Sophie Henry

To All the Boys I Will Ever Love:

If you love me back — 

great! Treat me well, and treat my friends even better. Don’t forget the basic shit, like our anniversary or that I am super lactose intolerant. But even more importantly, don’t feel as though we need to figure everything out right away. I definitely won’t know what to do half of the time. And in the few cases when I do know what’s going on, I am still going to pretend that I don’t – just so we can figure it out together. We don’t have to know what to say every moment of every day either. Sometimes, I just want to hold your hand and sit in silence with you – in the back of the classroom, where I won’t get called on to talk about books I’ve never bothered to read. 

I’m not an English major. I’m not like you. 


If you don’t like me back —

tell me that you don’t. Meet me somewhere or call me. Don’t make me feel embarrassed or stupid for liking you by sending me a two-word reply on imessage. Make it clear that you don’t reciprocate my feelings. You need to trust me when I say that it is going to be much, much harder if I get attached to feelings that weren’t here. I’ll end up hurting myself, thinking I was loved when I wasn’t. I don’t want to be your “sometimes,” and I’m not good at taking hints. I want a solid, confident “no,” cushioned by a strong hug and a promise that we will stay friends, even if we won’t stay friends. I am not good at reading between the lines – it has never worked for Jane Austen, and it won’t work for you either.  

I’m not an English major. I’m not like you.


And, if you did feel the same way about me at one point — 

When I tell you that I really, really like you for the last time, it might be on a rainy day in the middle of Old Campus. Near that statue where you always waited for me. You waited for me there on our first date because I had forgotten where I put the only normal pair of pants I owned. I remember being so scared that you were going to think I was weird. Today, I am scared again. 

When I tell you that I really really like you for the last time, I will be looking down at my muddy sneakers because it’s hard to look at you. It is hard because it is the end of our little love game, but I need to accept that the two of us won’t be endgame. Maybe “game” is a horribly pessimistic word to describe who we once were. But the rain around us pitter-patters so loudly that I’m finding it hard to think or come up with the right words. 

I’m not an English major. I’m not like you.

When I tell you that I really, really like you for the last time, it might be in the backseat of your old Toyota because I want the last memory of us to smell like bubblegum, alcohol and gasoline all put together. It might be right after my film seminar because I am taking it in the same room where we had our very first bio class together. I wish I had never transferred into that bio class. I wish that I had just stayed in that one really hard professor’s class that everyone warned me about, because grades can always be CR/Ded. My feelings for you cannot. 

When I tell you that I really, really like you for the last time, I will be trembling when I am speaking. It is cold. Offer me your hoodie when that happens. I probably won’t take it, but it feels good knowing that you still care about my feelings. You know I tried. You know I did. You know we tried. You know we did — but we will never be above biology. We can’t control who we will love next, when we fall out with someone. DNA changes her mind every other second. DNA tells me that I will never have the kind of eyes you like. DNA tells me not to worry, but I want nothing but for DNA to shut up. I want nothing but to do anything so I can be good enough for you. Anything so I can be a little less me, a little more her.  She’s really pretty, and I want to be pretty just like her. I hope you will take good care of her. 

When I tell you that I really, really like you for the last time, you will nod and walk away. I tell myself that it’s going to be okay. It’s going to be okay. I’m okay. 

But I’m not. I relapse. I might tell all my friends that I’ve moved on, but I’m lying. Instagram is lying. I want to tweet that I am currently exiting the Romanticism era and entering the Renaissance period of goddamn individualism —but I would be lying. I think I really miss you, and I wish we’d never met. I hate you. I don’t like you. I think I like you. I like you. I really like you, and I need to stop.

I might call you one random night when you are at a suite party down the street. It’s okay if you’re a little stoned or a little drunk. It’s okay if you’re four minutes and 33 seconds late, because I’ll be waiting for you. Waiting and listening to John Cage one more time. One last time. What matters is that you still show up outside my dorm, reminding me that we will always stay friends. 

But the promise doesn’t last. We won’t stay friends. Three weeks later, we’re two strangers sitting at opposite sides of the Murray dining hall, our memories contained in old Polaroid photos lost at the bottom of my backpack. Our memories are scattered on my messy common room table like empty Tylenol bottles — except pharmacies don’t make Tylenol for this type of fever. Our memories feel like dried perspiration and warm skin on Stack floors, except I forgot which floor it was. And when the effect of my Tylenol finally goes away, so does all that’s left of us. 

You’re the best — did I ever tell you? I don’t think I ever did. Instead, I write “thank you” over and over again in the margins of my Chem Lab notes, chasing after memories that have already started fading. Dying. Memories that aren’t here anymore but still manage to hurt me. 

I need to stop writing. I want to stop writing, but I can’t. I can’t stop writing about you. It is a coping mechanism. 

I want to keep writing. I can’t keep writing about you. It’s breaking me — make it stop. Help me. Take my pen away from me and tell me to pass the paper forward. Time is up. 

I need to put my pen down. It’s hard to put my pen down, because scribbling random words will always be easier than saying how I feel aloud. 

I don’t want to think about you anymore. I need to put this pen down. I need to let you go. 

I have to put this pen down.

I put my pen down. 

I’m not an English major. 

I’m not like you.

Brian Zhang is Arts editor of the Yale Daily News and the third-year class president at Yale. Previously, he covered student life for the University desk. His writing can also be found in Insider Magazine, The Sacramento Bee, BrainPOP, New York Family and uInterview. Follow @briansnotebook on Instagram for more!