Right at this very moment, the man of quiet eyes who I today love is sitting at table in the back of a crowded restaurant, not so far from our apartment, with an old friend of his I have met a few times, and he is telling her about how he doesn’t love me. That might be more than slightly self centered, and though in a way completely true. But it isn’t about me, as much as it will eventually feel that way and yell at him for that, and hate him on some nights. It’s not about me.
He is telling her a story that goes way back to before we had even met. A story that begins when I had just gotten my braces out and had another boyfriend and really wanted to be homecoming queen; when he had pimples and still lived in that very small town across the country. He is telling her a very long story in which I am only a chapter, the last one, although he doesn’t know that yet.
In fact right now he couldn’t even imagine to believe that the ending is that close. It feels like the beginning, although, as it is clear from the story he is telling, the beginning was a very long time ago. Right now, it feels like it has all just started, because he is finally saying the words. It feels like maybe it’s the first thing he ever said in his entire life. It feels like the first sentence, but it is the climax – the beginning of the end.
He says it. He is going through everything, every single chapter, from the first thoughts, to his old best friend from high school, to his dad’s unfortunate jokes, to the fear of playing truth of dare, to meeting me. He says the words, all six letters, in a whisper so low she almost can’t hear it i am gay and he so desperately begins to cry, completely unable to stop. He cries out of his body the stories he never thought he would tell and the love that has turned to hate and all the times in which he didn’t say anything. Tears of so much pain, fifteen years in the making. In the quietness of his sobs, he is free.
His friend is listening quietly, and after he is done she will hold his hand and say it is okay. She will ask if he plans of telling me anytime soon, and he will cry more. He will say he knows he has to, and it is not fair to me because he could never love me in the way I want him to, in the way I think he does, but he can’t find the strength to do it. When I find out, in a couple of months, I will hate him for this. In between glasses of wine, I will scream in anger, calling him selfish and mean and heartless. I will hate him.
And it is true he was selfish. But he was also in pain, lost and confused and most importantly he was human. It will take a very long time for the anger to fade and for me to accept that he isn’t a villain in my story but instead the very brave amd only human hero of his own. He is only human. And he always had kind eyes, even when every breath of his body held a lie which came out of fear, even when he let me love him.
One day, three or so years from now, when he will finally know that today is the beginning of the end, the night in which he is free, I will see him for the first time since the ending of the end. I will be in the line at the supermarket, buying the ingredients to make myself pasta because it is my favorite, and when I hear my name and look behind me, he will be there. The same, but so very different. A light to him which I have yet to see. His eyes so, so blue, almost unrecognizable, because before all I could see in them was a certain sadness I didn’t even quite recognize. He will look more like him than ever before, and it will make me smile. There will be nice, maybe quick small talk, because we both have somewhere to be, and though I won’t say anything I will catch a glimpse of a ring on his finger. I will go home feeling in my heart the warmth of forgiveness and of understanding, the warmth of being human, and I will never see him again.
Of course, right now, I don’t know that yet. Right now I am watching a movie on TV and eating frozen pizza, wondering how long it will take for him to get home with the cupcake I asked him to bring. I am in love with a man I am sure loves me back, completely clueless of the fact that in two months he will sit me pour me a glass of my favorite wine and sit me down across the dinner table we bought together and tell me news that will shatter my world. I will hate him, then forget him, then forgive him, and never see him again. And in the quietness of a forgotten love I will know we were only a single chapter, and for a second before I forget forever, I will be convinced the sweet happiness of his eyes is the single most beautiful thing in the world,