I texted him to see if he wanted to hang out with me on Friday. He replied that he might have plans for a date. I asked with whom. He laughed and said he wouldn’t tell me. I took a couple of guesses. Vanilla Ice? 4 am girl? He said he wasn’t going to discuss his dating life or lack thereof with me. And suddenly I knew it was time.
I asked if we could talk. He said yes.
“OK, I’ll knock when I get home.”
He knew something was wrong when I brought out his gift. It’s days early. He put it on. A perfect fit. And then I told him it was over. His mouth dropped open.
We moved inside to talk. Unless he wanted to go all in and erase all the stupid shit he’d ever said to me — to accept both me and my child into his life — I was done. I couldn’t handle all the bullshit, the jealousy, the vague answers and secrets. I want to be with him all the way or not at all.
He was devastated. Took everything back. Said it was all for show; that he only said those things to keep us apart. He was sorry, sorry, sorry. He was sorry for being such a dick to me all these months, treating me this way. God, what must I think of him?? He didn’t mean any of it. “Why didn’t you dump me the minute I said all that stupid shit??”
“Because I love you and I wasn’t ready, yet.”
I asked him the bus question. There’s no one on the planet he’d miss more if I were to be gone. He wouldn’t even miss his parents as much as he’d miss me. I’m his best friend. Tears spilled from his eyes.
I told him I believed he was in love with me, but couldn’t admit it to himself. I balled and screamed and slammed things down in frustration. He held me while I shook.
I bared my soul, was painfully vulnerable. Took an actual risk. I chastised him for all his baiting, all his vagueness, all his twists and turns. He admitted it wasn’t fair, that he did it all just to keep me at bay. I pushed him to the limit. “This is fucking awesome, TN, and we aren’t even trying. Imagine what it’d be like if we actually tried,” I sobbed. He cursed that maybe he did need more therapy after all.
“Why don’t you invite me into your life? Why am I a secret?” He didn’t know. He invited me to hang out with him and his friends on the 4th. Sincerely, sweetly.
And then, we went back on my balcony. He lit a cigarette for me. A big move. I’d told him that I would quit if he wanted me to, that it wasn’t a strike against me. That I was lonely and felt like shit most of the time and a cigarette made me feel better. It wasn’t a goddamned character flaw. He wrapped his arms around me and I nestled into the nook of his neck with my nose pressed against his skin and we stood there and breathed together.
Eventually, the noise from downstairs broke our reverie. My new 18-year-old downstairs neighbor invited us to come party with her and her friends. We dragged Downstairs Neighbor over with us and we hung out with babies for an hour or so and I watched with bated breath to see what would happen between them: nothing.
At 3 am TN said he had to go home to bed. I followed suit. He kissed me, we hugged. We have plans for tonight. I’m letting things settle. I don’t know what’s going to happen. I’ve never in my life given an ultimatum. But, life’s full of surprises. He could take all this back.
I don’t regret one word. And this is just the jist.