“Hey slow down”
We’ve hurried out of the club, as if being chased by our own demons, or perhaps being chased by ourselves. You hail a cab, and I slide in after you and settle all the way to the right. I am convinced that the taxi driver just caught a glimpse of my underwear. My dress is short, and so is your temper right now. I don’t really care at this point, the night is done, perhaps even ruined, and I know I am to blame. We both face our share of windows and forcefully distract ourselves from the sheet of ice that is the middle seat, the unseen wall between us. I won’t say i’m sorry. I wanted you to be jealous. I wanted to incite a reaction from you, proof that you still cared. I took your feelings like a tennis ball, and slammed it against the fragile glass house we’ve been calling our relationship. I pretend to be in thought, and watch the streaming yellow lights, flicks of fast moving NYC taxis speeding down the west side highway. Then you try to hold my hand, and that’s when I really lose my shit. Everything and everyone becomes irrelevant. This was New York after all. People party on the streets, leaving night clubs inebriated, flailing like drunk goblins on the side walks. Some walk home alone, hop in and out of taxis by themselves , others were wrapped up in shawls, hiding the tears of frustration they can no longer hold back from living here. This is New York City, it is emotional, and it is mostly ambivalent , this city doesn’t give a fuck. Looking for love here is like looking for a yellow cab at 3am in Brooklyn. There you are standing by the side walk, waving your hands in the air like a breathless prostitute, hoping someone would pass. And if they stopped you hoped they were not full of people, and if they were empty, you hoped that the price was not too heavy to pay. You watch cautiously as the meter increases, you only have so much to give. We all pay a price here in New York, we all pay a heavy price for love. I never looked for you, and you never searched for me either. But somehow last spring, under heavy showers with your faded blue umbrella, the name of your bank in the outline, you asked me to share a taxi, all the way to Spring and Prince in SoHo, and because you were beautiful I said yes.
“Some days I really want you to know what it feels like” you mutter. ” I want you to know what it feels like to love someone so much that you hate yourself when you start to hate them” . I’m surprised that you have even spoken first. This is not our usual arrangement of things, and I really wish you would just stick with the way we usually panned things out . You have forcefully ruined our skewed dynamic, the one where I fuck up, and then I cry, and you, always so forgiving , allow me to repent in your arms later. I shift my feet from side to side, because they fucking hurt. I had pranced around all night, and felt your burning angry eyes follow me from dance floor, to DJ Booth, to table.
It was as if we had been spiraling down this abysmal tunnel of fuck ups. One where you cheat and I let it go, and I cheat , you want to lose your shit, but you wont because I let you get away with it the first time. Our friends tell us we are poisoning each other, that you’re no good for me, and Im not good for you either, but it had not always been this way, the honeymoon phase is over, and now we are dealing with the hard part. They’ve stopped calling , inviting us places, lest we fight over who called at 3am, with you storming out over lunches, my embarrassed face streaming with tears over grilled chicken ceasar salad. Some how we have chosen to stay, to wait and sit here in this hell we have created for ourselves. One where none of us can leave , because the first person to break this bond is the one who loves less, who is least tolerable of this narcissistic thing we’ve both been calling love.
You know and I know , that our days are numbered together. I no longer leave shoes, bobby pins, hair conditioner and night ware at your place, and you in turn have started to fill up the top drawer , the one that was mine, with elements of your life I have somehow refused to be a part of. Our calls are less frequent, but the ” I love you” s we say to each other are more profound. what the fuck is this, this is confusing. Everything we had shared had become a painful memory, even though you were still here. Meeting in March, the Brooklyn museum in June, dining in Jane in august, the Fleet Foxes concert , passing blunts in the backseat with our friends in a cold giggly September, switching bed positions in October,saying you loved me when I made a mess while learning to make granola in November,switching apartment keys in December, surprise birthday parties in march, where you kissed me so hard in the stairwell my lips were numb, and then cheating, you cheating in may.. so here we are.
Our love, was it svelte ? too quick? too imagined? frail? would it have lasted if I had played it well by the books, drawn it out as long as I could, capped my intensity to keep you interested? Everything within me had erupted like pandora’s fucking box, and you had let my demons loose too. I wanted to lock it up. I don’t know how to make sense of where we are. I feel your gaze on my back again, and I can see your reflection in the mirror, your hands reaching out for me.
” I love you” you say, aimlessly. It was that simple to you. To always say it , even when I was the proverbial fuck up who couldn’t keep it together.
” I know” I reply.
For a moment the silence consumes us, because I have never not told you to say it. I liked when you told me you loved me. I felt special, and it felt like March all over again. You said it when we watched french movies on the living room floor, while we argued about me wearing a weave or leaving my afro out, you said it when I told you I couldn’t wash my hair under running water , face down, because it felt like drowning , and you said it when your parents scowled at me at the dinner table, because they didn’t think that I would be black and extremely proud of it. You always said it so simply. It made me think of how quickly I hurried back to yours from work everyday, before things got bad, my heels click clacking on the broken side walks of prince and spring street. Knocking on the door, till im sure my knuckles would bleed, and you would stand there with a smile,opening it as if you have been waiting for me. we were fools in this, and if we were smarter now it had made us terribly unhappy.
The taxi stopped.
You fish around in your wallet, and slip a twenty into what looked like the cold fingers of a pissed taxi driver, who didn’t want a 2am version of Dawson’s creek in his backseat.
you glance at me ,and I know the cab driver is watching too.
” are you coming up?”
” are you coming up?”
I want to pull away in the taxi, and stare sleepily at the street lights all the way to Harlem. Why do you always take me back?
The door to your apartment opens, and Mr sparks runs circles around me before he licks you, the two of you are more forgiving. I walk to your room, sit on the bed and examine the place where I had confessed numerous pleasures and sins, made grand gestures of love, fought with you over the dumbest things,and I start to cry quietly. I can hear you switching the lights off, a signal that you were ready for bed, and as though I were programmed , I take the bobby pins out of my hair, reach for my night ware in the top drawer, where all my things are placed neatly , folded with care as if I had never left.