I’m shaking as I sit here on my chaise lounge. My heart is pounding in my ears. My palms are sweaty. I’m breathing quickly, trying to catch and keep in my breaths. Trying to calm back down.
I just hung up the phone. You were on the other end.
It’s been three weeks since you broke up with me. Three weeks of not talking. Three weeks of not exchanging the things we had at each other’s apartment.
(Not that I need any of that stuff. I mean, I want it all back, but if any of it were a real priority I would have called you two weeks ago. Instead, we let things settle for twenty-one days. We let our relationship slowly unravel so that we’ll only have this one last exchange, this one last goodbye, and we’ll be snipped apart completely.)
As I scrolled through my contacts earlier tonight, determined to put an end to this stalemate of not talking, my thumb hovered over your number. I’d resolved a week ago to call you on this day. Thursday is such a nice day. Late enough in the week to be feeling good about the upcoming weekend but also far enough out from Saturday and Sunday to make actual plans. I was confident in my choice of days. Confident in calling you…that is, until I actually went to dial your number.
Did I know what I wanted to say? Should I write it all down before? Have a pre-arranged script in case I blanked? Would I be able to keep it together on the phone? Luckily you could only hear and not see me. I didn’t have to worry about ugly-crying in front of you. You ended things, so I wanted to come off as strong. Show you that I’d moved on, even if that isn’t the truth. But what if my sadness came through in my voice?
All of this indecision and pessimism ran through my head as I hovered over your number, keeping me from pressing call. But this phone call had to happen. I’ve grown tired of putting this conversation off. So finally I pressed my thumb down and nervously listened as the phone began to ring.
A part of me didn’t want you to pick up. I hoped that you’d be at the gym or still at work. A part of me wanted just to leave a message and then await your call back. But a bigger part of me wanted you to answer. Wanted to get this over with, as uncomfortable as it would surely be.
On the third ring, you picked up.
It was weird talking to you, hearing your voice again. People always sound so different through a telephone. The disembodied voice that’s modulated and pitched funnily as it goes through a cell tower, bounces off a satellite and then back through a different cell tower to a different phone. Your “Hello” sounded distant, sounded wrong but right at the same time.
Hearing your voice again, I froze.
It felt good to hear you. Though awkward. What do you say to your ex-boyfriend after three weeks of silence?
Eventually I managed a meek “Hi” back, the volume of my voice low and pathetic-sounding to my ear. Gone was my pre-break-up confidence. I felt deflated, unsure of what to say to you.
I wracked my brain for what to say next. There are so many things that I wanted to say to you…but I knew that I couldn’t. So many questions that I wanted answered.
You still haven’t told me exactly why you broke up with me. Only that you weren’t happy. How you weren’t happy, you weren’t sure of.
In the last three weeks, had you come to a conclusion on the how? Could you enlighten me now? Maybe the how is something I can fix. Maybe the how is something you can get over. The how is so important, but this phone call wasn’t the place for that. There probably won’t ever be a place or time to get all the answers I want from you. The mystery of our end will probably haunt me for years.
As all these thoughts, my burning questions that I knew I couldn’t ask, ran through my head, the banal “How have you been?” crept out of my mouth. Leading to a quick back and forth update where we both said we had been doing “fine” since the break-up.
I was lying, of course. I was doing “okay.” Not “fine.” “Okay” being worse than “fine” in this situation. “Fine” is what you are when you’re neutral. When nothing good or bad is going on in your life. “Okay” is what you are when you’re slightly less than “fine.”
I don’t really remember what we talked about exactly. Twenty minutes gone and I’ve forgotten the details of our first conversation in three weeks. This after a year and a half together. A year and a half when we rarely went a day without communicating through text, gchat, in person…
I do remember that we set a time and a place for our final exchange.
Sunday — just three days away.
My apartment — an anomaly, as we almost always stayed at your place on the weekends.
In three days we’ll officially be over. I’ll have all of my stuff and you’ll have all of yours.
I hope that I’m ready for it. I want to be…