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Sep 30, 2015

Crickets

I don't even know when it was. Six, maybe seven years ago in June. I was at my apartment watching TV with my then-girlfriend. And the woman showed up. Apparently she wanted to plead her case in person, after calling me on the phone out of the blue the week prior, the first contact in many months, to tell me that she realized she loved me. How that declaration sent my world spinning, and how I could only reply that I was with someone else. It had been more than six months that I'd stopped chasing after the woman. I was with another girl; a nice girl, but there was no love connection there, just a physical one.

I'd break that girl's heart five months later when I chose to go to the woman's bed over hers on a cold, winter night.

But that night I told the woman I couldn't talk to her then. I don't remember if I reached out to her soon after or not. All I know is there was another gap in our communication until that November night, when we finally came face to face at an event, and I could no longer resist her. Could no longer deny that even the physical connection I felt with my current girlfriend has diminished to the point there was almost nothing left, and couldn't deny that was because the back of my mind had been constantly occupied by thoughts of the woman since she stated her love for me.

Here I sit, more than half of a decade past that night, a prisoner of hope. Hope that she'll show up again.

She won't, though. I wasn't hoping that she would on that summer night more than six years ago, but she did. Now that I'd give anything to see her that way, she won't. That is how the universe works sometimes, comes full circle, signaling the close of a cycle.

***

Among the items I packed in preparing to leave the woman's house late last week were a series of journals. I can't remember if I've taken them with me to the place I'm staying, or if I left those in my mother's basement as storage. I pried one open to get an idea of its contents and realized the pages well filled with lyrics, poems, and words about the agony I felt during the half-year or so I chased the woman, until I decided I couldn't do it any longer. I couldn't do it any longer because she wanted someone to sometimes date and bed, but no more. I, perhaps foolishly, have always wanted more, though my perspective at present is so warped I can't say what I believe anymore.

***

I re-read the posts here before starting this one, paying special attention to the inaugural post. I started this blog to document the struggles I was having with depression, insecurity and unemployment and how that affected the relationship I had with the woman. I first thought the initial post reference a period around this time last year where the woman announced she wanted to end the relationship. And then I realized that no, in fact the first post was from just over two years ago. And then I have to be honest with myself and admit that we've had regular occurrences of that phenomenon every year, sometimes more than once. 

What wasn't fair to the woman was accusing her of being unfaithful. Getting frustrated when she wouldn't arrive home from work at consistent times, something in the very nature of her job. Worrying when she went out with friends that the worst would happen, that she'd leave me. Amazingly, without the aid of professional help, I was able to break that mode of thinking. Part of it was realizing that she and I both were free people at our cores and could do anything we damn well pleased at any time, including breaking the heart of the other person---and there's nothing said other person can or should do to try to stop that from happening. 

But it was too late, the damage had been done. Though the jealous boyfriend mode of thinking became a ghost from the first half of our relationship, her memory of it was not. And it'd be something she'd hang onto until the relationship finally came to its end. 

***

There was always a fundamental difference between how she and I viewed relationships. She'd rather not have one at all, I think, in the grand scheme of things, but society's constructs dictate that perhaps the majority of men she'll run into will want some sort of committed monogamy. According to her, she only married her first husband because he wouldn't stop bugging her about it. And when she finally relented, the eloped and she didn't allow him to tell their friends or family about what had been done---even though they had a child together. 

Many years later, she said yes to me as well. We wore matching rings, and talked about a small ceremony or eloping as well. But those talks didn't endure. We kept our rings on; she was content with the way things were while I worked on convincing myself the same. If she didn't want to get married, I had no place in forcing the issue. For a while we were each other's fiancee. After that wore out, it became partner. It was a more accurate descriptor and one that didn't elicit "Oooooh when's the date?" responses from people when we were being introduced to new people by the other. 

I decided that if my gay friends couldn't get married, I had no business getting married anyway. I had no problem telling that to my family, and it successfully halted them from asking for updates on our plans. Then, last June---a mere fucking three months ago---the Supreme Court made it's monumental decision as I was traveling to New York to visit with some friends. I immediately sent the woman a text message, knowing she was at work, to turn on the TV to any news station. 

Then, at nearly the same moment, we typed out and sent nearly identical text messages. They both read something like so when are we getting married? 

