A Loveless Letter
It all started wrong. Maybe we looked at each other the wrong way. We knew that something was off that first night at the fish restaurant. You didn’t call me after the first date. You knew. But I was so persistent. I knew you somehow. You reminded me of my father and I don’t even really know him.
I thought I knew you, but like my father, you can’t be known. So I called you after our first date. I made you face me. I think I made you date me. So we went out for a while.
I liked your coffee and the way you played Mario Brothers in the morning. You said it was to start your brain. I think it was to get out of your brain.
I wasn’t in love. I wasn’t out of love. I don’t know where I was on the scale. How do we measure, by what means? It wasn’t even you that I was talking to some of the time. It was some vision I had of the man I wanted you to be.
I stroked your hair and loved when it stood up. I loved when you cried in my arms. I will admit I love to see a grown man cry. I held you when you cried, in the street, next to the café with the college kids watching from the window drinking cappuccinos.
When you made me cry you said you don’t know why you hurt people, but you just do. You don’t know how to stop. You didn’t hold me, you didn’t touch me. I cried next to you. Because of you.
You asked me once, can you imagine that years ago I was a pot head and smoked cigarettes all day long? I said yes, I could picture it. You were disappointed that I didn’t think you looked above that life.
I asked you if you could picture me in a psych ward, in solitary confinement, screaming Fuck You! to everyone around me. You said no, you couldn’t see me tied to a bed. I said no, they never strapped me to a bed. That’s all they never did to me. I was glad you could not see that.
You didn’t really get my sense of humor. I got yours, most of the time. You asked me once if I had a sense of humor. Other people think I’m hilarious, I told you. I’m funny I swear to god. You didn’t understand me. We laughed about it.
We watched Fifty Shades of Grey together that one time. We laughed at it and then were bored with it. I asked you if you would ever do those things in the movie, to a woman. You said no. I knew that, I knew that about you. I wanted you to say no. I didn’t want you to want to do that to me.
You had a set of different whips and chains, though. I remember you left me on New Year’s Eve. You chose that day. Not the day before or the day after. What a choice. I was with friends that made me forget. I danced that night. And sang Tina Turner songs on the Karaoke machine with my male gay friends. “What’s love got to do with it?” Got to do with it.
Again, I would not let you go, would not let you leave me. I told you that song by Sam Smith: Stay reminded me of you. “This ain’t love it’s clear to see, won’t you stay with me?” There is something comfortable about you that calms me down. I made you be my friend. I forced you into it, and we started to hang out platonically.
Then one night you were so sad. You told me that you remembered me when you saw a strand of my hair on your bathroom floor. That night we went to see the dueling pianos and sat in front of a couple that could not stop making out. We kissed again back at your place.
But this time, you told me we are what we are, we are not together. You gave me the ‘let’s not label it’ line. But sometimes you held me in your arms. I should have walked away then. I should have known that this was no good. That we were no good.
But after a while, we stopped it all because neither one of us was satisfied. It wasn’t the fireworks we had imagined. It was slow and soft and not loud at all. Fire is hot, this was mild instead of wild. Did I mildly love you? Is there such a thing as mediocre love? The kind you sort of have.
Then we became friends, we stopped the madness of sweet nothings, that were really full of nothing. We exchanged stories of bad dates, horror stories, funny stories and then you told me a good story, about a good girl.
She reminded me of that song by Tom Petty: “She’s a good girl, loves her mama. Loves Jesus and America too.” You told me how her mother told her, “I can handle anything, as long as it’s the truth.”
I was happy, happy for you. Honestly. You were so sad before you met her. You were so unhappy. I was fine then, I had a handle on my life. Although, I was annoyed that time you didn’t show up when we were supposed to go to dinner. I considered dumping you as a friend.
Then next time you were late, an hour late as I waited at your doorstep when we were supposed to watch a movie at your house. Who is the fool? I am the fool. Why did I sit there, on your front porch, for an hour waiting for you? It’s not about you, it’s about me. I’m the idiot you see.
Some time passed and I told you I was sick of you treating me like a fool. I didn’t mention to you how much I hated my life by then. I didn’t mention to you that something happened when you apologized to me on the bench in Royal Oak next to the gay bar where transvestites were walking in and out wearing high heels.
When you put your arm around me, I realized something. I was actually falling for you now. Was I falling in love this time? I don’t know what love is, or what love’s got to do with it. I needed you, and you didn’t need me as much anymore.
You found someone who made you happy. I was on my way to an unhappy time for a few months. You told me my unhappiness could not make you unhappy. You said you didn’t mean to offend me, but it was true.
I was jealous. Jealous that you were so happy with someone else. That you had something I wanted. You had you. I don’t know if I wanted you or wanted the you that she had. You were kind to her, much kinder than you ever were to me.
I met her and I liked her, I really liked her. You were kind of rude to me when you were around the both of us. You would later apologize for that…for being a jerk in general.
Then we went to the concert to see Sting and Peter Gabriel where you had your hands all over me. You kissed me on the cheek over and over again. You held my hand and put your arm around me. I thought you were going to kiss me on the lips if I didn’t stop you. We sang “Every step you take…every move you make,” and you looked me in the eyes. We also sang, “In your eyes…”
You later said you were just having a good time at a concert. Suggesting that concerts make you crazy. You later said you were high on pot and drunk from one too many beers. Your eyes watered in the middle of the concert. You said you didn’t know what you were doing and just held my hand for the rest of the show. We danced near the end.
I understood you at this point. I’ve seen you get angry, scared and sad. You didn’t take the time to hide anything from me. This explosion of affection was not about me, it was about you. You wanted it all, all of it. You became greedy for attention for a moment. It wasn’t me you wanted. It was everything, you thought you could have everything you ever wanted all at once. You can’t. Just so we are clear.
And finally, one day, you told me that you loved her.
You were good to her. I knew in my heart that I didn’t bring out that side in you. I knew you didn’t ever love me. I told you I could not talk to you anymore because I had feelings for you. Then I told you I didn’t have feelings anymore. Then I didn’t know what the hell I was saying.
You wonder now, what I feel for you. You don’t want to ‘perpetuate’ it. Perpetuate, you used that word. I asked myself, can I be friends with you? I should ask myself, why do I want to be friends with you? This is not about you. It’s about me. Why can’t I let people go? Am I not a strong independent woman?
Am I weak and stupid? I know I’m not stupid. That’s the only thing I know. Not because I have an education, but because I use my brain. (You always said you wish you had more of an education. Well, it won’t make you smarter.) Am I weak? Sometimes…aren’t we all, sometimes?
Maybe I’m just lonely, that’s why I can’t let people go. Do I want love from you? Companionship? I need a friend, that is what I need. You were my friend. In the end, what I miss is our non-love. I miss you, friend. Even though you weren’t the best friend to me.
Anyone who reads this would tell me to walk the other way and don’t look back. What’s wrong with me?
Love is overrated. It’s “a sweet old-fashioned notion.”
Am I in love with you, you wonder? And I wonder: What’s love got to do with it?