Good Morning, Heartache (Part 5)

10 04 2012

Good Morning, Heartache (Part 5)

It’s the start of a new year.  New year also means new semester, and both Heath and Jake have full course loads at school.  Like a continuation of last year, Heath and Jake only see each other a couple times a week.  Despite this, almost every day after class, they hang out with friends in the school cafeteria, which is always fun, but there are times when Jake wants to be alone with Heath.  His insecurities tell Jake that Heath would rather spend time with him when there are other people around, diluting, in a way, their time together.  It’s difficult for Jake not to think this, and he has to tell himself that things are going okay between them.

One time, Jake mentions about fate, and Heath says, “I don’t believe in it.”

“I thought you did.  What about how we met?”

“I… I dunno about all that.”

Heath tells Jake that he’ll be gone for a week on a trip to look at some cool plants with other students.  Jake is thrilled for Heath’s opportunity, naturally, but he can’t help but feel that this is only causing a greater rift between the two of them.  So Jake asks, “Then the next time I’ll see you is next Monday?”

“Well, I’ll be back on Friday.  And there’s the weekend.”

“Yeah, but you’ll be busy with family and studying, right?”

Heath laughs.  “Yeah, I will.”

“Exactly.  So I’ll be seeing you sometime next week.”

He hopes Heath will get the hint but he doesn’t seem to.  No matter.  Just gotta keep a brave face and be confident that things are alright.

Jake decides to let Heath get in touch with him when he gets back.  Fighting every urge in his body to send a text or to call him after Friday, Jake manages to hold off.  It’s not until Sunday when Heath finally texts Jake, and even then, he seems completely unbothered that it’s been almost a week since they’ve last talked, and that he’s been home for three days and hasn’t gotten in touch with his boyfriend.

It makes Jake sad, to say the least, that he’s realized his boyfriend doesn’t need to see or talk to him very much.  What happened to the boy who said he “can”t get enough of him, to that I will testify”?  He didn’t feel important or wanted in Heath’s life.  He knew he had to talk to Heath about this.

For the past few months, Jake always found himself to be the one saying, “I love you” first before hanging up on the phone, and always the first to both telling Heath “Happy Anniversary” as well as coming up with when to see each other next.  On what would have been their 6th month anniversary, nearing the end of the semester, Jake decides again to let Heath wish him a happy anniversary.  He’s sure Heath won’t forget.

By 11pm, he hasn’t heard from Heath all day.  Jake figures Heath is super busy from upcoming school projects, exams and whatnot, but also reasons that it’s not too much to send a text to someone.  Surely, Heath must have 30 seconds or 5 minutes to send a text or to call him, right?  Just before midnight, Jake, extremely bummed out, sends Heath the requisite happy anniversary text, and goes to bed.

Jake and Heath meet at school a few days later, after classes.  Heath says he needs to go home and do work and doesn’t have time to hang out with friends in the cafeteria, but Jake can walk and talk with him at the bus stop.  At the bus stop, Jake tells him about how sad and disappointed he was about Heath’s lack of contact after his trip, and his forgetting to do or say anything about their six months together.  He hopes Heath will understand where he’s coming from.

For the first time, Jake witnesses Heath upset– upset in the slightly angry sense.  Heath, who is probably stressed out of his mind, snaps, “Well, forgive me if I was busy studying for a midterm the next day, and was running of 5 hours of sleep!”  Jake stays silent as Heath goes on.

“I know you probably think I’m making up excuses, but I’m not.  That’s just the way it happened.  Forgive me!”

Jake finally speaks up.  “When we started going out, we would celebrate our anniversaries in person, and I thought that was so great and wonderful.  Then, we got busy, and we would at least call each other on the phone or text, and I thought, ‘This isn’t as great, but I can live with it.  Just hearing from him is more than enough.  I guess this is what I should expect.’  And now…

“I know you’re busy.  I just didn’t think sending a text would require too much of  your time.  Should I be expecting this from now on, Heath?  Is this the standard I should get used to?”  Jake looks to Heath imploringly.  Heath looks away, then down at the ground.

“No, you shouldn’t get used to that.  You know I care about you.”

“Then show me!” Jake says, exasperated.  “It’s so easy to just say that– anyone can say that.  But if you do care about me, then show me.”

It’s now Heath’s turn to be silent.  “Okay.  I will show you.  I’ll come by your place this week, okay?”

Jake nods.  “Okay.”

