There is an airy silence tonight, the kind of silence that comes as snow falls lightly on a morning commute. I lie awake wondering if the morning will bring heart ache and regret or happiness and relief. This was the moment I was dreading, the moment that could cause so much pain but set me free so I could move on with my life.
Newly 19-years-old, I had felt stuck ever since that night he took me out for coffee. I’ll never forget the text he sent me during Psychology class senior year: “Would you like to go on a date with me tonight? Love, Parker.” Oh, and he added a smiley face and a heart to the end of that text, as if it wasn’t bad enough already (so 2010 of him). The alarm clock in my head woke me up instantly but I decided to hit snooze and fall back asleep. In the clouds, of course. Robert is never the one to be realistic. So there I was, on a Thursday night, sipping a white chocolate non-fat mocha with the boy I had been in love with since junior year, while he poured his sad little heart out to me. He let me inside, and that’s where I stayed. Inside his every thought, inside his darkness, inside his light, anywhere but inside myself. I guess it was the coffee that made it comfortable, the rain that made it sentimental, and his words that made it believable. My life became an album in my head, full of emotional roller-coasters, vulnerable lyrics that hint at the real-life subject of each song, my own grand delusions.
We weren’t just “buddies” anymore after he started bringing my head down to his shoulder when we were together, running to hug me for a good three minutes after his soccer matches, and kissing my cheek at random occasions. Once he started telling people I was his boyfriend, that was it for me really. The title was my lifeline. All of it led to this very moment, spending the night together on Christmas Eve.
He lied there asleep as far as I knew. He was like the wind. Parker remained constant, flowing, unavoidable. Everything else simply moved around him. The room was freezing and there was nothing to warm him but a blanket. I was covered layer upon layer but not him. He was wearing nothing but his running shorts. This was our first time sleeping together in the same bed. I had always imagined what this moment would be like. I sure didn’t picture it here, at the family’s house I housesit for. It seemed more romantic in my head, jumping into bed and lying in his arms, feeling his warmth as we talked and talked until our eyes eventually closed and we drifted off to sleep. In reality, I may have been in his arms but I didn’t feel his warmth. There was no closeness here, only distance, even though this was the closest our bodies had ever lied before.
The train. Chug chug chug chug chug chug chug chug. My heart was racing. Post hesitation, post anticipation, pre meditation, as it was pulling into the train station. Chug chug chug chug chug chug chug chug. This was it. Now’s your chance. Get it over with. It’s time to let go. Chug chug chug chug chug chug chug chug. Booming louder, peaking sound, peaking rumble…chug chug chug chug chug chug chug chug. I love you. I said it. I practically yelled it. But he was still asleep. He didn’t hear the one moment of truth I so desperately wanted him to hear because he was asleep. He was asleep most of our relationship, so it seemed.
The noise begins to fade, the darkness gone away, nothing seems to say,
Merry Christmas Eve Day.
Chug chug chug chug chug chug chug chug.
I lied in bed in his arms for only a moment longer until suddenly, he turned away in his sleep, leaving me the back of his head, taking away the comfort of his arms. It was at that instant when I felt the overwhelming sense of stupidity and regret. “Get over it, he doesn’t love you,” I told myself. With Parker, he either puts me on a pedestal, makes me feel worthless, or becomes a total stranger. I was feeling the last two and so regretted ever wanting the first one. It was this wanting I had, to feel loved and important, that got me into this beautiful mess after all.
Once I saw the faint sign of sunlight, I left the bedroom and went downstairs to the kitchen. I was numb. I wasn’t sure how to feel at that moment because everything I had ever wanted and longed for was like a mere whisper in a crowded room. I sat down at the table in the breakfast nook and stared at the white wall in front of me. What felt like two minutes became two hours and I still didn’t leave that chair.
I heard the footsteps coming down the stairs like thunder leading up to a big clash of clouds in an ensuing storm. I gripped my left hand tightly with with my right hand and took a deep breath. He didn’t hear me the first time, so I was about to tell him again, only this time loud enough for the whole world to hear it.
“Are you okay?” he asked, stretching his arms over his head, running his hand through his hair.
“I’m fine,” I lied, obviously. “Let’s just go Parker, you have to be home soon and I have to be back home for Christmas Eve breakfast.”
“We aren’t leaving until you tell me what’s wrong,” he was determined to get it out of me.
The flickering of the living room television prompted me like a teleprompter. I read the line I had been waiting to recite.
“Actually, I’m not fine Parker, because I’m in love with you. And it hurts, it hurts so much.”
Parker then recited the pre-emptive line he was ready to say: “I know.”
You know? You’ve known? You always knew? Why didn’t you say something? Why didn’t you talk to me? Why didn’t you try harder to be a little more straight forward with me instead of playing with my head every day? Why can’t you be honest with me? All of these questions began running through my head until suddenly, the lines in the kitchen tile began bending and I saw crop circles in the carpet. Next thing you know I’m raining down on the crop circles as I stumble into catching my breath, then falling into complete sobbing. I was being my usual dramatic ass self.
“Don’t cry Robert,” he wrapped his arms around me from behind and held me, putting his head on my shoulder. “I don’t want to lose you, I can’t lose you, but I don’t love you that way and I’m sorry. Just know that I need you.”
I didn’t know what to say, so I filled my absence of speech with more crying. I began yelling at him, “You can’t treat me the way you do and not expect me to fall in love with you.”
Once I calmed down, we just stood in the kitchen, still hugging. There was a silence, but not the awkward kind, it was more of an understanding, a full circle moment that had finally come together, and interrupting it with words would not be appropriate at the calm of this storm. He didn’t love me but at least for the first time in our relationship he said it out loud and to my face. The battle may have been lost but the war was won. The album in my head was taken off of rotation.
Chug chug chug chug chug chug chug.
And the train left the station.
Image by Noemi Gonzalez.