“You know you’re a pretty fucking amazing person, dude.”
I could see her over the phone, the way you just can with some people. You know exactly what they look like when their voice does that thing or they say a certain phrase that you’ve heard and seen so many times. I laughed the way you do when it just feels so tight inside and you laugh because you think it will loosen it, but it just gets tighter. I had something witty cocked back and ready to fly. But, I let it go slack and fall to the floor.
How unlike you I said to myself.
“I know it sucks to hear it. I can’t stand it when someone says it to me. But it’s true. She wasn’t right, you need someone special.”
“Special needs,” I jibe.
She continues on, ignoring my attempt at emotional deferment. “Or she was right and it just wasn’t the time.”
That pushes the button of the blender in my heart and I turn soft. “I don’t really need to hear that.” I didn’t mean it to come out like that. “What I mean is I think I just need to drive past that shit. Not think in terms of maybe someday. I mean that’s kind of the issue.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, she said something. And even thought I knew it wasn’t true it totally was.”
“She said I was putting her on layaway.”
“Whoa.” She pauses. “I like her.”
“Yeah. Fuck you, too.”
“I’ve been there. On both sides and let me tell you. It’s not cool.”
“Yeah, I know. But, I really wasn’t doing that. It was a collateral effect.”
“I mean it could have turned that way, sure. But that’s like saying you can never drive again, because if you drive and then you crash, you could logically say it was your fault. It wasn’t my intention, but it isn’t something I could deny as a possibility.”
“Okay, just talk. Stop with the metaphors.”
“Sorry. Nevermind. It’s hard because she has some major shit pressing down on her and she doesn’t have time for my crazy shit. And I got a bunch of shit pressing, too, and when you’re in a bunch of shit you just don’t realize that there’s any other emotion other than yours or that people may not have the time for it. It’s not like your selfish, it’s just there’s only so much space you have before you just can’t take in any more data.”
“Maybe that’s why you connected.”
“Or maybe it was just that I was completely in love.”
“I don’t know what else to call it.”
“I could think of a few things.”
“Well, so could I. But it turns out every time I saw her it just fed this whatever I had started with. This picture. I was waiting for it to diverge expecting to lose interest. But it got better and better. And I went down the wormhole. The second time we hung out, I find out she just had her heart broken. Right about the time we started hanging out. Well instantly I know…”
“That’s a problem.”
“Yes. So I get that if I really do care or want something to ever have a chance of working out I wouldn’t rush anything anyway.”
“That’s layaway, dude.”
“It wasn’t really an option to be with her. She said what she needed was a friend. Just like when I first told you about her. I called her a friend.”
“You called her a friend, but I knew. You knew.”
“But that’s what I was when we were together and that’s what she was to me. When I would talk to her when I was with her. I didn’t think about any of that shit.”
She’s silent, but I can see the expression over the phone.
“Seriously. This was the magic part. When I was with her, I was who I was. I wasn’t trying to get at anything, it was all right there. I wouldn’t think about am I going to kiss her or when are we going to whatever. I fucking honestly didn’t. I mean she had the best of who I was.”
“Aw,” she says in that sweet lilting way.
“We were right there when we were together. No other place.”
“I’m just gonna put this out there. Don’t take it wrong. But it’s kinda not normal for a girl to hang out with a guy like that. If she just wants to be friends.”
“Normal?” I laugh. “Am I hearing this from you?”
“I’m just saying. Even if she didn’t realize it, she had to have some interest. Girls aren’t into wasting that much time. Especially if they know you are that into them.” I can see her shaking her head. “It doesn’t sound right.”
“I think she just trusted me. I was probably just really comforting. And an escape for her, like she was for me. We ran away from home together. As far as I’m concerned it was as good as any love affair I’ve ever had. The thought of hanging out with her got me through the week. I didn’t give a shit about what I was laying away. I cared about then and there when I was with her. There wasn’t room for anything else. Or a need. I was as honest and as good as I get.”
I take a deep sigh.
“Oh, dude. Are you okay?” She asks.
