Boys & Girls.
You floated in and out, mingling in the same social circles. I quietly observed as you took my beer bottle and opened it without me asking. Your clothes were boyish but you had the face and build of a man. I thought you were silly with your backwards cap, thick sideburns and goofy grin. It was cute, but I’d have eaten you alive if anything happened between us. I had the confidence of a cougar back then. I knew you were attracted, and I was flattered but I was too blissfully content with my life to care. Life was good, and I was feeling like a winner.
Your image lingered a bit after that, but not enough to impress upon my mind. Months went by as I transitioned from postgrad life into 9-5 working days. Life settled into a steady rhythm, when I once again stumbled into your presence.
I sat there at the bar you worked at as you served a drink to me and my friend, remembering immediately who I was after all those months, my memory of you not as in tact until you reminded me. We talked. You worked, as I drank with my friend, and she and I talked about relationships, boys, work, trivial day to day things. I think you were listening in. You had a quiet calm about you. I was the bubbly charmer who always smiled. You were stoic in your demeanor, but your eyes were kind.
I saw the way you talked down to your brother, though. I don’t remember the words exactly, but I remember the way you looked at him, and the cruelty that oozed out of your mouth—an anger that came all too easily. There were two sides to you, and I should’ve known, but I think I intrigued you more than you did me, then. I shrugged it off.
You asked what my plans were for the rest of the night, as if we’d known each other for ages. I couldn’t tell your motives then. You talked as if you were talking to a friend. You took down my number, and I didn’t think twice about it.
You pursued me full force the day after, and I was sure then that you wanted me. What were you to me, though? I toyed with the idea of seeing you, and I thought we’d have some fun. You met up with me and my friends whenever you could, even after your friends left for other places. You’d linger there while I barely spoke to you, and I snapped pictures with the girls while you offered to pay for my beer. I didn’t understand the way you were then. You were a passing flirtation to me, and I failed to see your eager sincerity. I thought I was better than you. Maybe I was, and still am.
We ended one night at my friend’s place. I sat on your lap, and you waited even then, your eyes about to close shut. You wanted to go home, so I called the cab service. You assumed I’d go home with you, and I drunkenly told you no. I wasn’t a one night stand, but looking back on it, didn’t I ask for it?
You tried to explain, but I shut you down, then you shut the car door and rode home.
You texted the next day, telling me you just wanted to spend time alone with me. It was a long, thoughtful response, and I lazily replied with one word. I knew you meant it all, but what were you to me? I thought it was too much too soon. How could I have known back then that this was your 100%?
We tried again, but I met up with you conflicted. Did I like your refreshing frankness or was I just looking for a distraction? You must have come on too strong, otherwise I’d have kept you around then, wouldn’t I?
You stayed all night again with me and my friends, not sharing a word. I was too consumed by alcohol and other thoughts to pay you any mind. Oh, looking back on it then, I wasn’t very fair to you was I? I took a phone call outside as you waited still for me. You walked out, and it took that for me to finally feel remorse. I rushed over and explained to you that I wasn’t myself. You told me you just wanted to spend time with me, and you’d had a long day at work. You hoped that this time would be different but it wasn’t.
I heard your words, but I didn’t understand them. You stocked off, and I took a cab home. I was offended, but not enough to care or to remedy the situation. It was forgotten the next day.
We stopped trying then, and when we’d run into each other you’d ignore my friendly hello’s. It didn’t bother me too much. What were you to me then? Life was still good to me.
The new year rolled around, and I was blindsided by life’s curveballs. A close friend’s sudden passing and a long distance break up threw me, and I started to feel the melancholy. Work seemed dismal, and the smiles were less bright. Still, I kept going.
I ran into some mutual friends, and they asked about you and me and what happened. I told them of our awkward run-ins, which were quite few and trivial in my mind. They told me you still asked about me and what my deal was. I liked that you did. I liked that you couldn’t figure me out. I liked that I made an impression on you. They said you were sweet and a great catch, a good friend to everyone, but I didn’t care enough to pursue it. Besides, I didn’t have your number anymore.
You showed up one night to a friend’s mini-reunion, and you finally said hello to me. You seemed less shiny and new, a bit tired and run down, but then again I was too. Maybe, I wore a bit more lipstick than before.
