i used to love him. he used to be my best friend. i loved him more than i knew i could love any man outside of my father.
i dropped the world to meet him. to sit beside in the movie theater. we went to see Pitch Black four times. every tuesday. he met me at my job in the liberal arts department of columbia college chicago after classes. after he got out of work. he brought whole roasted chickens and video games. on sundays. we took the long escalator up to heaven on seven. we bickered a lot. but we never changed the plans.
he’s an artist. he cooks. he draws. i remember when his thing was crepes and mine was pasta sauces. we could have killed grandma but she sat there trying everything even if she was full. i sat still to be sketched. i was perfect. he kept drawing a crooked nose. eventually, i just had a crooked nose on paper. i wrote stories and he sketched me writing stories with my crooked nose.
i used to love him, dearly. we wrote letters. we could not understand each others writing. but we wrote. just to have some words. he used to be my best friend. when he was down, i’d motivate him. when i was down, he’d tell jokes. but we pulled us together. in front of a movie screen or video games. and wouldn’t leave until we could say, “alright, i’m good.”
i miss him. i have missed him so much. the tears won’t come. they stopped years ago. he’s under my skin. he’s in my eyes. his voice matches my tone. i used to love him.
he did that thing. that thing that got him ten years in prison. that thing that we don’t talk about. that thing that still scares the hell out of me. that thing that makes him someone else. not my best friend.
he tried to tell me. he came to my job on a tuesday. he didn’t have his usual roasted chicken. i’d smell him coming. he didn’t take his game out to hook up to the tv’s in the audio/visual room. he sat there, a world away. i was typing a final paper because i waited to the last minute to do it. he was quiet. he’s never quiet. i kept looking at him. waiting. he tried to tell me. he couldn’t. i couldn’t. we never knew.
sunday. i found out. my best friend had been arrested. he did that thing. he knew he was going. because he did that thing. he sent the message to me. i stopped breathing. that’s what he was trying to tell me. he needed help. or to be heard. or to be stopped. he needed something. and i gave him nothing.
it’s been more than 10 years since those days. and i miss him. him before he did that thing. he’s tried to convince me that he’s still the same. that he still loves me. that we can still be like before. we can’t. we won’t. we’re no longer those people.
with his letters full of lesbian hatred. i thought he loved me. how could he say such vile things about me? to me? when we were best friends? how could we be anything? i’ve committed no crime. how can loving another woman make me evil? i’ve haven’t hurt her. i didn’t take anything from her. i didn’t exploit or drug, violate or abuse. how can loving another woman make me evil? he called me the devil. from behind the walls of a place that he’s being forced to live in because he committed a crime. how do i get to be the devil when i’ve only loved? even if just for a night or mere minutes, i loved. i didn’t hurt one with my love for them. he did.
i used to love him. he used to be my best friend. maybe i still love him. or maybe i’m done because i’ve had to protect myself from him. upon his release. i was harassed via text message for over 24 hours. called many times when i didn’t give him my number. because of my “deviant”, ways. i’ve protected my space. my energy. all this time. i’ve had no choice. i can’t fall apart. he could obviously. but i can’t. i won’t.
he enters hugging these southern women that i love. and i want to cry. i’m not hurt. i sweat in anger. in heated anger. indignation. and i don’t want to be angry. if they love him. maybe that’s for the best. i’m not in a place where i want to be bothered with one that i used to love. that used to be my best friend. with one that claims he still loves me. with one that thinks who i am is evil. because i am able to love in a greater capacity. it’s best if i leave. with my angry energy. as he lays on his charm. because they don’t know. that they love me and he does not. that i love them and not him. because we’re blood. and you just take it. you get over it. you move on. you let it go. how do you let go when this person feels justified in their attack? and you’re not safe when they are ready to attack again. i can’t fall apart. i won’t. i’ll leave. i can leave. i’m strong enough to walk away from this. i’ve walked away before.
i used to love him. he used to be my best friend. not anymore. blood is not always thicker than water. and i’m okay with that.