Palmer had known that he wanted to be President one day from a young age. His father and his uncle (who had been a politician) encouraged him, led him, and gave him advice. They always stressed to him to think rationally, even when faced with circumstances that would normally elicit a very emotional reaction. They advised him not to act out in anger, not to ever cry, and not to even express too much joy. They said that others would see strong emotional reactions as a sign of weakness. So Palmer had learned from an early age how to compartmentalize his emotions. He dealt with situations very calmly and rationally, and dealt with the emotional elements later. Even when Palmer's father had died when Palmer was a young man, Palmer never once cried. He took care of all of the arrangements, and others commented on how strong he was. Palmer felt that the most fitting tribute that he could give to his father was to not cry over his death.
So he would have this conversation with Zalika very calmly and very rationally. He would tell her what to realistically expect going into a relationship with him, and would also give her worse case scenarios. The time for showing emotions would come late. And Zalika knew him. She had seen him angry, sad, and extremely happy. He felt that he didn't have to hide any part of who he was from her.
Zalika said "So let's get this over with." Zalika launched into telling Palmer personal details from her past, and Palmer calmly listened.
The things that she told him were mostly things that they had already discussed (in the form of Zalika telling him humorous stories). There were a few surprises. He didn't know about the photos that she had taken for a former boyfriend.
Palmer: You need to tell me his name.
Palmer: I need the name.
Zalika: I haven't even talked to him in I don't know how many years! I wouldn't even know any of his contact information.
Palmer: I just need the name. Trust me on this, okay?
Zalika [hesitantly]: His name is Calvin...
Palmer: Write it down for me, please.
Zalika did what Palmer asked. She did trust Palmer, but the thought of handing him that information made her nervous. Why did he need that, she wondered.
Zalika sat quietly for a moment, trying to find the words for what she needed to tell him next. Palmer said "There's more." It was more of a statement than a question, but Zalika nodded her head rapidly, and then continued to sit in silence.
Palmer calmly stated "I know that this is hard, and believe me I wish that we didn't have to have this conversation. But the reality is, when I run for President, there will be individuals who will make it their mission to dig up dirt on you, and they will use that information to paint you in a negative light. They will be ruthless in how they find their information. Interviews with people from your past, school records, even medical records. They may come up with a partial truth, and they will fill in the rest with lies. And then you could find yourself in a situation where you can't even address the lie, because then you would have to acknowledge the small amount of truth. And they will come up with horrendous headlines in order to sell papers or get hits on their sites. If you've ever tried drugs, they will call you an addict. If you've ever been treated for depression, they will call you mentally ill or crazy. If you've ever terminated a pregnancy, they will call you..." Palmer stopped, but Zalika filled in the blank by quietly saying "Babykiller" as she stared into Palmer's eyes. He looked at her and said "They will call you that, and worse."
In that moment, Zalika knew that Palmer was already privy to information that no one was supposed to ever know about her, and he'd had that information before she'd had a chance to tell him. Her eyes immediately welled up with tears. Of course they had run a background check on her, why wouldn't they? Palmer sometimes talked about the background checks that would routinely run on others who came close to him, why not her? Zalika began to cry.
Palmer immediately put his arms around her and pulled her close. He felt so helpless in that moment. He would've done just about anything to wipe away her pain, so knowing that he was the cause was particularly difficult. He told her "You know I would never have ordered a background check on you. It's my people...it's just what they do. I trust you. You've never lied to me" He felt her nod her head. He said "None of that stuff matters to me. Nothing that you've said and nothing that they've said have changed my feelings for you. You are not alone in this. I'm right here with you. You know that I will defend you. You know that I will try my best to prevent others from trying to trash your name. You know that!"
Zalika raised her head and spoke. "If you defend me, for some people that will be the same as saying that you condone everything that I've ever done. It could become a distraction in your campaign. You would lose votes because of me, and I just couldn't live with myself knowing that!"
Palmer spoke calmly and reassuringly to Zalika, and told her that it would all be okay, that things would be difficult at times, but that everything would all work out. Zalika kept shaking her head. "I can't. I just can't."
"What if you didn't run for President? What if you remained in politics, but just did not run for President?" Zalika heard her own voice saying those words, but could not believe they had actually come out of her mouth. Palmer looked like he crumpled a little upon hearing those words. He felt a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach. "I've wanted to be President since I was 10 years old. I've been groomed for politics since I was a child. I've spent my life trying to make the right decisions and trying to align myself with the right people. I feel with ever fiber of my being that I am on the right path, and that things are working out in such a way for a reason. Being President is more than just an aspiration for me, I feel that it is my destiny. I have to at least try." Zalika said "I know, and I believe that you will win."
Zalika stood up and Palmer looked startled. He said "This doesn't have to be the end for us. I'm not running for President right away." Zalika said "I can't be in a relationship that has an expiration date. This is too hard." Palmer stood up and took Zalika in his arms. "I don't..." he heard his voice tremble, so he took a moment, cleared his throat, and started again. "I don't want to lose you. I love you."
Zalika had often imagined what it would be like the first time she heard the words "I Love You" from Palmer. She had always known that he loved her, he said it in so many ways other than just those 3 little words. Never had she imagined that the first time she would hear him say the actual words would be as they were saying goodbye. Zalika said "And I love you. I've loved you since the day we met, and I never believed that was even possible until I met you.
Palmer and Zalika have been dealing with a lot of pain since the break-up. Check out their latest video, "Unbreak My Heart" (with vocals by yours truly).