Lincoln High School Statesman

On the evening before the last

Johnathan Smith, Staff Writer

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On the evening before the last, at around 7:00, a man is about to leave his apartment. The girlfriend of five years, who is perched on one of stools that they had bought from IKEA and assembled with an obvious lack of success, lazily scrolls through her Twitter feed. Remnants of a hastily eaten Thai takeout meal collect near the edge of the dining room table. The man, unsure if he should accent his gray dress shirt with the light blue or dark blue tie, decides on the former because it was worn years earlier at a formal dinner that the girlfriend may have downed one too many glasses of Rosé at (though she swears this occasion never occurred). The girlfriend notices the choice and remembers the evening, but says nothing.

The man offers for a third time that night to take the girlfriend out with him. “The guys really wouldn’t mind,” he argues. “James is bringing his wife, so you would have some company if the fellas get to be too much.” She declines for the third time that night. “I don’t feel like going to another bar,” she argues. “I was out with you last Thursday, anyway. And you know what an idiot James’s wife can be.” The man, aware of the insurmountable uphill battle that’s already been lost, puts his argument to rest as she makes her way to their bedroom. Last Thursday, they went to dinner, but came home early when she complained of an upset stomach. As she had the last few dinners.

The man sighs as he grabs his coat off the handcrafted rack his mother had sent the girlfriend as an “apartment-warming” gift. He throws on the jacket and places his right hand in the pocket, almost out of habit. In it, he finds the receipt from dinner the past Thursday which holds the number of their waitress. He glances at the scrap of paper, then at the open doorway the girlfriend had just floated through. He almost finds a smug sense of pride by withholding his secret, juxtaposed by the creeping sense of deep disconnect he’s felt for the past few months. As he slips out the doorway to their shared home, the girlfriend shouts a flippant goodbye.

“I love you.”

Throughout the history of the world, romance has always found a way to make itself the centerpiece of culture. Empires have fallen, alliances have formed, media has been constructed, all in the name of love. Helen sparked the horrors of the Trojan War in the name of Paris, her unattainable lover. Cleopatra held Marc Anthony and the Roman army in her palm, and loved him even as the asp venom consumed her and tore her from the Earth. The weight that affection has held may surpass the burden that even Atlas carries. Being in love has long been a fixture of global ideals and, consequently, has been treated with respect and severity.

The density of love in the modern era, however, is dissipating. The phrase “I love you” has become a dismissal, an obligatory gesture to provide solace for a partner. A declaration that once brought gods to their knees now lacks enough substance to cause them to rise. Twenty-first century minds have become so focused on keeping face that they breeze over any true meaning. The common belief is that love always finds a way, no matter the circumstances. But love cannot find away if all paths have been cut off by meaningless remarks. And the sad truth is, nobody cares enough about returning to the weighted days of old to invest in their words. The purposeful “I love you” is no longer an endangered species; it’s extinct.

On the evening before the last, at around 7:00, a man has left his apartment. And it doesn’t look like that man is coming back.

Johnathan Smith, Staff Writer

Johnathan Smith is a junior and a first-year Statesman member. When he’s not off causing shenanigans with the boys, Johnathan is busy with football,...

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