Love


One of my phone’s apps is horoscope.com where I can read my horoscope or draw tarot cards. Today, I drew the Love Death card. Oh, Silly Tarot, you’re so redundant.

Yesterday was The Kid’s birthday, and I was ready to maintain my self-imposed communication boycott, fueled by self-pity and a determination that I really didn’t matter and it’s just a birthday. Just another day. Courtesy of (potentially unnecessary) pre-day pep-talking, I was READY. Ready to not do ANYTHING. My mind could’ve done Jedi mind tricks I was that prepared and focused (well, first I would have to watch those movies to even know what that entails, but you get it). And it worked; the day happened, and I thought about him, but I wasn’t even TEMPTED to contact. Besides, I had convinced myself that he wouldn’t even NOTICE, much less think of it as some huge punishment to not hear a few words from me.

If he didn’t care, I didn’t care, and I didn’t care so much that my sister and I wished him birthday wishes over our dinner of apple crisp.

“I wish … that the store is sold out of cake. I mean, he doesn’t even LIKE CAKE.”
“I wish … that he is wearing a new outfit and a bus comes barreling down the street and to NOT hit him –but maybe just spray mud all over him.”
“I wish … that when he is tying his shoes, he breaks a shoelace –so he can go buy new ones. New shoelaces are NICE.”

We’re givers. And healthy –well, relatively, much healthier than when she found out her ex was engaged and wrote to him, “Congrats. I hope your wedding is beautiful and your new bride chokes on her wedding cake and dies.”

Progress!

His birthday, I kept distracted, la la la, it doesn’t matter, doesn’t matter to him why should it matter to me, blah blah. Good, right?

At 10:50pm, he texted.

“You have ten minutes.” (He’s on east-coast time).

So he did notice.

After much internal debate and nine minutes, I responded, “Was giving us space. But happy 27.” Quick, easy, totally breezy and noncommittal.

“Give all the space you need, but we don’t blow off birthdays you jerk.” (This is him trying to keep it light.)

“You missed my half. I think you were in NYC. Apparently we do.” (This is me being passive aggressive. Side note: yes, I celebrate my half-birthday on September 10th, and mostly I love it more than my real birthday.)

“Not real birthdays Molly, not real birthdays.” (As if we have established a protocol for this situation.)

“Skip the righteous tone, wouldja.”

“No, I’m a fuck, but I never miss your birthday, that transcends.”

I could’ve picked like four different fights with this convo but instead, I just said, “It’s moot. Happy 27.”

LOOK AT ME, I’M THE BIGGER PERSON. WHERE DID THAT EVEN COME FROM?

He texted again, something off topic about how he spent his day (at a county fair), and I didn’t respond, which means that I didn’t engage in actual conversation and I vote it counts as not talking, and I am still on my way to my 30-day Kid-less chip. Go me.

Four weeks ago he returned from Europe, and he was different. He no longer teased or indulged my penchant for asking questions. He’d snap at me. Although before he had promised pictures and stories and a souvenir bong as big as my head, since his return, he’s yet to show me a single photo or even share the names of his vagabond crew.

Three weeks ago he told me he loved me … and that sounds like a bigger deal than it actually is. The words were sent via text, and it’s just something he does sometimes, a text into the void, without the expectation of a response. I do the same – though not those words. Never those words. The closest I come is an I miss you and even that is rare. The point is that the words are never a big revelation; just a factual statement I accept without deep analysis.

Two weeks ago he asked me to visit. He was at a wedding in Chicago, with our college friends, and wanted to see me. He called me his best friend, said that whenever something good or bad happened, I was the first one he wanted to tell. He said that everyone at the wedding asked about me, told him he screwed up when he let me go (isn’t that a polite way to phrase it?). He said he wanted to see me … but if he had really wanted to see me, he would’ve called me before 1am when drunk.

One week ago we were still off, had yet to return to our normal rhythm. When we’re off, it’s easier for me – it creates distance, which I like. Much easier for me to dislike him, especially when around his two best friends who still give me the “you guys are totally going to get married, I just know it!” drill. We were off for a reason, and I knew what it was. The Bestest Friend warned me against asking.

Three days ago I asked. Well, that’s wrong, I didn’t ask, I told a mutual friend, told him that The Kid is seeing someone in NYC and that she went to Europe with him. My friend just looked at me, his eyes were the same quiet pity that I saw and too well remember from two years ago when I asked about her, and said, “You know I can’t tell you that.” I nodded, indifferently, and then excused myself to call a friend, one of my girls, and promptly broke down. I was, embarrassingly, a hysterical mess. She listened through the pain, the teeth chattering and body quaking and hell, even the vomiting. No tears though; never tears.

Yesterday I told him goodbye. I said that we can’t talk anymore. That he needs to let me go because I am not healing.

I feel … empty.

While her boyfriend called to reveal his birthday present to me, The Bestest Friend spent the conversation giggling in the background with the occasional slurring of discombobulated clichés such as “Either way, you’ll just know!” and “Seeing, believing!”

The Bestest Friend and I don’t do presents – it’s one of the many things that makes our relationship great, so I protested the gift even before I heard what it was. I protested even more once it was revealed.

Another friend called a few minutes later, drunk and ripe with details significant to only those in the inner circle. I reciprocated with my news.

“Mol, I met a new boy, a great boy, and I just found out that his name is [NAME].”

“Whoa. Crap. Well, [The Bestest Friend]’s boyfriend just bought the three of us plane tickets to [STATE].”

“WHAT. The Hell. You’re not going. Unacceptable. Or I will also go to prevent you from seeing anyone there.”