Something stirred in me. Was it loneliness or was it you? I still don’t know. Maybe it was both, mixed with my curiosity for mysteries, which is what you were: a collection of paradoxes. But you were kind, which life wasn’t then to me.
I lingered outside the cab door as you tried to kiss me and I wouldn’t let you. I knew I liked you after that night, though. Kissing in front of cabs and liquor stores didn’t appeal to me then. I kissed your cheek and I asked if you still had my number. You said you did, and you told me you’d contact me the next day. I knew you would. What changed then for me?
I woke up feeling more rejuvenated. You texted like I predicted, and after a couple failed attempts, we saw each other. I skipped when I walked, and my heart fluttered a bit when I saw you behind the bar.
Boys, boozing, and friends. That’s all I needed in this New England winter.
You served our drinks, and promised to see me once you got off. I waited a bit too long at our friends’, but you finally came. Was I the eager one now? Oh, but how right it felt this time.
We stayed for a bit, then said our goodbyes. We walked back to your place, and I knew what would happen next, even if you didn’t. You were tired and so was I, but I wanted you. I think you did too. I liked your slow and steady rhythm and the way you looked at me when you moved. I liked your wavy brown hair in my fingers and the way you held me a little too tight.
I woke up feeling your strong arms enveloping me, and I knew I didn’t want to be anywhere else at that moment. I like a good pair of strong arms, even if it comes with a bit of beer belly attached. You had a man’s body, and for once it felt good to feel small. You asked me to stay a bit longer, but I couldn’t give away all my eagerness then. I liked that you wanted me there, but I had to play my cards right.
The next week rolled by, and so did the anticipation of you and me. I knew I wanted to see you. This time around, my feelings weren’t fleeting. It came as a surprise to me. It still does now. You were never really my type to begin with.
You called me to see what my plans were, and I jumped at the chance to see you again. You called me ‘love’, and it only made me like you more. I made plans to meet up with girlfriends too, slowly rallying a big group. Again, I waited a bit too long for you and your friends to arrive, but what was a little waiting after all? I overlooked your stoner’s sense of time. Another red flag I should’ve taken note of.
You finally came by, and we saw each other. It took a few minutes for you to approach me, but when you did you held my hand, and you seemed sure. You didn’t care that anyone else saw. We stole a few kisses after playing darts and everyone had left. You said you were tired, but I still wanted to be out like the night owl that I am.
We followed our friends to the next bar and we danced and you carried me; I felt safe and wanted. You walked me to a cab. I could’ve stayed over, but I wanted you to keep wanting more.
The next day was Valentine’s Day, and you wanted to see me. I gave two shits about chocolates and roses, but seeing you was a pleasant thought. You wanting to see me was an even nicer one. It didn’t matter what we did, so we made plans to meet up at your place. You let me sit on your lap, and you kissed me like we were the only ones in the room. It made me uncomfortable at first with strangers looking on, but in the end I gave in.
I smiled when I saw your face all smudged with my lipstick, and I didn’t tell you as you conversed with your roommates. You went to your room to change, and you saw it then. I teased you a bit, and we left for drinks. Friends texted to see what I was up to, and I told them we could meet up. Looking back on it, I realized you just wanted it to be you and me. Or had I realized it then? And was I just too scared to be alone with you? To be that intimate? You were patient enough to do what I wanted.
You waited again for me, but this time with more effort to talk with others. After all the timing was finally right for us, wasn’t it? I liked that it felt easier this time around. We went back to your place and we kissed some more, but I said I had work early the next day. You told me to stay, and you’d set your alarm for me, but I knew if I stayed I wouldn’t want to go. So, I left, me leaving you wanting more again, and me wanting more too.
If you ever read this, I have to apologize in advance to you. When we finally ended things, I told you I wasn’t seeing anyone else, and in a way that was true. I wasn’t intimate with anyone else. Come to think of it though, I’m not sure if I have too much to apologize for, especially after the way things ended.
The next day before I left work, a guy I’d been working with and crushing on finally had the guts to ask me out. After all, he was quitting and going back to school. I jumped at the chance and said yes, then I left to meet up with friends at your bar. I was greedy. Life wasn’t so grand then, and when something new and exciting came along, I did my best to keep it from slipping through my fingers. I couldn’t put all my eggs in one basket, so to speak.