The bus pulls up to the bus stop, and students begin climbing aboard.

“I love you.”  That’s Heath, one of the first times Jake’s heard Heath say those words first.

Of course Jake says the same.  “I love you, too.  Bye.”  They kiss before Heath gets on the bus.

He wonders.  He wonders if he was too harsh on Heath or not, if he was overreacting, but Jake, who is so in love with this boy, simply tells himself that the next couple weeks will be difficult because of the end of term.  After this semester, it’ll be summer, and things will be so much better.  It has to get better.

After the semester is finally over and summer is out, Jake’s wishes don’t exactly come true.  Although Jake is taking a few courses at school for the summer, Heath is not.  However, Heath spends more time volunteering at the botanical garden and looking for a summer job that although they get to see each other more than, say, those two weeks before end of semester, it’s still not very much.  Jake is fine with it though.  Any time he gets with Heath is great, he tells himself (not that he needs to because he knows it’s already true).

When Heath tells Jake that he’s landed a job, Jake tells him the obligatory “That’s great!  Congrats!” but  is secretly sad, only because he knows it will mean even less time with Heath.  Jake also gets a job at a local movie theatre, but still always seems to be the one who is trying to schedule time together for the two of them.  Moreover, Jake is scared that he’s no longer interesting to Heath, that Heath now thinks Jake is boring and no fun to be around, which might explain why he doesn’t make time to see Jake.  The web of insecurities continue to weave around Jake’s mind.

He decides confront Heath about all this.

On a bright, summer day, a few days before their 10 month anniversary, Jake and Heath meet at the park downtown.  They go on a long, long walk throughout the park as Jake tells him everything he’s been feeling for the past while.  Heath listens to everything without interrupting, and his expression is difficult to read.  Then, Jake has a pivotal question for Heath.

“Do you honestly think you have time for a relationship right now?”

After some silence, Heath replies, “I guess not.”

The two sit on a log and talk some more.  “When we started going out, I promised you that I wouldn’t hurt you, and I can tell this has hurt you.  I don’t want to hurt you anymore,” reasons Heath.  He puts his head on Jake’s shoulder as they sit in silence.

Unable to think, Jake says nothing.  He doesn’t feel anything, which he is aware of, and is surprised at it.  There are no tears, although he does feel sad.  Perhaps all the time away from each other has made things easier to end.  Logically, if one person in a relationship doesn’t have time for one, it should follow that that person shouldn’t be in a relationship.  Logically, things should end.

But it doesn’t feel like an ending.

On their long way along the beach at the park, Jake locks his arm in Heath’s, the way he used to do.  Heath lets him do it, and Jake can’t help but obviously still love Heath.  It doesn’t feel as if anything has changed.  The truth does not equal the reality.  It doesn’t feel over.

The next few days, Jake suprises himself by being able to not contact Heath.  He actually feels alright.  He thought it would be harder to do, but maybe he’s stronger than he thinks.  There are a few times when Jake catches himself thinking about his “husky”, but then reminds himself that he no longer has one.  At the same time, he can’t help but think Heath isn’t the type of person who would ask him back.  Unlike Jake, the romancer of romance, Heath was never too big on romance.  Sure, he used to write a poem or two to Jake and one time he gave Jake a rose, but it was never consistent, and certainly in the last few months, the only romantic thing Heath did was have romantic sex.  Still, Jake supposes there’s always a chance.

To be continued!

Good Morning, Heartache (Part 4)

9 04 2012

Good Morning, Heartache (part 4)

Things go well for a few months.  The couple spend good time together.  He won’t realize it until much later, but Jake falls for Heath more and more every day, and misses his terribly on days when they aren’t able to see each other. Then one day, things change.

It’s during a bus ride home.  Since Jake and Heath both live east, they take the same bus home to family.  On the trip home one day, Heath tells Jake there’s something important he needs to tell him.

“I don’t want you to freak out or make a big deal out of this, alright?  It doesn’t mean anything.”

Jake tries his best to remain calm.  Had Heath cheated on him?  Does he want to break up?

“Okay.  What is it?”

Heath takes a breath.  “I have this thing where I kind of get… tired?  Sick?  Those are both bad words to use, but I can only hang out with people for a certain amount of time before I want to not be around them.  It’s like filling my quota of time with them; anything more is too much, and I need some time away, and then I’m good after a while.

