One Last Story

An Unexpected Ending

We'd both just been so stressed and busy, and that week was just bad. Barely spoke or saw each other. Thursday night I stop by to pick up something I left, I end up telling him I've been feeling like I'm the glue of our relationship, and that if I disappeared, he wouldn't come looking for me. And I told him I was tired and I was done with it. And that I couldn't do it anymore. And I left. Just like that. Didn't shed a tear. But then I sat in my car outside his apartment and I cried. And I called my friend who had gone through a similar thing last year. Like not knowing where the relationship is going, and you both truly want it to be like the relationship, but have other things telling you it isn't possible. And she persuaded me to go back inside and talk to him. I truly thought, "Oh... this could work."

And I told him that I wanted to be there for him forever and that I would give him whatever space he needed but that I wasn't going anywhere. And that I just get frustrated when I can't get him to commit to the tiniest things. And he got really upset, and starts saying he's just pulled in so many directions and he just needs to focus on getting into grad school and his jobs. But, that he wasn't going anywhere and we'd still be together, he just needed to get shit done right now. And we say, "Great let's do this. Let's talk more Friday."

We plan a date Friday, go out. And I start the conversation about what I needed from him to make it work. And he starts the conversation that he's just bad at those things and doesn't know how to do them. And I tell him that that's the attitude that hurts me the most. That he's not willing to just try. So, I ask him to tell me the things that I do that bother him, because he never does. And he says, "Okay. But we're not having this conversation here."

We finish dinner. Walk home, on the way picking up wine and beer. Get back. Start the conversation. And he says, he knows he doesn't act like it, but religion is the most important thing in his life. And yes, he smokes and drinks and has sex, but there are some things he can't compromise. Because he's just started to get close to his family and he can't risk it all to lose that. Because family is the second most important thing to him, and religion is the most important thing to them. And he has to lie to them in every FaceTime call and every text because he has to hide this part of his life, me, that makes him so happy, but he can't tell them. Because they're more important. And he feels so burdened because I make him happy, but that takes him away from his religion and his family. And he doesn't want to lose me, and doesn't want to make me sad, and because it also makes him so happy, so he hasn't let me go, but every day he says he thinks about how being with me makes him a liar.

Hearing that broke my heart, because that meant that just by existing I make him feel like he's a bad person. Because there's nothing I can do to change that. So, I honestly just asked him to let me go, because I couldn't do that to him. And he gets upset. And starts saying no one’s ever cared as much about him as me. And he's never been so close to somebody. And he hates that he's hurting me. And I say that staying with me for two and a half years so that he doesn’t hurt me is not a good reason to stay with me. And he says, "No, it's more than that."

So, I'm upset now. And I'm saying that I wish I didn't force him to talk about his feelings, and because of me this is over now. And I really hate myself right now because all I'm thinking about is how can I get him to stay with me, because that's so selfish—because he just told me that my existence makes him feel like a bad person. And I know I should set him free because of that, but I don't want to. And he said he wasn't ready to let go of me. So, he asks me to stay. I stay the night.

In the morning, we wake up. He says I'm his best friend and he wants to stay best friends and hang out, and have me come hang out with his friends. Making all these future plans with me. And ends it with, "But I’m going to miss you," like bye, the intimate part of our relationship is about to end, but yay, we're still BFFs. 

And then we're both sad. And then he says our skin colors aren't that different in hue. And we compare our biceps. And I say, maybe you can try to pass me as brown. And he laughs. And says maybe. And so, then I ask him, out of curiosity, "So do they have to be brown and Muslim or just Muslim?"

And he says just Muslim. And I'm genuinely surprised. And I say that I would convert for him. Seriously. And he says it's not just that, it's that later in his life when he's older he wants to be more religious and practice more, and he knows I'm not huge on practicing my own religion. And so I say, well, I'm serious and I would do it, and I've been so lost lately that maybe I could find something in that. And he doesn't really say much. And he says I love you.

I get upset and I say if me offering to change my life to legitimize our being together doesn't convince you that we should be together, then I'm not the girl for you. And he smiles and nods, misty-eyed. He gets out of bed and I say, "Don't you want to say goodbye? It's the last time it will be like this." And he says he knows, and gets sad, and gets back in bed. 

And then he eventually gets up again and gets dressed. And then he sits next to me on the bed and says he's going to get his hair cut, but when he gets back we're going to figure it out. Because if it's meant to be it's going to happen. And I asked him if he believed that, and he said yes. And I said I was serious about converting again. And he says he knows. And we're going to figure it out. And then he kisses me and leaves.

I cry a little once he's left. But then I get up. Clean up the place. Shower. Do my makeup. And he calls me and says they didn't have any haircut appointments until 11 AM, so he's going to stop and get us breakfast and then go to the 11 AM, so text him what I want to eat. I text him what I want.

