Looking back, I should have recognized it. His want being greater than mine. His drive to be a couple. But, the truth is, that I wanted it, too. At a certain point, I said yes, and that makes me no less responsible.
He told me when she was away for Christmas break. Their love affair had fizzled shortly after their return from New Orleans, and they were just living together as room mates. “I want to be more than friends with you. I’d like to take you on a date,” he said as he looked across at me from the other side of the breakfast nook with those eyes.
“I don’t want to hurt my friend,” I told him. But, I did anyway.
I don’t know if he was aware of his power over me, but to use a popular vampiric reference of today I’d say he did something akin to glamouring me. And, from that moment he looked across at me from the other side of the breakfast nook and stated his intent, I was his.
During that time together, he began to speak negatively about her – here and there, not all at once – and soon, I did, too. His thoughts infiltrating mine until they became one, pulsing angry writhing ball, a rat king of negativity, directed at her. He said he wanted to make her disappear.
Even though we remained “only friends” during those few weeks she was away. We conspired, collaborated, and agreed on a plan. When she came back, he would tell her: They were really finished. He was moving out and he would like to take me on a date.
Before she left, she confided in me the problems they were having at every turn. He wasn’t interested in her sexually anymore. When they did have sex, it was brief. They would fight, he would storm out. She became increasingly focused on him, and what to do to save their relationship. In a way, I thought this would help her. She could begin to focus on her art again.
The last time we spoke was in my third-floor walk-through apartment on Macon. I loved that place. It was my first apartment after spending a year in the dorms. There were fireplaces in each room, and from my bedroom window, I could see the shape of a heart in the fascia of building across the street from me. At that point in my life, I had never been in love, despite having believed it so for short periods of time previously, and I wanted it. I wanted to find that thing we all hope to find – somebody to love unconditionally, and who will love us back just the same.
She called me, and asked me if she could come over after he talked to her. It was late January. January in Savannah was my favorite time. It brought a welcome reprieve from the constant, oppressive heat. I could open up the windows on both sides of the apartment, and the cool air would make the ceiling fans spin. But, there she was, outside my front window. Showing up to fuck up my beautiful January afternoon. I buzzed her in.
“Hey Mama,” she said quietly when she walked in. She looked defeated. Her eyes, usually so full of the creative force you don’t commonly see in others, set on the ground. I sat at my kitchenette and listened to her, but I had already emotionally removed myself from the situation, as I’m prone to do easily. She wanted to know if I wanted our friendship to end over this. She wanted to know if he was that important. I said it didn’t have to end, that she was making that decision.
After she left, I didn’t speak to her for nearly a year. Mission accomplished: we had made her disappear. Now he could do what he wanted with me.
In the very early days, we spent most of our time in my apartment on Macon having incredible sex. Like nothing I had ever experienced before, or since, if I’m being completely truthful. But it wasn’t the love I was looking for.
Towards the end of our friendship, before he spoke with her but after she came home from Christmas break, we were all in the breakfast nook, and she told me a story about his dog trying to hump her. “Aww, he’s just trying to show you how much he loves you,” I commented offhandedly. And, she snapped, “you have no idea what love is, man. That ain’t love.”
She was right. I had no idea what love was.