By Jaclyn Chilcote
I broke up with Justin because I had this horrific feeling in the pit of my stomach that I might be falling in love with him. Or something like that.
We were not emotionally adept creatures, he and I. We preferred to have fun, to stay up all night in bed, talk about books, or go dancing to shady warehouse parties in Northeast Philly. We were firm karaoke devotees, hated cats, and hated talking about our feelings. Soon, I found myself bringing him soup when he was sick, picking him up trinkets when I'd travel overseas for work, and blabbing incessantly about him to my friends. We started to have those stupid, weird, couple-like fights that would reach a resolution via a three-hour G-chat conversation, because, well, at least we didn't have to talk to each other face to face. About feelings. I was the type who knew that anytime feelings entered the equation, it was time to head for the hills. So one night I decided it was the night, asked him over, and dropped the bomb. I said goodbye and let him go.
Slipping into my robe and pajamas, I went out on to my fire escape to smoke and think, as I had so many times since moving into my 3rd floor South Philly apartment. All kinds of thoughts raced through my mind as looked out to the twilight: sadness, doubt, mild regret, followed by the sudden and sobering realization that I had just locked myself out of my apartment.
I tried in claw open my bathroom window. Locked. I kicked the door. It didn't budge. Mild panic set in. I had to be up at for a flight the next morning, and it was already 1:30a.m.. Swallowing my pride, I pulled out my phone, which I had thankfully stowed in my robe pocket, and sent an S.O.S text message to the man I had just dumped 30 minutes before. I waited a few minutes. No text back. Well, I can't blame the guy, I thought to myself, as I heard the phone ring and saw his number pop up. "Um...hi." I answered cautiously. Then I heard a laughing, mocking voice on the other end. "I knew you'd come crawling back...they always do. I just didn't expect it this soon." Jerk.
"I'm going to go down my fire escape and see if I can find a way to the alley and meet you. I'll call you when I figure out where I am." Soon enough, I was scaling a small shed at the bottom of the stairs in an attempt to climb a wall that I presumed led to the back alley. I hoisted myself up over the wall...and on to the next door neighbor's roof. The roof was probably a good 15-feet high off the ground. I called Justin back, right as I saw him strolling down the alley. He took one look at me sitting on the edge of the roof, in my pink fuzzy robe and pajama bottoms, burst out laughing and snatched a picture with his iPhone. Jerk, I thought, with a smile.
I crossed four or five rooftops before I found a semi-driveway that had a small wall built around it. I sat on the edge of the roof, and we talked strategy, deciding that the best plan of action would be for Justin to climb up with me and follow me back to my fire escape, and then attempt the ever-popular credit card trick to open the door. Fifteen minutes of tiptoeing around rooftops, hoisting each other up and down from walls, I had to admit that I was actually having a lot of fun. I spotted Justin as he shimmied down onto the roof of the shed I had climbed up earlier, not sure of its structural soundness. I sat on the edge of the wall facing him as he spotted the bottom of my legs, lowering me down slowly, until I was facing him, holding me. I could feel the adrenaline pulsing in both of our bodies as we stood pressed against each other.
Finally, we reached the top of the fire escape, and within 30 seconds Justin had masterfully used his AAA card to open the door. Relief washed over me and we both cheered.
I reached out and hugged him harder than I ever had before, and I hated the thought of letting him go a second time. From the very first time we had met I had the lingering feeling that I didn't know exactly what I was getting myself into. We stood there looking at each other for a few moments before embracing again, feeling the same rush of adrenaline we had felt holding onto each other just moments earlier. I kissed him hard. Maybe, I thought, he really will break my heart. And maybe I will break his. And maybe someday I will be standing on my fire escape again, locked out and panicked, wishing I knew someone crazy and adventurous enough to climb over half of South Philly to help me break back in. It was then I knew while life with Justin may be uncertain, scary, or risky - but it would never be boring.