Sunday, August 26, 2007

Past tense

I’ve spent my days hiding under a stolen bedspread and singing the wrong lyrics to Hot Chip. The nights have been different. We talked for a long time while I uploaded her music files.

Relationships, always the topic at hand. And the sound bytes were of a new quality. The coining of a new term; busboy (for the person who always takes away and never brings anything to the table). It was one of those endlessly important dialogues where you keep interrupting each other with mild epiphanies. Such as in a relationship when you begin to bargain with winning that mental tick mark against actually getting what you want; it’s time to tap out.

What I mean is the moment it’s me versus you and not “us”—and when it comes it is so surprising, so wrong, so not what could ever happen to you, you were picking names, imagining each other old and even stomaching, taking concessions for one another’s dreams, world, your tastes and faults and all that is special to just the two of you.

Not because people complete each other—they only compete against one another—but because it’s nice to wake up from a nap with your best friend right there. You get to have her whenever you want because she gets to have you in return, and sure it’s no longer rare, but it’s so meaningful to have one person who always, in theory, chooses you first. That always finds you adorable, brilliant, or just prefers you, every time, even if just slightly or begrudgingly, to anyone else.

And she says to me she’s glad, so glad we can think clearly now, but I know what it’s worth. Nothing at all. Because that didn’t stop that moment where we were talking about something…

Was that dinner on Tuesday or Wednesday—and I knew it was one and he knew it was the other and I knew if I pushed it, it would not be about that dinner, it would never be, it would be so much more than that, it would be justification, for later, with them for both of us, it would be all about that other person’s me me me, that salient harping point that they would not let go, though it meant nothing, nothing at all, to him or to me, it was everything to us later so we could hate each other in the moment and so we could tell them why.

And I looked at him and I nodded without saying that he was right, it was Wednesday, and still it did not help, it made things worse and I was surprised. I am still always so surprised that something precious to me will never be again and I said to myself—

Do I want to be right or do I want to get what I want, which is for us to be happy and complacent and it is no prize to be right, it’s all getting pissed off and poking each other in the ribs with “See? See?” when someone stops the fight for us, this unspoken boil between two people, how we fall away, how we don’t do what is kind because it’s only our boyfriend/girlfriend, no need to dress up, it’s just them, just that extension of myself which I need not tend to. We decided already it was meant to be and we did the work, we did the work already! We met each other, and that was all that we had to do, it’s all that you have to do when it’s meant to be, right?

And I told her, a different girl, because I am almost one year older, don’t you dare push, these are crucial times and while you are having your quarterlife crisis and he is having his and you keep pushing him to move it forward to feel like you have something, just one thing you can count on, you will blame him, he will blame you and you can’t ever go back.

You will want to and you can’t ever go back to when you jumped just to get a text from him, when you dreamt of his mouth, when you couldn’t fall asleep for the life of you, when you saw him up close and you were privy to the sight of his face sideways and you could not believe how lucky you were to see him this way, and how he looked so different than any other time, he looked so young and it amazed you. You can’t ever go back, you can trade it in for something else, a sparring partner, an extra ipod, someone to reminisce with, and maybe some other things, but you cannot go back, you can’t ever go back, so don’t you dare push it forward if you can help it, don’t do it.

I told her this, you know, and she couldn’t hear me and it made no difference even though I thought it would, even though I told myself it would.

Because I said to myself that I wished someone had said it to me—this is so sincere—how I wished someone had, but I knew as she looked at me scared and then unbelieving. I knew.

When it’s you and yours…

It doesn’t apply.

She told me that without saying a thing. That’s all well and good but you don’t know us.

We’re different.

We’re meant to be.

So we don’t have to try.

And then we were together all night and he never called her and she never called him and she went home alone and it didn’t matter. The warning, my eight more months of knowing, my year of bruises…because that’s the thing. You can’t ever go back once you cross that line. And you have to learn it all by yourself.


b said...

Honestly, I didn't want to like this, but then the middle paragraphs recalled the Penelope chapter in Ulysses (yes, I really did read it, hipsters). And who's going to hate on that?

Anonymous said...

I liked it.

It was pretty sad though.

Anonymous said...


Often lurker, first time commenter. This was really relevant to me today. Thank you for showing me something that I was trying to deny for a while. My relationship just isn't working it's me versus him all the time and we haven't been part of a team for a long time now. Sad but inevitable. Thanks for giving me the courage to face it.

Ha Ha Sound said...

Yes, that you vs. me thing is pretty much the death knell for a relationship. Interestingly, I had one too when I was 25. She wanted to get married, and I didn't.

The end.

C-47 said...

This one put a bit of a choke in my throat, little dirt in the eye. I have had three long (more then a year) relationships. I have been on both the dumped and dumper (??) side of it. I know the heart wrench well.

The troublesome thing for me is each time I tamp down my emotions a little more. I make things a little easier to deal with by feeling less. I havent cried since the first one. As in for anything, no crying. I removed that from my operating system. I havent become enraged since the second. By the third I just made a fist and my throat got tight. I know that aint right. But such as it is. I worry that I am becoming sort of less and less emotional with each iteration of woman. Each one scorches my insides a little more, less trees grow, more salted earth. I dont know.
This posting got to me. Which, I guess, at least proves I can still feel.
I dont want to knock any more nerves from the shins, you know what I mean? Its not that the hurt lessens, if anything it grows, its just the reaction is numbed, and I dont like that.