In The Gray (Essay)

Words by Isidora Torres.

“You’re always in a nebulous state,” he said. I couldn’t disagree with him, however, I’d never been this way until this point in my life. I was always on the other side of the table–I was the one who yearned. This time, he was the unicorn–He yearned.

I continued to stare at the ceiling in darkness as I felt the warmth of the light of my phone, or maybe it was my embarrassment.

We had met at a friend’s rooftop months earlier, both filled with optimism at new career developments. I had started working at an agency that felt new and promising, practically a dream. He had finally signed his first artist, one that was heavily sought after. We drank. We talked shit. We promised to stay in touch over a box of Kennedy Fried Chicken.

“Nebulous state.” I agreed and deflected. We continued our conversation to avoid more truth, but I couldn’t help but think about those two words.

I hated that he nailed it. I hated that he could smell and taste the gray that was my current state of life. I mostly hated that he could define my life in a way that I hadn’t been able to.

“Nebulous.” Even the definition bothers me. “In the form of a cloud or haze; hazy.”

But, that’s what it was. My life had become a shit show. My so-called dream job became a fucking nightmare. I kept holding on to the false hope that maybe if I stayed longer than things would get better. But they never did–One hundred hour weeks, trying to keep a team afloat, and pretending I had my shit together so my boss wouldn’t think I was weak. I was trying to find a way out, but for some reason, I was afraid to leave.

He was also running through the mill of his own problems, but he never hesitated to pick up a call from me, even when I called crying from a stairwell. He was comforting, but more than that, he got me. In between the crying, we would talk about our hopes, dreams, and argue for hours over the fact I declared Monica’s After the Storm an underrated R&B album. (For the record, still do). He was everything I could ask for in a partner, but every time he would take the initiative to take us to the next level, I didn’t want to. I lied. I freaked out. I filled the space with words like “not ready” and “couldn’t figure out why.” And, “why” was as bad as “I don’t know.”

I wanted to feel so much for him and us, but every time I came to some sense of clarity, I would retreat back into my dark space. I was swimming in an ocean of endless bullshit. It killed me that a job was robbing me of my energy, but here I was–Miserable because of it. It wasn’t him. It was me. It was all me.

Whatever was happening between us had to end. Another call, another realization. I word vomited and asked, “What if this never happens? This thing that’s supposed to be us?” What I should’ve followed up with was “because of me.” But, I didn’t.

Tears started to roll down my face. He knew. I knew. For the first time in awhile, it was no longer gray.

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