That Warm Summer Night

By: S. Davis

Remember when you called that night?

Up to the point of your phone call we hadn’t had any contact in over a year-and-a-half, of any kind. You said you actually mulled the call for months before you had the courage to reach out because you felt I would screen the call and ignore it. (Having intimate knowledge of my personality, you weren’t off-base.)

However I answered, if for no other reason than to surprise you because of your trepidation. Secondly, I knew there were easier things for you to do other than dialing my number so I wanted to give you the respect of picking up the phone. As your number flashed across the display I remember mumbling, “This should be weird.”

Your tone was hushed and you stammered for the first few words which was so uncharacteristic of you and I told you to relax as I would listen to “whatever it is that you have to say.” We both laughed and you let out such a deep sigh of relief, revealing that I’d eased whatever pressure that you felt.

Small talk began – which both of us detest – but you were feeling me out on your end of the line while I remember sitting on my bed, turning the television off and staring at the ceiling. You had a tough time getting any words of depth out of your mouth, which was directly tied to all the emotions and thoughts clouded within your mind and rooted in your heart. I remember telling you on more than one occasion during those first five minutes or so that my ears are yours so “take your time” and if you had to take a moment to gather yourself that I would rest in the silence. I wasn’t in a rush and, again, I knew that reaching out was a big deal for you.

The last time we spoke prior to that summer phone call was an emotional adventure. Grievances were aired, two hearts were crushed, tears left both of our eyes but there was an odd calmness to that evening. It was sad, melancholy even, but we didn’t raise our voices to argue or try to hurt and pierce one another with words. A new chapter was to be written and it was time for both of us to turn the page, no matter how unfortunate it was to consider a future without one another. We uttered the three words that are so abused nowadays that they’re as blasé as asking for the time or if rain is coming. We hugged, your perfume burned into my brain, and I nuzzled against your neck wanting to taste your skin but I relented. It seemed like a farewell kiss was next on the list but that shit’s for the movies and I’m a bit more pragmatic than that. Our fairytale was ending and we faced it for what it was. Stubborn, defiant acceptance, I guess.

Time passed. I was busy with school and you were doing the same. Into your books, life and friends you went while I returned to my quest, unattached and focused as always. For a while I put some distance between myself and our mutual friends just to get clear of the subject of you coming up or being present if you called. It was weird between you and me so the last thing I wanted was to put our friends in the muck. I’m sure you were thinking the same way. Little did I know that it pained you to be in the dark, having not a single clue as to what was going on in my life, and you wanted any information. I was in my own little orbit. You felt shut out. You wanted a window, a door to find me behind.

You picked up the phone on that humid summer night.

I sat in silence as you contemplated your approach on how to navigate whatever it was that weighed so heavily on you. Peaceful quiet; I reached over to connect the headset so I could put my phone down and grab my pillow to support my head. After moving around the bed to search for a comfortable position I settled into the middle of the mattress, extended my legs and placed my feet, one over the other, on my wall. I mimicked walking up my wall while waiting for you talk. Another deep sigh emanated from your lungs and through your mouth right to my ears.

“No matter what it is, just say it. I’m not here to fight, judge or anything else. I’m here.” You said I was “sweet” for making you feel at ease. From there another extended pause was followed with “I miss you so much.”

I let it hit me – let it land and sit powerfully within my chest – and then responded in kind. You broke, you said you were staring at the ceiling and your heart pounded in your chest as you absorbed it. You couldn’t believe that I felt the very same thing you spooked yourself over. Faint sniffling crept through the speaker into my ear and I knew exactly what was happening with you, to you. You were crying. For a brief moment I was going to speak but I decided to hold my thoughts.

We began the conversation shortly thereafter. You felt disconnected from me and that was puzzling because you were tied to someone, you were in a committed relationship at the time. Disconnected from me? Really? After surviving that emotional landmine we found our way to the meat of the conversation.

Clearly, love existed, it was still there. It was uttered by the both of us and you were shocked that I said it back without hesitation. It was one of the most wrenching, draining, difficult, stressful and also exhilarating dialogues that I ever engaged in. It was one of the rare times that I ever allowed myself to let love – and whatever it really is – to overtake my natural inclination to keep myself under control.

You cried so much during that hour that I wanted to pull you through the phone and wrap you in my arms. With the exception of a few moments you cried in a continuous stream and opened yourself up in such a vulnerable manner, uncertain of whether I would receive you warmly. You have my everlasting respect with the way you handled yourself.

Since then we’ve professed love, made love, been friends and grown apart over time…so you don’t cross my mind often anymore. A recent conversation about relationships forced me to recall that episode in our lives. You know my personal feelings about the long-term viability of relationships; I just don’t think they work for most people (look at divorce rates) and I avoid them unless there’s a truly compelling woman to convince me otherwise.

At that moment in time, that night, we were trying to understand so many things, most of them out of our control. The mistakes made by both of us, the missed opportunities, the lack of communication, etc. I remember how depleted and reluctant that we both were to end the call. We were letting each other go, again, and it felt devastating. I remember you sobbing as we hung up. I stared out of my window and wished we were a couple. I wished you were in my apartment next to me. I ate something and couldn’t sleep because my mind was extremely busy. What a night; such is life.

I do hope that you’re healthy and happy wherever you are.

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