When You Loved Me

1

When you loved me it was brief

and awkward

I was thrilled then

shamed

I dumped you because someone told me to

I felt stupid

2

When you loved me, I felt pretty

I thought

Picket fences Magic Kingdoms Happily Ever

After I walked in the club and saw you with the new dude with bigger hair

I felt ugly

3

When you loved me I felt old.

I knew you would slash yourself again

If I left so

I let you dump me.

Your mom called me after to say thanks

for being so good to you

I felt relieved

4

When you loved me you didn’t want to

after you got The News.

You ran but I followed awhile

But you hated me for finding something to love about

You.

I still have the Polaroid of

Us.

The last time I would see you alive.

I felt bewildered.

5

When you loved me, I was charmed

So much so that it I didn’t even find out

Until six months after we broke up

That you had cheated on me all the years we were

Together, even when I was taking care of you

When you nearly died.

But,

I was the crazy person, always

Imagining the worst, and what the hell do

you know anyway, you were a loser before I met you, and you will be a loser after

the only reason people talk to you is because of me

so shut the fuck up, it’s your own goddamn fault.

(Slap.)

I don’t know what I felt then.

6

When you loved me, you were kind

Enough to come all the way to my house,

Ask my brother for some privacy and say

“It’s not you, it’s me” but be real about it.

You didn’t want a relationship, and you didn’t

have another one for years.

I felt respected

7

When you loved me

You hated yourself so much

You went back to your transgendered addictions-laden sex trade worker ex

Who cut you with a broken bottle the same night, and I wouldn’t take you back.

Hell no.

I felt vindicated.

8

When you loved me I couldn’t wait to get rid of you.

You were more fucked up than me.

I felt nothing.

9

When you loved me

It was unconditionally, wholeheartedly, joyfully

The days unfolding in delicious uncertainty

Until the mad rhythm of it all came to a stop.

Running up six flights holding my breath to give it to you

Lying there still,

still,

so still.

Too late I came into your world, but

had it not been for what

Had been before,

I would not know

what real love, true love was

I feel empty.

10

When you loved me

It was supposed to be for mutual convenience, and love wasn’t supposed to enter into it.

It did.

I wish you could have stayed longer

And when I broke it off because I knew if it went longer I would be hurt more,

I left you

apparently feeling embarrassed, like an idiot, I’ve been told

I felt sorry.

11

When you loved me

It was all wrong, and I didn’t listen

To the little voice throwing a tantrum in the back

Of my head, because I was more worried about being alone.

But you were too.

That’s why you pretended to like

Everyone and everything in my life

When you hated it all the entire time.

I felt used

The Who of You

“You’re not yourself tonight,” my friend said, interrupting his gleeful tale of tribulation and setting down his pint.  We were ensconced firmly in our corner of the pub, a regular Friday meeting place where we could solve the problems of the world, and wonder to the heavens if we would want to be in charge of the whole mess.

In fact, he was correct and I was quite distracted, a larger corner of my mind brooding more heavily than normal. If brooding were an Olympic sport, I would be a heavyweight contender.  I’m not sure whether it is from nurture or nature, but I have the unnecessary need to analyze the meaning of absolutely everything in my life.  I have brought servers to tears by still not having had enough time with the breakfast menu to thoroughly contemplate the existential meaning of my decision to have the ham rather than the sausage with the farmer’s platter… and don’t ask how I would like my eggs.

Within his comment seemed the core of the problem.  If I am not myself, than who am I?

My friend and I have known each other for a little over twenty years, and outside of family, is one of five people I still have some contact with over two distinct periods of my life (the three main stages are broken into living on the farm; university; and moving to Toronto.)  We have been in and out of each other’s life from very different perspective – ‘frenemies’, acquaintances, friends, BFFs, and a five-day stint as lovers, which periodically we still crack up laughing about.  Suffice to say, this is someone who should know quite a bit about me.

So I asked the question out loud:  who am I?  His mouth opened and shut, as he tried to come up with the answer.

Defining the ‘who’ always seems the easy bit: son, brother, cousin; stranger/acquaintance; friend/enemy; angel/pariah.  The ‘who’ of me as an individual depends on the ‘who’ of you.

There are some absolutes, some inarguable and/or inescapable fact that will instantly play certain factors in the relationship between myself and any stranger I meet that will be recognizable within a few moments:  I’m white; male; gay; remarkably average in looks and possibly intelligence.    These instantly impact on interactions.  These basic facts will be extrapolated within moments in an infinite number of ways, whether people are cognizant of their own social experience or not.

Nothing is ever as simple as we would want it to be, no matter how hard we try; what we do; what we say:  if we could change someone else’s mind about who we are that easily, we wouldn’t have issues of racism, or homophobia.  That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t continue to try and strive towards a better ideal, and set examples for the next generation.

No, even at a narrower viewpoint, you can have competing interpretations of individual actions:  one supervisor can grade someone’s work as hard working and diligent, and the next supervisor can view the person as a suck-up and a threat to his/her own position.   Bitter exes can have such vastly different interpretations of he said/she said, that divorce is a profitable area of law to practice in.  Neighbours might move away or forbid their children to play with each other for reasons that at the heart of it would seem down right silly once unraveled.

But who am I?

Most days I try to be nice, though some days I fail spectacularly.  Then there are those awestruck/awful days when for better or worse it all comes out:  a tsunami of stupid/stupendous proportions, again, the interpretation depending on the who of you.

Within the course of any given day I am the set of opposable thumbs that opens the bag of kibble; the neighbour that held the elevator door for you; the jerk on the subway, who made you move your knapsack off the seat, so he could sit down; the chauvinist pig, who dared to hold the door for you; the anonymous voice on the phone, who genuinely appreciates your frustration, but cannot help you as it is not his department; the asshole, coughing all over your food in the grocery store; the friend, who listens empathically to your break-up story; the regular, who orders the number 6 combo for pick-up; the jovial barfly, who tips really well; the honest guy, who yells and picks up  your wallet that you just dropped; angry account number 123 ABC, calling about the double-bill on his bank statement.  In short, I’m a human.  Imperfectly struggling along with everyone else to find my niche in the world.

Who am I depends on who you are.

My friend picked up his glass and saluted me.  “You’re my friend, and I love you.  And right now, nothing else matters.”

The question answered, we resumed with the rest of the world’s problems.