Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Life and Times of Boyfriend #2, Part 6


We stand,
We stare
From either side
The bridgeless gap.

Morning came after a restless, contemplative night.  My mind raced with thoughts ranging from self-pity to revenge.  I just wanted to fix the mistake I’d apparently made.  In my mind, I should never have rushed into a relationship, opened myself up to him, allowed myself to get so attached to anyone.

Before I could do anything I’d end up regretting, Cole and Lila had talked me down.  As soon as I made my way home from the party and realized my eyelids wouldn’t draw themselves closed as I stared at my ceiling, I texted the two people I could go to with this problem. 

Wide awake

Cole was supportive as usual, unsure of what could have provoked such a break down. 

Though he wouldn’t go so far as to say, “end it,” he alluded to that conclusion: “It’s possible this is something too difficult to get through” and reassured “You haven’t done anything to regret, so stop worrying.”

Lila was more direct: “Andre’s been an ass and you know it.  Do you really think this type of drama is worth it?”

Through my window, I saw the stars flicker out and dusk warming the air over the mountains as I spent a few moments sitting up in bed contemplating a few scattered notes I’d made in the margins of a handout for class.  My attempt to distract myself with schoolwork only resulted in an outline of possibilities I faced in the imminent conversation.  Rhetorically, I was prepared, but filled with dread in every other sense.

I felt robbed.  The time, the emotion, and the care that I’d spent not just with Andre, but with every guy before him dried up into insignificance and numbness.  Standing at the bus stop, I plunged into a state of static—enveloped by the noisy wind pushing past in steady, rhythemless flow and drawing a curtain of powdery white.  It was one of the coldest days I’d ever experienced, but I didn’t notice.

bus stop I don’t want to have to do this, I thought sitting alone in back row of the bus.  Can’t it just be over with.  I stared at my phone, the directory pulled to Andre—a tiny smiling picture reminding me of the past few weeks—only to close it a moment later.  In the next half hour—at the food court, in the library, etc.—I must have done this a half dozen times.  Finally, I pulled myself aside, sitting on the floor of an empty darkened classroom alone and took myself through step by step finally forcing myself to press “SEND.”

“Hello?”  I heard on the other end. “Hello?”

Finally, I choked out a response, “Good morning, Andre.”

“Hey,” he said. “I hope you’re okay after last night.”  His voice quivered with sincerity.  It was clear he wasn’t searching for a way to explain himself but rather wondering where the conversation would be driven.

“I’m glad you’re safe. I was worried.”

“Just so you know, I’m at work.  I’ll give you all the time you need, though,” he told me. “I’m really sorry you had to worry like that.”

“I thought you might die,” I said.

“I know, I know,” his voice cracked.  “I’m an idiot.  That’s why I don’t drink around you.  I just don’t know what’s wrong with me,” he said as his voice cracked again. “You laughed and wouldn’t explain why.  It was like you’re laughing at me.  I know you weren’t but that’s what it was like.  I just remember worrying over and over again in my head, Does he really care?  Could he really love me?

“I’m just not a very vocal person.  It takes a lot of thinking for the words to come out just the right way,” I explained.   

“I told you I had a rough time with my dad, right?  He really messed me up,” he said, sniffing through the tears I could not see.  “Every time I get close my mind goes back to hearing his voice from the neighbors backyard as he shouted at my mother or getting thrown against a door or him throwing my sketchbook in the trash and telling me I’d never amount to anything as an artist.”

Everything made so much more sense from his insecurities over my slightest expression to his status as a college dropout.

I responded in instinct: “You know I’m here if you need to talk.”  At once, a boundary was set and I said everything I needed to break through the static numbness coursing through my mind.  He knew I cared, but talking would be the limit; I knew that I was free from the burden of worry.

We paused for a few moments as I felt my composure return and his vanish.

“I think it’s best I never put you through this again,” he said coughing and sniffling intermittently.

“Yeah,” I said as I sighed in relief for not having to bring up the inevitable dissolution.

The conversation ended on a positive note and reassuring platitudes of friendship, but several doubts. 

blinds I sat alone in the dark, silent room observing the light streaming through the blinds and forming the shape of stairs against the wall. That’s what a kid would see, I thought, and a smile came to my face as the world became a set of details again rather than an aggravating, amalgamous blur.

I made my way to class a few minutes late when my phone buzzed. I stopped in my tracks.

“Andre?” I answered.

“I take it back.  Please take me back.  I don’t want to break up.  You’re the best thing to come along since I came to Utah,” he blurted through his tears.

I took a deep breath and turned back to the conclusion he’d made earlier: “I need stability.  We both do and this won’t be good for us.  I think—”

“Fine. I’ve got to get back to work if you don’t want to work this out,” he barked.

With that, I patted myself on the back and turned off my phone for the rest of the day.  Slipping into class, I briefly made eye contact with Savannah passing a glimpse of my satisfaction and confidence. 

“Apparently, someone had a good weekend,” she whispered as I shuffled past the row and into my usual spot. 

“Well,  it’s over,” I whispered with a half grin.  With that I realized I’d made my way unscathed through the emotional minefield.  In the aftermath, Cole, Lila, and Savannah provided the kind words I appreciated if I didn’t need.  Months earlier, I might have blamed myself for the sudden turn, for Andre’s cold shoulder to my offers of help, and for his sudden relocation back to Nebraska weeks later, but now I knew that my rationality and distance were some of the greatest assets.

End of Series.


Butterflies and hand-grenades said...

Weird that I am going to say this, but I am sort of mad at both of you. Him for driving while intoxicated, and making you worry. You for breaking that poor guy's heart. But Things go the way they do, and today I broke a heart as well...So we should start a club...Even our relationships were similar in the length, and the premature confession of love on the other side...Hope you find another guy, you really do deserve it.

A Gay Mormon Boy said...

@BHG: Well, I can see why you'd be mad at me. He'd been so nice, but I just wasn't prepared to deal with a lot of the issues. I wouldn't go so far as to call him damaged, but they were problems I couldn't deal with at that moment in my life. I wasn't sure how to help him drink responsibly or be encouraging, so I gave up.

I did find a great guy, though. Feel free to ask me about it sometime.

BookChic said...

Obviously I wasn't a part of this at all, but I was surprised to see that Lila said he was being an ass the night of the party (when he drove home drunk). OK, he should have been more understanding about you being selective with using the word "love" but at the same time, it still does take courage to say those three words and to have the response be "Well, that's great." hurts the person who said "I love you." So I was like, he's not an ass, just taking what he thinks is the natural course of action considering how things have been going between him and GMB.

The final phone conversation though? Totally an ass. Before that, in my mind? Not so much.

But again, since I'm only reading a condensed version and didn't live through it at all, I'm most likely missing something.

Anyway, you found a great guy? Why didn't you tell me?! Or maybe you did and I forgot? I want details! :)

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