The following week zoomed by, it seemed. My deadline** loomed, but things with Trey were better than they'd ever been. We talked everyday, saw each other repeatedly, claimed we missed each other when we weren't together and slowly I started noticing Trey softening, opening up.
One night, a Thursday, he called and sounded audibly upset. He told me his grandmother was sick and he'd have to go out of town to deal with it. He was scared, he was upset, his family wasn't forthcoming with the details, but it was bad. Really bad. I listened to his voice crack, tried hard not to be uncomfortable, as I tend to be when men cry, and offered my advice the best I could. He asked me to come over, then said he'd rather be alone. When I hung up the phone, I fought tooth and nail not to just go over there, show up on his doorstep and take care of him. I knew I was treading on unsteady ground, walking into a territory that would be hard to extract myself from in a few days. I pictured myself in army fatigues, stranded in the middle of nowhere, a helicopter trying to pull me, save me from an uncertain fate, but my ankles caught in a quicksand that pulled with just as much force. This would not be easy. I sat tight, sent him a text saying I was there for him and went to bed.
The next morning, we talked again and he laid out his plans to head out. He was borrowing a friends car, had packed up and was just running errands. I had a lot going on that day, so it looked as if I wouldn't be able to see him before he left. He'd be back Monday. It was Friday. I told myself to chill out, it was just a few days.
Then he asked me something that shocked me.
Trey: I really wish you would come with me. I want you there. I need you. Would you want to go?
B: Um, come with you?
Trey: Yea, it's fine. I figured you wouldn't want to come.
B: Um, I don't know. I have an even Saturday. I can try and get out of it, but I don't know.
Trey: It's fine don't worry about it.
After we got off the phone, I sat and thought about it. It wasn't so much as whether or not I wanted to go, because I did. I wanted to be there for him. But much like meeting his son, I didn't think it was the best idea. Meeting his entire family? In a time of such strife and sadness? It just didn't seem like a good look, but I threw caution to the wind and called him back.
B: Do you seriously want me to come?
Trey: Yea, I do.
B: Okay, I'll come. Where are we going to stay though? I cannot stay at your grandmother's house.
Trey: Oh, right. I didn't think that far. I guess we'd have to get a hotel room or something. I don't know if I told you, but my family lives in the country. It's all dirt roads and kick the can and sh*t. I think there's an inn or something that's by the hour.
B: Um, ok. *cringes*
Trey: It's fine babe. You don't have to come. That fact that you would means a lot though. I'll be back in a few days, don't worry.
But I did. The whole rest of Friday, I waited to hear from him, figured I might not as he'd be inundated with family and the weight of his grandmother's illness. I still sent him a text before I went to bed: Hope you're okay down there. xx, but I received no response by the next morning. It was Saturday. I ran errands, went to the gym, met up with friends, performed the regular Saturday routines. And as day settled into night, I realized I still hadn't heard from Trey. I was starting to worry, but I tried to tell myself he deserved a pass, he was with family. Maybe there was no cell phone service out in the country. I went out for a night of dancing with friends, tucking my cell phone into my jean pocket, on vibrate, just incase he called.
He didn't. Around midnight, I'd had enough. I picked up my phone to call him, but it kept reading Congestion, so I used my friend's phone. He answered:
B: Trey?! Are you okay?
Trey: Yea, why are you calling from someone else's number?
B: My phone is acting up. What's going on? I haven't heard from you. I was worried.
Trey: I'm fine, about to go to the club.
B: Wait, what? Where are you?
Trey: Back in the city. Got back like an hour ago.
B: WHAT?! You're WHERE?!
Trey: *hangs up*
What. The. Hell?! If I could put into words the anger that shot through me, I would write it for you right now. All I can say is that my father, grandfather, sisters, and brothers all have what we affectionately call: "The Collins Temper." It was given as a "gift" from our great grandfather, handed down generations like the color of our skin and the shape of our noses, and it plagues each of us. Some deal with it better than others, some not so much. I have always been able to keep it in check, but when it flares, it's never ever good. In fact, it's bad. Really, really bad. (Mental note to continue working on that in 2011.)
I picked up the phone and hit redial. It went to voicemail. I repeated this about 3,214 times before I finally gave up and started in on the text messages. I think I might have lost my mind in those few minutes of texting. I said everything I wanted to say, I was livid. I didn't think about any kind of explanation. I didn't think about the reaction this would garner. I just went in on him. He'd never seen this side of me, I'd barely seen this side of me. In fact, I've never called or texted like that. I actually have taken many a phone from many a friend to keep them from performing foolish acts like the one I was knee deep in. Thinking back, I am slightly embarrassed.
But he never answered. Finally, I got a text message back from him: Stop calling my phone. I was in shock. Where was all this coming from? What the hell was going on? How did we get to this point and in such a flash? TWO days ago, not even 48 hours since he'd asked me to come with him, that he'd broken down and shared his stupid life with me. I thought about whether or not I had the right to even be upset and decided I did. He brought me into his personal life, his family drama. Once you make me apart of that inner trust, I'm in. I care. Even with friends. I check on you, make sure you're okay. It's my little bit of nurturing that sits in the place where others find motherhood I guess. But I was mad, and hurt, and my mind was boggled. We went at each other on text message. I'd say our worse fight to date, and oddly, our last one.
Around 2am, he called. I started to forward him to voicemail, the way he'd done me a zillion times, but I didn't. We went back and forth, this time a bit more calmly. I'd give you the details, but it's tiresome. In a nutshell, I told him why he hurt me, he told me how much he cared about me, how he didn't mean to hurt me, but this was all getting to be too much. I agreed. We both said we wished it could've been different.
For the record, I care for you a lot, he said. I love you. It came out muffled, laced with stress and pain. I almost tripped over the flat pavement in the parking lot I was standing in alone. He what? I asked him again what he said, asked if he was drunk. He said he wasn't, that he did, he cared about me more than he ever thought he would. He was in a car full of guys, he would call me tomorrow. Dumbfounded, I hung up the phone.
The next morning, I recalled the previous evening's events and was still utterly confused. Where were we? Where did we leave off? Had he meant what he said? Did I care if he did or didn't? I awaited his call to figure things out, though. No more jumping to conclusions. He called around 10pm, complaining that I hadn't called him all day, I must've not really cared about him. In that moment, I just switched off. Dealing with him was exhausting, a roller coaster at a theme park called "The Great Exhauster." I just couldn't do it anymore. In just two months, he put us through a ridiculous amount of drama. I could only imagine what two more would bring. We didn't have that kind of time anyway. Suddenly, it seemed pointless. When we got off the phone, he said he'd call me right back. He didn't and I'm not calling him. Like Oprah and Gayle's radio sing along on their last camping adventure: You gotta know when to hold em, know when to fold em.
January 20th is tomorrow. Fin.
That bitch stole my line,