Elena was right. She didn’t need to call either of us out, and she didn’t need to tear down some poor coffee-shop brat in order to prove herself. For crying out loud, she had already referenced a Velvet Underground tune from their supposedly “lost” album and posed question on, “this weird rockabilly revival in the 80’s.” Far from pretention, she spoke as though everyone in both California and Utah had received schooling in rock ‘n’ roll history.
I thought about the night prior when, after I had described Hannah’s cultural versatility, my brother remarked, “why is she going out with you?!” He didn’t know that the night before I explained to Hannah how sometimes it was hard to feel cool enough to go out with someone who visited her family in Germany each summer-someone who, like me, aspired to go to school in NYC, but who, unlike me, was actually mature enough to do so. I didn’t let my brother’s comment get to me because I had reasoned that I was cultured in my own, American Pie kind of way. But now, here I was, in my room with a girl sitting on my bed next to my girlfriend who appeared to be equally well versed in Hannah’s assigned culture as in mine.
As I became detached from the conversation, Hannah began to compensate, making jokes that she didn’t sound like she wanted to finish. I had done my best to look at our relationship objectively since the beginning. Never did I reassure her when she pointed out the flaws in her art. Every clever measure I could think of to avoid the clichés of couple-dom, I saw through. Despite my commitment to this laissez-faire economic of love, I had become an extremist. I am in love with Hannah, and I judged her not for her insecurity. In fact, I found it painfully darling that she compensated in the same way I did two nights earlier when I so mercilessly compared my own worth to hers. But none of that changed that Elena was right.
Hannah and I would get sick of each other after three weeks in Germany together. And Hannah bringing her boyfriend along would change the whole dynamic of the trip. If this trip was a privilege for me, like I had emphasized, then why did I feel so entitled to the experience now? Maybe it’s because it took me a minute to feel like I was cool enough to go to Germany with Hannah in the first place, even though she and her Mom had welcomed me since the first notion without batting an eyelash. Sort of like how, when I first met her, I didn’t believe anyone could laugh so hard, even after I had seen her do it. Or like how she loved me from the start, and although I didn’t admit it for a minute, I really loved her too.