I went to your bar and sat down with our friends. You seemed worn out, and an uncertainty began to rise within me. Had we seen too much of each other already? I’ve been known to move full speed ahead, and let things burn out quickly.
But you took my hand across the counter, and the feeling quickly passed. You asked if I’d be out for much longer. I told you I would stay with our friends, and to call when you finished. Before we left, you took my hand again, and asked if you could steal a kiss. I teased you and said I didn’t want my lipstick smudging all over your face again, and you said you didn’t care. So, I did. Our friend commented on the cheesiness of us, and I liked that we could be labeled as cheesy.
I left for a quick weekend trip to New York the next day, and it surprised me that I missed you. I told you just that in a late night text, and you replied with a smiley face. It was the little things. Maybe you and I could work after all.
I came back wanting to see you, but excited at the possibilities and the idea of him. It took intimate nights with you to help me sleep. I’ve never slept well, but I slept well with you. I went out on dates with him, and I was stimulated by our conversation. He was worldly and older and definitely more my type, you were comfortable and familiar. I began my weeks with him, being wined and dined, and I ended my weekends laying with you.
For the first time in a while, I was indecisive. Maybe my juggling you both held me back from getting closer to you, closer to him. You didn’t say much, but you always took care of me when it mattered, even if your cynicism began to surface.
You lost your job, and I could tell you were in a funk. I didn’t know how else to respond except to see if you wanted to come out with me and our friends to cheer you up.
You stopped being as responsive, and for some reason, despite me seeing someone else who treated me right, I hoped you’d come around again.
You flaked on nights out when I was out with our friends, and I felt a bit disappointed, embarrassed even. I thought I had the upper hand when it came to you, maybe because I acted like any single gal would, juggling two people like I did and flirting with others. I could’ve easily cut ties with you then but I didn’t.
That’s when I knew the tables turned.
I kept distracting myself, passing the time with girlfriends, insisting on ladies’ night, focusing all of my time on work, friends, and him. I gave you the benefit of the doubt, knowing you were in between jobs, and not wanting to go out as much.
I began to hear from others what an enigma you were when it came to girls. Despite how great I felt in the beginning and how certain you seemed, what I heard were contradictions:
You weren’t one to be serious.
I should only spend my time with you as long as I didn’t expect to date you.
Don’t go for it, he won’t last long with you.
I didn’t know what I wanted then. I didn’t know if I wanted to date you or be that serious with you. After all, I was seeing someone else, and I was leaving soon right? There was always a deadline.
I realized that I might have let my guard down too easily, so I became less open with you, tried to sound less eager. I tried to match your curt responses. Two could play this game, I thought.
I ran into you at our usual bar one night, expecting a casual ladies’ night with a mutual friend. It wasn’t the same after that. I put a wall between us, and I think you did too. I tried to stay strong in front of my friends who had put all these thoughts and impressions of you into my head. I had to be a strong and independent woman after all, right?
You held my hand less, and we weren’t as affectionate unless more booze was involved. Part of me just wanted to reach out to you, and tell you we should go somewhere alone. The other part of me kept hearing other’s words. Despite all that, I tried to make it work as best as I could.
Our communication became less frequent, and I went out on more dates with him to pass my time. I did begin to have feelings for him too, I couldn’t deny that. But they were different. I knew he was what I needed. He still is. It would be unfair to make it seem like he meant/means less to me. At the time, though, you were the one I wanted.
And this isn’t about me and him.
I can’t say that you made things any easier. We both became more defensive, and I liked your personality less and less. I hated that you smelled of weed when I saw you and how you constantly complained of how tired you were. I hated that you passed the time with video games to desensitize you, and the fact that you watched that damned ‘Ridiculousness’ show all the time, but at the end of the night, I still liked being in your arms.
The night I realized I was falling for you, I also realized I needed to end things. It was just another whiskey-induced Thursday at our usual bar, and I was lingering so we could crash at your place as per usual. My phone kept buzzing, and I ignored it for a while until I got bored and decided to check one of the voicemails.
My heart sank as I found out someone else important in my life had passed away. Drunk, emotional, and inconsolable, you took charge and took me and said we were leaving. You got who mattered, and we made our way back. We stayed up for a bit, then went back to your room after I’d calmed down.
