“Maybe too many photos?”
“It didn’t say I reached the limit it’s just taking forever to attach them all…”
“If you have to cut one of the pictures, cut the one of Brian. I won’t tell.” Becka giggled as she walked away from the table.
Coll gasped sarcastically. “I wouldn’t dream of it.”
Becka arrived to the dressing room and was immediately cornered by Nick.
“I need to talk to you.” He said, placing his hand on her back and leading her to a quieter corner of the room.
“What’s up, Carter?” She smirked knowingly. “Also just please don’t let me forget my hoodie.” She said casually as he paced a few steps in front of her.
Nick looked at her briefly before hanging his head in defeat, “Am i fucking this up already?”
“Fucking what up?”
Becka smiled softly at him, “No.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes.” She smiled as she leaned back against the wall behind her.
He ran his hand through his hair and looked around the room.
“I’m in love with her.” He admitted. “Shit.” he realize that was the first time he had said it out loud.
“I know you are.” Becka said happily, pressing her knuckles together. “She would love to hear it…”
“And i’m pretty sure she is in love with me … which is somehow even scarier.”
Becka stood up a bit straighter and quickly plotted a course of action. “What are you scared of?” She asked.
“Of telling her. I know enough to know I can’t say that and then not back it up. So until I’m completely sure I can back it up, I don’t want to say it. But it’s hard.” She could see he was frustrated with himself, with the situation, “And I’ve said so many other things that I’m starting to feel like maybe I’m leading her on.” He was getting upset and she could tell, “I’m nervous that i’m not good enough for her, that I can’t be what she wants…” he admitted, “Or that… i can’t do what she wants.”
“Okay so, forget you know what she wants, or whatever it is you think she wants. Forget all of that for a minute. What do YOU want with her?”
“Everything.” He said immediately. She watched him as he stood there, his eyes locked on something in the middle distance as his mind wandered.
Her in his bed
His hands in her hair
Her laughing at something he said
Her laying next to him, holding his hand
Her on the couch in the living room watching tv and bringing her a glass of wine
Her on his bus when he opened the door
Her going to visit him
“I want her with me.” His hands gestured out in front of his body, holding something imaginary. “The first night she was here, it was like, I felt so relieved. And everything that has happened since then… I want her around. I love having her around. I want to take care of her. I don't want to rush anything. She makes me feel like I can relax but also like I still want to be better and try harder. I don’t know how to explain it.” He rubbed the back of his neck with his hand, “I want to be the person who sends her stupid dog pictures and checks in and makes it exciting and knows her favorite Thai place.” He was exasperated, “I just want to be with her… whatever that means.”
Becka’s mouth twisted into a pout, “Have you asked her what she wants? You are stressing over it but are you even sure you know? Have you asked?”
“She wants … everything.”
“So you want the same thing.”
“No I mean, she … She said she only wants to go all in with someone she wants to go all in with.”
“Yeah, I’ve heard that before.”
“She doesn’t want anything surface level. She wants deeper. More than that.”
“Is that different from what you want? What you just described sounded pretty all in to me. It sounded like you putting in a lot of effort … to show up for her and to know her.” Becka explained, “Why couldn’t you live up to that?”
He slumped his shoulders, “I do want that. I want it with her. But I don’t trust myself … she’s so good and I… I destroy things.”
“What did you destroy?”
“Mandy… other people.”
“What happened with Mandy?”
Nick gave her the highlights and she was surprised by them, she wondered if Coll knew as much as he had just told her. “That sounds like Mandy actually just willingly chose to both participate and to end it so you could have what you should have - what she felt like you wanted. You didn’t destroy her.”
“But she must have been upset, and I obviously wasn’t a good boyfriend.”
“What does being a good boyfriend look like?”
“Showing up, not sleeping around, being honest, being … real.”
The fatigue in her body was slowly being replaced with adrenaline. “And you aren’t like that with Coll?”
“I am right now but I’m also not her boyfriend...?”
“I mean, would you suddenly start acting differently if you were to begin referring to yourself that way?”
“No.” He said immediately, “I want to be better. I want to be… just, better.”
“So what’s making you think that you’re going to destroy her- if what you’re doing now is what you said makes a good boyfriend and you want to be better than that even.”
“What if I screw up?” He asked, his eyes brimming with sadness.
She took a deep breath and considered the ways she could go. “She doesn’t expect you to be perfect, do you feel like she does?”
“But she deserves that.”
“I mean certainly that would be nice… if everything was perfect all the time. But she knows it won’t be and she’s still there. You think she wouldn’t forgive you?”
“I guess it depends on how badly I screw up.”
“What would be the ultimate screw up?”
“Cheating on her.” It seemed unfathomable. He didn’t even feel comfortable saying it.
“Have you ever cheated on anyone? In your Mandy equation it sounds like she agreed to that whole thing. So that doesn’t really count, you established the expectation.”
“I guess so… I’ve just never committed to anyone like that before. What if I’m not that person?”
“Why is that what you wanted with Mandy? Why didn’t you want to commit?”
“I just wanted to have fun and not care.”
“Okay and that’s how you treated it.” She smiled, “The way you feel will impact the way you act… it already has.”
“I just … love her. I don’t even know what it means, I just know that I do.”
“You care about her so deeply, I can tell.”
