Awkward

“I have been wondering all week if I should send this to you or not.”
Peter Parker’s voice has stampeded into the quiet with no preamble after I answered my phone on speaker without bothering to check the caller ID. Now, I am staring at the phone from a few feet away, the pic we took at the aquarium smiling at me from behind the digital display.

I wonder if it’s too late to hang up.
I would like to pretend that I don’t know what it he’s been agonizing about sending me. Like maybe it is some very late birthday gift. But I know. I know.
“See, the thing is I know if I sent it, you wouldn’t come. Because it would be awkward. But I know if I didn’t send it, then I would risk making you feel some kinda way. And I don’t want that. That would just be long distance awkward.”
“So essentially it will all be awkward. No matter what we do.”
“That is what I concluded, yes.”
We both exhale on our respective ends of the phone.  We are reaching that point where we have exhausted all the words between us, where once flowed oceans and rivers of conversations, are now instead sporadic spurts that hardly satiate us and will, at some point soon, dry up into total silence.
“I figured I should call. And then we could talk about it being awkward. And then it will still be awkward but we will have talked about it. And…” He trails off, unsure of himself. I hold my breath, 98% sure I don’t want to hear whatever he stopped himself from saying.
“And I could hear your voice.”
Don’t.”
I say that one word, one syllable, violently, throwing up a brick wall between us so quickly he has to skid to a proverbial stop to keep from crashing into it.
“Don’t. We aren’t doing that. Let’s talk it out, but don’t do that. I can’t.”
“Ok,” he replies softly, relenting to my boundaries.
We talk haltingly, stepping carefully, trying to be as sure as we possibly can of where we are placing our verbal footsteps. Unlike other times when we have had to talk ourselves around an impasse, this is not getting any easier.
I know.
“Please don’t invite me.”
“Ok. If that’s what you want.”
“It is. It is. Look, I want to be the bigger person. I want to pretend that I am nothing but happy for you and I can show up at your wedding and smile and wish you well. And I am, I am happy for you, I am. You deserve this. But that happiness is mixed up with such wistfulness and bittersweetness and hurt and anger at myself, and that is NO way to send someone off into married life.”
“I get it. I do.”
“When I was younger, I’d show up, looking amazing and being funny and charming and playing at being unscathed, but underneath it all I’d be hiding the weeks I spent leading up to it beating myself up and wondering why it wasn’t me and punishing myself at the gym to look great in some dress I probably can’t afford and on the way home I’d feel like I’d want to cry in the car, but I wouldn’t let myself because I’m too prideful. And afterwards, I’d feel awful. And then feel awful for pretending. For lying. For being there and giving any energy to the occasion that wasn’t pure in intention. And it’s all just exhausting. And I don’t want to do that. So please, please don’t invite me. Please. Because if that invitation shows up in my mailbox, I am going to feel compelled by my bullheaded pride to come. So please. Don’t.”
I have talked so long, ran so many, too many jumbled sentences together that I have to take a deep breath. In the silence I hear his thoughts shuffling, whirring and clicking, trying to put together what to say. But he knows just like I know. The words have run out.
“Okay.”
“Okay.”
“I’m not sure why, but I feel like I should apologize.”
“Because you’re a good guy. But there’s no need. There is no wrong that happened here.”
“That’s the part that kinda sucks isn’t it?”
“Oh my God, you have NO idea.” We chuckle a bit, the tension dissipating, if just enough to give us room to breathe.
“I think it happened the way it was supposed to.”
“It did. It absolutely did. I believe that wholeheartedly. And underneath it all, I am really happy for you. I just don’t think I should be there if I can’t manage to be completely happy without any vestiges of the other stuff.”
“I get that. And I appreciate that. I respect you for that. You know, you might be more honorable than you give yourself credit for.”
“I will take it into advisement.”
“Anyway, I just… well I wanted to talk this out with you. And I guess we have. So…”
“Yeah.”
“I love you, La.”
“Congrats, love.”
We let those words linger a bit in the silence before we both hang up at the same time, without saying goodbye.
No need to repeat what’s already been said.

3 thoughts on “Awkward

  1. Lawd. I have been there. Not exact scenario but whew….

    And another ex wouldn't understand why I said I'd never invite him to my wedding. Smh, it's just not in me… at all.

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