SCORE: Out My Mind, Just In Time – Erykah Badu
I stumbled on that picture of us yesterday, the only one in which you smiled; the white of your dentition so distinct from the wealthy glam of melanin in your skin. You probably wonder why I keep the picture, I feel like I need something of you to hold on to… or you probably don’t wonder, maybe you kept it too. Isn’t it funny that we only have three pictures to boast of in almost four years of friendship and that all the time we spent together amounts to what, 504 hours max? We were in the same vicinity for a year but it felt like we didn’t make the best of it. Urges to see you were accompanied by nagging voices in my head and my pointless quest to remain unattached to you despite your advances got me constantly reminding myself that I had no rights to demand a thing from you. I was also avoiding the unpredictable events that would probably have ensued. You see, contrary to what you believe, I always tried to avoid drama with you but somehow, it kept rearing its ugly head, deepening the gulf between us and making the possibilities of a life together even more vague. I watched you move on while emotionally clinging to thoughts of what could have been.
I smile now as I remember the last time you came back to the area, the jokes and laughs that led to clicks of shutters and the conversation about her. She always caused drama between us. I remember once losing my cool over you both, it was about a year after you and I met: she had said in my presence that you were hers and I flipped after she left. Shots of vodka were followed by my girls daring me to call you and let my bile out. I cursed you out and waited for your defense but you only listened in silence, denying me of the response you knew I wanted so badly. You said you never went past plain friendship with her and I believed you, although I think a part of you loved her. I might sound silly but I owed it to you as a friend to believe you over her. I still think about her sometimes, wonder how she got the perception and boldness to tell everyone otherwise and if she knew how much you denied relations with her. For over two years, the sight of her filled me with envy and resentment, feelings which were later replaced by pity as the realization that we both never had you sunk in.
Two months after your visit, you admitted you were in love with me after years of claiming emotional independence. You scrambled every feeling for you that I had tucked in the ‘moving on’ folder. How could you keep that from me for months? How could you encourage me to be with another man when you harbored those feelings for me? I eventually adjusted to the futility of that love you claimed to feel for me. You had always said watching me be with someone else, listening to my relationship tales and having to be there for me through it all hurt but you would rather suffer the consequences of not having me than break up my relationship. You didn’t understand that it wasn’t just you who suffered. So I stayed. It passed and our friendship continued. I didn’t understand you just didn’t want to be with me and nothing could change that. Everyone said you liked to play with my heart ’cause you knew you had that power. Everyone thought it but me.
Three months went by before I decided I no longer wanted to be the one who sent messages first, strived to keep conversations alive and reached out after days of no contact. My affection for you had made me build a very strong mental link and need for you. You said I mattered too but it did not feel like it, I felt shortchanged. Our argument got you exasperated, I cut off communication with you because I was tired of being the only one who seemed to need our friendship. Weeks passed by, then a sudden call from you to ‘say hi’. You had seen our pictures and they brought you memories. After some refusal on my part to budge easily, we exchanged ‘I miss yous’, talked about our issues and made up. We managed to remain stable till my relationship dissolved and I told you I’d still love to get with you if the opportunity came up. But that was when you hit me with the bombshell: you didn’t think we were compatible! I blew up but also accepted we were never going to happen and made up my mind never to try again.
Another peaceful cycle was disrupted by word from that one about things only you could have known. A first episode years before had been undeniably connected to you. I was hurt by the disregard for the trust I had in you, you were hurt by my failure to maintain that trust. As usual, you called me dramatic for choosing common sense and judgment before friendship. This time, it was your decision to put an end to our merry-go-rounds. I thought we had been through too much already to let this one break us but you can’t be friends with someone who insults your character, you need people with the same focus as you, without the negativity that past events bring. Basically, I am toxic to your life.
Every time I think of how good you were to me when I needed you, I want to beg you to come back but I’m just going to pick what’s left of my dignity and walk alone from here. Some days, I think we are still friends, I still love you very much and care for you; other days, I send the memories to hell. You were right after all, we are so incompatible we can’t even make a friendship work. A mix of your mechanical self and my rigidity would have been very boring and disastrous.
You might be reading this right now, I hope you understand there is no malice here. I wish you all he best in the world and pray you don’t go off the path of greatness you are treading already. I hope the woman you finally open your heart to knows how amazing you are when you let yourself. I hope she understands you the way I never learnt to. I hope you find it okay to be vulnerable with her the way you could not be with me. I hope you never stop making your mother proud, Heaven knows she deserves it. I always looked forward to meeting her but life had different plans.
If you ever need a thing from me, you know what to do. Please, don’t hesitate.
Be good to yourself and others.