I just wanted to feel everything, all the sadness and all the pain this year had brought me. I let it rush in and then let it all out when we kissed. It felt different from other nights. As I was up against your wall and we were shedding our clothes, I shut the lights off, but you switched them back on. I’ll always remember that. That you still wanted to see me in all my messy, tear-streaked glory. After that, it felt a little like making love for me. Maybe it didn’t for you. Maybe it was still just sex. Maybe it was just the grief that consumed me, but I’d never felt a desire that strong.
That night was both a beginning and an end.
I woke up with you holding me so tight. I put my clothes back on, and was about to leave when you woke up. You took my hand and pulled me back in. I decided to stay for a bit longer to let it last. I knew that after I left, things would be different.
You turned me around and put your face up against my neck, my chin resting on your head. You asked me how I was feeling, and I muttered something like ‘fine’. I don’t really remember to be honest. We lay there for a few minutes then I had to go to work. You told me to text you if I needed anything, but I knew deep down it was just out of courtesy. This was all too much all at once for you to deal with. Looking back on it now, I know you did the best you could.
I knew then I was going to let you go.
A few days passed. I went home for the funeral, and you texted me to see how I was, and if I’d gotten back yet. I told you I’d been back since the night before, and you were short with me once again. I asked if you wanted to come out with a few of our friends. You eventually did, but I was cold with you. I knew I was going to end it, I just didn’t know how soon I would. We all went back to your place that night, and you just sat there, immobile, ignoring me completely as you perused the news and other trivial shit on your laptop. You paid attention to everything and everyone else there except me.
If I came across as selfish, impatient and needy towards the end, I can’t say that I’m sorry. We are selfish creatures, and you were inconsistent and moody. We were doomed from the start.
My girlfriend and I left without you realizing, and I knew then that it was over, at least for me. It was so anti-climactic, but fitting. You and I were never great at telling each other how the other felt in the moment. Not really.
Two days later, I found out you were with another girl, flirting openly with her in front of some of our friends. My thoughts were confirmed. I cried that night, more than I should have. I cried because of my losses. I cried of exhaustion. I cried at the finality of you and me, at how easy it was for you to move on, and at the shame I felt for wanting you still.
The next morning I angrily texted and said what I needed to say, and after that I promised myself I was done with you. I embraced my pride, and I decided I was going to put all my efforts into him. He was what was good for me after all, right?
Everything happened so fast.
This could easily have been the story of just another fling in my life, but with the weight of everything that came to pass afterwards, I can’t quite categorize you and me as just that. This was never about an epic love. I’ve been in love and tasted its sweetness and its tragedy, and everything in between. This wasn’t it, but this took so much more out of me.
I don’t know if I’ll ever forget this or you. Most days, I wish I could. Even as I’ve spent my days and nights with him.
Two days after my angry rant, and the realization that you and I were over, I remembered what day it was, or rather the amount of days that had passed. I thought it was just stress and grief and being overworked, but it was there flashing furiously like a police siren in my mind. I took two at home tests to confirm what I already knew to be true. The positive signs would not turn into negative signs no matter how much I shook the damn sticks.
Life was finally one big joke to me. The smiles were eventually all gone and replaced with an endless, bitter salt water taste streaming down onto my lips and into my mouth. I was angry with myself, and I wanted to stay angry at you and blame you for it all; but I knew, despite all of it, despite what I claimed to everyone else, despite all my pride, that I missed you. That thought made me hate myself even more.
How could I miss someone so lacking in emotion, so careless in his words, so unlike me? How could I have been so careless and foolish with you, in more ways than one? I wanted to wake up, but there was no light switch to end the nightmare, no sunrise to seep into my windows. This was my reality, and I could no longer deny that I needed help.
I confided in friends, and they more or less agreed on the verdict. I knew you had the right to know, and to this day you’ve repeated that I should have told you as soon as I found out. But how could I? How could I go from hating you so much to needing your help? A week passed, and I knew I had to. You responded immediately and agreed to meet up.
You looked a mess, but it took me the day after to realize I was worse than you. We discussed what I had decided in a businesslike manner, and you agreed to help me out the best you could. It all came out then, in my less-than-sober state.
If I have to say sorry to you for anything at all, it’s for that. The only way I could work up the courage to face you and this, was through an alcohol-filled and pill-induced stupor. It was wrong of me to discuss our situation that way, and I knew, at least, I owed you that.
