Strangely, extraordinarily

She doesn’t realize I am looking at her. She is staring at her hands, spread on my bed, naked except for that necklace I have never seen her without, the one with the blue rock. She has told me what that specific kind of mineral is called a few times before, but I keep forgetting; what I always remember is that it is the exact shade of her eyes.

I wonder if she knows I spent almost an hour organizing my room before she got here. I folded the clothes that had been on the chair for almost two weeks and put them in the closet. I took a book I had never read and knew she liked from the shelf and put on the nightstand, just in case she noticed. I set a glass of water next to it, planning to offer it to her, but turned it on the sink when I realized it might be too much. I found a white candle in between number shaped ones and thought about lighting it, but that too seemed like an exaggeration, so I let only the lamp by my bed turned on. I chose a CD I loved and put it next to the book, just in case the moment was right to put it on. I made my bed and then unmade it and made it again, so that it wasn’t overly made. (It was probably overly made.)

When the doorbell finally rang, the entire room seemed totally wrong. The image of her there, the most beautiful girl I could think of, standing in the room where I have been sleeping in my entire life, the room where I have had numerous dreams about her, seemed too indescribably good to be true. It seemed like a shortcut in the Universe, like pages of different books glued together.

But now she is laying on my bed and she has never ever been this beautiful, and somehow, in some absolutely strange and completely extraordinary way, it makes perfect sense.

She cracks her knuckles, one two three all the way to ten, and catches me looking at her. She smiles at me. I can’t believe how beautiful she is, and I smile back.

She keeps her eyes on mine. She is looking right at me; not at the book by the nightstand, at the lamp next to it, at the one shirt I left unfolded, at the water stain the glass left on the wood and I totally forgot to put that CD on. She is looking right at me, and she is smiling.

Fifteen years in the making

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,

Maybe if

Maybe I should have asked her not to leave. Maybe I should have held her face between my hands, looked right into the sweet darkness of her eyes and all the beautiful things they held and said please please please you are wrong about me i can do this. But of course I didn’t, and maybe she was right. If she was so wrong, I wouldn’t have let her go.

Maybe I should have run down the stairs so fast that when I finally got through the eight floors, the elevator would have just arrived. Perfect timing. I would have kissed her, and she would have kissed me back, and I would tell her to give me a chance to prove her wrong. Or maybe I would arrive at the lodge right as she left the building, and I would never see her again. Or maybe she wouldn’t kiss me back at all, or not give me the chance to prove myself as the man I should have been.

Maybe she would have given me a chance. Maybe if she did we would find the happiness it was so hard to believe in. Or maybe I would have proved all her predictions to be true, and one way or another made her stop loving me. I would have promised that my father’s drinking habit and beating the shit out of his wife habit, my mother leaving without an address and phone number behind and my brother not talking to me for years didn’t necessarily mean I had abandonment issues. I would swear with all my heart that I wasn’t afraid to love or be loved. But then one night we would be watching that movie she loved so much, drinking wine and eating popcorn, and I would look at her and it would kill me. As she laughed at a scene she had watched so many times she knew by heart and put a handful of popcorn in her mouth, I would realize just how much I loved her. Her beautiful dark eyes, the simple truths I found within them, her long and wavy hair in a messy bun on top of her head, the chipped green nail polish she always had on, her pink lips and rosy cheeks, all of it so fatally beautiful. My heart would weight in my chest, and I would want to cry and scream and yell because I was so scared of how much I loved her. I would be so scared that one day she would wake up and realize how she was infinitely too phenomenal to be with someone like me. I would pick a fight over something stupid and she would hate me because she was right all along and she was never the kind of person who needed to be right.

Or maybe not. Maybe I would have been tempted to find her a reason to end it already, but I would have stopped myself. I would have closed repeated in my head that I owed it to her to try my very best. I owed her to be the man she deserved. And when she told me she loved me, I would have done my very best to not let myself be convinced that she was lying, because her eyes always told the truth.

Maybe. Or maybe not. There isn’t really a way to know. Because when she told me I didn’t know how to be loved, I looked down at my feet and said nothing at all. I let her close the door behind her and go down the elevator and out of the building to a life, as I believed she deserved, without me.

There was no asking her to stay, running down the stairs, kissing her and being kissed back, watching marathons of the same movies every weekend, loving her and being loved back. There was also no unrequited kisses, heartbreaking rejections, uncalled for fights or unkept promises. There was just me, alone in my apartment, and enough what ifs to haunt every single second of the life of a very foolish man.