*Featured Image: “Ferris Wheel” by Toni Bennett
by Maame Blue
I felt like I was always waiting. Ten minutes, thirty minutes, once I waited for two hours at a bus stop. Hopelessly ready for the sliver of a possibility that maybe this time, love was coming. It didn’t have to be fully formed, just something with potential, someone I could wrap my arms around.
I met him on the train. He wore thick rimmed glasses, back when they weren’t in fashion. I thought he was nerdy and I liked it. I always rooted for the underdog; I secretly believed I was one of them. One day I would achieve something and no one would see it coming. I felt successful that day too, like I was able to win the moment. We exchanged numbers; he had caught me with my guard down. A Sunday afternoon I think, I had been volunteering, I felt open and giving.
But the date didn’t come. Just two hours of waiting at a bus stop, not wanting to cry, not feeling like I would, only a vague sense of being used to the disappointment. The sadness was so familiar I was practically smiling to greet it, as if it were an old friend. I began to make my way home when he called me. Now it was raining. Real gloom to accompany real gloom. I want to say that I didn’t answer, but I did. And I saw him again. Or for the first, second time. At my flat on a Saturday, when I wasn’t sure about sex and being alone with boys and putting my mouth on his. We did new things I hadn’t done before, a gentle coercion to more and more that wasn’t gentle at all.
He tricked me once with false promises of using protection. His sleight of hand was
inconceivable as he put us both at risk. Stranger on stranger, a naked lie over his manhood that felt good and then very bad once I had discovered the deceit.
I pulled away from him in disgust, became angry and fearful of the pregnant air, of having something foreign transported into me without my permission, my awareness. And then I reset myself as I always did, as someone who pleases, as someone unencumbered and forgiving. As someone who loves herself a little less with every new mistake. I opened another wrapper and put it on him myself, eyes focused this time and still willfully naïve as we danced horizontally once more.
I kicked him out afterwards, or I only told myself that I kicked him out. Perhaps he just left. I didn’t know his last name, though I am sure I asked several times. My hormones were all over the place, my emotions erratic and misplaced, he needed to be gone. He left shortly after the goodbye, left the country I mean. He was a traveler.
We had not been intimate in the way his smile suggested on that first day, when he tapped his foot lightly against the seat I occupied on the train. I was extremely paranoid about accidental babies and diseases and trying to throw my heart at strangers who make me wait for them in the cold. My visit to the pharmacy was marred by anxiety for the first time, but it felt a necessary evil, to calm my terrified mind, the one that fantasized about being held warmly in a quiet room.
Nothing was gained thankfully, and the only thing I lost was a little more of my faith in myself. I was in love you see, not with him, the traveler, but with another; a stay at home who had no desire to cohabit with me, metaphorically or otherwise. It wouldn’t be the last time I tried to cure a broken heart with recklessness.
And it wouldn’t be the last time I waited for bad men in the rain, for more minutes than I should have been able to spare.