much I loved you. And I would always send you different interesting greeting cards on Christmas, your birthday, and especially on Valentine’s day, and, I would always include a note expressing how important you were to me to let you know I was thinking of you.
Still, sometimes, you’d lose your temper with me about all my spending, and I hope it was the anger speaking when you said you gave me things to buy my love. I loved you for your sensitivity, your honesty, your sense of humor, your integrity, and your thoughtfulness – not for your money. It did bother me that I always seemed to be exchanging intimacy for financial assistance, but I believed that situation was just temporary and would be corrected when my antiques business finally took off.
I’m not sure exactly when our happiness started to fade. You told me you were experiencing unaccountable mental lapses, after which you couldn’t remember obvious things. You’d seen doctors about it, but none of them seemed to recognize any of the symptoms. I let you know I would always love you no matter what happened, but that didn’t seem to encourage you the way it usually did. After that, you would still visit me at the house as usual, but when we’d talk about things, you didn’t always make sense, you wouldn’t remember what we’d talked about the day before, and then you’d give me a check, but you’d leave after a few hours without making love to me. At some point, you just stopped visiting me altogether.
Later, you phoned to say you weren’t going to visit anymore, that you realized you still loved the woman you had lived with earlier (the one who didn’t respect you, remember?) , and that you were marrying her. You said you were sorry if you were hurting my feelings, but your health was at stake, and, more than my feelings of love, you needed someone who was competent to deal with those challenges. I also got the impression that this other woman was more sophisticated than me about art, music, foreign travel, and generally in the finer things in life that weren’t just utilitarian.
Well, actually, Paul, your “dumping me” did hurt my feelings. I know I made you happier to be alive than you’d ever been before. I’m sorry about your medical condition, but I would have taken good care of you right up to the end, and, anyway, you know, nobody lives forever. Now, I have nothing against this other woman, beyond her stealing the man of my dreams, but I’m confident in saying that she doesn’t love you like I do. True love isn’t just fun and games but must encompass the element of truth that forms the basis for its validity. Anyway, I wish I could have been what you wanted me to be. I miss you so much and I love you always. No matter what else happens in our lives, I’ll always be your cupcake.
Looking back on it, two songs always remind me of you, Paul, and I often imagine myself singing them to you. One is called Once I Loved, and it was co-written by Filho Ney, Veloso Caetano Emmanuel, and Viana Teles. It was most movingly performed by Shirley Horn. These are the lyrics:
Once I loved,
And I gave so much to this love
You were the world to me
Once I cried,
At the thought I was foolish and proud,
And let you say goodbye
Then one day,
From my infinite sadness you came,
And brought me love again
Now I know,
That no matter whatever befalls,
I’ll never let you go
I will hold you close,
Make you stay
Is the saddest thing
When it goes away
I will hold you close,
Night and day
Is the saddest thing
When it goes away
The other song that makes me think of you is called You’ve Changed, it was written by William Carey and Carl Fischer, and it was most meaningfully performed by Ella Fitzgerald. The lyrics are as follows:
That sparkle in your eyes is gone
Your smile is just a careless yawn
You’re breaking my heart
Your kisses now are so blasé
You’re bored with me in every way
I can’t understand
You’ve forgotten the words I love you
Each memory that we’ve shared
You ignore every star above you
I can’t you believe you really cared
You’re not the angel I once knew
No need to tell me that we’re through
It’s all over now