“I’m… I’m starting to feel that way about you.  Please, don’t panic.  It happens to everyone I know.  There are only two people I’ve ever met who are immune to this, one of them being Chihiro, and please don’t think that I don’t like being around you.  I just don’t want to not like you, you know?”

Well, what could Jake say after that?  “Alright,” he manages.  “If you feel like that, then I guess I’m okay with that.  I mean, it makes me sad, but I can’t make you hang out with me.  I understand.”

Heath takes Jake’s hand and gives it a reassuring squeeze.  “Like I said, I’m just starting to feel it, and I don’t know if it’s actually there or not, or if it will develop.  I just thought you should know.”

“Okay.  Thanks for letting me know.”

From then on, their weekly hang outs decrease.  They still see each other at school, but their actual time together goes down.  Jake, who was used to seeing Dorian once or twice a week, now feels as if he is with Dorian (or rather, Dorian’s schedule) again.  His insecurity floats around in his head, telling him he’s not worth Heath’s time, and that Heath just doesn’t want to be around Jake much.  Jake figures the best thing to do is to be honest, as he considers their relationship to be an honest one.

Jake invites Heath over to his house one night.  He tells Heath he has something he wants to talk to him about.  The two sit down on the leather couch in Jake’s living room.  Heath looks concerned.

“I don’t know where to start, so I’ll just tell you about Dorian.”

Jake explains his complicated relationship with Dorian, and how dating him made him feel distanced and not like a boyfriend, and how he really didn’t want that to happen with Heath, whom he considered to be so wonderful.

Heath nods every now and then.  When Jake is finished, Heath says, “I had no idea.  I’m sorry I did that to you.”  And he leans in to hug Jake tightly and give him a kiss.

“I’ll make it right.”

Jake believes him.  Or he really hopes Heath means it.

Things do sort of get better, if not, they at least they don’t get worse.  Heath invites Jake to have a sleepover at the botanical garden where he volunteers, which is nice.  Jake and Heath still do see each other, but like his relationship with Dorian, Heath is super into his schoolwork and many days, he goes straight home to work on things or to be with family.  Jake, an understanding and patient guy, figures that it’s good for Heath to concentrate on his schoolwork.  After all, they’d get lots of time together after the semester was over.

It’s December, and school is out for the winter.  It’s also the month of Jake’s birthday.  For the past few Decembers, Jake has been working at a concession stand in a large park in the city.  He, along with several others, prepares and sells hot dogs, hot chocolate, cider, and other goodies to guests who come to see the park all dressed up in lights.  It makes for a nice (but chilly) date, since the light show is only open at night.

Remember Heath’s friend Mozilla?  Well, she happens to work inside the park’s restaurant, and for the winter light show, she also works outside with Jake.  Mozilla and Jake were never super close, but he confides in her about something he’s planning.

“Heath and I are going to come by the park this weekend, just after my birthday.”

“That’s so nice!  You guys are gonna really like it.”

“I think so too.”

After walking around for about an hour in the multi-colored, light-filled park and weaving through loud groups of families (and hence, loud children), Jake suggests they find a quiet place to sit down.  The two find a sign that leads them up a small hill and to a bench.  The bench overlooks most of the park, and is out of the way enough to actually be quiet.

Heath and Jake sit down on the frozen bench.

“Thanks for bringing me here,” Heath says.

“You’re welcome.  I really wanted to come here with you.  Heath, there’s something I want to tell you.”

Heath is silent as Jake struggles to cough up the words.  They are stuck in his throat.

“I… um, I…”

Jake looks down at all the people milling around the park, at the randomness of life, and how, for two people to be together on a winter night like him and Heath, there must be some sort of organization, something more than mere luck or chance.  There had to be a reason Jake is with someone as good as Heath.  Good things just don’t happen to Jake like this.  And in that moment, Jake decides that he will be thankful every day for having such a person in his life by telling him how much he means.

“I love you, Heath.”

Heath takes Jake’s hand.  “Aww.  I love you, too.”

Heath then starts talking about something funny that happened to Mozilla in the restaurant last week, when he suddenly stops.  There are tears in Jake’s eyes.

“Are you crying?”

“Yes… but they’re happy tears!  It’s okay.  I’m just… I’m just really happy that you said it back to me because I was honestly not sure.  I’m never sure about this like this.  And I’ve never said it to anyone out loud before.  Now that I hear you say it back… I know I can be sure, because you love me too.”

Heath and Jake kiss among the thousands of lights in the park.

To be continued!