Saturday, April 30, 2011

Why someone clearly didn't get hugged enough as a child

"Ok, I gotta go now."

"Ok, love ya, sis."

"Bye."

"Becca!"

"What?"

"Tell me you love me."

"No."

"Tell me!"

"You stink."

"Tell. Me. You. Love. Me. Do it. Now."

"You love me."

"Tell me you love me!"

"You love me!"

"Becca!!!"

"Ok, fine."

"Really?"

"I love...uuuuuuuuurinalysis!"

"Come on, seriously Bec? Just tell me you love me."

"I love euuuuuuulogies!"

"Look, just pretend you're singing the Barney song. Come on, you can do it."

"I love...u-turns!"

"Just say it!"

"I love euthanasia!"

"Gah. You're the worst; you know that, right? Look--U-hauls! Eunuchs! Units of measurement! See, I can do it too!" 

"Gotta go."

"K, love ya."

"Bye."

Which I guess explains why my sister posted, "Happy birthday! I love euthanasia!" on my Facebook wall. It's the thought that counts, right?   

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Why April is the cruellest month

I once said that, for whatever reason, most of my relationships begin in the spring. Perhaps this is true for many people--the world is all new and fresh, the days are longer, the air is warmer, and can you blame people for getting a little twitterpated? But what I am just now beginning to realize is that most of my relationships also end in the spring. Specifically, in the month of April. Even more specifically, about a week before my birthday. And if that isn't the recipe for a wrist-slittingly good time, I don't know what is. To wit:

April 19, 2007--The end of a three-year relationship, and a week to the day before my 27th birthday. Our problems are myriad and complex, but not least among them is his decided fear of commitment.

April 17, 2010--A guy I have been dating about a month pleads commitment-phobia.

April 2011--Another guy I have been dating about a month also pleads commitment-phobia. Hmmm. We go back and forth a bit, but ultimately, after not returning his middle-of-the-night phone call, the last I hear from him is during the early morning hours of Sunday, April 17.

Even I think this is getting weird.

Obviously, I have to put a stop to this sick cycle. The only ideas I have come up with so far are, 1) stop dating any guys, ever, or 2) stop having birthdays. Or maybe 3) lock myself in my house on March 31 and do not come out again until May. 

Thoughts?   

Monday, April 18, 2011

Why you can't put stitches in a broken heart

I had it all planned out, everything I would say to him. The next time he called, either he would bring up his brother's birthday dinner or I would. A few weeks ago, you asked me to go to that dinner with you, I would say. And then you never brought it up again, which is a pretty subtle way of un-inviting someone, I have to say. I think that's a pretty clear signal. And I can take a hint. So, I'm done, Luke. Done

But as with all the best-laid plans, it didn't exactly work out that way.

Later that very same night, the night of the dinner that broke the camel's back, my phone rang. Now, when phones ring in the middle of the night, it's usually for one of two reasons: either the caller is drunk, or something has happened. In this case, it was both. When I answered, he began talking so calmly, so nonchalantly, that at first I thought he had just called to chat at 3:30 in the morning. My still sleeping brain struggled to keep up; "Why are you calling me?" I kept repeating. Blah blah blah Rochester, blah blah blah emergency room...he said. "But why are you calling me?" I repeated, my brain still working on a significant delay. Blah blah blah emergency room, he said again, and then finally it clicked. "What?" I said. "Wait, what?" 

His brother had pissed him off, he said, and so he, Luke, ended up losing it and putting his fist through a window. Now he was in the ER waiting on stitches and x-rays. Even in my still sleep-befuddled state, red flags started popping up. Uh oh, anger issues, the red flags said. Though this didn't make much sense, because the Luke I knew was a gentle giant, even-keeled and mild-tempered, and I had never seen him approach anything even resembling anger before. And besides, wasn't it better that he punch a window instead of his brother? "Well, what happened?" I asked. "What did your brother do?" 

"He accused me of sleeping with his girlfriend," he said. More and more red flags. I composed my next question carefully.

"Why did he say that?" I asked.

