I finally saw Milo yesterday. Here, to the best of my memory, is how it went.
We got smoothies and then went to UNF to find my classes. When we arrived at the school, I said, “You realize there is a potentially very awkward subject that needs to be broached, right?”
“Oh, I know,” he said. “I know.”
Then we went to the museum where he works, and then later to his apartment, and then we were walking around his neighborhood, and after a brief break in conversation, he said, “I’m trying to figure out how to broach an awkward subject.”
“I figured that’s what you were doing.”
Another awkward silence.
I said, “An awkward silence is usually the best way to begin.”
We laughed, which was followed by another awkward silence, until finally Milo said, “I hate to relate this to a television show, but last night I was watching That ’70s Show, and Eric came back and told Donna that he’d finally realized he was a dumbass, like Red’s always telling him. And well…I finally realized that I am a dumbass.”
“Yeah, I agree,” I said.
“Yeah, I know.”
He mentioned an exchange of e-mails between him and me and him and Cortney a couple years ago, when we were planning to all move to L.A. together, and said that he’d thought about that, among other things, and was really just realizing he’s a complete dumbass.
He said a jumble of different things about pushing people away and ended with, “This isn’t really making sense, is it?”
“No,” I said honestly, because it was not, and I couldn’t leave this conversation, four years in the making, with something that I didn’t understand. I needed more.
“I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’ve been pushing you away, Ginny, and I’ve realized that, and I’m really sorry for it. …I’ve been with four or five different girls since I met you, Ginny, and they’ve all ended up stupid or psychotic, and…I was never able to connect with any of them. Not the way I can connect with you. In fact, you’re the only girl I’ve ever been able to connect with this way.”
“Yeah,” I said, agreeing. I know it’s true. I wasn’t saying much at this point, not to make him more uncomfortable than he already was, but because I really had no clue what to say. It was all so delicate, and I found it a lot harder than I expected going in. Suddenly I wasn’t certain anymore, I was completely vulnerable, and I had to trust the part of myself that, before going in, knew I wanted to be with Dean, and I had to totally base my responses on that, but at the same time, for honesty’s sake, I would deny none of the feelings that I had and still have for Milo.
After a long pause, I said, “Well…I guess we’re just going to have to live with the fact that you’re a dumbass.”
He laughed nervously, and I continued. Please assume that there are long pauses between every sentence.
“I’ve been waiting for this. Honestly, I knew you would have to realize it someday.” And I did. I always knew that one day it would dawn on him. That wasn’t wishful thinking or anything–I knew he would have to. “I will always believe that we would have worked…but it’s just too late now.” (The pause here was so long I thought I would mention it.) “You know what you are to me, Milo? For years, I thought you were the only one for me…but what I’ve come to realize is that you…you’re my Lana Lang.”
This is absolutely true. Everything here is absolutely true, but I meant this exactly as it sounds. I believed he was the only one for me, the only love I would ever have. I believed this for years, even after I’d accepted that we just weren’t going to be together and I had to move on. I knew I would never fall in love again. But I was wrong. I was wrong. That isn’t something I particularly care to admit, but I’ll say it one more time: I was wrong. I am in love again, which means that Milo, as several people have pointed out to me over the years, is not my only love after all, but only my first love. In fact, he can’t even be the love of my life, because Dean is the one who will be with me for life…not Milo. I made that choice yesterday and I will not back off of it. As long as I remember this as my goal, it will be easier.
He didn’t say anything, so I said, “I don’t know if that makes sense–”
“No, it makes perfect sense. I can see what you mean by it.”
I didn’t tell him this–I meant to, but got distracted and never went back to it–but back in 11th grade, when I was watching Smallville, the Clark/Lana situation always reminded me of him and me. It’s so obvious. And I used to wish we could just change history and make Lana stay with Clark forever. It was never to be. I couldn’t accept the fiction, and I couldn’t accept the facts.
“I can’t believe I’m telling you that it’s too late,” I said.
“Yeah, it is pretty surreal, isn’t it?”
A long silence.