I told you I hated that this was happening with you of all people, and you told me how sorry you were for hurting me. It’s all you could say, because that’s all you were capable of feeling for me. To this day, I’ll never really know if you ever truly felt remorse. I couldn’t look at you when you said that, because I knew it was all too true, and the words stung like no other. It hurt to realize this was happening with someone when there was no actual love between the two. It still hurts, so much that I can’t type the words, can’t let them escape through my fingers.
You told me I should’ve come to you when we were having issues, instead of listening to others. I knew this was true, but you didn’t make it any easier. You blamed my need to go out all the time as a source of our problems. You didn’t need to go to the bar to spend time with me, but I think you over-estimated my mind-reading abilities. It was a two-way street after all.
You made our demise seem like it was all my undoing, and that you weren’t to blame for any of it. You told me we needed to discuss this when I was more myself, and I agreed. I was spent. I couldn’t think about ‘us’ after ‘this’.
I went home feeling helpless, our feelings of ‘us’ unresolved because of what we needed to deal with first. I couldn’t deal with the two at once, and your insensitivity knew no limits in the months to come.
You’d promise to meet up and then would delay. This kept up like a cat-and-mouse game for what seemed like ages. I was told the same thing: it was just as much your fault as it was mine, and you needed to own up. It’s only now, after countless half-hearted promises, that I’ve gotten an ounce of the support that was needed from you. You went on living your life, and I’ve lived a half one ever since. I can’t help but feel resentment still.
You were right. I wanted you to feel guilty. I wanted you to be the one puking out every cracker and every ginger ale, that I tried to keep down. I wanted you to be the one to check into the hospital for extreme morning sickness. I wanted you to take those two pills, and I wanted you to feel as hurt and abandoned as I felt.
I wanted you to feel the helplessness that I felt when they told me the pills didn’t work. I wanted you to be the one who walked out of that clinic feeling numb, as they tried to explain that unless I was going to go through with this, the only option was to get the surgical procedure, before it was too late.
I wanted you to know how it felt the day after, laying on the couch as my pain meds wore off and the pain seeped in, you sitting there next to me baked as a cake. You were no comfort to me then, and I shudder at the fact that I couldn’t show you how angry I felt when you asked me if ‘they just stick the tube up there’. Was that you showing me you cared?
I wanted you to be there for me too, and not just say that you would. To show up to the clinic that morning, despite me saying I didn’t need you there. I wanted you to be a man, for once. I knew, of course, that this was a silly notion. Who were you to me, even after everything we’d been through? You were just a boy I slept with, and nothing could undo our little slip-up, and the consequences that came after.
Throughout all of this, I was a ticking time bomb. I lashed out at everyone. I couldn’t work well. I was angry all the time, and there was no off switch, no amount of whiskey, no amount of cigarettes to burn though, that could subdue it. I’d get annoyed at the smallest things, while you worked and kept living as normally as anyone else. Even as I type this, you’re probably at a bar, laughing with friends, not giving us or this a single thought.
It took all these months for me to work up the nerve to tell you and for you to realize the seriousness of our situation and of us.
Two months, it took you. Two months and countless meetings and groveling on my end, as I struggled to pay rent and bills and loans. I knew you weren’t the richest of men, but I wasn’t daddy’s little rich girl either.
After one long angry rant and me nearly giving up on you completely, you said to meet. You took so much out of me that night, I don’t know if I can relive it.
After you tore out that check, you said I could go on hating you after that. The anger and bitterness seeped through every wall, crevice and corner of your room, and we couldn’t tip-toe around it any longer.
I told you I didn’t hate you. I knew I didn’t. It was anger and resentment, but hate’s so strong a word towards you. I hated what you did to me, the way you made me feel so tiny and insignificant when you moved on so quickly. I hated this. I hated how I was still tied to you in this way. I hated that no matter how hard I tried after us, I couldn’t move on, and it showed in everything I did, every step I took.
I hated things about you, but I didn’t hate you. I don’t.
You didn’t believe me. I don’t blame you, with the way I spoke of you to others. I then asked if you hated me. You must have if you insisted so strongly of my hate towards you. You said you didn’t. I didn’t press any further, because I knew you were speaking the truth.