He comes back. Says thank you for cleaning up the place. And then says, "Hey, want to smoke before we eat?" I say yes. I see he ordered the same thing I asked for, for himself. Picked up my favorite coffee, and this carrot cake muffin we both love and always share. And the whole time he's telling me this deeply personally story about his childhood. And then says he's babysitting our friend's dog later and if he takes him on a walk he'll come get me. And in my mind, I'm like, "what is happening?"

And then we take our coffees and smoke on the front patio. We're smoking. Talking. We come back inside. There's 30 minutes until his haircut. He says he's going to wait to leave until 10:45. I say okay. Then he says that he likes going to the barber because they're supposed to be like a "shrink." And that Emily, his hairdresser, basically knows me. And then he asks me if I see someone. And I think he's asking about hairdressers. And I tell him I've only had my hair cut in our city once. 

He says, "No, I meant, do you see a therapist here? I may want to see one." And I'm like, is he's trying to say he thinks I'm crazy, and since we're breaking up I probably need to seek help. And I ask that. 

He laughs, "No, I just think it is good to talk to people about things and I may want to do that. So, I was wondering if you knew anyone." And I said I wasn't seeing anyone here yet, so I don't know.

He says, "Well, I see my hairdresser every two weeks, so she basically knows all about you and gives me advice." 

And so, I ask, "Is this why you're going to see Emily today?" 

And he laughs. And then he smiles and reaches out his hand to mine and says, "You know, you're just so awesome." 

And so I say, "Is this like a goodbye or something?" 

And he says no, it's not like that, it's just what he's feeling. And I start crying, and he says he didn't want me to get sad. But I was crying because I was happy and so I told him that. And he hugged me and said there's no one like me. And then I sat on the couch.

And I asked, "So are we waiting for me to leave?" 

And he says, "No I'm just waiting until 10:45 to leave. And it takes 15 minutes to get there." And he sits on the couch with me. And he says thank you for a gift I had given him the night before, and that no one’s ever done something that thoughtful for him. And then he goes and gets his tennis shoes. I notice his accent has gotten thick, which happens the more comfortable he is. 

And he comes back, because he can't find his shoes, so I tell him where they are, and then he comes back with them and his socks. No-show socks. And he goes into this speech about how people always make fun of him for wearing no-show socks and that they say only girls wear them. And he asks me if they're just for girls and I say no. 

And in my head, I'm laughing, because the fact that he wears no-show socks is one of my favorite things about him. And then he laughs to himself and says it's like having a guy and a girl and two glasses of water and telling them that one of the glasses is only for guys. "Like it's water, just because you're a girl doesn't mean you shouldn't be able to have that water."

And in my head, I'm thinking of this perfect analogy. That just because you're not a Muslim doesn't mean you shouldn't be able to have the person that you are in love with. And I contemplate saying it aloud, but I don't. And then he gets up to leave and says we'll watch another episode of True Detective when he's back.

And now I'm sitting on his couch.

And I'm wondering if everything is like weirdly amazing right now for real, or because we both aren't ready to say goodbye. Are we pretending, or are things really great this morning?

Has he accepted my offer? Is he thinking that me converting could work?

I have no idea.

So, I'm just sitting here waiting for him to get back.

He comes back. We watch two episodes of True Detective. He says he's going to go get a car wash. And I say, so, should I leave? And he says yes. And I say, "So what I said earlier doesn't make a difference?"

And he said some things are never going to change

And we exchanged house keys and I left.

Later he tells me we’re going to take a break, and not sleep with other people until we figure it out… and I’m hopeful. I tell him I’m never going anywhere, and will be there until he’s ready.

But I find out I was wrong.

Last October, his mom found my sweat pants. He tried to say they were his. Then she went out of town. And I came over. And in the room she had been staying in for 10 days, in the mail organizer I gave him, two sheets of paper back was a note from me signed “I love you,” with my name. From what I know about her, she’s smart, and like any mom probably curious. And from what I know about his culture, if she was mad, she would have confronted him. But instead, she quietly asked his roommates if there was someone in his life. And to me, that’s a mother that just wants to be a part of her son’s life. Not one that would leave him for being in love.

So, I am confused. Because while his fears are valid, I don’t believe it is what he is really afraid of.

So, we’ll both never have the love we could have, or the love we deserve from each other. And I know I will never love anyone that much again. So, no matter if I end up “okay” and content, like he’s “okay” being… I already know that whatever relationship I’ll be in will not measure up.

And all I feel is sick. Because every moment I need him, and want him. And he’ll always be just out of my reach. Even though I would always make myself within reach for him.

I read that in the Quran there is an advisement to be with the one you are compatible with and whom you can live in harmony with. And that in Islam, men can marry “people of the book,” (which includes Christians). So, considering the logic and the facts and the feelings involved, I still feel it’s me. 

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