He Had To Go

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic
Love, and loss

Submitted: September 09, 2012

A A A | A A A

Submitted: September 09, 2012

A A A

A A A


He was unlike anyone – male or female – that I had ever known.  Truth be told, he was like an alien being and he often referred to himself as an alien.  “What’s the A in your middle name stand for,” I asked.  “Alien,” he said, unblinkingly.  I almost believed him.

Those eyes were what drew me in, though his obvious air of cynicism verging on disdain for the other creatures who worked with us made me smile from the very first time I’d laid my eyes on his.  He dressed differently, wore his hair differently, talked differently than the white bread contingent employed by the firm.  His voice was very deep, more bass than baritone, and belied his appearance, not frail but certainly not husky.  His skin was very pale, as though it had never, in all of his 27 years, been exposed to air or sun.

An alien, at least in my world.

I asked around, tried to determine a past, but no one seemed to know, or quite frankly, care.  New guy, weird.  That was a pretty typical reaction to anyone who eschewed the norm but of course, I welcomed and embraced the radical, the outsider, the square peg. 

Eventually we began to be thrown together, socially and professionally.  Office parties, lunches with co-workers, there he was, included but separate.  Separate, but not aloof.  It always seemed that there was a running monologue going on in his brain that he didn’t share with anyone, but most definitely provided him with many a chuckle.  His wit wasn’t dry, it was arid, sometimes incomprehensible to others, even me.

But I didn’t care.  I was hooked.

As I write this I try to remember who made the first real move toward the other.  My guess is it was me, being the more aggressive and nearly 8 years his senior.  But I can’t be sure.  I think it was more like a gradual gravitational pull and then one night he knocked on my door, a bottle of red wine in his hand.  I let him in.

I was a single mom with a 3-year-old daughter.  To that point, I had avoided the possibility of a man in her life besides her father.  Fearful of her getting attached – she was a very needy child – I figured it was better to avoid any encounters that could lead to something, which then might lead to nothing.

He was young, smart, single, and from Missouri.  I’m not sure why I mention Missouri except that it always seemed to mean something, to be the reason or at least A reason for the way that he was.  In retrospect, I’m not so sure but I labeled him “midwestern” from the start and it stuck.  Not northeastern, like myself and most of the guys I had dated in my 10+ years of dating.  It seemed to make him less worldly, less complicated, yet more complex in the sense that I had nothing to draw from in my own experience about his background and the way he had been raised.

But I fell hard and fast.  We saw each other often, had intense, thought-provoking, wine-induced conversations and wine-drenched kisses.  He came late at night when my daughter was asleep, to avoid introducing her to him until I was at least convinced that he could be a good friend. 

Summer was the season and our relationship had all the qualities of a summer romance. 

Autumn came, and it was over.

Without warning, he told me he couldn’t see me anymore, that he had been corresponding with a friend from college and he wanted to see where that would go when she came to visit.  Though these words came from his mouth, even then I sensed they lacked truth.  He wanted to be with me, his heart was committed but his brain told him that we were not meant to be.

Within a few months, he was engaged to the college friend.  When he told me, I stared at him so hard I thought I could bore a hole in his head.  I probably cried, though I hate to admit it.  I wished him well, and life went on.

A few more months went by and I heard from a mutual friend that the college friend had broken off the engagement, and broken his heart. 

Stupidly, I was euphoric.  He was available, we could try again!  This time, I am certain I was the one who approached and he attempted to resist, but eventually I was knocking on his door at midnight and then we were sitting in his living room, in darkness except for the streetlight through the window, Peter Gabriel singing of red rain, and him holding me and telling me that if he could wake up to my lips kissing him every morning he could be a happy man.

But he wasn’t a happy man.  His past, like mine, had damaged him, made him uncertain of himself and his choices.  Made him frail in ego, unsure.  And frightened.  We clung to each during those nights, just holding and breathing, not sure where we were heading.

Then, he was offered a job in the northwest, 3,000 miles away.  He said he had applied for it the previous year and never heard a word, til now.  He guessed it was a sign.  He had to go.

His last weekend in town, I housesat for a friend.  Even though we had already said goodbye, I called and begged him to come over.  We would be alone, we could talk.  In my mind, even though the van was waiting at his curb, I would convince him to stay.

He came, against his better judgment.  He did not cry, barely spoke, said he had to leave quickly, he had to go.

I stood by the bay window, looking out, shaking, begging him to stay with my mind.  I could feel his presence still, behind me, hand on the doorknob, but staring at me, his magnificent hazel eyes fixed on me and what I would do next.  I turned back toward him and he came to me, kissed me, kissed my sobbing eyes and my cheeks wet with those tears.  Then he walked back to the door, turning back one more time.

“I love you,” he said, opened the door and left.

It was the first and the last time he ever said those words to me.  That was 19 years ago.  It was the last time I saw him.

 

 


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