I’ve always been a writer. Even when I was little I would make picture books, and as soon as I learned how to write, I started filling the white spaces around the pictures with words. I’d draw pictures of dogs, cars, and women. Sometimes I’d draw pictures of men.
Men like Adam.
When I drew pictures of people I would write the types of things that most 4-year-olds would write—“this lady is wearing a blue shirt”, or “this doggy wags his tail”—but I remember that I also used to ask a lot of question about the subjects of my art. If I drew a boy, I might write: “What is this boy like?”
When I first met Adam, I looked at his big green eyes and thought, “this guy is attractive—I wonder what he’s like?” It was my first year at Boston College, Adam and I were walking out of a math class we had together, and I struck up small talk, mentioning that I might need help with my math homework (like I said, I’ve always been a writer). He agreed, and after the first study session, Adam and I were inseparable.
As a girl, the more questions I wrote down about my artwork, the more I wanted answers to those questions. If I had written “what is this boy like?” in the white space, I might create my own answer in another area of the page. “This boy is a good boy.”
Adam was a good man. He held the door for me, he paid on our dates, he was catholic (my parents loved that), and he was conservative. He seemed so sound, so stable, and it wasn’t just me being logically intuitive—it was the way that held he me, tight, but not so tight that it was stifling, and the way that he could run his fingers through my hair, as rough as they were. Adam was my angel, and I loved everything about who he was.
The problems began almost a year after we started dating. He’d hidden his smoking from me initially, but a couple of months and enough of my questioning later, Adam couldn’t hide it anymore. He hid other things from me. I began wondering who I’d really been dating this whole time.
Adam was my angel, until I found out that he was cheating on me with another woman. He’d been living another life, a secret life, right under my nose, and at that moment I realized that I had no idea who this man that I had fallen in love with was. “What is this boy like?” I had come back to that question.
I still have most of the pictures that I drew when I was a little girl. I still have a picture of a boy with the question “what is this boy like?”, and the answer right underneath: “this boy is a good boy.” I hang on to those pictures, like I hang on to my memories, because I can learn from them.
I don’t regret having dated Adam because I learned from the encounter. I’ve learned not to write in the white spaces around pictures I draw of men. Instead, I’ve learned to step back and let those white spaces fill themselves in.
-Miranda Santiago; Los Angeles, CA
See more of Miranda's work on Corazon.
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