I felt it coming. I’ve been preparing for it, slowly cutting down the number of calls, time spent together, like a man reducing the amount of cigarettes smoked each day right before quitting. I even made plans for my birthday next week. Somehow I knew.
There were no flashing signs, nothing specific, just an unshakable feeling, experience in the form of an inner voice telling me to be careful.
When I got back after a weeklong trip, a call, he wanted to see me. Has he missed me? Have I just been paranoid? Am I becoming that jaded?
We sat on my bed, chatting about nothing. Two people, boyfriends catching up. Then out of nowhere, “We need to talk.”
“Oh,” I say.
I look at him, his eyes. Nope, I wasn’t jaded. Not one bit.
“Is it over?” I ask.
A pause, then a word.
I thought I’d be upset. I thought I’d feel sad. But all I say is, “Okay.”
That was it. No drama, no tears, no cracking of voice. The boy can be taught after all.
He looked at me, surprise in his face.
“Do you want to talk about it?”
Two years ago I would have asked, I would have needed an explanation. But now all I tell him is, “Not really.”
This is not how he’d envisioned this conversation. He had a speech prepared.
“Do you want me to leave?”
There was a time when I'd have said yes, closed the door on his face. Instead, I walk him downstairs, four flights to my building door.
He tries to say goodbye, be civil, not an easy thing to do. An awkward silence, an uncomfortable look, more silence.
“I’ll wait for you to call me,” he says.
“Ethan, I like you. I’d still like to be in touch, but I’ll leave that up to you.”
Years ago I would have told him that probably wasn’t going to happen.
“That’s probably not going to happen,” I tell him still.
Maybe I’m not as evolved as I like think I am, or maybe I’m just evolved enough to know that’s not a good idea. A feeling, experience in the form of an inner voice telling me to be careful.