He tells me in a text that I don’t understand him because I don’t speak the language of feelings fluently like he does. Because I am outside the norm. Because he puts his whole heart into his friendships. As if mine wasn’t a thing that felt anything.
And I think then that he had lied when he said he was good at reading people, for either he’s being deliberately cruel, or he never understood me at all.
What kind of friendship is it anyway if I’m not allowed to be honest? If, when I say, this thing you are doing hurts me he says instead, maybe we shouldn’t be friends. He says maybe sometime down the road; he says maybe we’re just on different pages. And I think I might agree with the last one, though for different reasons. Because I will never understand wanting to be right more than wanting to be friends.
He says this is what I’m like with all my friends, and I wonder which one of us he’s trying to convince. He says how could I know what was on your mind, and I think instead of all those months I had been talking aloud and now wondered if it had only been to myself.
And I think too of that last night in his home when I had tried for courage, to say, I’m not coming here anymore, and wound up saying nothing at all.
“I don’t think you’re that short,” he says, “let’s check.” It’s after midnight and I’ve been drinking Prosecco and he’s been drinking something else, and the kids have long since gone to sleep, and soon enough he’s digging through the drawers for a measuring tape, and soon enough I’m standing against a wall in his barely lit kitchen. “Huh,” he says, standing close to me, his face looking at the tape and then again at mine, “I guess I’ve always dated taller women.”
There is a thing from this I will try to save, months from then, when the silence stretches out between us into something like winter, long and dark and hard to breathe in, us in our pajamas, the tape to my head, the cocktails and the moonlight, and most of all his laughter, for when I will never hear it again.
He doesn’t like the things I have to say, but he never proves any of them wrong. He says it’s a language barrier, as if the problem is just the words I have chosen when it might be instead that he doesn’t hear my heart.
And even now I still want him to have heard it. And so I want to tell him of the two weeks straight that I spent crying on the drive into work and then even while I was at work, of the day I couldn’t stop crying at my desk. When, “I don’t feel well,” I told a coworker at lunchtime, and meant it, with every heartsick fiber of my being, and so I went home. But what difference would that make to him?
Because I remember the things a man says. And he tells me I don’t speak the language of feelings.
So instead I speak nothing at all.