Dear Catherine, Dear Jim,
I hope you guys are doing wonderfully well. I hope that tonight, like every night, your living room is filled with lovely smells, plenty of laughter, and is simply so full of unconditional love.
I was with Francois the other night, trying to make sense of the things that I was feeling in regards to these two distinct, yet so intertwined relationships.
That’s when he said to me what he says best… He said: “Jules, It’s been eight months. If you are not willing to let all of this go and accept that you have lost, why don’t you copy them on the same email? »
I knew it was the right thing to do. Perhaps I had been too scared to be blatantly honest. I feel now is the time, now or never, and I hope both of you will read this until the very last word.
I miss and love both of you guys very much. For different reasons.
I miss our late night conversations that were as various as they were enriching. I miss our debates on true love, finding meaning on this college campus, creating fulfilling friendships while navigating the dullness of many of those school encounters, our existential desires to stay away from mediocrity, our exploration of poetry all around us, our talks on racism and inequalities, our conversations on our travels around the globe, the weight of world inequalities, the impact of Western Politics in the middle east, poverty in your native country, the power of education and our duty to learn, the hazard behind inequalities, the signification of our upbringings, the responsibilities we carry towards our family, the discipline required to be a student-athlete, the connection between mindsets and sports performance, the beauty of alcohol and the exquisiteness of a drink you deserve.
I miss listening to the poems you wrote that kissed me good night. I miss drinking whisky until 5 ante meridium in your company – exploring one of your favorite concept, the Mazag. I miss your loud and communicative laugh when I tell you the silliest stories and your concerned look when I’m struggling. Because you always paid attention to me.
I miss listening to your beautiful voice when you have a silly joke to share. I miss listening to your voice when you have an urgent point to make, an important story to tell, your humanity to defend, your yearning for existence to assert. I miss being able to count the stars in your eyes when you talk about your homeland, I miss hearing your voice say “Where I come from, it’s very impolite to refuse a drink” on another one of those spectacular nights spent together, “On top of the world”. One that, I hope, neither you nor myself will ever forget. That night, I truly felt as though I was on top of the world.
Jim, I remember truly meeting you. It was a Saturday night, at Francois’ house, in San Francisco. I had been drinking. We all had. I was opening up about feeling depressed, suicidal thoughts, and desires to put an end to my life. That night, you had taken me aside, and you had told me; “You are not alone man. I know what are you going through. Please, trust me.” We had ended the night on this note, a note made of repressed tears, human emotions difficult to put into words, shattered masculinity.
And you had followed up. Because you cared. Because you loved. Because you wanted to be a source of support, joy, and happiness. And that, you truly were.
By your side, I felt happy and wholesome. I felt intelligent. I felt educated. I felt worthy of being loved, worthy of being trusted, worthy of being cared for.
I miss our late night discussions about families and losses, about losing friends and making new ones, about perception of self and the dangers of others. I miss our conversations about sports and inner confidence, about true pain and creativity, about expressing yourself and deliberately choosing openness. I miss your passion for smells and tastes, your desire to accomplish and to earn respect, your disengaged yet engaged way of showing your love, your sassy way of caring about the people that are part of your special universe.
I miss seeing your face brightens at the sight of food, at white wine, at me. I miss this feeling of eternity I felt when it was just you and me. I miss feeling the weight of your entire self on my lips, focused that you always were on what I had to say. I miss sharing thoughts, ideas, simply, authentically. I miss allowing you to be vulnerable, hugging you forever when that’s what you needed and making you laugh with your whole body when the times are sweet. I miss looking at your blue eyes and smiling at your smile, I miss our charming intimacy and our hands finally intertwined.
I remember meeting you for the first time. Your gracious presence instantaneously reminded me of somebody I had loved, earlier in my life. It was in September. Jim expressed himself first. And he deserved you so much more than I did.
Because he had been opening up to me about his difficulties seducing women and I thought this could be the exact thing he needed, because he had not been in love for a long time and because he was simply so elegantly beautiful in my mind that there was no way you could ever reject him. Because I was in love with him as I was about to be with you, because there was no way I was gonna jump from one relationship to the other, because he was wonderfully honest about his attraction to you and because I wanted him to have you so much more than I wanted to have you.
I remember listening to Jim talk about you, your beauty, your intelligence, your amazingness. I remember nodding my head up and down, approving every single little thing that he had to say about you, and how he was feeling. I remember reinforcing him with my love, giving him all the support I could, deeply believing that you guys would live a love story sooner than later.
I remember giving him everything I knew about you, slowly collecting pieces upon pieces, hoping to build a hopeful portrait. I remember praising Jim anytime I could, his charisma, his manners, his intelligence. There was no way this love story could not happen.
There was this trip to Mexico.
You and I travelled together. You had bought the same plane tickets. Our complicity was clear, tangible. To everyone.
First day at this incredibly paradisiac beach. We all go swimming in the ocean. The water is clear and salty. Dandi and Jean are by my side. You’re no further than 10 meters away.
Out of the blue, Dandi asks me, “so when is the first kiss?” My heart is pounding out of my chest. I am looking at you over there, and I’m blushing. I’m denying all possibilities of this ever happening. I’m wishing that Jim would arrive already, that he would kiss you right there and then, that you would kiss him back, that the story would both end and start there, that we could all simply be together, striving to find beauty and poetry in our world.
