“Why are we even here?”
“At my house?” Maybe I didn’t understand his question, or maybe he forgot more in the last hour than I thought. Perhaps this became a much bigger relapse than I understood. For a moment, it scared me to think about what may have happened to him by sharing so frightening and personally devastating experience. I worried I foolishly played with fire, and I tried to figure out what happens next. Would he even be able to get himself home safely?
He looked around my apartment, and even started wandering, so I decided to release his hand without expecting any particular goal or strategy. He headed towards the stack of boxes near the corner, which appeared small to me in comparison to its size a week ago, or even two weeks ago. Maybe he didn’t notice them on Friday. Maybe he began evaluating my cluttered home as a reflection of my personality. Over the past forty-eight hours, I unfolded and became extremely forthright and open. If a few unpacked boxes were the worst of my character traits, I was certainly okay with that. He already saw far worse in me.
“What about my home? Why didn’t we go there?”
I decided to just blurt out my concern, direct and deliberate. “Are you alright? What’s wrong? Do you know how to get home from here?”
“Of course. I’m alright. What about you?”
My gut response? Calm. I felt unusually grounded, content to be home, and considering all the emotional weight of the weekend, I truthfully felt a beginning of tranquility and peacefulness that eluded me for most of my adulthood, and perhaps never knew. My only negative twinge resulted from his disinterest, but little could be done to alter his opinion at this point.
“I feel strangely at peace. I wouldn’t think so given all the gunk from my history that you managed to get me to profess, but maybe it was cathartic. This may sound stupid, but I think this weekend did wonders to change my outlook and even my pace of life.” How much was I searching for that, and after one weird and complicated weekend, one where more questions developed with each answer, the only thing that would make me feel better at this moment was a hot shower.
I answered his question, and I expected that whatever confusion he was having, he needed to reveal some insight or inquire directly, as he skillfully knew how to do well. Yet, his concern and intent languished in its uncertainty.
“What about me?” How oddly selfish, and entirely uncharacteristic of him. Whatever he needed or wanted, asking would have been enough for me to assist however best suited him. Perhaps asking for help didn’t fit his character.
“I told you, I will always stand by you and I will never betray what you have told me. I will be around for whatever you need.” I imagined he needed counseling, but whether or not that would happen, seemed impossible to tell at this point.
“But you don’t want to spend time with me?” Did he see me the same as everyone else in this town? I wanted to make plans for Monday, see him Tuesday, and again on Wednesday, have dinner on Thursday, and do just about anything he would have requested on any day he picked.
“Of course I do, I want to see you again,” I could think of dozens of activities I would want to do together, both civil and provocative, but at the moment, I just didn’t want him to leave. “I really do, but I feel like that’s a one-way street.”
He gave me a look of uncertainty as if he expected a further explanation.
“I always promise to be available to talk – any time, any topic – that will not change. Ever. But since the first time you wandered into the Forest Service office, it seemed pretty obvious that you weren’t that interested in me.” I tried not to sound crestfallen, but I don’t think there are many ways to say those words otherwise. Even if he said them himself, I would have been just as disappointed; maybe my saying it saved him from having to admit it.
He still didn’t answer me, so I fully proceeded under the impression that his silence was his typical unspoken confirmation.
NEXT: The Cabin – Part 76