#41 He gets me
The sound of Dshawn’s hand banging against the wall is so loud that it hurts my ears, and I start to tremble uncontrollably. He’s warning me of what he’s about to do to me, just like Melchior used to do. He would kick over a chair before kicking me. Or push the wall before shoving me up against it.
“Stupid fly,” Dshawn mutters. “Almost had it.”
I realize with a start that he was never going to hit me. And the smash against the wall was not meant to scare me. He was just trying to kill a fly on the wall behind me.
I sag to the floor in relief, tears streaming down my face. Dshawn immediately sinks onto his knees, looking at me in shock.
“Baby?” he asks softly, reaching for me. “What’s wrong?”
I flinch away from him in a reflex. My mind knows that I’m safe, but my body is still on high alert. When he reaches for me again, I have to consciously decide not to move away from him. To allow him to make things better. His embrace is warm and there is nothing threatening about it. Finally, I sink into him, still crying.
“Hey, what did I do?” he asks, stroking my back. “What happened? I’m here, baby. I’m right here.”
“You-you h-hit-” I stammer, unable to finish my sentence.
“Oh no,” he breathes, “of course. I’m so sorry, Shaughna. I would never do that. I will never hurt you. Oh honey, it was just a fly. I’m so sorry.”
It takes a long time before the tears stop flowing and even longer before I stop shaking. My breathing is so irregular that I feel like I’m going to choke on the air I’m trying to get into my lungs.
“In…” Dshawn inhales deeply. “Out…”
As he keeps saying the words and keeps his own breaths deep and calming, I close my eyes and try to mimic him. In. Out. Easy enough. It takes a lot longer than it normally does, but eventually I start to feel like I might be able to stand up. Dshawn helps me and keeps his arm around me while I make my way to the couch, sinking down with a sigh. He kneels down in front of the couch, his hands on my knees.
“I’m so sorry,” he breathes. “I never should have done that. It was just a reflex. I swear I didn’t mean to scare you. Oh God, the look on your face…” He shudders and tears spring to his eyes. “I would never do that to you, Shaughna. Never.”
“I know,” I say softly, putting my hands on top of his. “I just… I trust you, Dshawn, but I can’t change what happened to me. I can’t stop myself from expecting the worst when it comes to men, even when it’s you we’re talking about.”
“What can I do?” he asks, a tear escaping and making its way down his cheek. “What can I do to make sure this never happens again? To get you to truly trust that I will never do that?”
“Nothing,” I whisper. “Absolutely nothing.”
He shakes his head. “I refuse to believe that. We will get through this, Shaugha. Please don’t leave me, please don’t. I know that you think it’s easier to be on your own, and that relationships can only lead to heartache but I really lo-” He stops talking and grunts. “I care about you. More than I can tell you. Don’t run. Don’t leave me.”
I start crying again. I made this strong, wonderful man cry over me. Beg me to stay. What am I doing? Why am I doing this to him?
“I’m not leaving,” I say through my tears. “I trust you. I know you won’t hurt me. Just… just don’t…”
“Oh baby…” He moves onto the couch so he can pull me into him. “It’s okay. I’m with you.”
We stretch out on the couch, our arms around each other. He’s on his back and I’m on top of him, crying into his shirt. He strokes my back and my hair, pushing his nose into it to inhale my scent, calming himself down. When I pull back a little I see that his eyes and cheeks are just as wet as mine.
“I’ve got tears in my ears,” he says with a little smile when he sees that I’m not crying as much anymore. “It feels all wet and horrible.”
“That’s what happens when you cry lying down,” I say, sniffling.
He pulls us up slightly so he can lean back against the cushions in a half-sitting position, still keeping me on top of him, my head on his chest. “I will try to never kick a chair again or hit a wall trying to kill a fly. Or at least to warn you about it before I do.”
“No…” I breathe. “I just… I’ve never lived with anyone before. I normally just sleep with someone and take off. I’ll have to get used to this. I can’t just expect you to never make a sudden movement or get mad ever again.”
“Lived with someone?” Dshawn repeats. “But you… you’re not living here…”
“Right,” I agree. “I know, I just mean… I spend all my nights here, all my days… I basically spend every minute with you and I even hang out here when you’re not home. Half of my stuff is over here. I’ve never done that with a guy since… since him.”
Dshawn shifts and rolls me off of him. When I open my mouth to ask him what he’s doing, he kisses me softly and gets off the couch. “Wait here.”
