Almost Always Counts

Sometimes the internet is the devil. Because of it, have I…

a. bought $50 worth of hair products
b. entertained the comedic timing of porn starring Asian girls
c. given I.tunes half my paycheck
d. plotted spending the next paycheck at I.kea
e. been found via face.book by that Harlem cutie who couldn’t hold a convo worth a damn but knew how to…

So anyway…

If you guessed all of the above, you are correct.

But sometimes the internet is not the devil. Like when it allows me to get in contact with someone who would otherwise be too far away for me to chat with.

Say if they were in, I dunno…

Iraq.

Like Almost Fiance.

Again.

Geesh.

I would like to pretend that it isn’t as hard on me now as it was back then as we are no longer We. But the truth is, I have known this man for seven years. I know his mama and his sister and his grandmother. I’ve seen him naked and held his hand and cooked for him and travelled with him and slept in his (hairy) arms and watched football with him and talked to him for countless hours on end. Even if we rarely talk, it makes me feel some kinda way to know that I can pick up the phone and call him whenever, which is why it makes me feel some kinda way that right now I can’t. And it makes it decidedly harder to commit to an unflinching optimism for President Obama and his policies on the “wars on terror” when you are still getting messages that someone you know and love is doing a six month tour in Iraq. (Seriously though, Air Force, why can’t you ever send his ass to like… Greece? We ain’t fighting nobody there or something?)

The thing is this; we are no longer We. But he’s still my favorite ex-boyfriend. And I still know his mama. And he is the only ex to speak of that I can talk to like the friends we once were before he seduced me. (My story and I’m sticking to it.)

And I want him home.

At work, I am surrounded by some ex-military men, some war veterans, some Republicans who would kindly risk a million more soldiers for the chance to find Bin Ladin, some Democrats who don’t understand that there is no such thing as world peace, thereby necessitating the need for a strong military. They debate all the time about the two wars we are fighting, what they would do if they were in power, what they believe, what the military needs to do… blah blah blah.

But I can never quite bring myself to join in. Not because I don’t care. Not because I am not just as passionate.

But because this is not a general discussion for me. This is not an intangible scenario of what if. This is not a meeting of ideals and ego.

This is a friend. This is family.
He’s 24 fucking years old. He’ll be a daddy in December. He’s his mother’s only son. And the only man alive who has ever bothered to remember my favorite flower.

So forgive me if I can’t quite grasp your talking points.

Talking to him made me feel better. No it’s not easier now that we are not We. It’s still a question mark, looming but unspoken, of whether or not he will get home safely, no matter how good I know he is at his job. It’s six months where I won’t be able to stand watching or reading the news. 180 or so days where if I hear from someone we both know that I haven’t heard from in a long time, or see a number I don’t recognize pop up my cell phone display, I will get nervous.

Because that is who I am to the We that we are now.

Sure, sometimes Almost Fiance can be a dick. And yes, he was always a bit too enamored with how attractive my sister is. And true, our breakup hurt and he’s a perfectionist, and there are no more romantic feeling between us anymore and we bicker and he’s a Redskins fan for whatever inexplicable reason, but I almost married him.

I almost married him.

And I know his mama. And his smile. I love his friends. And I have memorized the way he drives. I believed him when he called me beautiful. I love his little sister like my own. I’ve talked to him for hours without realizing it.

We are We, even if no longer in the romantic sense.

And I want him home.

*sigh*

I dug this up out of the archives. I can’t believe I never posted it.

New Years Eve 2007

I’m nervous.

Which is hilarious in and of itself.
I’m not sure why. I have no reason to be. None whatsoever. This is not unlike a million times we’ve done this.
Except it kinda is.

I fuck up the directions. Even with the help of the new navigation system The Notorious B.O.B. got me for Christmas after taking extreme pity on my lack of ability to decipher directions in the vast wasteland that is Texas. I can’t even listen to random white woman’s computerized voice telling me where to go? I don’t know my right from left now? I haven’t

If I really sit and think about it, I can recognize that I’m only nervous because I am always nervous before the first time I see him after a long absence. Because our friendship is dear to me, because I always worry that time will have corrupted what was always, fundamentally, a crisp and strong connection before life got in the way. I’m nervous because our friendship means alot, and I would hate to happen upon one of those instances wrought with tension that is usually the precursor to even more extended bouts of separation that eventually lead to eternal silence.

But I don’t have time to contemplate all that because I see him driving up. Granted, I can’t really see him but I recognize his fast-for-no-logical-reason-other-than-I-can driving skills. He pauses briefly in front of me, long enough for me to put my car in drive and follow him through the gates onto base. He parks and jumps out and he’s still the Almost Fiance I remember. He’s smiling that cute smile at me. I’m immediately comforted as I sweep him over head to toe… and realize he’s in basketball shorts.
“Uh you do realize it’s goddamn December.”
“This is not cold.”
“I guess if you’re not auditioning for the role of token nigga eskimo up in Alaska this ain’t shit,” I mutter under my breath as I climb outta the truck, thankful that he didn’t hear me because surely I would have been setting myself up for failure.

