What’s Love Got To Do With It?
Someone told me when you meet the one you’re supposed to spend your life with you’ll just know it. But what happens if you know it and they don’t? Well here’s a little story about that. Oh yeah by the way, I’m Apollonian aka the bitch whose pictures your boyfriend keeps liking on Instagram. But yeah my name is Apollonian, like Prince’s girlfriend from Purple Rain. What can I say my mom was a big Prince fan? ::face palm::
Well let’s take it way, way back. Okay not way, way back like 1990 but like way back like last summer when people still thought “Trap Queen” was a good song and using the term “on fleek” was still socially acceptable. First, let’s meet my boyfriend Jack. And herrrrre we go!
“Lonnie, you good baby?” “Yeah Jack, I’m fine.” He said as he caressed my thigh through the thin material of my maxi dress. He took his attention away from the road and focused it on me. “You sure?” “Yeah, I’m coolin’.” “Cool.” He said as he flashed me a cheerful smile. I knew what Jack was thinking and I knew he knew what I was thinking as well but neither one of us were about that life.
When we arrived at the Sampson State Greek Alumni cookout the park was packed with fraternity and sorority alums of Sampson State, Jack’s alma mater. His fraternity themed jersey looked perfect against his dark skin tone. I walked with Jack to his fraternity’s tent where I began to meet the guys whom I had heard so many pledging stories about including the old head who had put that permanent bruise on his torso. I could tell that Jack was proud to show me off as his woman and I was proud he was proud. I was proud to be there with him.
It was funny how I’d met Jack. He’d gone to Sampson, I’d gone to Bailey which was ten minutes down the road. We had pledged the same semester, we knew a lot of the same people but we’d never met until were three thousand miles away and living in the same apartment building. I don’t know how I hadn’t crossed paths with his fine ass before then. Jack was 5’10, solid muscular frame, thick hair that he wore in short freeform twist with a fresh line up, his dark skin was enchanting and could be credited to his father’s Sudanese heritage, and a smile that always made me beam even on my worst days.
“So where did you cross?” One of his linebrothers asked. “Alpha Pi.” “Ohhh damn, really?!?!” “Yes really.” My chapter had a name for being crazy but we were really just misunderstood. I fell back into the crowd as Jack made his rounds. I was an introvert and just to chill. He had been and still was really popular. He’d been Mr. Sampson and had been well respected on the campus during his time as a student.
I would be lying if I said that Jack wasn’t a great guy because he was, don’t get me wrong but I knew I didn’t love him and I think deep down he knew it too. We were both just too cowardly to admit it. We were a year in and I kept telling myself that love would come and I felt stupid because I didn’t love him. He was literally everything I ever said I wanted in a man. He was good looking, smart, caring, honest, loyal, funny, and made his own money (he was an electrical engineer). Plus he knew how to please me physically; there had never been a time where he didn’t leave my body satisfied. But something was missing. There was no spark. Jack didn’t make me feel alive. I’m an idiot, right?
“Baby, you good?” He said as I picked over my food. “Yeah, I’m good. This heat has just taken my appetite.”
Then we locked eyes. No, not me and Jack but me and HIM. Who is him? You ask, well I’ll tell you. HIM is the motherfucker who amazes, mystifies, and stupefies me because I never thought that you could hate someone just as much as you love them. HIM was Santiago, Santiago Shawn Johnson born May 9, 1986 in Washington, DC to Shonda Johnson and to father unknown until when he cried on my shoulder when he found his biological father after so many years of searching and false hopes.
A thousand volts of electricity coursed through my body when his eyes locked with mine. The hundreds of people surrounding us including Jack just faded away. I blinked hard trying to make it go away but he just had that effect on me when I saw him the world didn’t exist. When I was with him my problems weren’t real, the real world wasn’t real, the only thing that was real was us. I really was an idiot.
I could see the shock on Santiago’s face. I mean the last person he probably expected to see here was me. And me as in I was looking real good. Since the last time he’d seen me I had glo’d up. A broken heart can have that kind of life changing power. I’d lost 30 pounds, my melanin was popping, my hair was flowing in the wind, and my white maxi dress was hitting every curve. He hadn’t seen me in almost eighteen months. When I realized there was nothing here for me and moved to California. I moved and I didn’t look back. He’d shown me just how much he thought of me in those eighteen months because I hadn’t heard from him once. No e-mails, no texts, no calls, no nothing. Not even a damn smoke signal.
