First Man

The end of the world started with the drive. After the great war of 2020, the only two standing were me and him. I was grateful for him. Like a knight in shining armor, he was my light in a time where I felt like I had been a little hasty with the gas. Up to this point, I didn’t think I liked him. I’ve never really had any sort of healthy male relationships, so obviously once I got one, I was determined to keep it forever.

One of my love languages is to dedicate a Taylor Swift song to someone. For him, it was “Cornelia Street.” I dedicated this song to him. I believe that every story is told within the frames of happiness. “Cornelia Street” was definitely depicting the frames of happiness within our relationship and is very much the part of the movie that everyone wants to see. The aftermath is what happens after the honeymoon fades.

A couple minutes outside of Truth or Consequences was when I was starting to get drunk from the comfortableness. “You know, T or C has always been awful because of the number of pigs patrolling the area,” he spoke.

“No way?” I exclaimed.

I was a bit disbelieving to the idea that police would be hiding at every corner, but boy was I wrong. I always knew him to be a safe driver, but even I was scared that he couldn’t drive safely enough. To drown out the silence, I decided to play some Taylor Swift. The rest of the road home was a breeze. I remember sharing my favorite songs from each album and what each song meant to me. After some time, the air got heavy.

“Can I ask you a question?” he said.

“What’s up?” I replied.

As a gay man, we all have PTSD over that question. It always ended with the age-old question, are you gay? My reply? Um, no? Why would you even say that? All the while, I paused my Britney Spears and covered my notebook graffiti with hearts and various Nicki Minaj lyrics.

“Why do you like…drop people?” he said.

I was speechless. Again, I think it started with my father. The first man who was supposed to love me left. It’s a common occurrence in a Native child’s life and dare I say a rite of passage even. I always wondered what made him ultimately stray away from fatherhood. Was he scared that he’d mess up or something?

“It’s a long story…” I spoke. I didn’t know where to start. As a kid, I never was one of the stars. I had to fight my way onto the cast list. When people would leave, that shit hurt. To quote Lorde, “I’m like a toy that people enjoy, till all of my tricks don’t work anymore.” As much as I want to linger on the topic of Lorde and her relatable songwriting, that’s an essay for another day. One after another, I told story after story. I told him of all the friendships I’ve had that eventually fell to similar fates.

“Will you ever drop me?” he said.

I paused. “Honestly…probably?” I replied.

“Hi oh,” he expressed, a slang term in our language that means something along the lines of wow, okay, geez.

I could hear the hurt in his voice. I have an awful habit of shielding vulnerability with humor. The last thing I want to do is be vulnerable, because when I’m vulnerable I’m easy to take advantage of.

“Well, just don’t give me a reason to!” I explained.

He started to cry. I’ve known this man for well over half my life and never would have thought of him to cry over me.

“Even if you do cut me off, I will fight my way back to you” he said. “I really enjoy your friendship and the last thing I want to do is lose you.”

“I’m sorry,” I replied. I sat and thought about what to say.

“I can’t make any promises, but just know that I am just fucked up in the head and it’s hard for me to decide sometimes,” I spoke. “I hate the feeling of being left so to save myself from the heartbreak of being the one left…again, I leave, so it’s not me that’s heartbroken. It’s them.”

“But I would never leave you,” he said earnestly.

“I know…” I replied. “So just be warned that at any time I feel like I’ve ruined this friendship, I might leave.” We sat in silence for a while. “Even if I do leave, just know that you will always be the first man to me,” I said.

“What do you mean?” he asked.

For me, he was the first man. The first man to really love me. A lot of the firsts I was to have with my father, he did it with me. He taught me how to use a gun, how to drive a car, what the different feathers of birds are used for, how to be a man, but most importantly he taught me that some men care.

When I like someone, sometimes my emotions get a bit too strong. Very much like Lara Jean, I wrote it down, but not into letters. I wrote my feelings into poems or songs. For me the end of the world was realizing I loved him. Prior to us moving in together, I didn’t see him in that light, because like I said he was like my father.

Unfortunately, I did what I ultimately do best. I ended up burning the bridge. Although he is not a major character in my life anymore, he has definitely shaped it for the better. He will forever hold a place in my heart. All because he was the first man to really love me.

Anthony Ryan Edaakie is a student at Navajo Technical University.

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