"Seent it" is a southern phrase meaning "what I saw". Why the vast majority of Eastern North Carolinians feel the need to add consonants onto the ends of words, I will never know, but I blame country slang for my life-long struggle with spelling. Since moving to New York, I'vza seent a many crazeh thangs. These stories make up the "Seent It" series.
The amount of time I've spent sitting on my bed under my open window this summer is immeasurable, thanks in large part to the fact that I didn't have a desk until last week when my roommates decided to ditch their kitchen table and I rescued it from certain dumpster death. And, since the living room's carpet is soaked with dog urine (my roommate's poor little guy has a bladder the size of postage stamp), I can't spend more than a few minutes in there without gagging. Thus, my only real option is to go Rapunzel-style and stare out of my top-floor window onto the world below, letting down my hair for prince charming to climb up and rescue me. Except minus the hair and prince charming because both my locks and love life have split ends and leave a lot to be desired these days.
It was a searing hot afternoon and I was sweating profusely, as always, and my tiny table fan was making a strange, rhythmic, tick-tack sound, which it made neither before nor after that day. I was finishing up another brilliant cover letter for an assistant job that I probably wasn't qualified for, didn't particularly want, and knew I couldn't get. NOT THE POINT. As soon as I pressed SEND I heard a low echo from the street, five stories below.
"I love you..."
I thought it was perhaps a father telling his daughter goodbye as she ran down the block to play with her friends in the open fire hydrate on the corner, but then he said it again - louder, and slower.
"I. Love. You."
After the the fifth or sixth exclamation of love, I decided this was probably something I would enjoy watching. I looked down onto the street and there he was. Dominican, slightly chubby, a handsome face, wearing a crisp, white dress shirt, pin-strip pants, and just-shined, swanky leather loafers.
"I LOVE YOU."
"I. LOVE. YOU."
His affirmations were getting even more intense. I couldn't tell who he was talking to, and then I realized he was actually screaming into a cell phone. He began to get physical, taking the phone from his ear and putting it directly in front of his face, bending forward at the hip to get as much air flow from the diaphragm and possible, and then screaming again.
"I FUCKING LOVE YOU."
I could sense his desperation, and saw it clearly. This was a man, alone on the street, bearing his heart to someone, with the whole world watching. He was at a point where guards and limits of expression don't exist, where the only thing connected to your vocal chords is your heart. He fell onto his knees.
"I LOVE YOU!"
To see such raw emotion is not common. I couldn't help but imagine what happened in this man's life to create such passion. Perhaps he got too drunk one night and slept with a close friend, only to wake up the next morning with the most piercing regret anyone could ever feel. Perhaps he was married to a lovely woman and they just had a beautiful daughter, only for the baby to never make it out of the hospital, their relationship breaking under the pain of loss. Perhaps his lover left him for another man without good reason, leaving him, on the sidewalk, on his knees.
"I. LOVE. LOVE. LOVE. YOU."
The fact that he was yelling this into a phone made his expression no less sincere. Or at least, not from my perspective. Perhaps the person on the other end of the line hated him for not saying all this face-to-face. But for me, if the gut feeling behind a series of words in any form is real, then its emotional message can easily be interpreted, and felt. These words can be whispered in your ear, written in a letter, or yelled into a phone - but they are often done wrong. They are often over-thought and too put together... too perfect. But, when they are done right and there is nothing in them but pure fucking soul, it's a beautiful thing. Like a man, on his knees, on the sidewalk, crying into a phone.
"I LOVE YOU."
He became silent after a while, and the phone slipped out of his hand and fell onto the pavement. His hand stayed by his face for a moment, then dropped down to his side, limp. He sat there on his knees for a few more seconds, picked up his phone, and stood up slowly. He never took his eyes off the ground as he walked away back in the direction he came.