Month: December 2014

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

It’s been three days since you left my apartment, and despite the now unavoidable finality of our break-up, I can’t stop being reminded of you in everything I see and do.

I see it in the normal things.

Like when I walk by Think Coffee in Union Square where we had our first date and remember that initial jolt of excitement I felt with you, that harbinger of having finally found the right guy…even though you turned out to be right guy instead of the right guy.

Or it’s when I walk by a Dunkin’ Donuts and think of our old Sunday morning tradition of getting large iced coffees and splitting a half-dozen doughnuts. I remember how you’d always guzzle your coffee down like if you didn’t get the caffeine in your system ASAP you’d go into some sort of coma. And I’d always sip at mine so slowly that the ice would completely melt before I finished, leaving the last third of it a weakened-by-water concoction that I’d end up pouring down the drain. We’d always order Boston Cream donuts in our half-dozen. One for each of us. Then you’d get a blueberry cake (which I hated) and I’d get a chocolate cake (which you hated) and the last two would always be a toss-up.

Also, when I think of the soon-to-be triumphant return of Olivia Pope in all her white-hat-wearing fierceness. What I’m sure is going to be a phenomenal third season of Scandal starts on October 3rd. I got you addicted in the first place (you’re welcome), and now I don’t have anyone to watch and gasp over it with.

And I remember you whenever I go to Fairway to shop for groceries. I’m going to the one in the Upper East Side now while yours is on the West Side, but still. Every time I pick up their delicious, fresh baguettes and some cheese, there you are popping into my mind. We always had the best little cheese nights. We’d go to Fairway and grab three or four different kinds of cheese. Then we’d go back to your place and just pig out. It was always so delicious. I mean, is there anything better than cheese and bread? Maybe when you add some honey to the mix. But only with certain cheeses. Nothing quite compares to the simplicity of just the cheese and bread on its own.

(The good news is that I’ll probably lose a few pounds just from not having those Sunday morning donuts or those cheese platters with you any more.)

See. I have all of these perfectly normal memory triggers for you. They’re places we went on dates, foods we ate together, TV shows we watched. They all make sense and I expected them.

But there are also these weird triggers I keep coming across. It’s these strange places I see you that always get to me.

For example, I was finishing up the latest David Sedaris book the other day, the first time I’ve read any of his essay collections. (It was funny enough, but I had high expectations and I think that after so many essays, he’s already told most of his really great stories. I’ll definitely have to go back and read some of his earlier work. But that’s beside the point.)

In this particular book I was reading, the last essay dealt with David Sedaris getting his first colonoscopy. Which, of course, triggered a memory of you. You lying there in your little hospital gown so doped up and cute, needing me to come pick you up and take you home. The little Styrofoam cup they gave you to drink water out of and how the nurses weren’t very good at refilling it. When you flashed both me and the nurse and said it was alright, that I’d seen it all before. How we stopped for Subway sandwiches after leaving the hospital because you were starving. The traffic and how abysmal it was to get uptown to your apartment in that cab. And the heat that day! We were sweating hard as we sat stock-still in the taxi, trying to make it to the West Side Highway to get up to your place.

And the whole time you were loopy as hell sitting next to me, lost in your own little drug-fueled daze. (I now understand a little better just how amazing you were feeling that day. David Sedaris talks about the colonoscopy meds being the best drugs he’s ever been on in his life. How they give you the most amazing high!) Then finally I got you to your apartment and got you into bed. I had to run off right after that. I had to get all the way back downtown to the LES for a kickball game. But you were okay. You were just going to pass out and have a good long nap.

It was sweet that day, taking care of you. I felt like a real couple. You needed me and I was there for you. I was like your emergency contact. Your partner. At the time I thought it foretold a good future for you and me. A long and happy one together…I guess I was wrong.

Oh, well.

But don’t you think it’s strange? This whole memory comes flooding back to me all because I read a book. I wouldn’t have expected that.

Like I said. Weird triggers.

Sunday, September 15th, 2013 (Part 2)

It was awkward — being downstairs in my room with you, the door closed, locking us in my windowless, basement room after a month of being broken up, sitting on the same chaise lounge that I had imagined us (in my more fantastical waking dreams) having break-up (or potentially make-up) sex on.  In the way you sat angled just away from me, the way you held your head cocked slightly off to the side, the clench of your jawline that said you didn’t want to be here, exchanging stuff, meeting for the final time…I immediately knew that this last fantasy wasn’t going to happen. There was no going back from our break-up, even if I wished it so. You had the power. Had had it since August 16th.

