Sitting on my Turkish blanket, knees resting in our elbows, we watched the setting sun against the lapping waves of the ocean. "It's not supposed to be easy," he said. "Life is hard, and that's what we have each other for, but still, no relationship is easy."
"I know life is hard and I know relationships have challenges, but it just seems like mine are extra hard. Like everyone else got some key to life, some secret codes, and I just can't find them."
"No, that's a fake world, that's social media. All those happy smiling families you look at, there's more going on there. They fight. They've been through hard stuff too," he said.
In one month, CGIK and I lost three important people in our lives. His Godmother, my brother, and my grandfather. We were both reeling in pain and had planned this trip to visit each other-- thinking it would be relaxing. We still had a lot to figure out, and we had completely different ways of "figuring it out."
I wanted to set up the parameters of our relationship and have answers to my uneasiness. He is more relaxed and says he would marry me tomorrow. One evening he said, "the Courthouse is close on Sundays, but it's open on Monday. Let's get married on Monday."
"You crazy??" I said. "Yesterday you asked me if I ever shave my legs and I cried."
"I just know that I love you, but you're super sensitive and petty as sh*t."
"I'm petty as sh*t?" I said, leaning back into one hip.
"Yeah! You are," he said with a smirk that I find unreasonably attractive.
CGIK lives in a resort, I swear. He doesn't use the amenities like the pool, the workout center, or even the ocean that's literally six miles away from where he lives. But I used it like a celebrity-- feet propped up next to the pool reading my book about racial disparity. It wasn't my plan to be reading on this topic while visiting CGIK, but while I was searching for The Universe Has Your Back by Gabrielle Bernstein and it was sold out, I found Little Fire Everywhere by Celeste Ng instead. Little Fires Everywhere is a very complex book detailing racial differences brilliantly with intricate design and complicated ties. It's truly brilliant and I highly recommend it.
As much as we want to ignore our differences and waltz forward, it will become nearly impossible. His experience is not my own. And that's to neither of our faults.
Sitting at The Salty Goat one day, both of us enjoying an afternoon drink, we shared about our experiences with cops.
In my jeans and white tank top, I leaned back against the railing next to our outdoor picnic table and said, "One time, I ran four stop signs to get through a bad snowstorm and the sheriff pulled me over. I didn't have a current license or insurance."
"Straight to jail," he said, laughing.
And then we kind of looked at each other seriously. It was funny, but also not funny. CGIK went to jail because he slid into a mailbox. TO JAIL. A MAILBOX. I got really kind of mad about that because it was so wrong. Never in a million years would I go to jail for running into a mailbox.
We've had completed different life experiences, and we will continue to, but how can we coalesce the two? We didn't have an answer for that beyond empathy and understanding. He speaks, I listen. I speak, he listens. We are both good listeners, though sometimes not the best communicators. CGIK was one of the last men in my life to talk with Tj. It was heart-warming to watch my brother light up and talk to him over Facetime. It's hard for men to talk to men. For men to talk at all. I told CGIK he should go into counseling because he is so good at listening and understanding people exactly where they're at.
"As much as this situation is painful for you," CGIK said, "It is also painful for me. I wanted to show him that I'd take care of his little sister."
There was a different sort of connection between the two of them. Tj could talk to counselors all day, but it truly doesn't make an impact unless they understand him. And they don't need to be big things. It's the things he enjoys like sports. A simple conversation about sports could open up into a whole new topic about depression and anxiety.
Our little Florida love hasn't been just sunshine and ocean waves. It's challenges and misunderstandings as well. I asked him why he wants to continue to work at this when we have so many challenges we're currently facing and will face in the future.
"It was the way you sang the entire T-Pain song 'Buy U A Drank,' while wearing my sweatshirt," he smiled. "You're not just a quiet writer.'