“Well,” I began, “I hate to say I told you so–”
“Oh, you do not, Virginia Jones, you love to say I told you so!” he said in his familiar, overdramatic Milo voice. I laughed, and he laughed.
“You’re right; I do love to say it.”
Another silence. Then Milo picked up the cue.
“After I sent that message and I thought about it, I felt like a real idiot. I mean, I know you’re happy with Dean–that’s what you’ve told me–and I shouldn’t be trying to screw that up. And I don’t want to. But…how serious are you two?”
This was even harder. “Dean…is forever,” I said. “We’re very serious. We talk about marriage and the future all the time.”
There were several awkward silences all in a row, with no interruption. And then Milo started talking again.
“You’ve always been a really good friend to me, Ginny, and I was never able to think about the…physical side of things, with you and me.”
“Psh–I thought about it all the time.”
“I know.” A nervous smile and a pause. “I’ve only seen you and Dean together once or twice, and you’re so affectionate together.”
“Yeah,” I said. This is something else that I knew would get to him, and a reason I wanted him to be around us more often in the beginning, when I still had an agenda. I knew we were affectionate, and I knew it would get to Milo, because one of the main problems was that he was never able to see me that way. I wanted him to see me that way, to realize that if he was with me, I wouldn’t be stagnant or dull–that I loved him, so of course I would be all over him. And it did finally dawn on him–too late.
At one point, after another pause, I said, “May I just point out….”
“Oh, of course, by all means! Point away.”
“I would just like to point out that you had more opportunities than anybody is ever given.”
“Oh, I know,” he said. “Believe me…I know.”
“And you wasted them all.”
“Just thought I’d mention it.”
He asked if I am really happy with Dean, and I told him I am, and he said, “And he’s good to you?”
“He is,” I said.
He never said the words, “Ginny, I’m in love with you”. I don’t know if he is or not. Half of me did want him to say it, because…well…just because. But the other half of me that is not selfish was afraid that he would, because I don’t want him to be there. I know all too well what it is like to be in love with someone that you can’t have, and I don’t want that for him.
As I said, it was harder than I expected–a lot harder. In fact, for a short time later, as I was lying in Dean’s arms (I went to his house immediately after leaving UNF) I was even wondering if I had made the right choice. It has never been so apparent that I am in love with two guys at the same time. How did I wind up in this predicament? But as I said, I will remember that Dean is the right choice, and let that guide all of my decisions.
When we got back to UNF, Milo got out and said, “Let me give you a hug.” We usually hug when we see each other because it is a long-established thing, and we don’t see each other too often these days. And my face accidentally brushed against his, and for a moment I thought, Oh, don’t kiss him and wondered if he might try it. He didn’t. I knew he was considering it, though. And then I was startled to find that my hand was somewhat awkwardly in his. Like, not the way Dean and I hold hands, just…my fingers were kind of folded on top of his. And I wasn’t sure how they’d gotten that way. I wasn’t aware of ever taking his hand. And then we broke apart, and he said, “We’re still friends, right?” Of all the times this situation has been reversed, and I’ve wondered if he would still bother to be my friend, there was no way I was going to tell him we couldn’t be friends. No way.
“We’ll have to hang out again soon,” he said.
“Yes, on a day when there is no awkward subject to be discussed.” I smiled. He did, too.
And then I went to The Mormon’s house and told him the story, and that I’d wanted to wait until I had handled it before I told him, so he wouldn’t worry.
“I will admit to a tiny twinge of jealousy,” he said. “I’ve realized it’s just human nature. But I am also partially adult, and I trust you. So don’t worry about it–I won’t go out of my way to be a jerk to him. Like, if the three of us are ever hanging out, I’m not going to be cold and cruel to him or anything like that. But I’ll still feel a tiny twinge.”
I smiled at him and said that was exactly how I imagined he would take this, and that I love him. And I do. God, I love my Mormon.
I will admit to a couple of moments of almost tears while talking to Milo, because it was so much harder than expected. There were a few actual tears afterward as I considered the fact that I am so happy to have someone so good that I actually can push Milo away.