I have been in love with a man named Tomi since I was 21 years old. Tonight, he kissed me, and it felt like coming home. A pain I hadn’t realized I was holding, lifted, a hole at the center of me closed. “I don’t want you to go,” he said before I exited his car. I left anyway and looked back just in time to see him speed away. Our whole relationship’s been like that—him asking me to stay and me asking him to choose me and me turning my back so I wouldn’t have to watch him walk away.
I wrote earlier this year about the death of my cousin, about how grief never really goes away, just settles in a way that gets easier to carry. That’s what tonight felt like. A grief that has become part of me, that has been a steady weight in my lungs for years now, lifted. The sudden rush of air made me dizzy. “Goddamn Cam,” he said, pulling away, “it’s like fireworks.” I kept my eyes closed. It was easier to pretend he would stay that way.
Drake has this line “that first love is the sweetest, but that first cut is the deepest.” How many Christmases have I cried over you? Three now, at least. How many men have I cried for, when I was really crying for you? Three now, at least. I am grieving the children we were, and the family I wanted, and the ignorance I didn’t know to cling to. I am grieving our nonexistent kids, and vacations in Nigeria, and The Boys lifting you onto their shoulders at our wedding in triumph.
We kissed and I started crying. Jesus, what kind of Insecure shit is this? I thought and said because you are still one of two people I can almost always tell exactly what I am thinking. “I am so much like my mother,” I say, “When I am hurt my immediate inclination is to either hurt back or shut down. And I’m trying to make sure what I have to say is actually what I think and not just to hurt you.”
“Just say it.” You are the only person I have ever hurt on purpose who loved me anyway, maybe loved me more. I look pretty crying but you asked me not to. You wiped my tears away.
If I didn’t make it easy for you, would you even try?
I don’t remember asking you this but I stand by it anyway. My anger haze and my sex haze are pretty much the same. I disappear into a more feral part of myself, completely unrestrained, plopping back into consciousness when the words are said and the deeds are done, utterly confused and dazed. “You used to fuck me up with both,” you say.
“Can’t I just give you head and we both go on about our lives?” This, in the Beamer paid for by your new-ish job. We are not strangers to fucking in motor vehicles, but your head game is not strong enough for the heartache.
“And what?” I ask, “That’s it? We don’t talk for another year?” You look at me expectantly. I am about to cry again and I hate it. I see Mo, my most recent one-night-stand, his blank face when I told him I actually liked him, the same subtle expectancy in his stance. I didn’t want to fuck him right away. I fucked him anyway. “No, thank you.”
All the pretty boys are scared of commitment, and all the gorgeous girls are broken beyond repair.
“I want you, Cam,” your breath was heavy and so was mine. When I kissed you it was everything they write songs about. You and everybody fucking else, I thought and didn’t say, because almost has never been enough.
“We can’t be friends, Camryn.” I agreed before I was even fully sure what I was agreeing to. I sent one more text, despite my pride. You can never say you weren’t sure I wanted you.
Happiness is not something I have ever aspired to. My family has too many issues. Survival has always been the only metric of success worth measuring. But I was happy with you.
I had no clue I was hurting all this time.
“I still read your blog, every post.”