Entry 69, The Weeks That Followed (NY)
July 15, 2012 § Leave a comment
I became a dichotomy of someone completely present through the kind of events that change you in some intangible way; flying over the Great Barrier Reef, driving highway speeds on sand through Fraser Island, and basking in the comfort known as Byron Bay. The other half of me was still caught up in the heft of my emotional indigestion. Leon & I spoke throughout my east coast tour of Oz. All the way through. I somehow danced around addressing all that his letters revealed. It’s funny, because when you dance with someone, you’re close ~ touching. Now that I think of it, it’s a rather unfitting way to describe our conversations. But if the middle of the room was the unveiled feelings he had sent to me, we circled round near the edges, glancing over at that center floor, talking about it, but never taking our feet there.
As my time in Byron Bay reached expiration, I was making my way to catch the Aussie Greyhound bus back to Sydney. I’d arrive late in the evening and put up in the airport until my flight to Fiji early the following morning. Through chat & email, Leon tried to entice me into taking a flight instead, saving myself nearly nine hours, not to mention the opportunity to go with him to a Lebanese restaurant he had gushed about. The Greyhound pass I was on had been purchased as a package deal. And I couldn’t justify the reasonable, but extra, expense. I shouldn’t have been surprised, but Leon asked if he could buy me the flight. More than once. No way. I couldn’t.
I was dropped off at the bus station & found my seat, row all to myself. Leon texted, “Last chance, come on, let’s get Lebanese food.”
Why was I saying no? Just to sit on the bus for nine back-breaking hours? This time, I surprised myself, grabbed my carry-on & jumped off the bus just before the door closed.
Leon had a lot to tell me. I guess this was no longer going to be a high school dance.
After salutations and ocean adventure story telling was through, we hopped into his car & headed for the Lebanese restaurant.
He didn’t waste much time.
This was the moment I now realized I was dreading. Despite any productive abilities, my emotional sorting was still very tangled. And I was terrified at what this would cost me. Was it going to cost me Leon? Even if I didn’t know how to meet his affections at this time, I DID know I wanted him in my life… forever. I had so much that I wanted to explain to him. So much of my history that would lend clarification, but baggage is always just that, and this was the firs time I had the foresight to choose whether or not to take the risk of sharing it, and I wanted to keep mine & Leon’s … relationship… just that. Ours. I wanted to give him anything but a single word reply. If the next sentence to leave his mouth would be, ‘do your feelings mirror my own?’, I didn’t want to say, “no”. The explanations behind my decline would almost transform my no into a complicated maybe. But I emphatically said to myself that that whole closet of words weren’t clear enough to let out yet. I wanted time. Time to explain it to myself so I could explain it to him. And that time did not match what was left before my flight.
I was so anxious. My sweaty palms gave me away, I tucked them between my legs and turned to look out the window as the moisture made its way to my eyes.
And then he asked it. It must have been minutes before I responded. I desperately tried to weigh feelings against responsibility, two things rarely found on like scale systems. I didn’t have time to convert, “I’m sorry, I don’t.”
That unavoidable funny silence that we never fail to try & avoid fell on the car. We got to the restaurant, I think the only ones in a room of 10 tables.
I kept looking up at Leon. Uh-oh. This time my glance was met with way more emotion than I was prepared for. His pained face released itself in tears. And it was like seeing a man break down for the first time.
I told him to get the car & bring it around front. I paid the bill, packed our barely touched dinner & did all I could to console him. But that’s nothing right? You can’t do anything. As much as I’m reputed with running long-winded, I may surprise you, as I did myself in that moment & knew to say nothing. I wrapped him in my arms & kept silent.
There wasn’t much left to say. I was not the only person weighed down mentally, and that night exhausted us both. I didn’t know where all my thoughts had gone. After seeing Leon like that, I felt empty. Maybe it was good I was headed for the pace of island life.