I’ve been meaning to talk to you for a while. Only it’s been twelve years and I don’t know where you are, anymore. The last time I looked for you, I saw that you’d done a live performance at a bar near your house that got a huge turn out and blitzed everywhere on Facebook. That made me so happy. That you were still pursuing your dream. Some dreams shouldn’t ever die.
Things have been strange for me. Recently my boyfriend got very drunk and said a lot of things, hurtful things, that have made me think, nonetheless. One of those things is that I’m an ’emotion hag’. I’m not sure if you know what one of those is. It’s like fag-hag, a gay man’s female best friend, only according to him, my area of expertise is people who want to talk about their emotions, not gay men.
And he meant it in an insulting way, because he was drunk and hurting and trying to be as hurtful to me as he could. It’s just one of the things he said, and one of the things that stayed with me, but I’m not sure it’s a bad thing at all. I tried explaining to him when he was sober that he’s right, it is a pattern of my behavior. I do ‘listen’ too much, and let people vent to me, but that’s because that’s all I can do for them. These are people who are hurting, and the least I can do is to listen to them. I don’t have the finances to help them and I don’t have any way of changing their situation- Hell, I can’t even change my own. All I can do is listen, give them someone to bounce thoughts off, so I do that. It makes him uncomfortable because he doesn’t like my ‘range of emotion’, or at least, the amount of emotion I fluctuate through on a daily basis. It’s not that he doesn’t feel the same. He does, he just doesn’t believe in acknowledging it.
He likes to think he’s above such base human tendencies such as feeling. Only he refuses to see, and I’d never point it out, but every time he gets that drunk, he does just the same thing we all do. We feel. We let ourselves feel.
I thought of you that day. It was not the first time I’d seen an angry drunk, but the frustration, the desperation to lash out at someone, to see them hurt the same way he was hurting… It made me think of you. You got just as furious every Friday, when you could drink without having to worry about work the next day. The odd beers in the week days would just leave you dour, and sometimes surly, but never full blown bitter. That was reserved for weekends, when you could drink yourself blind and blame me for being sixteen when you were forty already. For being young when you weren’t anymore, for having a future when you hated your job, for being smart, and for not moving to UK to be with you, or for having guy friends were closer to my age.
I think a lot of that went over my head at the time. I was just a girl, even though I won’t deny I was perceptive even for my age. But that only helped me handle your bad moods. It didn’t help me understand them, or understand that that the relationship was fundamentally wrong. I was not your muse. That sounds a little silly, said out loud. I was not your partner or your lover. I was a damaged young girl who was unbelievably grateful for even having anyone around me who said they loved me, or gave me any respect. Because what you gave me was not respect by anyone else’s standards, but compared to what I got from the ‘real’ people in my life, it was still one of the best things to be happening to me.
I got scared, though. Over time, I couldn’t keep blaming the beer believably enough, and I couldn’t justify your resentment of my not being there with you. And somewhere during that period I started growing a spine in secret. Still battered emotionally and physically, but a spine nonetheless. And I’m sorry. The entire situation had veered off from being a place of comfort to a place where more hurt stemmed from. I was an adult at sixteen, like I was an adult at twelve, but even adults are slow to learn their lessons sometimes. And I was afraid of you, you gave me reason to be. I should have been more afraid of you, in retrospect. But I knew then as I know now, you were never a bad man. You are a good man. You were just troubled. And a sixteen year old girl an ocean away was not the answer to anything. Except more pain. And I regret causing you that pain.
I heard the recordings of your live performance. You still brush the hair off your forehead exactly the same way. And you still smoke incessantly. Although I can’t look at you scoldingly for that anymore, given that I’ve started smoking too ( I know, right? Who would’ve thought?) And you smile more fully. And no matter what happened between us, it is so heartwarmingly, gloriously wonderful to see you smile that way.
One day, I will too.