"I don't know," he said. "He was really drunk."

I decided to circle back to that one later. "Ok, but...why are you calling me?" I said again, trying to reconcile this suddenly boyfriend-like behavior from a man I hadn't heard anything from in days, and who had already made it abundantly clear that whatever was going on between us wasn't going to go any farther than it already had.

"I don't know," he said. "I just felt like I should."

I mulled that over. "I don't even know what to say," I said. "That's all just...wow." My mind swirled as more and more questions bubbled into consciousness, begging to be asked. Times, locations, and unifying details suddenly seemed of utmost importance. "Whose window did you break? And who is with you in the emergency room?" I started to ask, going into investigative reporter mode. (Once upon a time I dated a guy who made up an emergency room visit as a cover for having gone MIA on Valentine's Day. I decided I believed him, because who would make something like that up? I finally found out the truth a year later, and if you think something like that won't scar you for the rest of your life, think again.) But before I could give voice to even the first question, the line suddenly went dead. I tried calling him back twice, but it just rang and went to voicemail. I lay in bed wide awake, no point in even trying to sleep now, with my mind racing and adrenaline pumping, and even though it was the weekend I had to be at work at the apartments in a few hours. He didn't call back that night.

He finally called back sometime after noon the next day. I was at work, but the office had been slow, and so I had time to talk to him. "You hung up on me," I accused him. 

"Sorry about that," he replied, "the x-ray machines scrambled my phone." 

I decided to let this go for the moment and move on to more pressing matters. "Ok," I said. "So...what happened last night?"

They had gone out to a restaurant, he said, (perhaps hoping I had forgotten the significance of the event), and then they went back to his brother's house. His brother got really drunk and then just kind of lost it. He started yelling at his girlfriend, calling her a whore, and accusing her of sleeping with all these guys. Then he turned on Luke, saying he couldn't believe he would do something like that, that he was the worst person he knew. He started shoving him. Luke walked outside, but his brother followed him, kept shoving him, and then, at some point, Luke got so upset, he punched a window on the porch. A friend assessed the damage (a seven inch long gash further up on his bicep), wrapped a shirt around his arm, and hustled him off to the ER, where he received so many stitches, they stopped counting after thirty-two. After they left, apparently his brother started to get physical with his girlfriend, who called the police. "This morning she packed her bags and left," he concluded. "I don't know why my brother would say that to me," he then said, sounding genuinely baffled. "Carrie and I don't even talk. We don't hang out or anything. And this morning my brother kept insisting he hadn't done anything wrong. I don't even know how much he remembers of last night. My parents are pretty worried about him."

"Huh," I said. "Wow."

"I'm on my way back to Mythaca now," he said, "so if you want to watch a movie or something tonight, give me a call."

"Ok," I said. 

"Oh, wait, that's my brother calling now," he said. "I should take this. I'll call you back."

"Ok," I said again.

But he didn't call back. I finished work and went home, and thought about things. He had called me from the ER, I decided, because he was confused, and in pain, and probably feeling pretty sorry for himself. It didn't necessarily mean anything. But then again, as Pete said when as I rehashed things with him, "He called you. I mean, he called you." I would go and see him tonight, I decided. We would talk, and I would bring up the dinner un-vitation, and I would tell him how that made me feel. I didn't necessarily expect anything to be different, but then again, sometimes traumatic events change things for people. 

I still hadn't heard back from Luke, though, so at about 6:30 I texted him. How are you feeling? I asked. He took a while to respond. Then, tired, he said. I waited, but he didn't add anything else. 

I bet, I said. Want some company? 

I'm at my parents' house, he said.

I blinked, an old, familiar feeling rising up in me, wondering what exactly I had missed this time. Again, he volunteered no further explanation. But you said you were on your way back to Mythaca when we talked before? I typed. Read aloud, I realized, it would sound like I was talking to a very small child. 

I was, he replied, but then mom called. She wanted to talk to my brother as a family.

