I don’t know why I answered my ex’s text message last weekend. I guess I was boredbecause my love life is more or less nonexistent. I also hadn’t heard from him in a while, and the curious part of me outweighed the rational part of me.
I broke up with him over a year ago, but the truth is, I never truly stopped loving him.
So when he texted me that he’d be spending a week in New York for a job interview, I told him he could stay with me in my tiny studio apartment. Offering my home to my homeless, unemployed ex-lover seemed like a altruistic thing to do, but I won’t deny that I had my fair share of selfish motives.
Our first night together was wonderful. I satisfied him on a street not far from my office, in the frost cold tundra that is New York in wintertime. We decided to go to dinner, and itwas great: We talked about work, determining ourselves and his tentative plans for the future. The conversation flowed the same way it did three years ago when we met; the only difference was we’re both simply a little bit older.
We went home, and I helped him unpack his things while he got settled in. We got “re ready for” bed and laythere, continuing dialogue. Then I kissed him on the cheek.
What happened next was only natural: sober, passionate sexuality. It was great in that kind of route you can only appreciate when you’ve gone too long without something you should have had in your life all along.
The next day wasn’t bad, either. When he came home from running errands, I laid out pizza and tidied the shower for him. I enjoyed taking care of him. It felt like we were together again.
I’d forgotten what it felt like to be that intimate with someone.
On the third day, he had a bunch of physician appointments lined up, so he went out for the working day while I went to work. When I got home, I noticed he had left his backpack on the floor by my bed.
I stopped cold.
The frumpy black container gazed at me, practically praying to be opened. I didn’t genuinely expect to find much in it — aftershave? Condoms? Maybe some snacks? — but when I unzipped the pocket, I find all of those things, plus a little diary.
Ah, that’s right . My ex loved to write.
For a moment, I hesitated, clutching the diary in my hands as if someone were trying to steal it from me. I considered calling my best friend to consult her about whether I should open it. Merely that’d be fruitless, because I had already made a decision. There were so many things I wanted to know. There were so many things I wanted him to say.
Time wasn’t on my side; I had an hour to read this thing covering to covering. And that’s exactly what I did.
There were carefully chronicled descriptions of every hot passerby 😛 TAGEND
Then, this girl in all white strolled onto the metro platform. God DAMN, she was so sexy.
There were confessions of body insecurities, which surprised me the most, because he was fit to a T 😛 TAGEND
Some days, I look in the mirror and am pretty damn pleased with what I ensure. Other days, I feel like the ugliest piece of sh* t on this planet. Lately, it’s is becoming more of the latter.
There were rambles of a guy too scared to open up 😛 TAGEND
I don’t trust women in New York.
I don’t trust women in society.
And then, there was my name. Sheena .
I could barely exhale. As I read from July 2014 through to August 2015 — a time in our relations when we weren’t dating, but still fervently maintained in touch — my heart sink. My name wasn’t surrounded by terms I’d often use to describe him in dialogue, like “care, ” or “love, ” “special.” The terms surrounding my name were just…ordinary. Lackluster, even.
He spoke not much higher of me than he did of the girl in white booty shorts on the subway platform. He was a detached observer, a human whose head was disconnected from his heart, if he even had one.
I was just a placeholder, filling a space of little significance in their own lives. It was a space that could just as well have been filled by someone else.Meanwhile, he had devoured every corner of my heart and every musing of my intellect. I was his fool.
I sat there, too stunned to believe, too paralyzed to move. Putting the diary down seemed like a good notion, though the damage was already done. I flung it aside, laydown on my side and pulled my knees in close. F* ck .
What was weird was how colorful his descriptions of other things — things that weren’t me — were.As I read, I noticed howeasy it was forhim to talk about people and places of which he’d only skimmed the surface.He talked about the momentary out-of-body feeling a hip-hop concert in downtown Brooklyn devoted him and the enchanting juxtaposition between the aforementionedgirl’s milky white dress and caramel-colored skin.
But when it came to me, or his uncle in a coma whom he’d visited the day before, his wordswere all fluff and no meat. Thesemoments paled in comparison to the moments he’d written about with strangers or atrandom shows.
It was impossible for him to talk aboutanything he spent time getting close to. He tookthose impressions, pushed them down and locked them away, never to be accessed again.
Everything about our relationship was beginning to make sense. Why he was always so remote. Why he had no problem living in the present, but couldn’t talk about the future. Why he was never as transparent with me as I would’ve liked for him to be. He was too damn afraid.
As I waited for him to return, I also waited for the tears. But they didn’t come.
When he ultimately came home, I was out of the fetal stance and ready to talk.
His gaze slowly stimulated its style from me, to the diary next to me, then back to me. He sat down, gripping the arms of the chair to keep from falling. I confronted him about the diary.
“Just let me speak, ” I said, polishing the monologue in my head that I’d practised on his route over. “I know I shouldn’t have, but I couldn’t stop myself. I knew you were lost. But I didn’t know you were this lost. I’m just trying to get a sense of what the hell is going through your head. It’s so hard to read you. And I care about you too much.”
“I knew you’d do something dramatic like this, ” he countered, fitting in terms between deep breaths. “But I trusted you. That’s why I left my sh* t here.”
Typical us: me trying to pry him open because I assure his potential, him feeling attacked.
He laced his thumbs together and put his hands behind his head, leaning back on them the way person important does when he’s mid-decision. He was angry and disconcerted and fighting back tears. It was the first time I’d ever seen him remotely close to crying.
As I spoke and triedto justify what I’d done, doing my best not to sound like an obsessive lunatic, I told him I wasn’t surprised he’d minimise our four-year relationship until we voiced like two acquaintances wandering around in the dark. He’d always been defensive, and insecure, and afraid to let anyone get too close.
“This here — your confusion, immaturity, inability to stay in one place for too long — this is what kept us from being as great as we could have been, ” I told. “And I understand why you left New York to travelling. I would have done the same thing.”
He fidgeted and gazed at his shoes, getting up in between accusations to pick up pieces of apparel scattered around the room. It was as if I were uncovering every little secret he’d tried so hard to keep fromme since the working day we met.
He slowly packedaway his things.His diary. His too-small clothes. His pillow he carried around with him everywhere, like a little son, because he couldn’t part with it.
“Oh, ” he told, “by the way, I’m in love with person. And it isn’t you.”And then he left, slamming the door behind him.
His last attempt to hurt me. I knew it wasn’t true, because our first night he told me there was no one he loved in their own lives. But I suppose I deserved it.
Now, the tears came.
As much as I wanted to be mad at him, I couldn’t be. No, the pages weren’t filled with things I wanted to read — in fact, I wish I’d never read them — but I no longer have to wonder why he left New York, or why he picked on me relentlessly, or why “were in” made to fall apart from the very beginning.
He’s simply a son wildly unsure of how to become a man.
They tell everything happens for a reason. I know I breached his trust, but something tells me I was meant to find that diary. If my life were a romantic slapstick, this would be the climax of the story. This would be the pivotal moment for the romantic lead, whenshe eventually realizes what she deserves and is a hair away from procuring it.
Reading the diary “ve given me” closure. It stopped me from riding on a wave of false hope and unwarranted expectations.Because I learned that he never really loved me. I learned that men and women communicate on two completely different wavelengths.But most of all, I learned you are able to never genuinely tell what someone else is thinking, even the people you keep close.
And trust me, that’s a good thing. Because some things are simply better left unsaid.