He hurries into the hallway and gets back holding something up, his face alight. He drops to his knees again, showing me what he’s holding. It’s a key.
“Move in,” he says, smiling. “No, don’t freak out, don’t say anything. Keep your own apartment, for now. This is new for both of us, so it’ll be good for you to have a place to go to when you need some space. But just… move all the stuff you want in here. Don’t go home when Caroline comes over, just hang out here if you feel like it. Don’t spend the night at your place after a night with Francesca. Just have your girls’ nights here. You’re right. You basically live here anyway. Let’s move in together without actually moving in together.”
I wipe away my tears and look down on him. He’s so sweet. So good to me. “You mean… live together in practice, but have our own apartments in theory?”
“Exactly,” he agrees. “It’s perfect. Nothing much changes, but you’ll feel more at home here. You don’t have to keep picking up stuff at your place. It’s all the good things about living together without the stress, without you freaking out on me because you’re scared of giving up your independence. Move in, but keep your own place. Move in, but keep the option of escaping when I scare you by screwing up by hitting a wall.” His eyes are still wet, but no longer looks sad. “What do you say?”
To my surprise, there is no panic left in my system. No alarm bells, not red flags. There’s nothing but excitement in my heart.
“Yes,” I say, taking the key from him. “Yes, I’d love to.”
A smile breaks across his face and he reaches for my face to kiss me, his tongue slipping in to battle with mine in the sweetest fight ever. We’re both wet from all the crying, and the kiss tastes salty, but in some many ways, it’s the best kiss ever.
When we break apart, I giggle. He gives me a weird look, so I quickly explain.
“You’re on your knees in a suit, holding up something silver.” I laugh. “This is the perfect way to give me a heart attack, making me think you’re proposing.”
He laughs along. “Yeah, not going to happen. Because unless marriage is something that you really, really want, I don’t think I’ll ever propose to anyone.”
“What?” I exclaim. Is he serious? “You don’t want to get married? To anyone? Ever?” Oh my God. Finally, someone who understands. Someone who doesn’t think that a wedding is the ultimate goal. Unless… unless of course, it just because he doesn’t want to be married to me.
“Oh God, how are we suddenly having this conversation?” he mutters, getting up to take off the jacket of his suit. “I need a beer if we’re going to do this right now.”
He moves over to the kitchen and pulls out two beers. I take one from him eagerly, taking a few sips. I don’t need more than that, I just needed something cold to calm my nerves, so I put the bottle down on the coffee table. He sits down next to me, his body turned to me while he gulps down half his beer.
“Okay,” he sighs. “Let’s do this. But I don’t want this to be a big deal, especially since we haven’t been together that long and we only just decided that you’re sort of going to keep living here.”
I can’t help but laugh at that. “Okay. Fine. I will try not to freak out on you.”
“I think weddings are big, stupid, expensive parties,” he says quickly, rushing through his explanation. “Don’t get me wrong, I love parties, but the expensive dress that you only wear once… The arch, the flowers, the fancy chairs… You could throw a hundred parties right here in my apartment that cost less than a goddamn wedding.”
I remember when we were watching Say yes to the dress and I was thinking the exact same thing.
“And the idea that a man needs to get down on one knee with a ring that the woman didn’t even get to pick out herself is absolutely ridiculous,” Dshawn does on. “And why the fuck should the woman take the man’s last name? My mom never married my father, nor my stepfather. Me and all my siblings are called Davis, because that’s my mom’s last name and she’s the one who carried us in her belly. I think that a marriage certificate is just a piece of paper and it doesn’t change a relationship.” He pauses for a second, meeting my gaze. “I want a woman to spend my life with, and maybe that will end up being you, maybe not, we can’t know that this early on. And in the far, far away future, I think that I’d like one or two kids. But a wedding and rings aren’t necessarily a part of my future. That being said…” He shrugs. “Hypothetically, if we are still together in, say… four years, and you’re not freaking out every time things get real and I didn’t fuck things up by then… And you want the proposal, the ring, the dress, the vows, the party and the piece of paper, I’m willing to do all that. But I don’t actually care about any of it. I want a partner for life, but I don’t care if she’s my wife or my girlfriend.”
Every single word he utters makes me feel like he truly gets me. This is everything I have always thought about weddings and marriage. No one has ever explained it so well, even though he was rambling in a way he never has before.
He gets me.
If Dshawn isn’t the guy for me, no one is.
“I love you,” I say softly, finally finding the strength to say the words out loud.
He chokes on his beer, coughing loudly. “What did you just say?”