You kept bringing you and me up again. I didn’t know why. I still don’t know what you were getting at. Maybe you wanted to prolong the conversation. Maybe you were just genuinely curious. Maybe you had thought about us after all this time. I really don’t know. You could have fooled me with your actions.
You asked what irked me about you, but there were so many things after all these months that built up, I couldn’t articulate it all to you then. Reflecting on this now, I still don’t know if I can.
I was in a committed relationship, now wasn’t I? He knew everything, and still wanted to stay. He offered me everything you couldn’t. I couldn’t let down my guard with you now. It wouldn’t be fair to me or to him.
I did the best I could to stay calm. But you pushed my buttons, and kept pressing further, so much that I was bound to break.
The memory of the conversation is more hazy as I try harder to remember the words, but the weight of it is still there.
You told me I was devastated when things ended, and I hated you using that word, the power that came with it as you said it. I asked why you used that word and you said it was fitting. You said it with such certainty, that I had to say you were wrong. I couldn’t show any weakness in front of you. I was devastated over everything, but I’d moved on hadn’t I?
I asked if it boosted your ego to know that you hurt me, and you said no, but I didn’t believe you. Your commitment issues were the source of so much controversy between our friends, that there was no way I could.
You asked if I was planning to end things, then why was I so hurt? Couldn’t you understand? Were you really that dense, even now?
I kept asking why you were so curious, and you insisted on getting closure.
Why? I said.
I got up and my wall was crumbling. I had to go before it all did, but I had to have the last word.
I told you I didn’t want to be angry anymore, not with you, not with this. I wanted to move forward, and you weren’t letting me. I told you, there was no point in bringing up ‘us’. We didn’t work, and after everything else in between, we never could. I told you finally that I was seeing someone, and that I had to focus on that now. Maybe I said it to prove to you that you didn’t have the power anymore to hurt me, to prove to myself that you were no longer in the forefront of my mind. Even as I said the words I knew they weren’t convincing.
Understand this: for as carefree and fun as I may appear to everyone else, there are certain things that I hold sacred. One of them is this. It happens so often to women now, and people think that it’s not as big of a deal as it was way back when.
It was to me. It still is. We were irresponsible. I don’t regret my decision, but I regret the fact that we put ourselves in that situation for me to have to choose that. I’d never pictured myself as that girl, and I think it takes being a girl to understand it. I’ve always considered myself pretty levelheaded when it comes to the important things. The fact that I’ve lost the joy it may have felt to find out for the first time, what should be a miracle, breaks my heart and always will, leaves me with an emptiness that may never be filled again. It’s now tainted with the irreversible consequences of you and me.
My sudden breaking point, left you speechless for once, and despite all the sadness that came creeping back up, there was that ounce of satisfaction.
I left saying I appreciated you finally coming through after all this time, and I walked out. I had finally told you everything I felt, and for once you couldn’t come up with a snarky comeback or defensive remark.
I saw you calling, and I had to pick up. You finally understood, it seemed. The anger had lifted between you and me, and you were human again. You were a boy and I was a girl. Maybe it wasn’t love, but we both knew we cared for one another at one point.
That’s all I’ve ever wanted to know. Do you see that now?
I don’t know what the next couple of months hold for us, but I know we can’t go back to the way things were. Not out of pride or stubbornness or even him, it really just can’t. I think we toyed with it for a minute last week, but the thought came and went like a lighter being flicked shut.
I don’t know how much of a dent I made in your life, other than the possible guilt and resentment you might feel. Maybe after what came to light last week, you’ve moved on completely. We may not have been right for each other due to so many horrible circumstances and missed chances, but after all this time, I’ve realized that we’re more alike than you think. We both held back, and waited to say things much too late.
I may never know the level of caring that you felt for me and of this, but I don’t long for it as much anymore. I may see you more often now in the next couple months, or I may only see you when it’s necessary.
You’re still a bit of a mystery to me, even now, and maybe you should stay that way. I’ll leave all the evidence here for someone else to solve now. It was time to change genres anyways.
If you are waiting for anything in order to live and love without holding back, then you suffer.
I always feel this pressure of being a strong and independent icon of womanhood, and without making it look my whole life is revolving around some guy. But loving someone, and being loved means so much to me. We always make fun of it and stuff. But isn’t everything we do in life a way to be loved a little more?