Something about us was never easy. I think that is why Mr. Sweet Thang and I both kept on. It was a challenge and generally speaking, in the days before I left Kansas City for the excitement of New York, we were both bored. With work, with friends, with life. But with each other there was a fight to win, a battle with which to engage. We made brilliant sparring partners and somehow, I mistook that for love.
There are only two reasons to drop the L-bomb. One, to let someone know you really care or two, to ask for some sort of validation for yourself. One would hope that the vast majority of exchanges have motivations that fall with the former but I think that it would be foolish not to consider the ulterior, more self-involved reasons behind what are often grand, yet ill-timed declarations .
During my brief visit back to the mid-west, I made sure to call him. I missed him. I missed our friendship and the thought of seeing him made me so sublimely happy, I was blind to any red flags that might have warned me to remember that we are never simple. I burst through the bar to see him, wrapped my arms around him and choice-fully ignored the icy welcome. His moods were never exactly predictable and it had been I while. I was sure he would warm up as we sat drinking beer at a bar that had offered us several memorable conversations. Instead, he became more morose and I tried my best to keep it light. I told him about the new boy I had just began seeing - the one that at the time seemed so different, so drama-free, so healthy and so gameless. I wanted to ask him about the girl I knew he was still seeing but like most things with us, for now denial seemed like a wiser choice.
We went to play pool and combined it with truth or dare - truth or pool, I called it. Not the cleverest of titles but I was on my second vodka tonic.
When he asked me if I had wanted him to ask me to stay, I told him that the thought never crossed my mind. I still can't envision a world in which he ever would.
And then he told me that he had loved me.
He went on to elucidate the ways in which it had hurt him to watch me go, never once mentioning that he had had someone waiting in the wings, someone who today holds a role front and present. When we spoke about her later he told me that she is easy, uncomplicated - yes, a little boring, but with her it is never hard. Things with us were, difficult that is.
He asked me again things I had told him many times before, things I had said with tears in my eyes and I couldn’t help but think that this inquiry was not because he genuinly wanted to understand what I felt at the time but because he needed to hear that he was loved, that I had loved him and that it had caused me pain to leave him. He needed the validation. And I had been down this road before.
He asked me these questions and I became more and more upset. I had taken the feelings I felt for him at the time and I had placed them in a cardboard box in the back of my closet to slowly disintegrate and drift away. He had mattered, I had told him before I left. I had offered the opportunity to contribute something, anything, but during all those painful conversations he had said nothing.
So there sitting on a barstool pool cue in hand, I said the one thing that felt fitting, the one thing I could to redeem my pride and wrench, me back into reality, where someone 1000 miles away was sparking something in me not worth dismissing so easily at the beaconing of the past.
I said, “Well. You missed the boat.” Not the most original or eloquent I will admit but it was what I had to work with at the time.
He missed the fucking boat. And I can’t pretend I am not glad that he did. Things worked out as the should, as the always do, but for a moment, as brief as it was that fucker sucked me back into the ugliness that made us interesting. At this point in my life I can forgo that type of interesting. I do not need to be in pain to feel alive. I need happiness and sanity and maturity and no freaking b.s. It might not be glamourous but it nice. And nice is a word that is highly underrated in an age of complication.