One thing you wonder constantly, for years, is, what was the crossing-over moment between just a dumb crush and love? When did he go from being Boris this boy you were a tiny bit just a little in love with to Boris, this boy who was the center of the universe?
At night you are alone. You take your glasses off and set them on your nightstand and the world goes fuzzy. He’s not there because he never is, but you’re constantly caught up in wondering what it would be like if he was.
Sometimes you cry.
Sometimes, you miss the you that could have been, the world that could have been, if he’d said “ah, fuck it Potter, give me five minutes” and run off to his house and come back with both the painting and a duffel bag full of his clothes. And he would have explained, not then and there, but later under the desert sky while you waited for the Greyhound. And two tickets would have cost more but you wouldn’t have cared because then there’d be two of you to share this burden. Because then he’d be with you, and everything else you could just figure out.
You are a blackout drunk, but who can blame you? That’s a dumbass question, because you blame yourself, of course.
When you wonder what could have been, you feel like a fool. You are a fool, you were a fool at fourteen and you are a fool now. You have never not been foolish. You were a fool when you desperately asked him to come with you and you were a fool when you thought maybe he might just do it.
You were a fool when you thought and hoped your father might maybe one day stop screaming at you every goddamn day and you were a fool when you buried your head in Boris’s shoulder and screamed yourself.
You were a fool when you kissed him.
Boris was just a boy. You were just a boy. For years you thought about him and tried to convince yourself that it was stupid, silly, baby puppy love, that it was a dumb crush you got over about a second after you left the desert, but when you saw his face and it felt like someone had punched you in the gut you knew. You knew.
Loving someone that much is like having your guts ripped out when they go missing from your life.
What’s stupid is, he’s not the one that left. You are, but it’s not like you had a fucking choice. There was nothing you could do, no way but forward. You are Orpheus, but Boris is far from being Eurydice because after you left it seems you did nothing but turn around and stare longingly.
You are an oak tree. As a teenager you were an awkward sapling, but you were a tree that needed to be planted somewhere with rich soil and lots of water or else you were going to keel over and die. The desert was never the place for you. Boris on the other hand is a dandelion, he can grow no matter where he’s planted, Ukraine, Russia, Las Vegas, Australia, whatever.
You wish you were like that, you wish you weren’t so fucking fragile. Maybe then you could have hung on in the desert. Because instead of doing that you had to run as fast as you could back to somewhere you could grow.
You used to dream about going on adventures with Boris: Paris, St Petersburg, Kiev, Melbourne. You’d go to Europe and the two of you would wander with no plan, smoke cigarettes in the Luxembourg Gardens and talk about life and at the end of your long and lingering trip around the world, you would fly back home over the Arctic Circle and go back to your apartment in Manhattan. Maybe it would be shitty, but it would be yours.
That was the adventure you dreamed of. The adventure you earned, and the one you eventually got, was very very different. You did not hold hands and stroll along the Seine, you did not kiss on the Quay d’Orsay or admire Monet’s water lilies in the Orangerie. These were the things you pictured yourself doing when you were fifteen and in love. Now that you are twenty-four and your heart is broken you know that you were never destined to see those places or have those tender moments, not with anyone but especially not with him.
It’s stupid, but it still breaks your heart.
You would tell yourself that you loved him, but that would be a lie. You love him, you still love him and you have loved him for years. If you had ever stopped—and you know this now—it would have been a schism in your life so intense and jarring that your heart hardly would have survived it. It barely did survive, anyway.
But how ridiculous is it that it never occurred to you that maybe he felt the same way, that maybe when you imagined the two of you holding hands in the Hermitage and admiring the art he was imagining the two of you in Central Park, in your world. Because if that were true, then why did he let you leave? Why didn’t he stop you? Why didn’t he follow you?
Maybe the things pulling you away were the same things keeping him rooted. After all, he wanted you to stay but he loved you enough not to stop you from leaving. He loved you? He loved you.
Despite yourself, or perhaps because of yourself, you are being pulled back to this silly man who risked everything for you. If he is silly, you are idiotic. You are oblivious, ignorant, uncomprehending. He wouldn’t have done the things he did if he didn’t love you back. Neither of you knew how to say it.
You lived one dumb and tragic truth when you were fourteen but teenage reality doesn’t last forever, even if you want it to, and that would be the stupidest thing in the world to want. You might have spent your adult life dealing in fakes but there’s no way you’ve fooled yourself into forgetting how to feel genuine.
You have to tell him, but how on earth do you tell him? He should know already, but of course you should also have known already, known for years. You are both fools.
You have just come back from Amsterdam and despite his reservations Hobie has allowed you to stay with him, for now at least. Which is why you feel a little guilty about leaving in the middle of the night to catch the train to Boris’s hotel. But it’s about love. This can’t wait.
You love him.
You love him.
You love him.