A Brooklyn Love Affair
A Brooklyn Love Affair
I sat on the couch of my Yonkers apartment as I heard the sound of his heavy breathing through our iPhones’ poor connection. He was walking down one of the streets of his Greenpoint neighborhood. In the background, I could hear the doors from every hip restaurant creaking open as people entered and exited them. I thought about how much I loved that sound. For a second, I lost track of the situation and I imagined me being in his shoes. Not because I wanted to be the one taking the lead on the breakup but because as my heart shattered the only place I wanted to be was in the middle of a crowded street in Brooklyn, feeling artistic by default and allowing the live music spilling through the windows of the bars to fill my body so that the pain wouldn’t.
“I just can’t do this anymore. I don’t want to keep making commitments and promises I’m not going to keep,” He kept repeating the kind of words that were hurtful enough to replay in my head over and over again. Words that hung from the silence that I refused to break as I arduously fought my pride.
“Then we have nothing else to talk about. I have to go,” My pride spit out the words in such a triumphant way as if it was a spoiled child flaunting their prize in the face of the losers.
The situations that led to the breakup started 5 months before when we first met. Isn’t that where every break-up starts? My best friend was at a bar when she met him. I was still busy putting myself together after another break-up a couple of months before. After that one, I had sworn I would not begin dating until I had healed properly but like every other time, the opportunity of love knocked at my door and I didn’t have the willpower to not answer.
I received a text from her:
“I found your soulmate. He is artsy, loves to read and is such a nice guy. The man bun and beard are a plus.”
I thought about why I always used “artsy” as one of the words to describe my dream person. I realized that it is not so much about the fact that they perform an art, but more about how I see them. I want to describe the person of my dreams as art. I want their strengths and their flaws to inspire me. To move me. To intrigue me. Just like art.
“I’m not ready,” I replied knowing that wouldn’t stop me.
“I understand,” She quickly answered, also knowing that my curiosity would get the best of me.
“Send me a picture.”
That was the last thing I said before I saw the profoundness of his eyes and knew that if I was to ever have self-control, this wouldn’t be the time. She was right, the man bun and the beard were just a plus for the benefit of my eyes.
We met at a Mets game on a rainy Saturday. This was a safe way to meet since our friends would be around making things more casual. He shook my hand as we said hello. It was the second time I became lost in his eyes and I was certain it wouldn’t be the last.
I am not a fan of baseball but I am a fan of the activities surrounding baseball games. The tailgates, the food, the music, the drinks and the sound of fans singing loudly in unison seem to drown out any worries anyone attending may have. For a couple of hours, it’s like the entire world which consists only of the stadium gets along, leaving all negative aspects of life waiting at the doors.
We talked non-stop from the second we met until the second our lips briefly met as we each went our separate ways after the game. I couldn’t help but feel comfortable around him. A part of me wanted him to know everything about me right away but the more cautious part of me carefully picked the words that came out of my mouth. The beers we drank made me forget there were two parts of me. He asked so many questions. Questions that I gladly answered not realizing he would never answer the same ones.
Looking back, the next few months were pretty predictable. The enthusiasm he had shown at the beginning of our short relationship quickly began to fade. He was no longer eager to make trips up to Westchester to see me. Instead, I was making weekly trips down to Brooklyn to see him which at the time didn’t bother me because I was looking to call that borough home and being around made me feel like I was one step closer. We’d visit bars on weekday nights and get so drunk we’d laugh the entire way back to his apartment then we’d go to coffee shops in the mornings where we’d sit down across from each other, book in one hand, each other’s hand in the other, only glancing up after every couple of paragraphs we read as if to make sure the other was still there. Every time we woke up together, we’d lay in bed wrapped around each other for what never felt like enough time. He tried to teach me how to swim, something I hadn’t truly allowed anyone to do since the last time my father tried when I was 5 years old.
“Trust me,” He would say every time I panicked. “You can do it.”
“Okay, fine,” I would stubbornly reply knowing I didn’t want anything more in the world.
It was easy to feel as if the space between us would eventually turn into something that would only pull us closer together and for unknown reasons it was even easier to question this. I admired the simple way in which he approached life. The way in which he was able to keep parts of himself a mystery while looking exposed in his sleep. The way in which time didn’t make him nervous the way it made me and how he somehow managed to have me disclose my deepest secrets while I was barely able to explain what exactly his job was. I wondered about him and when I got tired of wondering I asked questions. I understood that it had been my decision to give him everything I did but what I didn’t understand was why he had chosen to accept it while giving almost nothing in return.
This is when it hit me: My whole life I have been loving as if I am searching for my father within the men I fall in love with. I have been trying to make homes out of human beings without creating solid foundations and at the end, I am the one that has been left broken down. I have given as much as I can for relationships that have confused me far more than my father’s sickness has since he was diagnosed 12 years ago. I have demanded emotional support from lovers that in reality don’t owe this to me, allowing their denial to leave me feeling unworthy because they don’t want to willingly do so.
The last time I saw him was a Sunday night. I had spent an unplanned weekend over helping him pack his apartment since his lease was soon up. We packed for a few hours and we hung out on his couch the rest. We watched T.V, we ordered food in, we laughed at the silliest things, we made eye contact whenever we could, we made fun of each other and we laughed some more. Every once in a while, he would turn his laptop to show me the apartment options he was considering and I would share my input, which he seemed to appreciate.
I had to wake up early the next day so I went to sleep early while he stayed in his living room hanging out with his roommates. I was half asleep when he came in and as he kissed me in between words said, “I really enjoyed spending the weekend with you. Thank you for helping me pack. I’m going to hang out with the guys a little longer and I’ll come cuddle you.”
“Make sure you wake me up when you come in, I want to kiss you,” I said as he continued to interrupt each word by putting his lips against mine.
“I will.” He replied as he got up and left the room.
He didn’t wake me up when he got in the room later that night. Deep down I knew that our last conversation had been a goodbye. The next day I woke up next to him and tip-toed around his room as I gathered my belongings and kissed him goodbye. This time he didn’t grab my arm, pulled me back to bed and playfully yelled that I wasn’t going anywhere. He didn’t hold me tight and suggested that I quit my job because he wouldn’t let go and I had to stay there and cuddle forever.
I wish I had learned the lesson a different way. That maybe lessons didn’t always have to cost me people. It was sometime between that four-minute phone call and the next couple of days that I decided to no longer attempt to make a home out of people; that they may only feel like it and even remind me of it.
Brooklyn can be a home, people...not so much.
Until the Next Late Night,