Glass Hearts (Essay)
Words by Robby Seabrook III.
It started end of 2012, through sparse tweeting then texting. I thought she was pretty and perfectly brown–so intelligent and so out of my league. In August 2014, she visited my city, New York City, with her friend in tow. I showed them around, then left and met up with her later that night. We stood outside of a club on a hushed street. I remember the bright orange street lights; the solitude I felt as we spoke.
“Where are you going?” she whispered. Either go home or go with her…one look and my choice was made. I was excited to know that the woman I yearned for would soon be in my arms.
I walked into her room, and things quickly unfolded. It was heavy, and passionate, and funny, and affectionate. We let desire and curiosity take the lead. My anxiety eased; this was where I was supposed to be. There were moments where we paused, and admired each other in the dark.
Weeks after she flew back home, she texted me for 20 minutes straight with a sense of urgency. She liked me before we had sex, but our time together gave her feelings wings. She was curious if I felt the same, and if I wanted to move forward. I wasn’t interested in a long distance situation; I see it as a slow death. I also needed to be around her more before being more. We had been talking for two months. There’s the side of one person that you see from a distance, and the one you see when physically present. I hardly knew the former well enough. She accepted my answer, or so I thought, and I fought to keep the peace. We spoke until I heard the disappointment leave her voice. A strained silence lingered in our conversations since.
I grew distant with the distance, and found myself in a relationship with someone closer. Our conversations reverted back to simply living on a social media platform. About a year later, my relationship ended badly. I landed in a dark place, emotionally. Talking to her had always put me at ease, so I reached out. Her voice felt like relief after a hot shower. Over a couple of months, our conversations became consistent and mildly intense. I then found out she was moving to New York City, like she always wanted to.
Before she arrived, we had a very honest conversation, at least honest on my part. I told her that I didn’t want to be serious with anyone at that moment; I had only been single for a few months. I wanted to be patient with my next relationship. Whether nothing happened between us, I promised to help her adjust to the city, and assist however she needed; I meant every word. My respect ran deeper than anything sexual. Still, it was obvious that our chemistry–based off our last and only night together–was palpable. I asked if she was interested, as I was, to be intimate when, or if, we spent time together when in the same city. She said “yes.”
We met up within her first week here, in late Sept. 2015, and had sex her first week here. Within two months, we went on dates and enjoyed our time together. Sometimes we were simply intimate, at other times we delved into intimate conversations. It felt good to be with someone who cared about me, after feeling so worthless. Trusting her came easy, as I was getting to really know her.
After those two months, I felt that we were in too deep, too quickly. She’d drunkenly call me some nights, and vocalized her longing to be taken seriously and to make what we had “more” official. When sober, she wouldn’t be honest with how she truly felt about us. Drunken confessions and sober dishonesty put pressure on me to arrive to the point where she was waiting for me. She was ready. I wasn’t.
I later told her we needed to establish some distance. I let this spin out of control. When I’d ask if she was okay with how we were, she’d say yes, but she wasn’t. “Are you dumping me?” she asked. I made it clear that I wasn’t. We were just moving too fast, and I enabled it.
She didn’t talk to me for 12 days after our conversation–I counted. She texted me on a random Sunday, about something random. I demanded we speak face to face. We spoke that night for hours, about where we stood, and her feelings and concerns. She did like me more than she expected and liked what we were, but was wondering when it would be exclusive. I simply didn’t know. I spent the entire summer of my post-breakup depression indoors, let alone dating. She knew I was recovering and wanted to be single before entering exclusivity, with anyone. Still, she was within her right to want more.
Things were never the same after. One day in late December 2015, she told me she needed to speak with me. She asked me a warm up question, then asked what she really wanted to ask, “Are you intimate with other women?” I said yes, because I was having sex with other women. We weren’t exclusive, and at the time rarely spent time together, so I believed it was within my right. Her voice changed to a throaty yelp. She felt I had lied by omission, because I said I was dating but I didn’t say I was having sex. She dumped me on Christmas Eve, citing that she didn’t feel safe being physical with me if I was with other women. When she told me she couldn’t date me anymore, I accepted it. Her reasoning was valid and I respected her wishes. I realized she had always chosen me, but this time she chose herself. Although selfish of me, I was hurt. She tried to go back on her choice days later, but I refused to be someone who can be erased then bought back at a whim. She also felt that since I didn’t fight her on her decision that meant I didn’t care. This couldn’t be further from the truth. I wasn’t ready to be exclusively with her, nor was I sure, so why fight and in turn hurt her more?
I saw a picture of her recently. Seeing her face and hearing her voice in my head fucked me up. My hands started shaking; I felt like my ribs were being squeezed together in a vice grip, until they cracked into splinters. The tears I had held back for months fell easily. I liked her and trusted her, but I didn’t like being pushed after what I thought was a short amount of time–or being lied to the many times I asked how she felt. Perhaps we worked out in another reality, and perhaps I’ll come across it one day. (Thank you for caring when no one else did. I’ll never forget you.)