“You can’t compare Coll or how you feel about her and how things might be with Mandy and that whole situation.” She explained, “This is different. You’re different with her. This is you and her this isn’t -“ she paused, reminding herself this was about him, “this isn’t every past relationship or attempted relationship. This is its own thing.”
“Trust her, Nick.” Becka urged, “She’s not going to break. If you’re worried about your life and her life and Boston and touring and college and all of that, I get it. Sure, that adds a layer of complexity to your situation. But if you’re worried about your ability to love her, and show up for her … if you’re worried that the way you are is somehow not good enough for her … or that you aren’t what she wants … you shouldn’t.” It felt too real. Shit.
“I can’t help it.”
“I think the fact you’re considering how she feels and being really thoughtful proves you are exactly what she wants. Also considering how she’s like, literally never been so glowy.”
“Nothing.” She shook her head and pushed some hair behind her ear thinking back to the two of them in the club, in their own little world.
“What should I do?” he asked.
“Unfortunately that’s where I tap out.” She smiled, “All I can say is… just don’t try so hard to be something or someone that you think she wants that you lose track of the fact that who you are right now is also what she wants. If you’re going to try to be someone - do it with her. Let her be part of it. You have nothing to be afraid of.”
“Okay but what about who I’ve been?”
“What do you mean?”
“What if she asks me how many people I’ve slept with?”
“What if?” Becka shrugged, “you’ll tell her the truth.”
“She will hate the truth.”
“Do you hate the truth?”
“I do now.” He said seriously.
She felt it, she understood it. Her body felt tense.
“She will hate it.” He said again in her silence.
“Maybe.” Becka shrugged, “But she won’t hate YOU. And she will … know. She will understand. And she won’t judge you for it. Give her a chance.” Give him a chance.
He narrowed his eyes at her.
“I know how you feel. I know you feel damaged ... like you don’t deserve it or like, how could someone like that ever be with someone like me...” Becka turned her head briefly, looking blankly across the room, gathering her thoughts. She thought about Howie and Coll and people who don’t run away from people they care for deeply. “There is nothing you can tell her that will scare her off.” and hopefully I can have that, too.
“I doubt that.”
She shook her head. “You shouldn’t.”
He was quiet, stewing in his own thoughts.
“Listen,” She brought her hands together in front of her body, “you know my story.”
He looked up at her and nodded.
“She’s used to navigating shit with people. She’s put up with so much. Hard, messy stuff. Wildly complicated, layered stuff.”
He was quiet.
“You know Melanie?”
“Between us she has dealt with a million different dramas. You know she has been through it with me. And mom, too. Melanie’s got a whole other set of things. You can’t hand Coll a problem she won’t be willing to sort through.”
“What happened to Melanie? More extreme than Ted?”
“The shitty boyfriend.”
“I don’t know who Ted is but, yes. More extreme than Ted. In any event, It’s not my story to tell, but trust me... she will not be scared off by whatever dark and stormy stuff you’ve got in there.” Becka explained as she pointed casually at him. “Maybe, Nick, the confusion in you … all the trouble, all the drama, all the chaos… maybe it will all make sense to her. She might not love it, she won’t love that there are things in your life that cause you chaos… But she will love being the one to help you calm those storms. And it’s not going to undo the fact that -“ She paused, “it’s not going to change anything about how she feels. Just tell her. Tell her everything. You will not regret it.” Her stomach twisted into a knot. "
“That’s a human thing not a clinical thing.” She clarified.
“Nick, when you find the right person, I think that’s just what happens. Someone sees everything: good, bad, ugly, complicated, but to them, it’s not. To them it’s simple…” Goosebumps appeared on her arm and she ran her hands over them thinking about Howie and not having sex with him and understanding why. “It feels real, it IS real, and you don’t want to mess it up, I know. Just… don’t waste time waiting for some fictitious story you made up to come true.” shit. Becka said, “You’re sabotaging yourself. You keep telling yourself that there are things about you she can’t accept, and honestly that’s not even your choice - it’s hers and also you’re wrong because she does accept it.” She wasn’t sure if she had said too much already but told herself again it was for the greater good. “You are just waiting but you don’t have to.” She closed her eyes briefly, “There is no point in time where you will truly feel ready to tell someone something so important, it doesn’t exist. Things like that … they aren’t ever best unsaid. ” She felt tears stinging in the back of her eyes but breathed them away. “It sounds like you have a lot to say but you think no one wants to hear it…”
Nick sighed heavily, “Okay. I… that’s helpful.”
“Good.” She relaxed, feeling like she had said too much but also like she might have helped. Relieved she might not have to go on risking it more.
“So, wait … Melanie is adopted too?” He asked.
Becka shook her head. “Adoption is the least of my issues, Nick. Melanie’s story is best left to Melanie to tell. I’m sure Coll could give you a brief and more accurate backstory than I could.” Becka inhaled sharply, “But I really think your time is best spent discussing something other than Melanie’s personal traumas.” She looked at him knowingly.
They looked at each other for a long second as Howie approached from across the room, “What’s up guys?”
Becka’s spine tingled as Howie’s eyes met hers. She looked back at Nick for a split second, then back to Howie. “I need to grab my hoodie.” She said casually, giving Nick the chance to simmer.
Howie held it up and smiled at her, “This one?”
“Oh, thanks!” She smiled at him, “Yes. That’s the one.”