We’d only been dating a week when I told him I wanted to go to the ballet.
“It’s a big dream of mine,” I said. “Can you make it happen?”
He shook his head at me. “I think going to the ballet is something you build up to. If I started with that, we’d only go downhill.”
His response wasn’t what I wanted, but I accepted it.
For three years I brought up the ballet. Sure, I could’ve just gotten the tickets myself but I wanted him to romance me in that particular way. He was romantic anyway—flowers and sweet notes, picnics at Central Park, breakfast in bed and trips upcountry—but the ballet was what I always came back to. It was my first and most frequent request. When would he think I was worth it?
Just a month before I would leave the States for Paris and he would eventually decide we should break up, we became obsessed with the show Lost. The series had ended a year before and neither of us had seen a single episode until it came up on his Netflix Instant Queue.
We’d spend hours in his Brooklyn living room, letting the day turn to night, while we argued over who was the strongest character: John Locke or Jack Shephard? He thought they were dead the whole time. I thought they were dreaming. We’d order in tacos from Yola’s, noodles from M Noodle Shop or pick up bagels from Bagelsmith between episodes. We challenged ourselves to finish the series before I left for Paris, which seemed unlikely.
The Saturday before I left, I woke up beside him. He was already awake and smiling. “Guess where we’re going?” he asked.
I sleepily rubbed my eyes. “To the couch to watch Lost?”
Then he brought out the tickets for Balanchine’s Jewels at the New York City Ballet. It was finally happening, yet my first thought surprised me. I needed to know what was going to happen in the next episode. How would we ever finish the series now? But I smiled and kissed him.
The day was rainy and cold. We bundled up, picked up some coffees, and took the train to Lincoln Center to see the midday performance.
“Are you excited?” I asked.
He shrugged his shoulders, which meant no. Then he lied: “Sure, I’m excited.”
Jewels is a three-part ballet linked by shimmery jewel-covered costumes. Each part features music from Gabriel Fauré, Igor Stravinsky and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. The first few minutes I was enchanted by the costumes, the gracefulness of the dancers, and the privilege of being present. But that didn’t last long. I wanted to be blown away. Brought to tears. Somehow changed. Instead, all I could think was “When’s this thing over so we could go back to his place and snuggle up on the couch for our show?
During the intermission, when he asked if I was enjoying the performance and I said “Yes, of course,” he just laughed.
“It’s fine,” he said. “We both wish we were home watching Lost.”
“It’s that good,” I admitted.
When the performance was over, we gave our applause and rushed out of Lincoln Center, into the cold, onto the train, and sighed relief when we’d finally made it back to his apartment.
We didn’t finish the series that week. I watched a few episodes when jet lag kept me up at odd hours in Paris, but when we broke up, I couldn’t watch it at all, no matter how hooked I was.
Lost became a tender wound in my memory, much like the Lorimer stop in Brooklyn where he first kissed me, or Roberta’s in Bushwick where he first said he loved me, or New York City itself, the place that gave him to me for those now lost three years.
Story by Erica Garza.