CHAPTER 1: HIS NAME WAS GABE
Quite some time has passed since my heart was
broken by the man who I believed would be the love of my life.
Even though I was fortunate enough to find love after we parted,
he still left a dull ache in my heart that wasn't fully healed. I
once again erected my mighty wall of protection against Love or
any of its counterparts: Like, Care, Feel, Want & Desire.
There was no way I was going to put myself into a position to
feel that depth of pain ever again! Imagine my surprise when Love
gathered his posse of misfits, donned their masks, blew up my
wall, wrestled me to the ground, & stole my heart! However, I
would not realize it until it was too late!
It wasn't too long ago that I was a naysayer against Internet love. I was fortunate enough to have a pleasant experience through the Internet. But that wasn't enough for me to put myself into such a vulnerable position again. I was NOT looking for Love at that particular time, and I did not want Love to find me. It was pretty obvious to me that I could not take care of my own emotional health. So I definitely did not want to be responsible for someone else's. My Hewlett Packard desktop computer was enough to keep me warm at night. It became my lifeline. I was online and in the chat rooms for hours at a time. It was like my second shift full-time job in the evenings. As soon as I came home and ate dinner, I clocked in to my second shift job and commenced to chatting on the computer. I volunteered for overtime and I sometimes even worked the graveyard shift! It was not uncommon for me to stay up & talk all night, knowing that I had to go to work the next day. If talking all night meant me not feeling the emptiness I was feeling in my heart, I was all for it.
I met Gabe, innocently enough, through a chat room that we were both in. I don't recall what he was saying, but he "felt" so familiar to me. It seemed like I already knew him. Maybe my mind & my heart were playing tricks on me. But he "sounded" like he was my ex Jaden. My curiosity overcame my fear, so I sent him an instant message asking him if he was my ex! He probably thought I was crazy. But I was relieved to know that he wasn't him - I think. Whew! My heart began to beat again. He informed me that he was 23 years old and lived in Brooklyn, NY. I was 29 at the time, so he was 6 years my junior. He was an African-American male, originally from Trinidad, who worked as a plumber. He seemed like a really cool guy. I'm not sure what he was looking for at that time. But I was not planning to actually like this guy, and certainly not fall in love with him.
I'm not sure how much time had passed before he asked me for my telephone number. Although I began to get somewhat comfortable with him, I thought it would be better to get his phone number instead. At least that way, I could block my number because who knows? He may "talk" one way on the internet, but converse differently on the phone. I was nervous, but I did call. He had an accent that I absolutely loved! The sounds of his Trinidad and New York accents were heavenly. Even the way he spoke my name got me all excited! It became a regular routine for us to talk on the phone every night. Sometimes his duties as a plumber lasted well into the evening hours of the night. As time went on, it did not matter what time he called me. I was just looking forward to hearing from him every night. We got along so well. For someone who was almost 6 years younger than I, it amazed me how much we had in common, or how similar our values were. He was a true breath of fresh air. With all of that being said, my walls were still up in the love department. He once told me that I had "hard heart syndrome," and that my walls were not only "very tall & surrounded with razor wire." But that they were also surrounded by "a moat with heavy security." I wouldn't describe it quite like that. I just did not want to allow anyone to get as close to me as Jaden once had.
As much as I enjoyed his conversation and telephone etiquette, I did not want him to begin feeling anything for me other than friendship. My heart was damaged and it put me in no position to care for him or anyone at that time. However, talking to someone on a daily basis for hours at a time did not help matters. You begin to get feelings for that person. Feelings or not, I knew one thing for damn sure. I was NOT going to tell him that I was beginning to feel anything for him! And if I ever did "confess," you best believe he was going to spill his guts first! And guess what? That's exactly what happened.
It was probably around the early part of November when Gabe told me that he thought he was falling in love with me. I recall that I reacted badly, for lack of a better term. I'm not sure what led to that particular topic. But I do recall him telling me how he was having feelings for me, & that he felt like he was falling in love with me. It was at this pivotal moment when I knew for certain, Love had robbed me blind! I was totally defenseless. My wall was crumbling right before my eyes! But I was not going down without a fight! I got all upset and kept saying "NO! I DON'T WANT TO HEAR THAT! STOP SAYING THAT!" He said, "Let me help you," and he just kept repeating how he felt and saying how it hurts him that I have this wall up; that I won't trust him enough to let my wall down, and to trust that he won't hurt me. I know to most that may be a crazy reaction to someone who has just professed how he feels. But for me, it was hurtful, soothing, and scary all at the same time. It hurt because my heart was still in cardiac arrest from my relationship with Jaden. It had not fully recovered. It was soothing because it let me know, that once again, I was worthy to be loved. But now the pressure was on because whether I loved him or not, I now felt responsible for how he felt. Maybe now you can understand why I reacted the way I did. And it was scary because I KNEW that I loved him too. But I was still not ready to confess it out loud to him or myself. Doing so would be unfair to him because I knew that a part of me was still hurting due to my previous relationship. How could I begin to feel so much for him when I was still hurting from my past? Little did he know that his proclamation of love for me was the first big hit on the emotional wall I had built.
It was just before the Thanksgiving holidays when I let it slip out that I loved him. We were discussing what our plans were for the holidays. He was going to his brother's house, who I think lived in Queens at the time. He was telling me that he did not want to go. I asked him why. He said it was because he wouldn't be able to talk to me every day, as we had both gotten used to. I would've missed that as well. But he sounded really sad about it, really upset. I tried to comfort him and make him feel better about the situation. Anyway, we were tying things up with our conversation and he told me that he loved me. I responded "I love you too," and hung up the phone real quick! I had NO intentions of telling him I loved him. As soon as the words escaped my lips, I realized what I just said and I just wanted to get off of the phone immediately!
I was hoping and praying that somehow he did not hear me say "I love you too." But of course he did. He immediately called me back! I didn't answer the phone right away because I knew he was going to question me about what I just said and I was not ready to discuss it. I had never admitted to myself or to him, out loud, that I felt that way. Sure, I felt it. But fear prevented me from saying so. I took a deep breath and answered the phone. He sounded so emotional then when he asked me to repeat and admit to what was just spoken. Tears began to fill my eyes because my truth was out and there was no way I could take it back. I had to admit to him that I said, "I love you too." He sounded as if he had been waiting so long to hear me say those three words. So there it was. The truth was out. He had feelings for me. He loved me. I had feelings for him. I loved him. Love had kicked my ass & won! Oh God, what am I gonna do now?