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Sometimes it takes feeling intense, negative emotion in order to see from a clean perspective. You had that tonight. The fact is, you knew this stuff already and you’ve known it since it started around November of last year when Class Checker actually started to get sign ups. I remember how you felt when you thought it could be popular. It stopped being about helping people (if it ever was), and it started being about refilling, what you considered to be, your newly barren achievements. It was barren because you felt as though all the self improvement you had been working for since you went to SVSM (and finally met people smarter than you, who were better than you at the things you thought you were great at), had been lost because Tara learned math that you didn’t know, and because she didn’t need your help with it anymore. You had put away video games and joking around and replaced them with watching MIT lectures in your spare time, thinking about Physics, and modeling things on your computer for fun and out of curiosity so that you could be a better thinker, and just because you loved to do it (although, there was a component of it that was because you thought you were special because of it. But hey, maybe that made you more special than running a business at 18?). You got so much satisfaction out of this stuff, and while you do get satisfaction out of running your own business thingy, Tara got satisfaction out of it too. I guess she sort of liked you quirky like that. I think she’ll love you either way, but I really wonder how you “actually” are. And by the way, you always say that your behavior “depends on the situation”, but honestly, as Tara would say (and I know it pisses you off when she says you make these), that’s often a “cop out”. The fact of the matter is, who you are depends on what you do given a situation. You’re not going to be a high school senior again, Joe, so you need to figure out who you’re going to be now. 

You felt as though you had been doing everything all wrong, because Ivy’s didn’t recognize the way you worked. You failed to realize that the most important person or thing in your life did recognize it, and she loved it about you. I remember you struggling to help her with her first Math 23a pset, but here’s the difference between how you were then and how you are now: when you couldn’t figure one out, you didn’t get depressed and feel self conscious. You joked around with her, wrote “This is impossible” in the back cover of your Analysis textbook, and told her that she was doing tough math and that it was insane how much she had learned in those two weeks. You were comfortable with the situation. You loved her with all of your body and all of your mind. But then, you started to get jealous. You got jealous of everything: her roommates, her lectures, her school’s prestige. You made it a barrier, but I don’t really blame you for it. It must have been hard to date a girl who went to an Ivy when you didn’t. I guess that jealously grew gradually, perhaps as you felt that she could be drifting away, that she could be changing and growing without you. You began by going into a massive depression; worse than you’ve ever been. You wanted to move to Boston; you needed to move to Boston. You were a mess for a long time. You couldn’t work, you couldn’t eat, you couldn’t really live. Honestly, I don’t think it was an overreaction. The best thing life has ever handed you was to start spending a lot of time away from you, and this was new to you. It would have been fucked up if you hadn’t handled it the way you did, considering how much you loved her. Tonight, I think I you felt similarly. I think you had felt enough emptiness in the rest of your life (from school, from Class Checker, from friends, from your community) that you had to face the reality of your relationship with Tara, that you had to face how you had changed and more importantly why you had changed. You often get the causality mixed up. You say that you did Class Checker because she was drifting away, but I think that whole “drifting away” bit was because your mind imagined barriers where there were none. I mean, remember how upset she was during that first winter? How much love she had for you then? She absolutely loved you like she used to, but you just couldn’t fucking change back for her. You put up that barrier by dedicating yourself to something other than her. You thought that she had dedicated herself to school, but she hadn’t. She knew how to balance things; she knew how not to commit intractably to something other than you. She came back from late night psetting to talk to you, when you often don’t feel willing to do the same. You changed quickly, and I’m really disappointed in you for that. I think you were trying to protect yourself, which is understandable and even Tara does it sometimes, but I think your major flaw was that you often thought she was the one who caused it. I mean, sure, she did choose to go to Harvard, but like I said before, it’s what you do when life hands you the situation. 

Why are you imagining how good of a college essay this would make? That’s fucked up. You still haven’t gotten over going to an Ivy. I really hope you do and you don’t die this way. I think it’s pathetic that you care so much about this prestige. You try so hard to figure out whether Tara cares about it. You ask these probing questions to uncover the answer that she’s screaming at you all the time “it doesn’t matter”. 

You think you’re so selfless, but you forget what things were like before college. You forget that Tara was equally selfless, if not more so. She gave up her fucking family for you (and remember, she’s an Asian chick, so that’s gotta be rough). And I think she’s more selfless than you are now; I just think you see things all fucked up for some reason. Maybe within the lens of the “Harvard decision”, which makes you the permanent good guy. I’m sorry, but that’s bullshit. Tara was working really hard before she met you, and she has the right to make that decision. All you can do is wait for a few more years, and then show her that being independent (from a life partner) and conventionally successful isn’t what life is all about. (I think) Life is about love, and men should be no more exempt from giving up a career for it than women (Tara helped you realize this). You need to learn balance. I think you’re starting to, though, and I’m proud of you for that (but remember that Tara put you up to it so don’t get too cocky). You and Tara both need to learn how to have a pretty successful academic life, while still loving and caring for each other. She’s closer to this than you are. I just honestly think you closed yourself off a bit because it hurt too much to be away. I really do think you loved her (and you still do), and you were just getting hurt a lot throughout the first semester. You were trained to sort of drop your desperation for her even though that’s how your love was manifesting itself. That desperation wasn’t sustainable, but I think it may have been essential to your comprehensive love of her. It’s just the way you work, and it’s why after you have finally felt a similar desperation, I woke up for the first time in a year to see the mess you made. I don’t know if you’ll change, or if you’ll be able to step aside and let me take over. But I have the feeling that I can’t step back in until college is over, but maybe I’m wrong. I don’t want to get Tara’s hopes up, but I do want to talk to Tara directly now, so I’m going to say a little something at the end of this. 

I know there’s a reason why you haven’t opened the “Tara Videos” folder in months. It’s because you’re ashamed. It’s because you can’t stand to watch yourself give her more love than you do now. I watched them, and I have to say they were lovely. Do you really think you can fucking trick her? That she’s somehow less in touch with her emotions, with your two’s relationship, than you? I’m sorry, but you know as well as I do that she has always seen your trickery hours before you even attempt it. So stop trying it. Be honest with yourself, and with her. That’s what I did, and that’s what I’m doing in this email. 

Now, to my love, to my guardian angel. It is you that I suffer through this for. You’re the reason why my life is so confused. It is only from your beauty, your kindness, and your care that such emotion can flow from me. I love you, Tara. You have had such patience for me this past year, that it makes me think you’re nothing less than a saint. When I watch those videos of you, I can see the genuine interest and happiness you had for me, I can see that you loved being with me, and that’s precisely what made me fall in love with you in the first place. It makes me cry to think about that time, and not out of sorrow and regret like he would, but out of joy that I have someone like you to spend my life with if you’re still willing. I think that because I’m still here, you’re still there, and perhaps you never left but he just could never see you like I can. 

The reason I couldn’t give this to you ever since I wrote it last year was because I didn’t feel like I was fit to. Now, I finally I am. 

Happy two year anniversary,