THE OAK STREET CHRONICLES: SIX SIMPLE WORDS
We settled in to our little spot on the floor, leaning our backs against the mattress and box spring on the floor of my room. It was the only furniture I had aside from the folding futon chair that my roommate was sitting on. I pressed play on the remote control and movie night had begun. The feature of the evening held a special place in my heart and it worked well with the rhythm that we had going of taking turns choosing movies that we’re meaningful to us.
Tevye’s booming voice entered the room. “A fiddler on the roof. Sounds crazy, no? But in our little village of Anatevka, you might say that every one of us is a fiddler on the roof: trying to scratch out a pleasant, simple tune without breaking his neck.” That night, I chose The Fiddler on The Roof. I had played the butcher in the play my senior year in high school and my new girlfriend and I had met backstage at a musical rehearsal a couple years before that.
That sure felt like a strange word coming from me. Girlfriend. I hadn’t had a girlfriend for years. As a matter of fact, the last time I had a girlfriend before the night we watched that movie with my roommate was the year I played the butcher in the play. That one turned out to be gay though, so I’m not sure it really counts.
I was really only being neighborly by inviting my roommate to join us for the movie. I secretly hoped he would have other plans. Not because I didn’t like him but because every minute I had with her was precious.
I lived in Flint and she was living in Chicago so when we were able to spend time together is seemed to fly by. I’m sure everyone around us could feel the nervous energy of our scrambling to make the most of every moment. Sitting together watching the movie was no different. Our hands were fiddling as we took turns tracing the lines of each other’s palms while trying to not get too mushy in front of the roommate.
Hours later the credits rolled and right on cue, my roommate stood up and said, “that was cool, thanks for inviting me” as he slipped out the door muttering something about bedtime. Finally we were alone. I’m sure we talked for another couple hours. It was part of our rhythm. We could talk about nothing forever and we did that night. That is, until we started to talk about something.
I looked her in the eyes and took a deep breath. The words almost didn’t come out. But finally, I said it.
“I think I love you.”
She started to cry a little. I imagined that she was thinking about the distance and differences between us. The silence was painful but finally words appeared to be forming on her lips.
“I think I love you too.”
A door opened and we entered a world where nothing would ever be the same. I think I learned what it feels like to have the nerves of a Fiddler on the Roof.