"Make Way" Part Six: Love You
You for me, me for you, or me for me?
Nalani was working on a personal film about her mother, she spent a lot of time planning how she'd go about it, she was serious about this.
The night she messaged Bray, she was watching videos from YouTube, like Emmy Eats, and maybe some Tiny Desk Concert. She proceeded to paint, and then rewatch a homemade video made back in '89. Her mother was narrating while filming, it was inside a familiar place, Nalani's living room.
She had a lot of ideas and felt inspired. Nalani couldn't help but tear up every time she made herself watch the homemade videos, or listen to sound bites she has from the past.
She did yoga, then afterward laid in bed and scrolled on Instagram, unfollowing accounts she felt weren't posting anything different. Her favorite accounts have to do with art, and adorable mugs made from scratch that had illustrations of animals. Slime account videos are fun and satisfying for her to watch, she even owns a container of pink slime.
Nalani put on a Netflix show while getting ready to go to sleep for work, tomorrow. The thought of messaging Bray came to mind and she did just that. Who knows why she decided to do it — she thought about him and perhaps this was her way of having closure?
"Sometimes not having closure, is the closure," Booner said to Bray the day after. But Bray didn't feel right about it, hell, he felt he fucked up by answering her what he thought was right at the moment. It still bothered him he made that mistake.
It is the way things go, right? Nalani felt as though she needed to put a good note, or reach out, letting Bray know this was hard for her, too. After she sent him the message, she put her phone aside and closed her eyes.
It was three weeks after they started dating. They were at his family's house in Long Island, in his basement, lying on the couch. It was her first time there, a movie was playing as a noise of distraction for when they were making out. They went at it for a while, till a moment of silence became, and both Nalani and Bray locked eyes.
He told her, "I'm in love with you."
They froze. What the fuck? "I'm in love with you"? That's what he just said. He felt a release with those words, but he knew he may have made a mistake saying it to her. She smiled but didn't say anything.
He said after a beat, "I'm sorry, I know — it's um, it's crazy. But I just — I feel this connection, ya know? Like you're real to me, and you're honest, and I've never felt this way, before — I don't even care, it feels right, okay?"
She smiled even wider, there was redness blooming in her face, and her eyes got watery, saying "Yes, it is okay. I love you, Bray."
She didn't say "I'm in love with you, too" but he knew she loved him. She probably didn't feel that much affection just yet, how could she? It's been such a short term, so far — how could he be in love with me? She asked herself, and not just in the time frame sense, but the audacity in her head, asking — he's actually in love with me?
He began thinking whether or not it was too extreme, he hadn't been with a woman in two years. He was used to being single, mostly by himself at his most quiet. Nalani had just gotten out of a relationship, and then this one flame with Ray. She's been with a few guys, and from each relationship told herself she didn't need to be involved with anyone but involved with herself.
Remember when she said, "We're just having fun, okay?" Well, she remembered it, too.
But something about this situation or this, relationship, right now — it felt mutual, or as an outsider, here were two anxious people taking a leap for chance. Bray constantly told himself he didn't want a good thing to end the way his last relationship ended. Jesus, he was already thinking about the end. He never really got over the last one, his ex — not entirely, just the kind of person he was during that period of time. He may have loved his ex, or he may have loved the idea of loving her. He was clingy but sent mixed messages of being comfortably alone when he really wasn't comfortable after they started dating. When it came to looking out for her, emotionally, he triumphed and lacked — it was the patience, he had zero amount of it for her daily insecurities.
When she spoke to other guys, he became envious and would play it sarcastically like he wasn't. It drove her mad, and hurt, while Bray started revealing more of his insecurities, as well. She met someone, and then the relationship ended, leaving Bray in a weird state.
He wasn't sure if the relationship was even real, and if so — what happened? What was wrong with him? He thought.
So after telling Nalani he's in love with her, he told himself to not get emotionally devoted, but it was kind of too late. Why? Because he was afraid he may not be good enough. Good enough for who?
Nalani was still talking to her ex. She wasn't sure what she wanted or if it was right, she still loved him but grew too fondly of Bray, now. She lied to herself more than she hoped she didn't. Most of the time, Nalani thought of doing whatever she wanted, the feeling of being loved was satisfying, but she didn't feel good. Not because of the men, but because she didn't see herself the way her ex and Bray saw her.
Both Bray and Nalani did not know at the time what was wrong when things at the time, felt right. Connection felt strong, there was joy for the two of them being together, and there was a feeling of adventure. But what about when they weren't even together, or not even talking?
What about when she wasn't with or talking to her ex? What about when Bray wasn't with or talking to his ex? What about when either of them weren't with their friends?
They needed each other, which was what they weren't realizing was the problem. See, they were alone. They weren't sure of who they were because they tried so hard filling the empty space within themselves.
They loved being loved because it meant they mattered.
But, without each other, did they love themselves?