Friday, February 08, 2008

Slowly Coming Together

"Do you remember the other night?" he asked me.

"Sure." I said.

I had ridden uptown with him to hear the end of his story, to feel his hand on my knee a few more minutes, to hold on too tightly as usual. I got off at 14th Street so I could walk alone up the stairs, down the creepy tunnel and switch to the F train downtown and ride home to Brooklyn. He continued on the 1 train to his family. We'd been having fun and he'd said something funny as I got off the train so I was laughing as I waved his train out of the station.

"The guy sitting next to me leaned over after you got off and said, 'She really loves you.'"

I've been telling, or rather trying to tell, that story to other people for years. It always falls flat, though, and I haven't been able to figure out why. I felt inexplicably proud hearing it. I felt known and seen and I wanted to tell it because I wanted to hear it again and again. When all you get is a blank stare it's not as satisfying. There was something missing to the story, it seems.

In retrospect I don't know why he told me. Except that he told me almost everything. We both might have been better off if we'd learned to close a door here or there but he can't keep his mouth shut and I have a similar malfunction with my heart, at least where he's concerned.

Recently I realized what was missing. That random man on the subway saw me clearly. At a glance he got the message because I really did love the boy. I loved that story because it gave me hope. I have been waiting all this time for the boy to say, "And you do." The emotional beat that was missing was for him to say that he saw me, too, at least as well as some random stranger on a train.

But he never did.

Which is why the story falls flat and why I'm here, with you, and he's there...with them.


  1. I agree. It's lovely.
    I can't believe you were getting blank stares in the telling of that story. There's a wistfulness in it that doesn't need the explanation.
    I'm glad you gave one, because it was a little different than I had thought, but the sentiment is there in the story.

  2. Thanks guys.

    Chrome, how was what you thought different? (If you don't mind telling.)

  3. This is a story for the ages.

    Wish I'd written it.

  4. I'm sort of glad and not glad that I lived it, all at the same time.

  5. It was his lack of response at all. The man on the train had a story about you. The lover had a story about himself.
    Does that make sense?
    It should have been a story about both of you, but he didn't finish it.

    In my head I understand myself.

  6. Yeah, it makes sense, Chrome, and it fits, too. Which I guess makes me doubly sad.

  7. No no no. No sad.
    Hugs and kizzes.