I don’t know why I was shocked I knew he’d been here. He never missed it. I thought about year before last when I was waiting for him to invite me but the invite never came and I was stuck looking at pictures on Instagram. I hated myself for loving him. My insides contorted themselves into knots as he approached where Jack and I were sitting. “Lonnie, what are you doing here?” Now it was time for the dagger. “I’m here with my boyfriend, Jack.” I decided to twist the dagger I wanted to see the hurt on his face. “Y’all know each other right?” Of course, they knew each other. Santiago had pledged Jack.
“Yeah man, what’s up. How you been?” He said as he greeted Jack. A tinge of hurt spread across Santiago’s face. He was so predictable it was tragic. He didn’t want me but his ego would not allow him to set me free. And in my heart, I didn’t want to be free. When he and I were messing around I often thought how I’d rather spend an eternity in hell with him than a day in heaven with anyone else. Fucked up, right? Jack and Santiago made small talk. And I quietly made my way to the car to retrieve my cell phone charger.
When I’d met Jack I was honest with him about my history with Santiago. Okay, I wasn’t honest. But I mean how do you tell another man that you’re still madly in love with another man? I’m stupid but not that stupid. I knew well enough to know that Jack was a good ass catch and he would make a good husband. I wasn’t about to pass that up.
As I walked from the car I saw Santiago walking in my direction. He was still fine. I could tell he had taken my advice about hitting the gym because the gut that was once forming had disappeared and his physique was thicker. His 6’3 frame still towered over my 5’2 frame, he still had the same Hershey color skin, and thick coarse curls I used to run my fingers through when we were in the throes of passion. I could see the seriousness all over his face. “Lonnie, can I speak with you for a minute?” He sounded like a principal and I was a student in trouble. He always made me feel like that when we argued. We would argue and he would get serious and then he’d let me be mad, then he’d say a joke, and I would love him again.
“Sure Santiago.” I followed him over to a secluded tree. “So you think this is okay?” “What’s okay?” “This! You’re really out here with dude like that. He is someone I have a lot of love and respect for.” “Santiago, understand this. I do not owe you shit. Well maybe just my ass to kiss. But if I remember correctly you’ve not only kissed it but ate it too. You know that one night in February when we got really drunk off that Henny and thing got way out of hand.” “You are still a damn comedian.” “And you still ain’t about shit. You really have a lot of nerve. Do you not realize that? I literally haven’t heard from you in a year and a half. Like nothing, nothing at all. No text, no call, nothing. You didn’t even care to know of my wellbeing.” “You know how I am. I’m a bad texter.” “No Santiago, I’m a bad texter. You just don’t give a fuck about me. How dare you question my moves when you never even made an effort to stay in my life!” “You left my life!” I laughed. “Do you think I really wanted to move to Cali? I remember telling you about the job offer and you just shrugged it off and was so damn nonchalant. If you wanted me, you would have fought for me. But you said, oh yeah that’s what’s up.” “If you wanted me you would’ve stayed.” “Why stay for someone who didn’t even include me in his life? You relegated me to the background and out of sight. I was your cheerleader in private, your confidante in private, and the love of your life in private. How are you going to cry and tell me how much you love me? Then not even introduce me to your fucking mother when she was in town. You and I both know I deserve more than that.”
I remember cooking dinner for Santiago as he was studying for his masters. Giving him a massage after he had a hard day at work. Listening to him speak about his tumultuous upbringing that was polar opposite of my Leave it To Beaver-esqe life. I remember listening to him tell me his plans for the future but at the time I missed a key point, his future goals never included me.
