I was pleasantly buzzed. We’d been drinking. A lot. It was a warm Saturday afternoon and we were laughing. We were bowling. It was crowded. Everything but my focus on him slipped away. The music was loud and we were dancing without a care, singing along to songs, inventing the lyrics as we went along. I spun around and we locked eyes and it was in that instant he knew. Or maybe he knew long before.
“Don’t fall in love with me,” he said.
I couldn’t tell if it was a threat or an invitation. Either way it was too late. It was like slipping on black ice. It just happens. You can’t control it, and you certainly can’t stop it and you never see it coming. He wouldn’t understand. He wouldn’t understand that I don’t let people in, I just don’t. I don’t know how. It’s not a conscious decision, but an automated response. I have hidden my heart in a high up place surrounded by thorny brush. It’s not to keep people out completely, but to see who is brave enough to try to climb it. There he was bypassing it all unknowingly without any appreciation for what other people have done to try to get through to my heart. There he was, seeing sides of me I show to no one. No one except him.
It wasn’t my fault. It wasn’t anybody’s fault. It happened while he was asleep, so he couldn’t have known. We were in New York, staying together at a friend’s apartment, crashing on couches like college kids. I crammed myself into a love seat so he could have the couch. I woke up early one morning to grab brunch with a friend and he was still sleeping when I got out of the shower. I tip toed by and he was curled up on his side with an arm stretched out. He was wearing soccer shorts and an old white v-neck t-shirt. In that moment, he looked so peaceful and it felt like I could be okay to see that more than just once in a while. Okay, fuck. It felt like home to me. It felt like I could be okay seeing him that way every day for a really long time. Forever, for example. That was the tipping point. We couldn’t be friends after that. I couldn’t, at least. I’m not built that way. I kept it to myself. I didn’t want to ruin anything by saying something, but by not saying something when it needed to be said, I ruined everything.
We don’t talk anymore and the vacant space in my life has created this massive echoing space in my head and my heart. I’ll be fine. I always am. I mean, what other choice is there? Shrivel up and die? I thought about it. I know there will come a day when life settles down for him and he finds someone good enough to be his girlfriend and when the day comes, I’ll say “I’m happy for you” if for no other reason than to hear my own voice, in hopes that it covers up the sound of my heart breaking.