Over the next few hours, as he lies in the darkness of my womb-like room, the tall, upright, confident, accomplished, funny, genial holiday man disappears and in his place appears an ailing, timid, frightened, emotionally-disabled wreck. I don’t recognize him at all.
He talks about past love affairs which haven’t worked out, deep insecurities, low self-esteem in his work and personal life, hypochondria and as if this weren't enough, an overwhelming conviction that he will die young. A bundle of laughs it ain't...
The most incomprehensible thing he tells me, and what confuses me most of all, is that much as he says it would be easy to fall in love because he finds me ‘lovely, lovely, so very lovely...’ he is afraid in case he becomes addicted. Best case scenario, in my book...someone needs to become addicted but I surely don't want it to be me...(how little I knew at this point...)
He says he is not strong but I think he is actually very strong to make such a conscious and calculated decision. After all, if love was a choice, would any of us choose such exquisite torment?
Based on what I told him about myself that first night we sat talking in the bar, crowing as I am wont to do about conquests past and present, he probably thinks he knows me pretty well. He says he suspects my ability to be faithful as I joked to him on that first night when we exchanged confidences, that as a girlfriend I was probably ‘a very bad bet’.
In some perverse and obtuse way, I was daring him to fall for me even then. But he does not dare. He does not dare at all.
During those long hours as we lay talking in my bed, the daylight, denied by the tightly-closed curtains, turns to dusk, but much as I try, I cannot divert CC from his chosen path. I tell him my past is my past; that I’m ready and willing for a new beginning, that I would very much like it to be with him, but he is resolutely unconvinced.
His weakness is tangible, the depth of his dejection a living presence in my room. I can now smell with an animal’s instinct the scent of fear. In the context of us as a couple, I feel like I’m the alpha male now, as CC sobs silently more than once in my arms. And I know now, though not quite why, how truly damaged this poor man is.
And so my niggling suspicion of something not quite right comes home to roost - not, as I thought, because of his being in another relationship - but because he appears unable to sustain one even with himself.
At midnight, with no further distance for us to travel, he gets up and leaves. My optimistic side thinks I may be able to draw him back, but the pessimist in me has its doubts. And so the scales slide again, for now I am the weaker and he the stronger.
An acerbic one-liner comes to mind:
You can’t make somebody love you. All you can do is stalk them and hope that eventually one day they’ll give in.