It’s James’ birthday and all I can think about is what I want to give him. The present? A full-time partner in crime, a girl who always makes him laugh, and one that provides everything he wants: great sex and an even better friendship.
It’s unfortunate that my gift isn’t on his wish list. He did make one request every night this weekend. It’s safe to assume that your first guess is accurate.
I told him no. It wasn’t easy, but neither am I.
Justice sparked what is now a full-blown mental battle obliterating my ability to think rationally. Excuse after excuse run through my mind because nothing makes sense anymore. Why can’t this guy make a commitment?
James hasn’t been seeing anyone since I revoked his license to drive me crazy.
One night several months ago I was beyond drunk and I called him after a text messaging session. While on the phone, I hammered him with tough questions about why he couldn’t commit to me. This interrogation stemmed from another night over the summer when I saw his best friend Lexi. Let’s rewind:
Bella graduated from high school the year before me. Her 10 year reunion was over the summer and, while she was out for the second night in a row with her classmates, she asked me to meet her at the bar. Most of her friends/classmates are married. She would never admit to this, in fear that she’d hurt their feelings, but I think she’d had enough wedding/diaper talk, so she called me in for back up.
James called me the previous night. He sounded fairly upset about something but never mentioned what that might be, so we talked until the cab arrived at his house. It was one of the few times I knew that he just wanted to talk and wasn’t trying to get me to come over for extracurricular activities. He needed an ear…and he chose mine.
Lexi, who must have noticed that I was present, made her way over to say hello.
Her hello turned into a therapy session. She immediately asked me about James. Knowing that I could trust her, I confessed my feelings and purged my heartbreak.
“Fina, I don’t understand him. I know he cares about you. I mean that. You’re the only girl he’s ever said can make him laugh. I know this might sound stupid, but that’s huge for him.”
Dumbfounded, I told her that I didn’t understand either. I also told her about the previous night’s phone call.
“Well, I didn’t need any more proof that he likes you, but that really provides it. I was in the cab with him. Our friends got into a huge fight that night. He was really upset about it and so was I. I called my boyfriend…didn’t want to talk to anyone else. And he called you. Funny that he can’t admit his feelings, but everyone sees them. We all think he’s an idiot because you guys are pretty perfect for each other. Regardless, if he can’t get out of his own way, you shouldn’t wait for him. It’s his loss. I hate to say that because he’s a great friend, but you deserve more than that.”
The conversation didn’t help me walk away from our agreement. In fact, it sent me on a rescue mission. One that involved the phone call I mentioned earlier in this post. I knew he cared about me, so did his friends…he wasn’t hooking up with anyone else, and I was the only girl he labeled as ‘funny’.The cards weren’t adding up. All signs pointed to him having some feelings for me…so why was he acting as if he didn’t care?
Several weeks after running into Lexi at the reunion, I went out with Scarlet and several coworkers. James and I exchanged provocative text messages all night; James was still trying even though I’d been telling him no for several months.
I was frustrated and I was drunk. In my mind, it was the perfect time to confront him.
The interrogation quickly became sloppy. I was not able to put my thoughts together coherently. Between the booze and the emotion, I didn’t make any sense. I also didn’t realize he was surrounded by friends while I verbally assaulted him.
Me: “James, I don’t understand you. You’re really stupid. You know? It just doesn’t make sense…”
James: “What doesn’t make sense, Fina?”
Me: “This. Us. You. Me. Why after chasing me for two years are you so disinterested in me? I’m not asking you for much…just, um…all I want is a little bit of a commitment. It’s a win-win. We’d both be happy.”
James: “I guess I’m not willing to give up all of my time for someone else right now. Look at my family history, Fina…the idea of a relationship has been somewhat of a joke. Everything has been fucked up for everyone else…I’m not ready to do that to my life when I’m okay being where I am right now.”
Me: “But you’re not hearing me. I don’t want to change your daily life. I just can’t keep doing this with you if there isn’t any security in it for me. If we were something, anything…I’d be fine. I can’t be a fuck buddy forever. I can’t be okay with you being with other people.”
James: “Fina, what the fuck do you think I’m doing? I haven’t been with anyone since you and I started this thing. What else do you need from me? I’m not with anyone else. I just can’t be your boyfriend. Listen, you’re wasted and this isn’t a good time. I have friends here. I’m really sorry, Fina. I can’t talk right now.”
Me: “Fuck you, James.”
James: “Fina, seriously. I’m not with anyone else, I haven’t been, and I’m not interested in being with anyone else. Can’t that just be enough?”
No. It can’t be enough. It isn’t enough.
The painful, frustrating, and simple truth is that without a commitment he can easily bail if things get frustrating and, as much as I don’t want to admit it, I do deserve more than that.
I’ve told him no ever since this night. There have been nights when I’ve almost caved. I’ve planned to meet up with him, shaved my legs, and worn my ‘sex’ undergarments. I’ve done everything short of driving to his place and consummating the dysfunctional union.
I’ve been strong enough to refuse, but I think about it all the time.
Still, to this day, he hasn’t been with anyone else. He still calls. We still flirt.
He knows I’m not going to show up at his door; he’s been denied enough to quit trying yet he keeps requesting my company. And while I don’t know what that means, I know there is probably always going to be something between the two of us…some sort of chemistry that’s inexplicably beautiful.
So tonight, on his birthday, I sit at home thinking about the fact that he probably didn’t do much today. Maybe he went to his dad’s house and had dinner…maybe he watched football with his roommates…but did he receive any birthday present that broke the small-but-telling, quirky and quizzical smile that makes me giddy? I hope so.
While I harbor some resentment toward his decision to stay single and I question his rationale every day, the fact of the matter is that he’s been completely honest with me since I first asked about our status. I can’t be mad at him because his decision is different than the one I would make.
I can’t decide whether I miss our passionate nights more than I miss our friendship…but I can tell you that I really miss something. And it was special. Special enough to place in a box, gift wrap, and tie a bow around.
To James (who has no clue I’m writing this):
I hope you had a great birthday. You deserve it. I hope you found it today and, eventually, I hope you find it forever…whatever that means for you. The following song reminds me of us. Listen to it. It’s not your kind of music, but it’s everything I’ve ever wanted to say.
Missing your face,