So I waited for you to speak.  You’d broken up with me. But then I’d had to call you. I’d had to set up our post-break-up meeting. It was your turn to do the heavy lifting again, to start the final conversation of our relationship that you’d decided to end a month before.

I waited. And after a few awkward seconds you spoke.

We talked about a lot (but also not a lot) in our fifteen or so minutes of conversation. You had an answer that was really a non-answer for why you’d ended things. You weren’t happy. (Even though you couldn’t point your finger on exactly why.) Not happy like you were when we first met. And our relationship was the cause of your unhappiness. As you put it, you knew that you could continue seeing me and it’d be fine…but then in two or three years you’d look back and realize that you could have had more fun if you hadn’t been with me. You would have had a better life, better experiences, if I weren’t in the picture.

You elaborated, saying that it had started to feel like a chore to see me. On the weekends you’d have to carve out time to spend with me, and you didn’t always want to. (I can see how that would make someone unhappy. I was that homework assignment that you had to do on the weekend instead of getting to hang out with your friends.)

You also said that you’d been feeling this way for a while, maybe the last three or four months. Which made sense to me when I thought back over the summer. You had grown more distant, though in my love-blinded daze, I hadn’t recognized it at the time.

All of this you said in a way of trying to soften the blow. You knew that I needed an explanation, and you tried to give it to me, even though you also knew that it wasn’t something easy for me to hear.

And for my part I tried to accept it — your rationale. Maybe it was something I actively did or didn’t do. Or maybe it was just the natural erosion of a relationship not meant to be.

Whatever the case, you were no longer happy being my boyfriend. You’d fallen out of love with me.

(This — your proclamation of your un-love for me — was the hardest thing for me to hear in our whole conversation. The words themselves, and the way you said them without a pause. It was an absolute truth. One you’ve lived with for a while but that I’m still coming to grips with. Falling out of love takes time. And I haven’t had enough of that yet. Of course I knew this had to be the case. You don’t break up with someone you’re still in love with. But it wasn’t something that I’d thought about before. It surprised me and hit me hard.  This was the closest I came to crying. But I managed to hold it in, to keep a firm face in light of being told that I was no longer loved. I hope that you never have to face that. It’s not something that’s easy to take.)

And that was it. That was your spiel, your reasoning for breaking up with me. I can’t say that I completely understand it. But then I can’t say that I’m surprised by it either. I get it, even if it doesn’t make me happy.

The one thing that I’m really going to miss (and I brought this up with you in our conversation), is your friendship. You’ve always been a great friend. Caring and concerned. Happy to help out and support those you care about. You were always a great friend to your friends but also to me, your boyfriend. To be honest, you had become my best friend while we’d been dating. You were the person I told everything to. You were the one who encouraged me in everything I did. You were the one I always wanted to talk to, the one who, when funny or sad or strange or cool things happened in my day, I couldn’t wait to tell about it.

How am I going to get by without that now? I’ve already gone a month without speaking to you, and it was not an easy four weeks. There are things about my life that no one else is going to get. Inside jokes that are going to die now that we’re no longer together.

Even more than the sex and other intimate perks of being your boyfriend, I’m going to miss not knowing you. It’s the worst part of a break-up — losing a boyfriend but also a friend.

You were nice, though, saying that I shouldn’t hesitate to reach out to you if I need something. Don’t worry. I don’t plan on taking you up on that offer. But it was nice to hear. Maybe someday, when I’ve had time to get over you fully, we can try to be friends again. I’m not sure how that would work out. We met and started dating, became boyfriends, fell in love…We were never only friends.

Is there enough time that could pass  where we could reset our relationship to nothing and be able to just be friends?

I doubt it. But I’m hopeful. I don’t know how my future self is going to feel. What I’ll want. What I’ll be able to get over.

As I let you out of my apartment, we said our last goodbyes. Even though you broke up with me a month ago, it feels like the first real day of being apart. I’m going to miss you tremendously. I honestly don’t know what I’m going to do with myself, with all this free time I now have. I don’t know how long I’m going to be sad. How long I’m going to miss you. How long it’s going to take me to get over you.

All I know is that today was it, you and I are over, broken up…at least for now.

Sunday, September 15th, 2013 (Part 1)

You came. We talked. And you left.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Simplifying things. Let me start with what happened before you got here.

When I woke up this morning, I was a nervous mess. I hadn’t gotten much sleep last night, what with worrying over how today was going to go, trying to put together everything I wanted to say to you, every question that I wanted an answer to. Trying to figure out what exactly I wanted from you in the first place. It’s not easy — going a month without speaking to you and now having one last chance to say everything that I need to.

