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Houston, We Have a Problem

August 19, 2013

You know that’s not even the real quote. After they heard the explosion Swigert said, “Houston, we’ve had a problem.” Then it was repeated by Lovell. It got turned into the famous quote by Ron Howard, I guess.

But that’s beside the point.

The return of Z:

He came back. He finally came back. The build up to the moment he walked into my apartment was intense. Right up until he landed in Houston, he was sending me messages of love and anticipation. He was supposed to land late Wednesday night but his flight was delayed three hours in London. I was a nervous wreck Wednesday so Pickle and I went out. Pamplona’s then the Moon. I slept fitfully that night knowing he was on a plane on his way back. At about 2am I messaged him, asking if he was safe. He was in Houston but his ride hadn’t arrived yet. “The Bastard,” he called his best friend. I sympathized with his plight. Waiting in an airport after so many hours of flying. “I’ve been through worse,” he replied. I didn’t know what he meant at the time. Knowing he was safe, I went back to sleep.

I was a nervous wreck all day Thursday. We planned to meet at my apartment at 6pm. I left work at 4:45, showered and carefully dried and curled my hair. My make-up was perfect. I was wearing my pink skirt with a cute top, lingerie underneath. By 5:30 I was all ready. Time slowed down and I watched the minutes go by as I paced in my apartment with a glass of wine. I was so nervous to see him again. I didn’t know what it was going to be like. I didn’t know why I was so nervous.

I had told Lisa the night before that I had a premonition that it wasn’t going to last long. We had build up so much expectation. It seemed like a lot to live up to. But it was more than that. Most of our conversations revolved around sex. Z is a hopeless romantic and he can be very sweet. But for the past three months he’s also been a horny 25-year old, alone with family in India. His conversations reflected that. It sort of left me with a feeling that this was going to be just about sex. I knew that wasn’t going to be enough for me after a while. Plus, I had fallen for him. I knew that I was going to expect more and I was worried that I wasn’t going to get it.

My apartment door was wide open letting the intense evening sun into the dark space. I positioned myself in a spot where I could see his car pull up the street. He texted that he was on his way. My heart was pounding. I was breathing heavy. A white car pulled up. “He’s here,” I said to myself nervously. I stood in the living room. Then I saw the car pull away. “What the fuck,” I said out loud as I approached the door. I thought someone was just turning around, as often happens on my dead end street. As I approached my door he walked in. I jumped and turned around. He laughed. Not exactly the way I imagined the moment of our reunion.

He was there in front of me. He closed the door and we hugged for a long time. I was overwhelmed. We kissed. I pulled away and looked at him. “You’re here,” I said. “You’re finally here.” He was silent. We kissed more and sat on the sofa. “Did someone drop you off?” I asked. “Yeah. Eric did,” he responded. We made out on the sofa, picking up where we left off three months ago. The intensity and connection was still there but something was different.

“You’re not saying anything,” I said. “Why aren’t you saying anything?”

“I’ve been talking to you every day,” he replied and went back to kissing me.

“I miss the sound of your voice,” I said.

We had sex and it was great, like it had been before. But, still there was something different about the way he looked at me, about the way he was. He wasn’t the same.

“There’s something different about you,” I said. “There’s a different look in your eyes.”

He finally started talking. He told me about his day. He came back to chaos at the house he shared with his friends. Bills unpaid, notices from the utility company. He had to get the car insurance renewed and inspection stickers. He had been cleaning up and cooking all day. He seems to be the leader of his little group of immigrant students and while he was away they all goofed off.

Then he told me what happened in Houston. He was pulled aside by immigration. They held him for five hours. They put handcuffs on him. Handcuffs on his hands and legs. They took five hours to verify that he was who he claimed to be. They called the university, made him fill out a questionnaire and compared his answers with his online profile. He told all this to me with relative calm. That’s one of the things I like about Z. He seems to handle stress and difficult situations with calm and humor. But this was different. This wasn’t a bit of trouble with the car or a friend who needed a ride at 3am. This was serious. If that had happened to me I would be furious! If that had happened to me in a foreign country I would’ve been terrified.

I expressed shock and sympathy as best I could but I didn’t know what to say. Obviously he was profiled. A Muslim student with a common Muslim name. He flew in from India and had been to Saudi Arabia. How many people go through something similar every day? Can you imagine being handcuffed and treated like a criminal for five hours by strangers?

Once he was released, his friend was no where to be found. He took a cab to a bus station. His friend finally arrived and had to go find him at the bus station somewhere in Houston. All this had been about 12 hours before he was lying with me in my bed.

He talked about other things and showed me pictures from his trip. He seemed ok but something was different. I wasn’t lying next to the same guy I had spent an intense four weeks with in the spring. He was looking at the ceiling when he said quietly, “I’ve never been in handcuffs in my life.” I didn’t know what to say to him. How do you comfort someone who’s been treated like shit by your own government?

The next morning he asked me to bring him back early. He had things to do and his father was expecting him to skype. He wanted to know about what happened in Houston. I had taken the day off to spend with him. Just a few days ago he had been excited and happy that I would be free all day.

I brought him home. He didn’t kiss me goodbye. Something was off. That was Friday morning. I’m writing this sitting at a coffee shop with Pickle. It’s Sunday afternoon. I haven’t seen him again since. He’s kept in touch…..but not in the same way he did before. Not at all like he did when were together before…..before he left and not even like he did just days and hours before his return.

There was a cricket match this weekend. I had said I wanted to watch him play. He wanted me to see him bat. He had said he would be all mine once the sun went down and the games were over. But he didn’t tell me when he was playing. He didn’t come over after the games. Something is off. Something is different.

So, I found myself, once again crying as I walked in the park yesterday. I can’t help but feel like it’s over before it had a chance to begin. Like all that anticipation and build up……all the things we said……have come to nothing. He comes back and it’s just not the same. I feel sad and disappointed.

I’m telling myself to cut him some slack. He’s been through a lot. Even without the Houston incident, he’s been through a lot of change in a short amount of time. He’s only been back a few days after all. I’m telling myself to have a little faith in him. I’m telling myself a lot of things.

I told him Sunday that I wanted to see him soon. I guess I’ll just lay it out on the line and see if this is just a re-entry hiccup or the premature yet inevitable end of another story about a boy.

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From → Rantings

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