“Be careful, because she’s still going to like you.” That’s what your mom said about me.
We sat in the middle of some park in Midtown East. It was late, and we had just spent an entire weekend at Coney Island, lost in sunshine and alcohol.
I kept replaying those words in my head: “Be careful, because she’s still going to like you.” You continued to look at my face, waiting for my reaction. I finally looked at you and replied, “I’m bound to.”
Earlier that day, on our subway ride back into the city, we drunkenly laughed about how it all felt like Judd Apatow’s Love, a series about two people crossing paths at a low point in their lives. Life imitating art? We continued to chuckle as the sun started to set and the subway train grew quiet, but we knew the reference touched on something dark that was deep within us.
You were broken by all facets in your life but you knew there was no one in the world that could fix you other than yourself. That’s what attracted me to you: your self-awareness to your own vulnerabilities, to your own flaws. You weren’t afraid to be dark with me, or as you unapologetically phrased it, your most “authentic self.” I didn’t want to fix you. For once, I didn’t want to be the person I thought I was—the fixer, the bigger person. I neither had the willpower, nor needed to fix you. To put it frankly, I liked you. I liked how open I was to you because you didn’t judge me for being in the dark myself. What was supposed to be one random date became an emotional suppository of honesty and reflection.
This wasn’t our first time. Not our first time fighting, nor was it the first time I was running back to something I shouldn’t have been.
What your mom was referring to was the fact that you had fucked up. You had messed around with your disgusting ex and I had caught you. We stood in front of my favorite ramen restaurant and her name appeared in your text notifications. I asked why she was texting you. Your head bowed down because you knew it was the end of our blissful adventure. With each shake of your head, I grew angrier and angrier. In defeat, you showed me the phone and I saw the stream of texts of indiscretion and mostly of hurt. I finally saw the one that made my stomach drop, “You coming over?” I shouted, “You fucked her?” You responded, but we both knew the answer long before I even asked. I told you to look at me and I slapped you with all of my might.
You told your mom what transpired between us and she replied with those words, as if she knew our inevitable steps of our situation. But she was right. Even as I stood in front of you with all my supposed independent glory, I knew I was going to like you again. Even when I knew I should be moving on.
In that moment, you were what I needed. I think a small part of you didn’t believe it either. You didn’t believe that I would even come back, much less feel like I was bound to. You didn’t believe that by the end of the night, you’d be on your way back to my apartment to spend the night and wake up with me in your arms.
As we laid next to each other and I wandered into my thoughts of justification, I came to one truth: you were my escape. You were my rebound–not of a past love, but of my life. You were my reason to not be a bigger person and to be messy. I borrowed from you your sense of freedom, a feeling that I hadn’t known until now. For once, I allowed myself to just fuck up and fuck up peacefully no matter what anyone had said.
As you continued to sleep through the night, I figured in some twisted way I was also your rebound and that maybe this was all how it was supposed to work out. Maybe.