by: Tara Ruttenberg
now no cheating. so if you're just checking in now, you have to go back two posts and read from the beginning!
3. sooner than later
it was a schoolgirl crush-come-true as i held you tight from behind, our helmets in close conversation, my hair tangling long in the fast wind around the curves. six years of waiting in the wings of our more-than-friendship while your serial girlfriends took center stage, it was finally my turn.
you picked up the pieces from my freshly broken nose; i wove the stitches in your heart on the mend. you laughed at the hospital when i tried to will my crooked bones straight; i cried on the picnic blanket when i felt your tired soul still raw in your chest.
our bodies liked eachother. a lot. our minds and hearts did, too. they still would, i think. if we had let them. maybe if i wanted what you wanted - a beautiful life, the security of stability, comfort in New England – we’d be each other’s dream come true. i still wanted to feel it though, even when i knew it would end. it was perfect in impossibility.
“thank you for all the love,” you said when i left.
you went home to your family in winter, settling in. i shopped plastic surgeons in the tropics, surfing instead.
i visited you once there, too.
the fire in us made the snow feel warm when my toes went numb in your white wonderland. i met your friends; the quirky bookstore, the local coffee shop where everybody knew your name. your mom made us dinner with the turmeric i had brought as a gift; your dad was impressed by our conversation, your arm around my shoulder. you liked how i felt there with you.
my suitcase slept in your brother’s empty room.
“come see me again soon,” you said as i left, our twenty-four hours of wintry bliss winding down to seconds at the station. i was eager to feel like this with you again.
when I got home, i booked a flight.
a few days later, you changed your mind.
i knew it would end sooner or later, but when you chose sooner, i had still been betting on later.
sad in understanding, i wandered Boston alone.
2. but what about the moonlight?
your face was my vision in the sweat lodge on the full moon. dark skin, wide nose, thick lips, long dreds braided down your back. of course it was a sign of cosmic validation when i saw your missed calls, text messages asking me where i was. it was probably the exact same moment you were on my mind as i dripped hot sweat into the cool, prickly earth. we’re that connected. i was ready for us to be together. you felt ready to me, too.
i made you soup when you were sick. and ginger tea with lemon and honey. you came over for dinner like every night for a week. we watched bad movies and i rubbed your back on the couch. i really liked your skin on my skin. and we’d make a beautiful baby someday. we still might, actually.
i was excited to tell you how i felt.
but you folded first; my cards forever hidden in my hand.
“i don’t want to hurt you,” you said, pushing tofu to the side of your plate of mystery vegetables soaked in low-sodium soy.
i was confused. i thought things were going well, like we’d finally made that transition from soul-friends-with-benefits to soul-mates forever and ever. it would be nice if our future rasta baby had parents who loved each other and lived happily ever after. i liked how that story went.
“i could never fall in love with you,” you said.
i smiled. i almost laughed. i wanted to cry.
“why’s that?” i asked, intrigued more than anything.
i thought you’d say something along the lines of “i like you better as a friend.” or “i only believe in true love, One Love Jah Bless.” that would have made sense.
instead, you said, in the simplicity of all seriousness:
“we eat different food. you hate TV. and you don’t like air conditioning.” you wanted carne en salsa, flat screens, surround sound and subzero in the bedroom.
this time i actually laughed.
then i cried. in the pool. by myself. just me and the moonlight.
i hoped you’d be gone by the time i went back inside. instead, you were on my couch skype-ing your internet girlfriend you had known for like a week.
by then, i was all out of tears. i really, really, really, really wanted you to leave.
unimpressed by my passive, cold shoulder silent treatment, you said to me: “you still have a long ways to go, Tara.” you meant spiritually.
i meant get the fuck out. like now.