I remember one morning with Jay in my room. We’d just made love and he’d gone to the bathroom to wash up. I was lying on my bed looking at the ceiling, a heavy-guitar track coming out of the speakers of my vintage radio. Suddenly, it hit me: I don’t love him anymore. This isn’t any good. Why is he even here? Why am I?
A frightening, crippling sadness threatened to break through my veneer. I pushed it down with the smoke I inhaled, trying to keep my mind too hazy for serious words to surface.
Jay returned from the bathroom and lay down beside me, toppling onto the bed jokingly. I hugged him, kissed his cheek. I don’t love him anymore. I hate that I don’t love him anymore. It’s time for me to leave, but I’m home, and there’s nowhere left to go.
The tightening of my gut warned me of the oncoming panic attack. Jay asked what I was thinking about, said it was nice to see me at last. I said I loved him. Seeing his smile made the lie feel better, even if only for a moment. Looking back on it now, maybe I wasn’t lying at all.
When he left, I bought a couple of beers and sat down at my desk to write a poem about breaking up in the winter. It was already spring then. A year’s wait seemed inevitable. Nobody wants to be alone when everything around them is finally coming back to life. Nobody wants to die inside only to see the world blossom.
A month or so later, we were back at the scene of the crime, only thick blankets were no longer needed. I gazed at his face with poorly hidden admiration as he stared pensively at the ceiling. What are you thinking about, I asked. About how good it is to see you, he replied apologetically. I had no idea what was going through his head, although looking back on it now maybe I should have known.
We didn’t see much of each other after that morning. There were essays to be written, finals to be taken, other friends to be met. Always, there were words we needed to not say. It was easier not to be silent while being apart.
The last time we saw each other, it was a spring afternoon in a city park. He said it would be a good idea for me to lose some weight. Or quit smoking. Preferably both. I said it would be great if he could love me more. We looked at each other from across the bench, from across two mornings spanning a couple of months or so of indecision. Then we amicably shook each other’s hands, and said goodbye.
As I was walking homeward, replaying the last half a year or so of sun-drenched mornings and wine-drenched nights, it struck me how difficult it really is to love, when one is fully clothed. When there is no way to stifle words with hungry kisses. When there is no bright light to hide the white of one’s little lies.