When I first moved in with my mother my freshman year of college, I didn’t know how well we would get along. My dad was still in Virginia, and he had no idea that I wasn’t actually living in the dorms. I lied to both my parents just so I could get the opportunity to live with my mother after not knowing her for the first 17 years of my life.
It was a hot afternoon in New York, and my mom came back from the pizzeria to get us some Italian Ices. I was convinced maybe we just shared the same taste in foods, but her coming back with a Rainbow-flavored Ice shocked me. It was my absolute favorite flavor of Ice.
We sat across the small table in the living room/kitchen area of my mother’s apartment. I looked at her as she scraped the surface of her Ice, scrolling through her cell phone.
“Mollie?” I called out for my mom. I was still uncomfortable calling her mom; I was thankful she didn’t force me to call her mom right away. She looked up from her Ice at me. I didn’t know how to phrase this right, but it was something I’ve wanted to know ever since I met my mom for the first time, back in her dance class at Waverly High.
“When did you know that you were in love with dad?” I asked. It took her a while to answer. She was deep in thought like she was going through all the years over in her head that she knew my dad. My mom, no doubt was my dad’s soulmate. He never had a girlfriend while I was growing up; it’s like he couldn’t love anyone else besides her, and from the looks of my mom’s apartment, it seems like the same goes for her.
“The moment I knew I was in love with your father was the night we slept together, back in high school,” she recalled. “Not because of, you know,” She was getting flustered and even though I felt some vomit rise up behind my throat, I knew what she meant by that. “The moment I knew I loved your father was seeing how happy he was when I told him I was pregnant with you.”
“You have some nerve coming here,” I said as I watched Jamie walk towards the cafe.
“Can we talk? It’s important that I talk to you,” Jamie stated. I look at the time on my phone and sighed.
“Well, it’s bad timing. My break is ending and I get out in about an hour,” I said. Jamie nodded his head and looked at me. I felt uneasy whenever he looked directly at me; he was the only person that ever looked at me like that.
“I can wait,” he said. Jamie was always a patient man, and I never understood how or why he was with me. He has no reason to sit around and wait to talk to me, yet he does. Throughout the rest of my shift, he sits on the boardwalk bench looking out towards the water. It wasn’t long until I clocked out for the day and left the cafe.
I slowly walk towards him at the end of the pier, sitting next to him. He looks up at me and scoots over to give me some room on the bench to sit next to him.
“Well, you sure stick to your word,” I say to break the silence. I don’t look at him, but I can feel him looking at me. I always knew when he was even when I wasn’t looking at him. It’s like my body can sense it, because every time he did, my body got warm.
“I’m assuming you know about what happened between Shawn and Skylar,” he began.
“You think? You know, that was really shitty of him to just break up with her without a real reason,” I began to vent. I wasn’t angry at anyone else besides myself. I feel solely responsible for Skylar falling in love with Shawn and getting her heart broken in the process. I shouldn’t have left Jamie’s number on my nightstand; I should’ve known better and threw it out as soon as I got it that day. Maybe then she wouldn’t have called Jamie. Maybe Jamie wouldn’t have felt like he needed to bring Shawn along with him to the Voyage that night. Maybe Skylar wouldn’t have met Shawn. Maybe Skylar wouldn’t be absolutely crushed if I never moved into her condo when I got to California.
“That’s why I came here to talk to you,” he simply said. “Shawn… has his reasons in why he did that,” I couldn’t help but scoff.
“Why am I not surprised that you were taking his side? I mean, I get it; you’re his best friend. You have to,” I shook my head and looked out towards the ocean.
“Shawn is on a group visa,” Jamie said.
“What the fuck does that have to do with Shawn being an asshole to Skylar?” I kept interrupting Jamie. I just didn’t want to hear the excuses.
“Aigoo, Grace can you just let me talk?” Jamie demanded. I looked at Jamie, not saying a word. “Kevin’s girlfriend in Korea, JooAh; she’s pregnant. He has to go back to Korea to be with her. Shawn, Kevin, and I are on a group visa. If one of us leaves, we all have to go too.”
My stomach knots itself up when I hear Jamie speak. All I can remember is Skylar asking me how was I able to go through this with Jamie throughout the years I’ve known him. “Love him, and then watch him leave over and over again.” I’ve watched Jamie leave more times than anyone else in my life. The first time it nearly destroyed me; it was like I was experiencing what it must’ve felt like for my dad when my mom left him when I was a baby. It was like I was experiencing how it must’ve felt for Max when I left him with our baby. I thought I deserved it, like this was life’s way of telling me that I needed to know what it was like to have someone you love just up and leave your life out of the blue. Needless to say, the first time was the toughest. The second time stung a little. The third, time I became numb to it. The fourth time I left, hoping it was the last time I saw him.
I scrunched my eyebrows, getting angry as Jamie spoke, excusing Shawn and what he did to Skylar. She didn’t deserve that. She didn’t know the consequences that came with dating and falling in love with a man that literally could leave at any given moment. I should have warned her. I should have told her soulmates, or whatever the fuck Skylar called Shawn, weren’t real.
“Funny how it’s not the first time hearing you say this,” I spat back. Jamie looked at me, annoyed with my response.
“That was really uncalled for, Grace,” Jamie responded. “I just wanted to tell you that I was leaving to go back to Korea, and why Shawn had to do what he did.”
