Why waste the time we have together?

A few days ago, there was a question on Twitter: What did your ex leave you with? I think specifics were expected, like music, or movies, or art.

But what came to my mind immediately was too long to write out there. So here it is.

Ours was a closed campus, and though the boys were allowed to go out and roam the city whenever we wished, the girls usually had only two gate passes a month. Which meant that our time together, at least outside campus, was limited. We were aware of this, though we had enough time together that it never weighed on us. It was just that we couldn't eat out, or go on coffee dates, or travel.

She was a feisty character, gorgeous, studious, and driven. I was the opposite, more interested in the library, in long walks, and in volleyball, which I'd just discovered.

One of the first times we were out together, on a gloriously pleasant day, we were shopping, and I did something that irked her. I don't remember what it was, just that it was minor enough to not matter to me, but important enough for her to get worked up. I knew these moods of hers. This was going to be a long day, I thought, and braced myself.

But when we exited the mall to bright sunshine, she was back in the radiant mood she had been in all morning. I was taken aback, having anticipated glares and taunts. But no. She took my hand in the cab to the restaurant, and talked as if nothing was amiss. I was confused, but only too glad to go along.

It was a good day, full of laughter and love and that silly optimism being young affords you. We went to get coffee before boarding the train back. I walked her to the hostel. It wasn't dark yet, and I could see her face, slightly flushed after the long day and the walk from the station. She was happy. I was too.

At the gate, she turned, and to my surprise, started chewing me out. She told me to go to my room and call her immediately so she could give me a piece of her mind.

Even more confused now, I walked back to my hostel, changed, got some water from the cooler, and called her. She did what she told me she would. I told her I didn't think it was a big deal. I know better now, but it was obviously the wrong thing to say. The argument ran its course. I went down to meet the boys, played a game of volleyball, read a bit (I think it was my economics phase - Nouriel Roubini and Raghuram Rajan and Tim Harford), and then called her to say good night.

She had been studying, as I knew she would be. I asked her what had been on my mind all evening: Why, if she was so angry, did she wait until we came back? Couldn't she have brought it up then, and sorted it all out face-to-face?

But, she said, that's the only time we have with each other outside campus. Why should I ruin it? I can be angry with you later. Why waste the time we have together?

This was more than 10 years ago. I've never forgotten it.

Indeed, why waste the time we have together?