I find difficult to put into words how raw and humane this experience was, yet I think we all do remember and will carry within ourselves its organic power. I know I do and I know I will.
So while it is tough for me to find the sentences that could paint those memories, a few specific events are intrinsic to our common story.
That Thursday night was an evening spent by the fire. We had plenty of fine liquor, wonderful sweets, and a hell of a fire to contemplate. As we were all losing ourselves to the depth and warmth of those reflections-radiations, all of us knew our relationship to each other would never ever be the same.
That’s how our moments were. Brutally honest. Marked by truth. That’s who we were – truly devastated and intoxicated with life, truly fighting for another breath, truly breathing for all those who left. It must have been 4 in the morning when you two got physically close. It was surreptitious, but clear. We all knew and silently left that space, excited. It was so close. It had to happen.
We were surprised, frustrated, sad.
Our last night together. It’s been another eventful evening. Music loud enough so that entire North America can hear us, aggressive salsa dancing, screams and laughs.
It’s 4 in the morning. Francois is standing silently next to me. We are watching the stars and listening to the waves in front of us. He says quietly, “you know Jules, I think you are the one that Catherine fell for. And I understand how much you care for Jim, and I don’t know where you are with your own girlfriend, but remember: women are no possession. If you feel you have something to live with her, you should simply follow your desires.”
Flash forward to Fall 2017 Finals’ week, a lunch outside with Jim, who looks grim, dark, skips breakfast, and does not give me the same kiss of life he once did. He seems exhausted, yet maintains everything is quite fine.
He finally asks me this question; “If I had not gone for her, would you have?” My answer “No.” He asks again: “Are you sure?” I feel my heart pounding: “Yes.” I am lying to my best friend. We both know it. It’s too hard to do otherwise.
It’s the last Wednesday before I leave for France. I spend my last evening to date with the woman I had loved deeply for three years of my life.
Christmas time begins. I receive a message from Jim offering me to fly to Egypt so we can all be together, Jim, Francois, me. The trio. I’m so very close to accepting this once in a lifetime offer. Then I hear my father’s voice when I tell him there’s a chance he would see me for 3 weeks instead of 4, that winter. It was painful. That’s when I thanked Jim and told myself, “there’s gonna be so many more opportunities for me to go visit him, it’s not a big deal at all.”
Throughout that same Christmas period, I am spending more and more time with Catherine. There are expositions we attend together, subways stations we meet at, walks we take in the night. There is food we share, music we listen to, wine we drink.
One night, she said, “you’re the one that I like.” Not long after Jim had offered me to come see his beautiful homeland in another one of his incredible acts of generosity, I was holding the hips of the woman he had fallen for and kissing her gently.
That same night, I chose to walk along the river on my way back to my apartment. I felt incredibly excited and happy, but also very fucking confused and lost.
What’s tougher, rejection, lies, or betrayal?
Last Winter break, I had long conversations with two of the people that I am the closest to in my life. Oddly enough, they both said the exact same thing to me. “Unless you are truly and deeply falling for this woman, do not do it. You are going to lose him, no doubt.” What’s tougher, rejection, lies, or betrayal?
What was next? I had no idea. We came back to America. Those nights drinking wine were behind us, it was time to get back to the soccer field and our dear library.
Catherine and I saw each other. We talked. We shared. We kissed. It was sweet and nice, yet also unclear. What was the right thing to do? Hard to tell. Jim could not be kept out of that loving loop. He and I headed for dinner.
I feel that Tuesday night was the last time to date he felt nothing but love towards his homie. This Tuesday night was the night I lost his trust, and his desire to be vulnerable and authentic in my presence.
“I kissed Catherine,” Beat. Don’t worry I added, “It’s a one time thing.”
Just like a boxer, he took the punches, and got back up. We continued talking. He paid the bill. I drove him home that night, and we hugged. I told him I loved him, he said, “I love you too,” and I felt hopeful. We would all get past this.
I had not realized I had lost trust.
I called Catherine. I told her everything. I text him a couple times after that. Silence. A month goes by. Short message. “Obviously it’s never gonna be the same”
Weird energies. I am desperately reaching out, yet I feel uncomfortable in his presence, taking everything you say personally. I don’t dare to talk about women, feeling complexed by this history, I feel guilty about the things that bring me happiness, watching undisclosed and bottled up pain.
I am mean to her. All we talk about is him. I disrespect her continually, undermine her feelings, emotions, and desires. The absence of Jim in my life is creating a hole in my chest that I am begging to reconstitute.
I hear Jim say to me; “Forgive but never forget.” And then, it hits me. What’s tougher, rejection, lies or betrayal? You tell me.
I tried to play both cards and I lost both of you.
We’ve become strangers. We are in the same space but we don’t share the same meal. We are in the same group but we’re not talking. We say “see you soon”, until the next group encounters. We go out in the same city on the same nights, in different bars.
I look at his eyes and I wanna tell him “I love you and I am sorry.” I look at hers and I wanna say the same thing.
Dites m’en un peu plus sur vous.