“Why even tell me you were leaving? You’ve done it in the past,” I began to talk just to talk. I felt like I never explained to Jamie why it was always so hard to trust him after the first time he left. He would come back, and I would fall into him deeper and deeper each time we saw each other, and then he would leave again. It was our tradition; for him to make my life feel like rainbows and butterflies, until he took that shit back with him on a 14-hour flight to South Korea.
“I can’t say the same for you,” Jamie snapped back.
“What the fuck is that supposed to mean?” I asked viciously. This was the first time Jamie was facing me, but not looking at me. He was angry, and he had some shit to vent out before he left again for good. What the fuck was the point of him even ever agreeing to hang out with me whenever I called him? Was he just trying to see if he still had that hold on me, wrapped around his finger, just living his American dream until he left it behind to go back home for months on end? What the fuck did Jamie want from me?
“You literally left New York without telling me, Grace!” Jamie finally admitted. I still remember the day I left New York almost 7 months ago. Ari told me to tell Jamie I was leaving and to have one last conversation to end this chapter of our lives for good.
“You need to have this conversation with him, girl,” Ari said as she poured hot water into the kettle and threw a couple of tea bags into the hot water. “He deserves to know why you went and did what you did.”
“What is the point?” I said, watching Ari set the coffee table up in the living room. “He’s gonna leave New York anyway.”
“Yeah, but that was his child too,” Ari said, annoyed. “Just because you don’t live with Willow, you still are allowed to know about her whereabouts and shit because she is your child. How would you feel if Max made decisions about WIllow without consulting with you just because you don’t live with her?”
“Max and I live in the same fucking state, Ari; it’s different,” I spat back.
“Yeah well, you’re both here in New York and are eventually leaving it so, how much of a difference is it really?” Ari questioned.
“I didn’t have to tell you anything! We weren’t together!” I emphasized to Jamie.
“You had admitted just weeks prior to you leaving that you had an abortion, Grace! How the fuck was I suppose to feel not ever having that conversation with you?” Jamie raised his voice. His voice always echoed when he was angry; probably because it didn’t happen that often. But when it did, it was more than just anger. It’s bottled-up shit that he hasn’t expressed or spoken to anyone about because he always tried to deal with it on his own. I didn’t say anything back, not because I didn’t have anything to say but because I wasn’t expecting Jamie to bring this situation up. Not now, not ever.
“You left me in your apartment and had Ari get me the next morning like I was some fucking garbage that needed to be gone!” I was angry. I remember being so fucking angry and heartbroken not seeing him in his apartment the morning after I told him about the abortion. “Jamie, you are so fucking good at leaving; did it ever occur to you that maybe every single time you did that shit, it affected me?”
“So you go ahead and get rid of our baby without ever fucking telling me it existed?!” Jamie screamed as the veins on his neck began to pop out. “Why didn’t you tell me?!”
I began to feel the tears run down my face. I wasn’t sad but frustrated. Defeated. Exhausted. There’s simply no more fight left in my voice, and no expression left to express on my face.
“Would it have really mattered if I did?” I said softly as my voice became hoarse from yelling before. “You were in Korea at that point. I didn’t know when you were going to be back or if you were ever coming back…”
“I would’ve come back, Grace,” Jamie said, more regretful than confident.
“Yeah, and then what? Watch you be the man I always hoped you’ll be for me and then see you leave me alone in New York again; this time with a child?” At this point, this was the most honest I’ve been with Jamie since being in New York. Maybe I should’ve reached out to have this conversation sooner; maybe then all the time we spent together here wouldn’t have felt the way that it did. Maybe our motives would’ve felt more pure and real.
“People like us are not meant to stay together. We are not meant to carry lifelong commitments and bring them into this world just because one of us wanted to. I always thought I could change that and make people want to stay with me. But in the end, I was always left fucking alone; my mom left me alone, Max left me alone, and you left me here alone. And I refuse to let a child come into this world feeling alone, Jamie. I refuse to lie to myself and say this time would be different; that I would be the mother I always wanted to be for a child. But I’m not. I left my child the same way my mom left me, and I’m still trying to make it up to Willow before she learns to resent me for not being there for her. I refuse to be like my mother. I refuse to bring a child into this world just because the person I am in love with wants me to have the baby.” At that point, I couldn’t look at Jamie, and I couldn’t feel if he was looking at me back. It’s like I pulled all the power out of us and it’s not a blackout. We are both just searching for some light in the darkness, not realizing that everything around us is also surrounded by darkness.
Jamie didn’t say anything and I didn’t expect him to. So I sighed, and shifted my body on the ground of the pier; closing off Jamie for good.
“Not that it matters but I’m also leaving California. I’m going back to New York to see my daughter,” I admitted. “Because I owe her that at least, as her biological mother.” I began to get up from the ground of the pier; Jamie still sat there. It was like he was frozen in place. I know it took a lot to take it, but I know Jamie Kim. Jamie always deserved to know the truth, because he strived in knowing the truth in everything in his life.
“Have a safe flight back to Korea, Jamie,” I said half-heartedly, not wanting to continue this conversation. I felt naked, and I felt exposed. I felt like I just confessed my biggest secret out into the world, but I still don’t feel free. I begin to walk away from the pier, fro Jamie, and from this life that I so desperately wish I could have, but know I won’t ever get.
Because people like Jamie and I don’t stay together. Soulmates aren’t fucking real because they are so impossible to obtain or grasp. It’s like a piece of fiction.
The love I have for Jamie just feels like fiction; not real.