Without deciding exactly how I felt about The Bestest Friend’s social-science experiment or the other’s forbiddance/disregard for my ability to run my life, I called him to see if it was a situation that even needed analysis –which is how I handle most issues pertaining to him. I don’t play what-ifs or hypotheticals; all emotions are securely locked away, escaping only when absolutely necessary.

He’ll still be in town that week, that’s the week between his last final and graduation; he’s available.

And he would really like to see me.

My grad-school group was working on a final project that required consumer interviews. We cheated, bypassed the interviews and skipped straight to the insightful interview conclusions. When formulating our research results, we were in need of subject quotations, and for those we typically IMed various friends, whoever was online. After a few responses, one of my group members questioned to whom I was talking.

“Molly, are you dating that guy? Are you in love with him?”

I was surprised that she asked, but assured her that no, I definitely was not, as I am very single and in no way am I dating my interview subject. I then learned that my entire group is single and what’s even better (worse), all four of us have had five+-year relationships, and all of those relationships (one being a marriage) have ended from the other partner cheating. After sharing and bonding over mutual bitterness, we returned back to the project and fake interviews. Once again, I was interrupted.

“Molly, if you’re not dating that guy, why do you smile each time you read his response?”

I hadn’t realized that I was doing that. But he always makes me smile – one of his most annoying characteristics. Today, he has spent three hours emailing his account about being attacked by a monster last night. A monster of a slightly bluish hue attacked – unprovoked – after a cookie was stolen; luckily he slit his throat to end the death battle. I like his unassuming humor – it’s typically clever and very dry.

“Seriously, we’re not dating – I’m talking to my ex.”

And then I saw a mixture of amusement and pity reflected in all their faces.

“And you’re still in love with him.”

Deaf to my denials and guffawed, Oh whatever’s, they then reassigned me from interview duty to background research. To keep me away from him.

I hate that these people who barely know me can read me. I have been proud of myself lately, thinking that I really had turned a new corner/leaf/bad clichéd phrase. I honestly thought that I was doing well.

J.Crew recently had their swimsuits on clearance; when I tried on their tops, my lack of boob was embarrassingly evident. NONE. Molly no-boob is what the salesgirl kept calling me. True story. She was even pointing and laughing – I cried a little bit. Typically, I wear bras somewhat padded in nature (I don’t want to nip-out at the office) and over time, I have almost convinced myself that some of that padding actually belongs to my boob. Because I want it to be true and voila! the mirror validates my wishful thinking.

As weird as that metaphor is, I thought that because I keep telling myself that I am over it that must translate to mean that I am. I want it to be true – I want to be over it. I even play the it’s not me, it’s him card – – HE is the one that is still hanging on; HE is the one that still calls the break-up the biggest mistake of his life. It’s always only him. I look in the mirror and see the semblance of a bust; therefore, boobs must be under there somewhere.

To convince myself that I am healthy, I have even established unspoken rules. I legitimately try to never initiate contact; another one is that I genuinely try not to flirt with him. We talk, but as friends, and when his conversation veers toward the flirty/sexual nature, I stop it. Blatantly stop it (“No, you don’t get to know what I am wearing right now. What did you have for lunch today?”). These boundary rules were originally established out of necessity to retain my sanity, especially since I don’t have enough willpower to sever all contact, and now I almost use them as validation that he is the one that can’t let go.

I lie to myself, perhaps, a little too often.

It took one IM conversation for three almost-strangers to call me out on my lack of progress. Everyone else has been so positive and helpful in my avoidance. My friends don’t ask if we’re still talking and I don’t tell them. They let me live in my world of denial and oblivion. I am happy there. And now my little grad-school group want to bring me back to reality. Which IS NOT AS FUN. I guess this negates any possibility of inviting them on a beach vacation – they’d totally call me out on wearing the wrong size bra (“A B? Are you KIDDING? There’s NO WAY you’re a B!”) and re-instigate the nickname of Molly no-boob. And there’s no way I want to live through that mockery again.

The Kid from Boston called, drunk, mid-afternoon to wish me a Happy Thanksgiving and tell me about mimosas and his apple-pie baking abilities. We briefly talked about the difference in Thanksgivings compared to last year, as last year he proposed almost daily over the long weekend. He said he was still waiting for an answer. I said that, given the circumstances and considering he had a girlfriend at the time, I thought the question slightly insincere.

Their day must have been lagging, as his roommate called, equally drunk, less than ten minutes later to tell me about his trip home to Minneapolis and to request scheduled Molly-time. Their house was full of Thanksgiving dinner guests and one must have asked who was on the phone. He hesitated.

“This girl that, uh, used to visit.”

I am the girl that used to visit. Nevermind that I dated his roommate for SIX YEARS – I have now been downgraded to the girl that used to, uh, visit. Obviously, the extended explanation was inappropriate for the holiday, which I understood at the time, but later I tattled to The Kid, covering my hurt in mock-outrage. He tried to correct the mistake.

“[Sweets, his roommate] is wrong.”

“What title would you have given me if you had been asked?”

“You were the love of my life.”

Regardless of the answer’s bullshit quality, I was slightly appeased that I wasn’t just remembered as that girl that uh, used to visit. On the negative side, however, apparently we haven’t gotten over each other as much as I would have hoped compared to last year.

Among our texting banter, The Realtor wrote:

“I am completely serious. 100%. Let’s get married.”

Probably not the healthiest sign that my first thought was the last person who pseudo-proposed and how it felt wrong coming from someone else.

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