In your own way you were in a cage when I first met you. You wanted me. And you wanted me to let you out of the cage that you were in, even though you did not know that you were in a cage, and even though you did not know that you wanted out of the cage that you were in.
You wanted me, that much you knew. You wanted me so we would go for walks on Sunday afternoons that spilled into Sunday evenings, the last embers of the quiet weekend would descend upon us, the final frontier, you would say. These walks we'd usually take through and around the East Village, Alphabet City as you liked to call the neighborhood.
I just liked to call it the East Village. You were living in a studio apartment at the top of a brownstone. Fairly quickly I got used to climbing the four flights of stairs to see you. When I asked what you do when we met at Johan's gallery opening on east third street six months ago you said you were an artist, a painter. You didn't say this with very much confidence which was probably why I asked you whether you wanted to get out of there and go for a walk with me through the city.
It was a June night and the sun wouldn't set for another two hours and it was nice that we left Johan's gallery opening because in its own way it was a cage as well and we both needed to escape that cage, at least for a while. When we walked that evening I thought about our first kiss, the first time we'd wake up in bed in the morning together, our first fight, the first time we'd make love, the first time you'd ask me whether I loved you, the first time that I'd tell you, yes, I do, I do love you, as well as the first time I'd have to reassure you, yes, I do love you, I still love you.
I don't know whether it was the way your maroon bracelet matched the glass of wine that you were holding at Johan's that evening that drew me in the most, but I do remember that bracelet. And even now I do remember and enjoy looking over at your nightstand and seeing that bracelet there, resting beneath the yellow glow of your lamp as you drift off to sleep.
On our third Sunday walk together, seven days after you kissed me for the first time (and I kissed you as well) you said you were ready to show me a few of your paintings. You said you wouldn't show me all of your paintings at once but you were at least ready to show me a few of your paintings. We started with your smaller paintings, the 3'5" prints, the ones you kept in a gold and maroon box at the top right of your desk, closest to the window.
I remember we were in your place on a Sunday afternoon, before one of our walks, and I was sleeping and you were writing, or painting and you didn't know that I was sleeping so you called out my name across the apartment and then I awoke. You said you wanted to show me something, your paintings, your small paintings and I hopped out of bed and put the tea kettle on then sat on the end of the bed near you and told you to show me everything.
You started with an abstract affair which was made up of splashes of navy blue and gold and you said you painted it the afternoon after we first spent the night together. You had signed the back of it, to Karl, my love and my light, and you handed it to me then sat next to me then kissed me (and I kissed you as well) and then the tea kettle cried out and I got up and made two cups of English Breakfast tea.
As we were sitting in bed with our shirts off and drinking English Breakfast tea I asked to see more of your paintings but you said the mood had past, the moment had past but maybe later, and you were just enjoying sitting in bed and drinking tea with me (and I was enjoying this as well). You kissed me again (and I kissed you as well). We didn't have a plan. On an chilly afternoon in November I walked in the door with three bags of groceries and you thanked me and said you wanted to talk about us. This was the first time that I realized that you were in a cage and that you wanted me to help you find your way out of that cage. I told you that I loved you and you said you loved me as well.
I found a spot in the refrigerator for the carrots and a spot in the freezer for the mint-chocolate chip ice cream. We stayed in that night and watched MacGyver. You said your Grandma, your dad's mom, used to watch the show when she would stay at home with you when you were still in elementary school. You said you liked the color of Richard Dean Moss' hair and also the way that he runs his hands through it whenever he has an idea, or a deep thought.
Two weeks later Johan sold a painting for a little under a hundred thousand dollars and he had a party at the same gallery to celebrate. You said the painting was pretty good and also asked me whether I thought you could paint something like that, or even better.
I told you that I always believed in you, which was a vague way of saying that I wasn't so sure that you could but it doesn't really matter either way, selling paintings for a little under a hundred thousand dollars isn't very important to me.
As the weather grew colder and colder the radiator in your apartment grew louder and louder and some nights it was so loud that I had trouble falling asleep, or staying asleep after we'd make love. I didn't mean to do this at the time but I would slip out in the middle of the night and head back to my apartment so that I could actually get some sleep. You thought that I was doing this because I didn't love you as much in December as I did in September but I said that that wasn't why I was leaving in the middle of the night, although it may have been the case.
I'm not sure if you remember but at one point on a July afternoon, it wasn't a Sunday ––– I think it was a Saturday –––– we were walking down Attorney Street and approaching the Williamsburg Bridge and I told you that I think you have an incredible amount of talent as an artist, but that in order to get to the next level you had to believe in yourself more.
You squeezed my hand and looked up and over at me and whispered "Thank you. I needed to hear that." We didn't walk across the Williamsburg Bridge like we had planned. We walked north along Attorney street and headed back to your apartment and I wanted to tell you that I needed more space and time and that we were moving too quickly and that I wasn't ready to meet your sister but I didn't say any of those things, not at all. Three nights later your sister was sitting across the table with her boyfriend and the four of us were having Thai food at that place by Rosario's on Orchard Street.