Read the text. Reread it. First, roll your eyes at the fact that you sent an email and his reply does not reflect the expression of love that swished off with the sound of an airplane, on your Macbook. Read it again, for there is no way it could mean what it says. You are a writer and you’re prone to take things literally, but you are straining to see the literary element in this. This must be some sort of double entendre, you say to yourself.
You know your love story.
& still you question if it was real.
Was everything a lie?
You remember moments that you could’ve misinterpreted. You walk the tightrope between bullshit and reality. The Gods replay it like a broken record, in your mind. You ask yourself stupid questions, hoping they might be early indicators or proof that you couldn’t have seen this coming. You want to know if you were blind or an absolute fool or both.
1. The first night we made love, who got up first? Was it he or I?
2. If it was he, does it mean that’s all it was? Just the making? Axe the love.
3. In the morning, did he eye me like his woman or a stranger in his bed?
4. Did we kiss goodbye?
5. Did he hold my hand? He did.
6. Did that mean something? Yes, I knew his intentions, but could his lack or progression of affection have changed my mind?
7. Did he love me? Were our quiet moments filled with longing or just nothing to say?
8. Was the tension between us lust or just the anxiety that we’d eventually have to disseminate?
9. Were the long nights, over the phone, because he couldn’t sleep or because the lull of my voice kept him near?
10. Were we friends, lovers, or nothing…from the very start?
You can envision the text bubble that indicates your typing, on his end of the line. It must heave up and down, showing that you’re deleting and rewriting things. You want to be firm enough so that he knows you mean business, but not so mean that he feels pushed away.
There are no ‘baby, baby please’ montages here. Next stage.
Let it sink in. A man who revered you can be consumed by life and it’s possible that you’ve made your way down his priority list, without making a thud. But you can feel it now. Much like the morning exercise that is energizing, at first, and sore the next morning, you feel the pain rising.
You’re a pacer. Usually you would find yourself walking the hallway that goes from your bathroom to your living room, thinking of what to say next. However, you’re in the middle of a work meeting when the text comes through. You utter something about National Common Core Standards and your acceptance of them and you almost forget to conclude your sentence, when his name arrives on your phone. The meeting goes on and when the attention is diverted to another employee, you’re free to glance.
There’s no order to my stages. Denial reoccurs through every one of them.
could not be the same Micah that kissed me like rain,
could not be the same man who had tears in his eyes, as we pulled up to my departing train in Philly,
could not be the same man who held me in the dark and told me that he would never leave me abruptly,
could not be the same man who grit his teeth when I told him that I’d moved on…
Enter overanalyzing. Enter memories.
December 2013. Hotel Room. Washington, D.C.
I’d told Micah that I was seeing other people. Half of my heart wanted to know if he was going to be furious and the other half wanted him to release me.
He smiled nervously, “Really? I thought you said you were done with guys, after me.”
“Yeah. You say things like that when you’re angry. I’m good now and I think I really want to start dating again.”
He sighed, “I guess.”
“Are you jealous or do you just not want to see me get hurt?”
“A little bit of column A and a little bit of column B.”
I laughed at the reference, “Why column A?”
“You know how I feel about you girl. I wonder all the time, if I’d made different decisions, what kind of man I could be to you.”
Micah was beautiful. It’s a word not often used to describe men, but handsome wasn’t grand enough for him. He wore his heart on his white button up. He’d try to smirk and display nonchalance, but his feelings were always written across his eyes. We lay down, in a dim room, fully clothed, and just looked at one another. I wanted to wrap my arms around him, but I sat on my hands and fought the urge.
“You can say it Micah. Don’t deny what you’re feeling.”
He gulped, “You know it’s hard for me.”
“I’m not going to force you.”
“I’m not going to say something I can’t follow through on.”
We went back and forth for a few more minutes and when it became unbearable he grabbed his car keys off of the nightstand and stood up to leave. I got up and walked him to the door. He held my face and kissed me, while I held back my tears. I slammed the door behind me and leaned against it.
I heard him say on the other side of it, “I love you America.”
& then I heard the elevator door close.
& then I felt my heart sink into my stomach.
& then I cried until the sun rose.
& then I woke up, put on my suit, and pretended as though it never happened.
My best friend lives in the apartment below me. I knocked on her door and she opened it. I didn’t need to say anything. She knew from my smeared mascara and blanket wrapped around me that I just didn’t want to be alone.
It was a ritual we had:
I’d curl up next to her. She’d ask me about my day, avoiding mentioning him. I’d tell her funny stories; we’d eat something, and fall asleep. In the morning she still wouldn’t ask, but she’d say, “I know you’ll tell me when you’re ready.” After a few weeks I usually did.
But I still haven’t told her the truth yet.
Because I’m still not ready.
& I still love him, even though he doesn’t deserve one ounce of it.
I’m not morphing into a mad black woman.
I do not want to throw things and scream.
I am not seeking revenge.
I am not e-stalking him.
& this how I know I’m growing.
I have an impulse to live.
I want to paint.
I want to dance.
I want to see the world.
I want to write like crazy.
I am all I have, in the end. We are all we have. With each heartbreak; we grow stronger. Micah was right. We are all frail things propped up on something, but I am strengthened by me.
I am propped up on knowledge: We learn that love is not promised. We learn that hope is a relative thing. We learn that loving us first is more urgent than anything.
Urgent like a mother.
I have a surprise coming, concerning this dating series! Look out for it. However, in the meantime, comment below! Thanks for reading. Pun intended. :)