I remember a time when meeting someone who was just as damaged was a bit of a relief. Everyone walking…
We were lying in her bed watching the storm roll across the buildings. The view from her 52nd floor apartment was like a movie. A far cry from my basement apartment crawling with roaches, spiders, and various multi-legged insects. The sun was setting so it gave the sky an orange and purple glow.
“What would you like to do for dinner?” She asked.
“I don’t really have a taste for much.”
“Well we can’t lie around and just stare out the window all night.”
“Why not?” I asked, while I put my arm around her.
“Sometimes I think you only come over to stare out my window.” She said with a smile, “You know, you should just move in already.”
I had heard this suggestion more than a few times so I didn’t respond, instead continued to rest my chin on her ledge and follow the rain that came down in blankets.
“I don’t know why you keep ignoring the subject.” She said, “I mean, think of all the money you’ll save.”
It wasn’t that I was simply closed off to the idea, but I was with her. She was great on so many levels but I knew this was only temporary. I had just been through one of the toughest break ups in my entire life and I was an emotional wreck. I was in a constant state of varying levels of depression and my thoughts were with a woman that could have been but I chose to opt out of unhealthy circumstances. I told her I wasn’t prepared for a serious relationship but she thought she could fix me. Oh, she never said those exact words but I could hear it in her voice. In her sincerity. In her compassion. All a testament to how wonderful and determined a woman she was, but I was in the unfortunate position of being unable to appreciate her for the woman she was. I mentioned in the very beginning that I wasn’t there emotionally and she said that was okay. That I would heal and over time I would come around eventually. Part of me fell in love with her and the other part felt sad that she was about to waste so much time and energy in trying to fix something that wasn’t hers to fix so the idea of moving in with her was pointless. But to say those words to her face would have crushed her and despite the mess thrashing around my head and heart, I still had a few ounces of civility left.
I rolled over on my back and watched the light dance across the white ceiling and said, “The time isn’t right.”
“Well what are you waiting for?” She said sitting up.
I wanted to tell her that I wasn’t so much broken but ruined. Ruined for the time being and that nothing she could say or do would be anything more than a band-aid over a gaping head wound. The dinners and compassion and hand-holding over Wednesday night sitcoms felt good, but they didn’t stop the cloud of dark thoughts that raced through my 2am brain keeping me away while I replayed scenarios over and over again. I wanted to tell her that maybe in some far off future, light years away after many sleepless nights that I might be healed enough to be able to appreciate her moves. Her words. Her love. I wanted to tell her to save the dinners for someone else. Someone who could and would be able to respond in kind. To make it even. Fair. Safe. But I wasn’t the one. Someone had inflicted a level of black damage no beautiful woman could erase no matter how hard they tried.
Instead, I simply responded, “I just need to feel whole again.”
She reached down, grabbed my hands, and rested her head on my chest. Everything in me screamed to give her a chance. To just let go of the hurt and allow her to help. And for as much as I wanted to just burst into tears, push her soul into mine, and let go of the pain – I had too far to go before I could ever give her that moment.
“What do I need to be for you?” She said, “And what do I need to do to make this right?”
All the right sentiment and all the wrong words. She wasn’t just compromising her happiness, she was sacrificing who she was. She wanted to change her life for the betterment of mine. God, she was amazing. You only meet a handful of people like this in a lifetime and usually they want nothing to do with you. So many women have come and gone since her and I still haven’t run into someone so unselfish, someone so willing to offer up any and everything in their arsenal just to see me smile. She told me I could live with her for free. That she made enough money for the both of us and I could continue living my poverty-level artist life if I liked just with no bills. She offered up a seemingly perfect life because she believe in me – in us, so much. The problem was, I couldn’t see it. It was so far off in the distance that I couldn’t fathom the day when I could feel good about allowing another person to pick up my slack. She was good. Really a great woman. And a leech like me would tarnish her finish. And while I was someone’s discarded toy, I wouldn’t infect her house with the rodents of my brain.
Not long after that conversation I ended things in her living room while staring out that window. It wasn’t pretty and I do my best to not think about that night when I ruined her for a time. She makes dinner for someone new these days – her husband. We haven’t spoken in years but we are still friends on social media and I see how happy she looks. I often think about writing her and giving her the words I should have said all those years ago, but that wouldn’t be fair. It would be selfish of me to unburden my soul with the sentiment that is too little too late. So I sit back and admire how amazing she is from my bright computer screen and hope that she is happy and the guy who now looks out that window with her makes her feel as good as she tried to make me feel in those nights so long ago.