My head hurts when I try to think of what is or isn’t true about AC, about me and AC, about what I really think is possible with me and AC. I’ve been in Jamaica for a week. I’ve spoken to him a dozen times, seen him once.
He’s fine, of course. Not ideally fine — his little restaurant/bar doesn’t seem to be open, half of his property is overgrown, he’s down to only one dog — but he’s fine all the same. His guest house has a spiffy new website, which it’s certain that he in his utter computer un-savvy-ness did not create. He’s looking strong and healthy … he’s fine.
And — as I should have assumed would be the case — the moment he heard my voice, he was right back where we left off almost 18 months ago. Never mind the complete lack of communication in all this time. Never mind my belief that he has found a next friend. Never mind that whoever made his new website wrote the copy in a way that makes clear she and he are a “we.” Never mind his insistence that he is a man alone, no woman, no lover, just his pining for me. Never mind everything that says the “we” that is he and I is really only two people who know one another and nothing more.
So where do I come down on any of this? It’s as clear as ever that, if there is to be any change in his perception of our relationship, if there is to be a time when the door of possibility is firmly closed between us, the change will have to come from me. I could stay away from Jamaica for five years, for ten, and he would be ready to embrace me when I chose to return. Neither my head nor my heart knows what to do with that.
“I still love you, you know,” he said yesterday when I walked over to see him.
“You don’t really. You just like me when I’m here. It’s not the same thing.”
“No. I love you f’true.”
F’true. I won’t go so far as to call him a liar, but I will say that when he says “love,” it means something to him that isn’t the same as what it means to me.
Am I in love with AC? No. Do I love him? In some fashion or form, it seems that I do. What that means, how it affects anything I do, how it bears on decisions I make … I’m not sure. How many times have I told myself I’m through with him only to walk right back? I’m not in love, but I’m clearly still willing to be tied, still feeling the connection. I like to think of us as friends, but I know that’s not real, know there’s no friendship with AC, that for him we’re together or we’re not, no illusion of platonic affection. So where does that leave me?
Tonight our adorable young caretaker will come and surprise us with a bonfire on the beach. He will come up to the house and play dominoes with us until we can no longer stand his psychic domino skill. He’ll let us tease him about how many girlfriends he must have and shyly smile and not answer any of our questions.
And all evening I will wonder if AC will come by, wonder if I’ll be happy to see him, if I’ll let him stay the night or send him back to his rose-colored house by the sea with a final and f’true goodbye.
I’ve been meeting so many men these last months. Man after man after man. And part of what’s been wrong with each of them has been just how much they haven’t been AC, just how much the sight of them or the sound of their voices hasn’t moved me. If I met AC for the first time today, I would respond to him as instantly, as powerfully as I did six years ago. A response so powerful I’m still feeling the residual force of it all these years later.
Neither my head nor my heart knows what to do with that. F’true.