There was Fledge first. Then Noj. Then Chris, who turned out to be an online persona of a twisted pedophile. Then Andy. Then Saint. Then Ryan. Never Elvis. Then Liam. Then The Notebook. Then my almost mutual infatuation partner, David. Then nothing for years. Then Dmitri. Then Ben. I can’t say for sure if any of it was love. I never pursued Fledge. Noj was terrified and far away. Chris wasn’t real. Andy scared me. SAINT was straight. Ryan died before things could get complicated. Liam was straight. The Notebook was too young. David was terrified of what our relationship would do to him. Nothing was too easy. Dmitri had a boyfriend. Ben? No, I stillhaven’t figured out what’s going on there. Celeste asks me about our “relationship question mark”, inflection is too subtle, she has to spell out the interrogative nature of our friendship/living arrangement/whatever it is. We discuss we and ours, but, if he has his way, he’ll be leaving the city too soon enough.
Fuck all if I know if this is love. If I understood love, I wouldn’t be a writer or a waiter or a useless fucken philosopher, I’d be a God. I don’t know what Ben is thinking. Why he invited me to live here. Why his voice makes my neck crack. There is no logical reason why the way he describes the way he loves someone who isn’t me, doesn’t put me off. I now find the word “Boo” sexy (though not in that Snoop Dog, Usher/Alicia Keys way). His ugly duckling scowl gives me swan bumps.
I could give a class on how people can fall into what they think is love. How wonderful it feels. But just because I could teach it, doesn’t mean I’ve learned enough of it tounderstand it. I don’t think the average high school math teacher really knows why the Quadratic Equation works. They don’t need to understand why, as long as theyunderstand how. I know that the first time I saw Ben, I thought “He’s kind of cute, but so annoying.” I didn’t want to get to know him. I didn’t mean to invite him out to dinner that first night. My mouth worked faster than my brain. Thank God. Thank mouth. I don’t know when I started thinking “Wow, he is fucked up in the most wonderful ways. I think I could love him.” I’m not sure why the thought of him leaving makes my lips twitch. I wonder what this laugh is between us that makes my heart seize.
I love him. No, not in that sappy I’m so in love with him way, and no, not in that lustful he is so hot, I want to fuck him way, and not even in the friendly way that I love Celeste, and Zuzu, and Wiz, and D. This is a weird love, even for me. It’s mostly that I enjoy spending time with him. He’s funny, he’s smart, he’s a good listener with a good singing voice, he’s talented at what he does, but he is flawed in ways that are frankly none of anyone’s business unless he decides to tell them. So it’s a friend love. But God I want to kiss, protect, defend, and hold him. And it’s not because he has magnificent hair (though he does), and it’s not because he has an amazing ass (he doesn’t), and it’s not because his body is stunning (and I wish he could appreciate that it is), or even because...I don’t know why it is, it just is.
There’s a not in my stomach that I can’t undo. I can’t drink it away or even drink it nearer.