Now let’s compare that to Jack. When Jack speaks about five years from now. It’s not just about Jack, it’s about Jack and Apollonian. Ten years from now it’s about Jack and Apollonian, and mini-Jacks and mini-Apollonians.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry as hell. I was wrong, I really was. I’ve had a lot of time to think since you’ve been gone and I know I was wrong. You were one of the best things that happened to me and I didn’t do right by you. Can you consider giving us a second shot? A real chance.” I let out an amused chuckle, “At one point in time those were words I prayed to hear come out of your mouth. But then I remembered something. You can never live up to your promises. It amazes me how you have the ability to lift me so high up I mean higher than I’ve ever been only to send me crashing to the careening down to Earth again and again and again. Then you’d leave me alone just long enough for me to pick up all the pieces of me and put myself back together just so you could do it again. I was stupid then probably still am but I’m smart enough now to know better. I’m not going to sit here and lie. I love you. I love every single fucked up thing about you and that’s the fucked up part. Even though you don’t realize this. I realized when I met you, you were broken, I saw the broken little boy inside of you who never feels like enough. I wanted to be the glue that put every broken piece of you back together and kiss every hurt and tell you that you are enough and that everything would be okay. You put on a good front for the world but our hearts found each other for a reason but I can’t allow myself to keep being broken just to make you whole. I gave you so much of me and I never got anything back beyond a few good memories, a few tears, and some good sex to salve over all the wounds you inflicted upon my spirit. You hurt me, badly. You hurt so much that I can’t even properly love the man who wants to undo every bad thing you did to me. Bye, Santiago.” He was speechless as I walked away and rejoined Jack.
I knew I loved Santiago in all honesty I knew I loved him the moment we’d locked eyes in a crowded Starbucks. However, I had learned myself enough to know that I couldn’t love someone who didn’t love themselves enough to love me. Maybe his words were sincere, maybe just maybe but I didn’t have the time to figure it out. I’d given him chance after chance and let him back into my life an unprecedented number of times because of how he made me feel. But I’d resigned myself to fact that love wasn’t enough.
Thunder began to roll in the distance as the dusk turned to dark. Jack and I like everyone else quickly packed up to avoid the coming summer storm. As we got into the car, Jack glanced over at me. “You love him don’t you?” “I love him like you love that one old song. You know? Like that song that you had your first time to or you had your first kiss too. Yes, when you hear it, it brings back memories and makes you feel some kind of way. But you know enough to know that, the past is the past and the past is the past for a reason.” Jack took my hand into his and traced my knuckles. “And how do you love me?” “I love you like I love my favorite painting. I love my favorite painting because I haven’t figured it out yet. Every time I look at it I see something new and I find something else to appreciate about it and something new to love about it.”
Seeing Santiago again had made me realize something. I’d allowed him to empty me of my love, I was all out of love, I didn’t even know what love was anymore because he’d fucked me up so bad. Jack and I met in the right time and the right place. Think about it we’d spent four years living in close proximity to each other but had never crossed paths not even once. Jack had been sent to me to show me what real reciprocal love was. Santiago had taught me a valuable lesson about what selfishness, greediness, and pride could do to love but it was not love. Selfishness, greediness, and pride are the bastard children of lust; lust makes a mockery of love. Lust taunts love, it abuses love, and then it has a nerve to try and masquerade itself as love. Looking at Jack I realized he was what real love and understanding were all about. I felt the calluses that had formed around my heart slowly softening in that moment.
“I’ve been trying to hold back on doing this. But fuck it.” Jack said as he opened the center console and took out a small black velvet box. As the rain poured outside of the car, and the thunder rumbled and the lightning crackled Jack spoke. “Apollonian Esther Lane, you are probably the craziest, meanest, sweetest, kindest, and most beautiful woman I have ever met. I swear sometimes it feel like I’m dating five different women at once. But I do know this I would gladly wake up to each one of those women everyday for the rest of my life. Will you marry me?” “Yes.”
LOLOLOLOLOL, I know when y’all started reading this you thought that Santiago and I were going to end up together. Nope! No, this is a story about love and all the kinds of love that make the world go round. Some love is temporal and time sensitive, some love is spatial and only matters in certain proximity, and some love is conditional—you loved that dress until it went out of style or you loved Olive Garden until you tried Carrabas’. When I thought I didn’t love Jack I was lying to myself. I’d allowed my heart to become desensitized but Jack’s love gave me permission to feel again and believe that love was real and I was deserving of it. I realized the reason Jack hadn’t made me feel alive was because I hadn’t given myself a chance to be alive with him. I was afraid. I’ve told you this story to give you a lesson and maybe a laugh as well. Be careful of who you love, be careful of who you give possession of your heart to. Your heart is like your car. Would you give that to just anybody? Would you allow someone to treat it any kind of way? Your heart is a Bentley not a fucking ÜBER.
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