In spite of myself, I felt anger rising in me. I tried to stop it. I can't, I can't make this about me, I told myself. I can't get mad at him in the middle of his family drama. But it wasn't about that, it wasn't about what he was going through, it was about him doing the same old things that he had always done. Him flaking, him not calling, and always having an excuse--he had lost track of time, something had come up, he had fallen asleep. I couldn't believe I had actually been thinking about giving him another chance; nothing had changed. I refrained from texting him the choice phrases I really wanted to in the heat of the moment--no point adding drama to drama--and instead said, Call me when you get a chance. But he didn't, of course. How many times had I made the same request over the last few weeks--call me when you get a chance--and how many times had he responded? Not once.

Hours later, I got a second middle-of-the-night phone call in as many days. But I didn't answer this time. He followed that up with a text. Hi, I'm sorry. Just woke up. Soo tired

But I didn't respond. I wondered what I would say if I heard from him again, and I also wondered what I would do if I didn't.     

Friday, April 15, 2011

Why it's not over, but it's over

And so I talked to him. After a long day at school and nearly three more hours of class at the college after, I sat with him on his sofa after dinner, barely able to keep my eyes open. "Why don't you go lie down in my room?" he suggested, and so I did, and he unsurprisingly followed right after. We hadn't seen each other in nearly a week, and I knew he was hungry to be touched. We lied down like spoons in a drawer, and he rubbed my back gently. "So what's going on with you?" I began, a question that could be interpreted in myriad ways. I had wanted to keep the talking separate from the cuddling; after all, a good cuddle can so quickly make one lose one's resolve. But who knew when I would see him again, at this rate, and anyway, accusations sound so much less accusatory when mumbled into ear folds and neck nooks, and I wanted to avoid emotions and high drama at all costs.

"Nothing," he answered back; a fair enough response to my altogether vague question.

"It's just that," I said calmly, coolly, rationally, "well, something seems different between us lately. I don't know what it is, but something's just...different, and I wanted to know if you thought so too."

"Nope," he replied sleepily, still rubbing my back. "Everything's good. I'm just busy, is all." 

So, he was going with the non-response, though this wasn't altogether a surprise. I kept probing, gently, gently. "Yeah," I said, "that makes sense. Everyone gets busy once in a while." 

Silence. 

"It's just that," I continued, "I can't help but feel that something's changed. In the beginning, when we were first hanging out, you were all about me meeting your family and talking about us taking trips together. You just seemed excited about being together. And lately there hasn't been any of that." 

He persisted in his vague non-responses, brushing me off with half-mumbled assurances: "don't worry," "all good," "no problem." I waited, but there was no elaboration, nothing. Like I said, I wasn't altogether surprised. But still. Still. 

"You're not very talkative tonight," I mentioned, as silence reigned and we curled up close, so close together.

"Maybe I'm just not a talkative guy," he said, as if that was the answer to everything. I mulled it over. I was willing to consider it, except...

"Well, not to belabor the point," I said, "but when we first started hanging out, you were very talkative. You were always telling me how much you liked me, and when we weren't together you always texted. You didn't have any problems talking, then."

He heaved a sigh, and spoke. "Have you ever thought that maybe I'm afraid of commitment?" he said.

One beat of my heart. Two beats. Three. "Yes," I said evenly. "I had actually considered that." And how could I not? Although at this rate it's beginning to feel like an all too predictable line in an even more predictable movie, and I refrained from telling him that in the future he might want to avoid such blatant attempts at Hollywood cliche. Though he might have felt like a special, unique flower, I, and a long line of commitment-phobes before him, knew differently. 

"Well," he said, the shrug implied in his voice, "that's it. I'm afraid of commitment." I did what I do best in these kinds of situations and said nothing, now, and he, forced to pick up the conversational slack, continued. "It's just that, I could be in Colorado in a month," he said, referencing a job he had applied to, "and you're probably leaving in a few months, too. Why make it harder on ourselves?" He went on, saying that he was torn; for a while he was really thinking about settling down, building his own house, and "everything that goes along with that." But now, there was Colorado, and the allure of skiing all the time. "And you don't like snow," he said, as if this was a logical thing to say. Now, instead of settling and house-building, he said, he was itching for the next adventure, somewhere, Colorado, or somewhere else, anywhere. He talked, and we talked, all the way around it and through it, and never did come to any conclusion. What I didn't think to say then, and wish I had, was, "I don't remember asking you for a commitment. So this really is some kind of bullshit. Why don't you just say that you don't actually like me that much?"