“Yeah. No. Maybe.”
“Let me just ask, because I kinda have to. What about the person who wrote the poems about wanting to kiss her every time you saw her (http://on.fb.me/whenwefirstkiss)? And all those other things you wrote.”
“Yeah.” I take a breath trying to find the right words to explain this. “That person exists. But he exists when I’m not with her. He is there checking his fucking Facebook for her responses and being pretty lame. But truly, it was also a way to get it out. So I didn’t have to bring the baggage to our Saturdays. And the point is it was all working…”
“until the other Chris did something bad?.”
“Yeah. I hate him.” There’s a pause. “Well, I don’t hate him. He makes a lot of these things possible. But he just thinks so damn much and is so trigger happy with emails and…”
“It was an email?” She can’t help but laugh.
“Yes,” I say flatly.
“Oh, Chris. Isn’t that how this whole thing started? Didn’t you send her a weird email and write that blog about it (http://on.fb.me/sacrificedqueen) and she didn’t even read it because she doesn’t read emails or something.”
“Sort of. But she reads emails. She just doesn’t check them as compulsively as some of us do. And it wasn’t really a blog.”
“But yes. Of course it was an email that did me in. Yet again.”
“What did you say?”
When I begin to tell her, she lets in a sharp inhale. “Oh. You should have called me first.”
“Yeah. I know. I knew I shouldn’t have sent it. It was like I was wrestling with an angel. Or maybe it was a devil.”
There’s a beautiful silence.
“My fucking emails. I just wanted to be honest and transparent.”
“Yeahhhh,” she drags out the word in a way that says so much more than that one word could say on it’s own. “Girls don’t want to hear that, dude. Your honesty gets you into places you wouldn’t normally be allowed. But it also gets you kicked out.”
“It’s not your fault. Well, it sort of is. When a girl hears something like that it sounds like jealousy. And if they’re going through their own thing, it just reminds them of the part of themselves they don’t like. It makes you look kind of pathetic and unattractive.”
“Again, good to know. I was trying to tell her that I wasn’t jealous.”
“But were you?”
“Uh.” I laugh out my nose. “Right.”
“Oh, honey. It will work out with her or someone better.”
“It’s hard though. I mean she fit. I haven’t found anyone available like that. There was this cosmic calculus of things. She likes Dylan and Broken Social Scene and she plays friggin’ banjo. She was a farmer in Wales. How many people do you know that have even heard of Wales? It’s all of these things. I mean. She went on.”
“She went on.”
“Yeah.” A breeze blows into my heart at that moment. For a second I can somehow see myself from ten-thousand feet. I realize that I am here, there is so much more. And this charred fabric of pain I’ve wrapped around my body unwraps itself. I’m sure it will come back, I’m sure I’ll put it on again. If only to feel something. But I’ve seen that it can come off. I’ve seen that it’s me that is deciding to wear it. What an amazing gift I think to myself.
“It took me a long time to be able to listen to Dylan with someone. Without associating it with you.”
“Yeah.” I whisper. “I still skip by Isis every time it comes up on random.”
“So you think it’s really over?” she says, trying to move on.
“Yeah it’s done. I guess I never had a chance. She said she didn’t want to lead me on and we had to stop our Saturdays. Stop seeing each other. She said we were in conflict. She did it over email. That hurt. But I understand, it’s the only way. Besides it’s almost poetic.”
“Ironic, is the word that comes to mind.”
I stare out into the dark outline of a hundred year old oak fifteen feet from the deck of the house I am about to move out of. “But I would go back and do it again. Again. And again. And again.”
“Well, three is the magic number.” She says this because I always used to say this. Sometimes when you hear your words come from someone’s mouth, it’s like that unflattering, disjointing feeling of watching yourself on video.
“She’s right isn’t she?”
“She’s right. And she’s wrong.”
“Fuck you,” I whisper lightly. There’s a pause as I sigh and I think about what it’s like to have people in your life that love you no matter what. “I mean, you’re a pretty fucking amazing person, dude.”