You asked me one time what I knew about you. We were lying in your bed; both staring at the ceiling and it immediately struck me as an odd question. Perhaps a vapid question. But my need to please has always been greater than my willingness to point out when I think something is stupid, so I stalled by making a lame joke while I mentally compiled the facts of your life that I had learned during the past four weeks.
Like statistics I riddled off that I knew your favorite color was green and that your mother was the most important person in your life. By virtue of a second marriage, your best friend had become your stepbrother and at twelve years old, you went from being an old child to having siblings. I told you that you used to fight but you didn’t like who you were then – even though you had felt strong.
I touched on the ex that destroyed you and caused a subsequent three months of drinking and thousands of dollars lost to the bottles and bar fights. Half-jokingly, I mentioned your seemingly slutty past and its relevance to my annoyance upon your mention of it. On a tangent, I pointed out my irritation for when you talk about which of our co-workers you would sleep with. It does irritate me. However, as I told you, I still think you only said it to test my reaction – a hypothesis which you vehemently denied.
I remember pausing on this note before continuing. I told you how I know when you’re getting drunk. Your eyes glass over slightly and become softer; their usual steeliness becoming almost kind. The hard lines of your face ease as your smile becomes more frequent. I love your smile. There’s a boy-ishness to your drunk self and I get the idea that for a few hours, your pain is forgotten.
Of course, I wasn’t this detailed when I told you. You tickled me in the hopes of coaxing out my reasons for how I knew, but my stubbornness proved too much and you eventually relented. We both fell asleep and the conversation has since been forgotten.
Now, weeks after, I can’t help but think of all the other things I should’ve said. There are many. I’m the kind of person that pays attention and there’s no doubt that you’ve given me much to notice.
You’ve branded yourself perceptive; one who reads other well but is difficult for others to read him. I have to disagree. True, you’re hard to understand at first, but you’re much like a spool; as soon as one thread comes loose, everything else unravels.
I know that you hurt and I know that you care. And as much as you like to reiterate that you’re emotionless, I know this to be false. I know you pick on others’ insecurities because of your own and I know that you describe yourself as a horrible person because then, when you hurt others, you can say that you warned them. These are your fronts and often they seem limitless. But it wasn’t long before I saw right through them.
One night you were holding me and, thinking I was asleep, you kissed my back. It occurred to me then that I know you care for me and that you’re not really sure how to process this. I know that right before you kiss me, you smile. I know you make me feel beautiful. You make me feel like I’m worth time. I know I can trust you – a feeling I had previously thought lost. I know you’ll make me do things I wouldn’t normally do. I know you make me confident.
I know that you’ll never love anyone as much as you love your work – a so-called deplorable trait that I respect and truthfully, covet. I know you’re smarter and more driven than you let on, but I also know that you wonder if this is all there is. Hell knows I wonder. I know that you crave the life of a nomad but I believe you to be more of a homebody – you’ll stay wherever you settle and it’ll be a place that captures your heart.
I know you’re not ready for anything more and I’m not sure you ever will be. And we both know the chemistry between us could destroy this place and God knows the two of us have seen enough destruction.
I know you think you’re no good for me. It was when we were laying in bed; starring at the ceiling that it occurred to me you might be right. You’re hot and cold, back and forth and up and down. You talk in circles and I lose my breath trying to keep up. You contradict yourself. You believe yourself to be clear and straight-forward; an “open book” – a theory which is laughable.
I know you are unmoving, stubborn and maddening. You are confused. You are angry. You are hurt. You are broken.
But so am I.
When it comes down to it, here is what I know; I know that your smile releases my own. I know that you are, in fact, good for me and I am good for you. I know that you care. I know that you’re a good person.
After a lifetime of planning my every move, I’m ready to let the chips fall where they may. And if knowing all this means also knowing that I have to let you go, then that’s okay. Because you brought me to a place I thought I’d never see again. A place of possibility, fun and light. And for all the hurt you’ve caused me, I will always thank you for returning me to myself and for allowing me to feel again.
I owe that to you, this I know.