What I did say was, "I was ready to break up with you at least twice in the last couple weeks. Well, not break up with you since we're not actually together, apparently, but you know what I mean. I don't do well with ambiguity. I'm either in or I'm out, so, you know, that's where I'm coming from."

And still, even still, all of this, and still there was cuddling, and still there was kissing, like there always had been. When I finally said I had to go home, it was late, he urged me to stay. I didn't, I couldn't, not on a school night and when I still had work to do, and so I left. "I feel like I'm never going to hear from you again," he said, and for some reason this surprised me. No, it was the other way around if it was anything, wasn't it? Or was it? I texted him the next day, bounced the ball back in his court if he wanted it, though it's looking less and less likely. But still, nothing definitive, he's still straddling that fence with his long and tall legs, half-heartedly batting the ball back every once in a while. But this is what the truth really is:

About three weeks ago he asked what I was doing on April 15th, "tax day," he said, though as it turns out it isn't. I shrugged, because Friday, three weeks in advance? Hmm, dunno. Because it was his brother's birthday, he said, and he was having a dinner with some friends, and, no pressure, but he'd really like it if I went along, too. I had previously said no to meeting family, because hello, we had just started dating, and so he extended this new invitation to me hesitantly, but hopefully. You see, this was back when I was the one who was afraid, and oh, how much things can change in just three short weeks. I mulled it over briefly, and said, "Yeah, that sounds really nice, actually. I'd like to go with you." This was back when I felt happy, for once, and hopeful, and confident that the thing we were building wouldn't all come crashing down around my ears, even though it had a dozen times before, even though it undoubtedly would again. 

I'm sure it goes without saying that I never heard another word about the dinner, which I can only assume, at 8:23 p.m., is going on right now, without me. I'm sure I will hear from him again, maybe tomorrow, or the next day, or the next, and he will maybe even want to hang out, but it doesn't matter. It's already done.

Maybe the next time a guy comes along saying all the right things I'll finally have learned not to listen.    

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Why hope is a thing with feathers, and it's dead

Oh how fleeting happiness is when you're the Charlie Brown of dating. That's the thing about bluebirds on your shoulder, I guess--they're a temperamental sort. Make too sudden a move and their little bird hearts can't take it--poof, and all you're left with are some feathers and a pile of shit. Now I'm watching the life and near-death of a relationship in fast forward. Caught in dating purgatory, we're still alive, if not entirely well, and now there's an elephant in the room trumpeting for attention, yet deaf-blind-dumbly ignored by all. 

Everything seems fine in person--when we see each other in person. But everything else makes me want to volunteer for experimental emotion reassignment surgery--on a spectrum of flesh-and-blood human to clod of dirt, I'll take anesthetized robot, thanks. 

Feeeeeelings, nothing more than...fucking awful hurty painful feeeeelings...

I can see it coming because I've been through it a dozen times before. It's a gradual step-down process, like he's a smoker and I'm the patch. We see each other less. He calls less, texts less. "Well," he sighs, two minutes into a phone conversation, "I just felt like I should call you," his sense of obligation hanging heavy in the air. Then he blames traffic and safe driving practices, raging aloud at the stupidity of other motorists for good measure, before quickly saying goodbye. "TTYL," he says, where L is an unknown variable, representing an undetermined length of time, upon which TTY is entirely dependent.

I haven't felt much like blogging lately. I haven't felt much like doing anything lately. But I have. Things must be done, after all. Blogging among them. Also eating, showering, going to school, doing work, and (only somewhat successfully) sleeping. Life, huh? Just one long string of -ings. (Feeeeelings.) The one -ing I wish I could feel--nothing.