I woke up early. I needed plenty of time to prepare for your arrival. I’d pulled your stuff together the night before. I didn’t have anything consequential. A t-shirt and a pair of athletic shorts. Stuff I’d borrowed when I’d been at your place. Things I’m sure you wouldn’t miss. But then I didn’t want them at my place either. Reminders of you and what had been. What no longer was. If you didn’t take them I’d just as soon throw them out. I now had them sitting over on my chaise lounge, folded neatly and ready for you.

Part of the reason I’d woken up early was because I wanted to go for a run before you came. I put on a pair of shorts and a shirt, laced up my shoes and hit the streets. I’ve been running a lot lately. Heading the mile it takes to get to Central Park and then running around the big 6-mile loop there, or the reservoir if I want a shorter run. It’s been super cathartic for me. A place where I can be on my own. Where I can think and sort through things.

I had plenty of last minute things to sort through before your visit. And I also wanted to look as thin as possible. If this was going to be the last time you saw me, I wanted to leave a very lasting impression.

When I finished up my run I came back home and hopped in the shower. Marjorie was awake, and I stopped in her room to have a quick chat. I needed some advice on what to wear.

You see, it’s tricky, deciding what I’d look best in. What was going to make you regret breaking up with me the most? And what was temperature appropriate? Yes, I’d look great in a tank top and short-shorts…but that wasn’t exactly practical. However, I did really want to show off my legs. They’re probably my best asset, especially now that I’ve been running again. I’ve got thick thighs, which used to really bother me, until I realized that that just meant they were nice and strong. Sexy.

Marjorie was super helpful, though. We discussed and decided to go for a late-summer/fall boating look. Shorts and a sweater. I was pleased with the decision, and bolstered by her affirmation. We talked some more and she asked me how I was feeling. If I knew what I wanted to say to you. She was almost more excited for your visit than I was. She’d never met you, moving in right after you had broken up with me. But she’d heard all about you and wanted to see just exactly what this ex-boyfriend of mine was all about. She asked me when you were scheduled to come over, and then promised to be sitting up in the living room watching TV when you got here. That way she could get her glimpse without being too awkward about it. I told her not to worry. I’d make sure she didn’t miss you. I wanted to get her opinion of you, even if it was only going to be based on a ten second encounter.

After all this, I went into my room and finished getting ready. I had my phone at my side the whole time, waiting for your text to let me know you were on the way.

We’d scheduled to meet around one, but you were running a little late. I hung out with Marjorie upstairs and waited, my attention partially paid to the TV but really focused on the window. My apartment is on the first floor, the one right on the street, so I knew that I’d see you walk by before you rang the buzzer — this three seconds of extra time important to me in preparing to let you in.

Then I saw you. I hadn’t seen you in a month, but I still recognized your gait, knew your back as you walked by. A few beats later, our buzzer rang. I jumped up from the couch, trying to calm myself as I halted at the door. Marjorie gave an excited little wiggle and then motioned for me to calm down. Pausing to pull myself together, I went to let you in.

Seeing you again…it took my breath away. There you were at my door, looking like your normal, attractive self. Not like the straight-from-the-gym, t-shirt and athletic shorts, backwards baseball cap person you had been on the night you’d broken up with me. You stood tall there in my doorway, your hair pulled up and back in your signature coif, removing your designer sunglasses as you readjusted the bulky bag you’d brought with you. I knew all my stuff was in there, so much that it took a gym bag to carry it all. I was reminded of just how much time we had spent at your place.

I let you in, still breathless, hoping that I looked just as good to you as you did to me. My stomach roiled with nerves, my fingers shaking as I opened the door to my apartment and let you in. I quickly introduced you to Marjorie. You all said your polite hellos.

The original plan had been to drop my stuff and then go get a quick coffee somewhere nearby where we could talk for a little bit. You quickly nixed this, though, saying that our conversation shouldn’t take very long.

My heart fell at this. I was imagining a longer talk. We’d been together for a year and a half. Surely it’d take more that ten or fifteen minutes to divorce our relationship. Apparently not.

It was probably for the best anyways. The coffee shop pickings were slim in my neighborhood. The Upper Upper East Side/East Harlem doesn’t really support the caffeine addiction like the rest of Manhattan. It was at least a ten-minute walk to the nearest Starbucks. It was also probably better to have this conversation in the private of my room, just for embarrassment’s sake. This way if I broke down in tears, it’d be only you seeing it and not a shop full of over-caffeinated strangers.

I led you downstairs and we settled on my new chaise lounge, each of us taking up one end as we prepared to finally have our talk.