I can’t write a poem because I feel stunted. My creativity has detached from me. This weekend I realized that I’ve broken up with the man I loved. I didn’t know that we had broken up and I did not know that I loved him.
I knew I loved spending time with him. I could remain as sane as an emotionally unattached woman when we were not together. I was never impatient for the next time we would see each other, because our visits were dependably frequent, and always perfect.
I say this in the sincerest meaning of the word: perfect. We spent the peaceful and euphoric days together; long walks in the city, sunny afternoons basking in the park, days spent tanning on my balcony, drinking mate, giddy with delight of the green park view.
We went on couples outings, with other couples, out of the city for day-long excursions to romantic destinations. We ate long, leisurely meals, and over coffee, when my beau went to the bathroom, the entire table turned to me and asked:
“Wait, we heard that you two weren’t actually a couple, and we were shocked!” They awaited me to confirm their suspicions.
“Yeah”, I sighed. We’re not together. “We just act like it, but he doesn’t feel that way about me. And I love him.”
They nodded and looked a bit concerned and uncomfortable, but secretly relishing the drama of it all.
Our strange friendship never crossed the boundary of physical intimacy, and I think we both thoroughly enjoyed the platonic nature of our relationship. Over the months we became closer, and the sexual tension between us became very apparent like a magnetic pull. There were often times when I was literally incapable of keeping my hands off of him, and his of me. There was usually wine involved.
Then he introduced me to his mother. With his arm around my shoulder he proudly introduced me “Oh, this is Sera.” There was no need for further introduction, because she already knew who I was.
After a year of a wonderful friendship, our time of reckoning arrived, naturally, without the conscious force of either party. I felt the shift one evening when we dined together. We dressed up and in the corner table of a quiet restaurant with perfect mood lighting, we had a real date. I sat across from him, we were forced to face each other. He asked me if I could ever see myself moving back East, to Boston, where he was from. Before I could answer he told me; “because I could see you there.”
We always could speak openly and without judgement. We had been true friends, but sooner or later, friends always fall in love. I wasn’t sure when I had fallen in love with him. Maybe it was a sunny afternoon when we sang Simon and Garfunkel while we walked down the street. Maybe it was the time when we went horseback riding, when we sat across from each other amidst a crowd of friends in the stables, after the ride. My eyes met his and we held our gazes, our eyes locked and lost in the love we kept secret even from ourselves.
We knew we were reaching our breaking point, and I felt anxiously excited about the upcoming pinnacle in our story line. My anticipation was heavy, knowing it could be the beginning or the end. He invited me on a weekend getaway to a nearby beach town. He picked out a beautiful boutique hotel and we made plans to spend the weekend alone, together. It was hard for me to not to think of this trip in romantic terms. Maybe he felt that, because at the last minute, our trip was cancelled.
Although we didn’t go away, we still spent that weekend together. We elected to attend a party, to console our disappointment from our failed vacation plans. I wore the most daring and outrageously sexy outfit I’d ever worn: a tight, black mini skirt, my highest high heels, and a bright green top, fashioned from a thin, soft pashmina that I wrapped around myself delicately. My lips were painted bright, luscious pink, and I knew I would be irresistible.
We didn’t know anyone at the party. We danced to classic hits from the 80s on the wood-tiled re-appropriated dance floor of an American diplomat’s posh, high-rise apartment. The party was as large as the luxurious flat, and we found ourselves sneaking away to a dark secluded hallway for kisses. I could feel his hesitation to kiss me and he expressed his internal battle: “I don’t know if this is a good idea, but it really is nice to kiss you.” He told me that he loved me and our lips locked in fluid motion, a moment of perfect passion, a long-time coming physical expression of a love that had been growing for over a year.
When the party ended at 7am, we went out for breakfast, holding hands on the way to the cafe, laughing over coffee. Everything went back to normal, for a minute. But in the following weeks he retreated from me, avoided me and occupied himself with other endeavors. I came to the realization that we couldn’t maintain our pinnacle of intimacy, and had no desire in returning my love for him. I’m not sure that he was capable.
One drunken night when we were out with friends, the realization that he would never be mine overcame me. Afraid of making a scene, I stormed out from the bar into the dimly lit street, ready to hail the first cab I found. He ran after me to stop me, confused by my attitude but very much aware of its source. “Do you have feelings for me?” He asked.
I couldn’t reply in honesty. “I don’t know.” I said. What I really didn’t know is why he didn’t have feelings for me. Had all of our perfect memories only been my dream? Had he not experienced them with me? If the attraction was only felt one-sidedly, why did he always return to me?
We had we crossed the line from friends to lovers. I couldn’t return to the side of friendship, and he couldn’t stay on the side of love. We drifted apart emotionally, remaining connected by our less frequent rituals of meeting for coffee.
Last Sunday he attended a brunch that I hosted. He stood out amongst my twenty guests when he showed up with flowers, and I could count on him to serve drinks as if he were co-hosting. In a moment just between the two of us, I snapped at him. I was surprised with myself, as I’d never been cross with him before, and hadn’t realized that I was harboring anger and resentment towards him. He was surprised too, unaware that I had broken up with him, if only in my heart. My heart was processing the pain of this non-breakups of our non-relationship.
He was ambivalent. He loved and he hated me. And I’m angry. Because I loved him and he couldn’t return it.
I could show him all the poems I’ve written about him, but he wouldn’t understand. We never did fully understand each other. Love and understanding hold hands – just like we did once. But only once.
The one-time poet in mourning, hopeful to love again.