“You have to be careful about what you fix….If you irrigate a desert, you might empty a sea. It’s a complicated business, fixing things.”
-Percival Everett, “The Fix”
“What you have to know about me is I always feel like I’m in the way.”
“Aww,” CC says. “You’re never in the way.”
I nod. “Look, I understand you when you say that. Intellectually. But it’s just not how I feel.”
CC waits. It’s a habit of his I’m still getting used to. Even though he’s an extrovert, he’s okay with silences. Can sense when I have more to say.
“I always feel like I’m holding people back,” I say.
“What do you mean, holding them back?”
I sigh. “I feel like if a person had any other choice, any choice at all, that they wouldn’t choose me.”
He’s so quiet again. It’s unnerving. But incredibly polite.
“So when people are with me, it’s like they’re settling. They deserve more than me. And it kills me that I’m holding them back,” I continue.
“Huh,” he says. “You feel that way about me?”
“I do,” I say. “Of course I do.”
“So you expect me to replace you. To ‘upgrade.’ But if I don’t that’s bad, too?”
“It’s worse, yeah,” I say. “I admit it’s basically a double bind. One that I put myself in.”
“But Page,” CC says, and I can tell by the intensity of his voice that it’s his turn to speak. “That’s not how it works at all. People don’t get replaced. Even when you broke up with me before, and I started dating other people, I didn’t replace you with them. You were still you. You meant something to me. And I was still me to you, right?”
“Yes,” I say.
“We were still sort of us. We were just different for a while.”
I smile. “And now we’re something else entirely.”
He smiles back.
“I still feel like I’m in the way though.”
CC told me once, a few years back, when we dated before, that he’s hesitant to change a thing about how I am. “I would tell you not to be hard on yourself, to be happier, but that’s not you,” he said then. “I like you the way you are, dark parts and all.”
And following suit now, he doesn’t tell me to stop feeling that way. He just accepts it.
“It’s understandable given your past,” he says.
My book is out!