Hey! Surprise, I guess…

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I signed into an old Gmail account in hopes of finding a picture of him. His smile would melt me. And I always knew the right words to say to make it come forth. He was a street dude, so he didn’t smile often. He’s a Black man so he thought he couldn’t smile at all. But when he did, it felt like the world stopped. The moon couldn’t touch how much he illuminated when he parted his lips just to show his signs of approval.

No luck with finding a picture. I was sure I saved one in the depths of that inbox. So I Googled his name. And found a picture of him. My heartbeat grew.

I hope you’re still writing. I found one of your old blogs the other day. Dude, you were incredible. Are.

He possessed a wicked sense of humor that I often couldn’t contain. He knew how to make the mundane funny, how to make everyday life seem like a movie. He wrote about living in the city that hated his existence. And made that enjoyable. He overflowed with jokes, would burst with laughter.

But he didn’t know when to stop. We almost got into a physical altercation about it. I remember when we argued and he thought throwing in a joke would make me feel better. It never did. I almost hit him in public. He laughed when I found myself nose-to-nose with him, ready to strike.

I hope all is well with you. You were on my mind so I figured I’d give this a shot…

We met when we were seniors in high school. On the Internet. I found refuge in the early aughts of social networking. High school politics — as shallow and banal as they were — became too much to bear. Boys never talked to me in person but they did on the Internet. So where I felt desired, I went. And went hard.

He was amazed that I loved sports. That I could riff off any football reference imaginable. He would call me at night after his parents went to sleep. Our conversations were too grown for the both of us.

When he went off to college, we stopped talking. He found himself in a relationship so I played my position and waited for them to break up like most young couples do.

He sent me an instant message when he moved back to Philadelphia. I was a sophomore at Drexel, so he knew he could find me. We finally met for the first time outside of my internship. We walked around Center City. He snuck a kiss before I got on the elevator.

I completely understand if you don’t respond to this email. It’s been a minute, I know…

He called me a “bitch”. Told me often that I should kill myself. I went to visit him one year and he kicked me out. I knew southwest Philly well enough to get home.

Our relationship, at its core, was emotionally abusive. We never came to blows but we talked to each other like we would. But we played the dangerous game of always making up. Weeks after he kicked me out of his apartment, he asked me if I “was good”. I told him off and that was the end of us.

If this email does find you and you want to respond, feel free. You don’t have to though. I’d understand.

Three years ago, I messaged him on Facebook. He responded quickly and called soon after. We talked about life, sports, everything. Then he told me that he “loved” me and that our love for each other was the reason why we couldn’t stay away from each other. I knew it wasn’t that.

I knew it was familiarity laced with convenience. When we needed someone, we knew we’d always have each other. When we needed that human fix, we’d find each other. We went back because we never closed the door on us. And we knew it. I knew he’d always be around even when it was in my best interest to leave him alone.

I know this message is random (and it may not find you at all)…

Flesh is overpowering and I hate it. I missed intimacy and companionship so much that I reached out to every past, present and future romantic lead that I had. Because of God’s sense of humor, no one responded. When I went searching for him, I couldn’t find him on Facebook. But I did come across a picture of his son. The son he had right after we ended things. He has the same smile as his Daddy.

I melted.

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