We laugh and we joke all the way inside as I give a blood sample and a lock of my hair to the person working the desk so she’ll allow me onto base, and we go on about our way.

“I haven’t planned anything for tonight. And it’s cold. And you wanna go down to the Riverwalk.”
“What?!? YOU didn’t plan anything for the evening?!?! Who ARE you?!?” I ask all incredulous.
“I know right. I was gonna make us reservations for dinner on one of the river boats, but it’s fucking freezing.”
“Yeah… about that…”
“I said I didn’t.”
“Good job, Almost Fiance.”
“You women are never satisfied. Which shirt?” he asks me, holding up my two options. Knowing he’s gonna be contrary than whatever I say, I respond, “The gray one.”
“I kinda wanna wear black,” he says hanging the gray one back in the closet.
“That’s what I wanted you to wear too.” He looks at me, his lips slightly parted, ready to ask me something and I cut him short. “Six years, Almost Fiance.”
He smiles and starts to iron.

While he’s getting ready, we talk and laugh and joke, probably far too loudly for whoever lives next door. At that point, I find myself so incredibly silly for being even the least bit nervous.

In the cab on the way downtown, we come across the most socially inept cab driver on earth. When “Hood Nigga” comes on, he turns it up amidst his exclamations of, “Yeah homies!” and throwing up faux gang signs. And while Gorilla Zoe is in fact MY.SHIT. I refuse to so much as push my lips up into a smile. Is he serious? And then he regales us for about 10 miles with his stories about some foolishness that the military gives you to eat and the explicit details about what it did to his digestive processes. Oh for real? Mmhmm. That’s tragic.

We finally make it to the Riverwalk, stupidly let them give us a table right on the water and spend all of dinner huddling under the sorry ass little heater they have set up outside, which clearly woulda worked, if only the wind hadn’t been blowing. Did I mention I didn’t have a coat? Yeah. About that…
We decide our only recourse is drinking. So we do.

As we drink and eat, we talk about our lives as we left them, who we’ve become, friends we used to share. He starts telling me about some foolishness with a previous sideline hoe and then his most recent ex.
“I really thought I was gonna marry that girl, have kids with her,” he says.

As he’s telling me about her, I check inside myself for any signs of jealousy. It’s there, but very tiny, hiding in the corner, barely even visible. Mostly I find myself wishing it works out for him. He’s a good guy. He’s going to be a great husband and an even better father.

He can’t be too bad. I almost married him.

We swap stories, him telling me about his ex and his exploits, me telling him about the Ex and Bob, and all the other ridiculousness that has occurred since Us. It is amazing to me how comfortable it is between us. I’m not entirely sure why I’m surprised. It was always this way with us.

We head home and pass out far earlier than we mean to, probably indicative of our old age. We spend New Year’s Day together before I get back on the road. Even in our silences, there isn’t a moment where I feel uncomfortable or where our jokes and laughter don’t reverberate in my ears, where I can’t still feel how the chemistry between us radiates into my bones.

As I’m driving back home, I feel pretty peaceful. It’s funny how, when life happens, sometimes the thing you’re left with is more profound than all the other things you were trying to build.
A friend.
A refuge.

Love

And because I am just conceited enough to believe you stop by here from time to time to check up on me

come home, ok?

– L.

6 thoughts on “Almost Always Counts

  1. Marvin sang it best, “War is hell, when will it end?” This is what politicians and war-mongering Right-Wingers fail to realize when we undertake these overzealous Cap’N Save-a-country missions is that OUR people more often than not are the casualties. I truly hope that your friend and all of the other brave men and women sent overseas came back safe and sound.

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  2. hoping for all the best with AF and that he comes home.

    i missed your writing girl. amazing how old that archive piece was yet it seems fresh as hell.

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  3. Ok…so two days ago you said you were in a …slump. Liar…look at this shit you wrote…
    With that said…

    Use my name in vain again and I I’ll send you to HHHEEEElllllllllllll (look past that I really can’t but…dammit…mind me youngun!!!)

    Ok…so…
    War is dumb. If I don’t like you and you don’t like me and I tell all my friends you ain’t shit…and you tell all your friends I ain’t shit…doesn’t it all just go in circles????? Fuck me and you and let’s keep it movinmg… NEXT!!!
    War is stupid.

    I forget everytime how YOUNG you are and how OLD I am….blah.
    Budda, you gonna find a few more that rememeber your favorite flower. I have found 4.
    But back to you…
    You’re a good fucking story teller. I’m debating if I should bite your shit to make it look like mine… jury is still out…
    all I am saying is…

    These long ass breaks…blah!
    WRITE!!!!!
    (yea I am all up in that ass right now! ssshhhhhhh!)

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  4. Actually La & Blah. Both of you have similiar styles when it comes to story tellin…

    La I wanna here why you and this Dude broke up…Tell us that story ummm scratch that you can just tell me…Cause I'm hella NOSY!!!

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  5. All I got to say is I am mad your young ass made a 'we passed out early cause we are old reference' two years ago when your ass was REAALLLLLY young.

    See if I let you cook in my kitchen!

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