***

I wouldn't say that us not getting married was a good or a bad thing. But I think it was a signal I should've paid more attention to. After I got home from New York that weekend, we spent a bit of time talking about moving forward with marriage plans. In the weeks after, we didn't spend any time at all. There had to be a reason why she didn't want to get married, and maybe it wasn't just her aversion to being tethered to another human adult. Maybe it was because of me, because of the jealousy and insecurity I displayed in our early years. Maybe it was that we'd both become complacent, settled into our routines. Maybe that just wasn't exciting.

I know she felt a lot of pressure and loneliness. Due to the nature of her job, a good portion of the time she had to herself were during the daytime hours, a time the majority of her friends worked. Her free nights were spent either with her kids, and perhaps reluctantly, me. Because she and I worked opposite schedules, weekends comprised the majority of time we had available to spend together. In the early years, I did feel hurt when she'd choose going out with her friends over hanging with me. And I didn't hide that fact. 

In the latter years, after I'd realized this is selfish, controlling and self-destructive behavior, I don't think she truly believed me when I assured her it was nothing to worry about any more. But by then we'd settled into a routine. If we went out, we'd go out together. I don't know that it was something she actually wanted, but rather something she felt she should do. She wasn't living her life the way she wanted to live it. 

***

My view on relationships was---and I say was because I don't know where I stand anymore---is that they can be difficult. That they can require work. There can be disagreements, even arguments, but these are all small things at the end of the day. If the two people involved love each other choose to commit to work through whatever hardships come their way because it means they get to continue to enjoy life together, it will work. Always, But both people must feel that way. It doesn't work one-sided. 

Is love a choice? Is it a feeling, an emotion? Is it both? Where is its place? When she's crying in my arms while I've got three-quarters of my shit packed up and moved into the place I'll soon be staying and she utters the words I love you soooo much, what does that even mean? Should that love not be strong enough to hold things together? This is one of the things I don't understand, since I know we both had an incredible amount of love for each other even in the midst of parting ways. Why not keep that around? 

This is the part confusing me the most. I thought it was hope that drove my actions during those last few days, but it wasn't. It was love.

It was my absolute love for her that led me to decide to not fight back this time. To not cry, plead, beg for her to not send me away. The love I have for her allowed me to lend her a shoulder to shed her tears; hours of embraces; light-hearted remarks on the difficulty of our situation. We held each other and cried for three consecutive nights before I finally left. We talked logistics. We cried some more. I rubbed her feet. We split a few beers. We didn't have sex. 

I'd finished packing and moving all but the final load just a couple of hours prior to her arriving home from work. We'd decided we'd say our goodbyes that night---Saturday---since I'd figured I could have everything out of the house by then. I cut the lawn one last time, since the grass was long and the mower was a bit shoddy. She'd never been able to start it herself in the past, and I figured it'd give her one last thing to worry about the following week as she rebuilt her life and tried to fill the space (both literal and figurative) I once occupied.  

Neither of us knew if it should be a long goodbye or a short one. I was hoping for a long one, for some reason. I wanted to hang with her that night, eat, drink, laugh, and cry; sleep in what was once our bed one more time; maybe feel her bare skin on mine one more time. But just the crying part happened. 

It was probably a wise thing for her to say she thought it should be a short one. I realized how dumb I was for thinking it'd be any other way. We embraced, we briefly cried. Then, I left with the last of my belongings. 

I haven't heard from her since, and don't expect to. My love for her requires me to respect the space between us now, to allow her time to heal, move on, and forget. My love for myself requires I do the same. 

I like to be rid of hope, though. Hope that that text message will be from her, or that email. Hope that I'll look out my office window and see her car turning down the road. Hope that I'll get a knock on my door, just like I did six years ago, and when I open it I find her standing there. But unlike that time, I'd be ready to talk. 

I would let her in. 

Gone

She's not coming back. She's not coming back. She's not coming back.

I need to hammer that into my brain right now. I keep checking my email, my phone for text messages. It's possible I'll eventually hear from her, but it likely won't be the message I want to here, or soon enough.

Because I've got to let go. I can't give her a week, or a month, or six months, or a year. This has got to be it. And even in that statement there is a shard of hope, but I need to accept the truth.

Maybe that says more about our relationship than anything.

No Such Post

She doesn't even know where I live. I mean, she knows who I'm living with, and I suppose perhaps that information is easily discoverable because she knows that fact. But what am I doing? Why do I look at the clock and think to myself well right about now begins the window where she could arrive here if she got done with work around the normal time, went home to shower, and headed out.

She doesn't even know my address.

But she has my phone number.

My email address.