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9:45 p.m. - March 23, 2003
How does that song by Tracy Chapman go?

Forgive me is all that you can say? Words don't come easily, like forgive me, forgive me. But you can say baby, baby can I hold you tonight?

If he knew the song, said words remotely similar, I would have relented, I would have forgiven him, I would have said Don't do it again but he didn't, and I didn't. We communicated this afternoon, not the jock-scratching gloss of men, but the essence of two people who love each other very much and who realize that it just isnít in the cards or the stars or in us. How unfulfilling it is to finally open up, swallow a draught and be refreshed at the terminus; Iíve done this before and itís likely you have as well, put all the cards on the table when thereís nothing left to lose.

We sat in the dirt under the pergola and I made small piles of grass I tore out of the ground. He smoked. Our paths have been entwined for two and some years and I didnít know he smoked; his smile was sheepish, he quit because I had mentioned I hated the habit but in times of stress and when Iím away . . . I laughed and it seems thereís a metaphor lurking beneath the surface ready to breach. I cried some but mostly not, he cried more and that familiar recognition pulled: Here is an alpha male, strong inside and out, weak when strength is needed and there beside him is the beta, weak inside and out, strong when it is needed.

He feels I need a stubborn, steadfast love that envelops and squeezes until I accept it. I wouldnít have thought he could talk like that, so articulate and sincere, and I felt guilty that I harbored anger towards him for being monolithic when all along he wanted to be my rock Ė again, more direct words. Impressed, but it was too late and I feel like a schmuck, I do, and Iím disappointed that we couldnít communicate like this before, disappointed the say a soufflť falls Ė quick, sudden, and permanent. He doesnít think Iím innocent or naÔve but more like needing shelter and he felt good thinking he was my refuge, he liked the way Iíd walk slowly and watch everything around me. We talked about last summer when we went to Assateague, the island with the wild horses, and caught in a downpour I was thrilled, I smiled and watched the birds and trees sway and he thought I was vulnerable, I made him feel strong because I needed him. I didnít know what to say in response, and I know that his masculinity was both alluring and off-putting at times. He said he worried that Iíd easily be swallowed up and morph into a femme caricature and I was offended, I am offended, and he sought to shield me from this, from having gay friends, from being too emotional. Vulnerable. Fragile. Is it condescension when thereís a good intention underneath? I donít know.

And I told him that I love him, I do, not in the transitory sense but the indelible and if thereís one thing I want him to know, itís that I love him and Iíve said that about two people in my life, one of whom I gave up because I loved him more. And itís true, I have no regrets.

But all of this isnít solid enough to construct something that lasts. I put too much of myself into him and it fed that paternalism with origins in his own confusion and unhappiness of being gay. We laughed when he said it was unfair that I can get it up for women and he canít, when Iím unsure I want to be with women and he does. Itís funny, I hadnít thought he had so many uncertainties about it but I knew all along he did; we never acknowledged them, me because I didnít want to see them, he because he didnít want to admit them. I wanted him to be impervious, gay in the bedroom and normal outside, the bedrock against which I could rail until I straightened myself out.

He wanted to go to the gay bar to show me and everybody there how much he wants to be with me, despite my appearance. I asked him to tell me the truth, no manipulation allowed and he said it was so. How maybe if we shared something like that I could move past my insecurities, keep progressing and I told him I could pick up on the substance, the paternalism and striving to please him for him and not for me. He didnít realize it came across like that. It did, all the time. He said heís felt intimidated by my intelligence and I laughed that hollow I-donít-believe-you and told me he knew what I was doing those times I bit my tongue and allowed him to continue his erroneous statements or off-the-wall theories about things he doesnít really understand. It is strange to me that this man, brilliant as he is, would be intimidated by me. I wish I had known, you know?

This entry is meandering, just like our conversation.

In sum.

I donít believe he didnít have sex with someone last night but it doesnít matter, because I stopped trusting him a long time ago, probably last spring when he began hitting me and I didnít understand what was going on. I wonder how long it will be before I trust people again; I think I took a great many strides forward with Spec and many steps backward. He cried and I cried and I wanted to be magnanimous and forgiving were he to ask because I cannot fathom him not being there for me, I canít imagine me opening up the way I did with him, canít see somebody else making love a palpable experience for me, someone who will love me as much. Maybe itís better this way, better for me to be alone because it seems I hurt a lot of people when I try not to get hurt myself.

Heís gone to stay the night at a friendís house and leaves in the morning.

I feel utterly alone in the quiet spaces and I would call him if I knew where he was staying. He wonít contact me again, I know. I am not filled with relief, I am filled with nothing.


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