justbadtiming

life as i know it

Chapter Twenty Four – Rising Up & Feeling Down

Back to the drawing board. Back to excessive drinking and eating, and random late night crushes. Somehow I thought my late twenties would be different, that I would be smarter, that my problems would be different. It turns out that I just feel as if the last three years did not happen. It seems like I am back to being 23, with a few added scars that have not actually enlightened me in any way. That isn’t true actually, I have come to realize that I have been too nice, too patient. I should have just left his suitcases in the street for him to pick up and be on his way to his shitty life. Liam did however teach me a new kind of patience that I did not know I was capable of. Whether I like to admit it or not, he made me grow unknowingly. Moving forward, I am still truly struggling with knowing what my approach “should be” when it comes to protecting myself. I feel that other women are much stronger than me when it comes to asserting themselves. I feel that as strong as I am standing up for my decisions and building a life that is centred around my own self, I may never know how to ask for “what I deserve” from someone else. I am fiercely independent, always have been and that may play into it. I see women who know exactly what they want, and they are very good at this. They demand and command. Since I have always been a bit uncertain about what I want and what that would look like, I have no ground to stand on and demand particular standards. I am struggling even more to understand or decide whether that is something I want to do at all. Do you need to be bitchy to teach’em? Or do you keep trusting blindly that someday, spontaneously, someone will know what to do with you?
I recently polled my friends about the main things that scare them in a significant other or prospect. By far, the main no-no was narrow-mindedness. I could not help but question whether it is narrow-minded to want everyone to be so open? I mean this is going deep into the philosophy of modern relationships, but out of over a thousand people whom I asked, only two (women) responded inwardly. They were scared of themselves losing control and not being good enough for the other. How beautiful is that? The realization that fear comes from within and that all the feelings you have are only your own. The other major red flags related to egos, lies, jealousy, essentially all confidence-based issues. All of the usual suspects relate back to confidence I say, because how can you trust someone if you do not trust yourself. Ego and emotional unavailability, or possessiveness are all byproducts of a lack of a moveable sense of self and faith in life. Hence if you chose to trust, and not fear, all you need is effective communication according to these answers. This is the paradox with modern relationships. We live in a world where the discourse is dominated by fear rhetoric, and where we are not taught to talk to each other anymore. No wonder these are our fears; we are fed all the tools for paranoia and ego boosting. How are we expected to know any other types of behaviour without being taught? I tend to believe that this open mindedness, this ability to question and change one’s mind that most of us seem to be seeking, is really a deep yearning for true exchange, for veritable, meaningful moments of intimacy. If we all decided to agree that vulnerability is beautiful, we could trust and breathe again perhaps.  
I have been learning about this myself. Particularly that year in France, spent living literally day by day. It is one thing to be independent, but am I leaving any space to let anyone in? I was asking myself to be open minded, to accept that all my experiences are worth living, to stare right at the fire. I spent some time alone reflecting, in between the drunken socializing marathons. I realized how much time I wasted being nostalgic about certain times, certain moments in my life that had passed, and when this past came back and surprised me, I wondered how I ended up back there. Being single again, there are some feelings and head-spaces I re-discovered. I had forgotten about the anger, the bitterness and the remorse. I romanticized these moments spent on a beach alone, eating seafood and writing. I forgot about actually being alone. I remember wishing I was alone when we went to Cuba with Liam. I sat on this rooftop overlooking Havana, where Hemingway used to live. I pondered about his times spent there writing. I am fairly certain that he sat alone. This may be very presumptuous of me to think that I know or understand him, but I do think that. I wondered how different sitting there, sipping on a mojito was for him. Did his hold more rum than mine? Was he more secluded? The nostalgia that I suffer from was creeping in then too. La mondialisation est la mort des cultures. I am unsure who said that, but it kept ringing in my ears. I felt myself mourn the loss of authenticity that I imagine has since happened. And I don’t mean it’s happened to Cuba. I mean I am consistently told about the superficiality of our times. La belle époque, the twenties, all that jazz. As Hemingway would say, have you ever fought a lion? I haven’t.
I sat there having my deep writer thoughts that would depress anyone who was not sensible to the preciousness of time slipping away. And I wished he wasn’t there. I only remember this because I wrote it down.This is the thing about writing your memoirs as you go along: you cannot hide from your patterns. They stare at you glaringly when you re-read your own words. You think to yourself: how wrong was I about this, yet so fucking right about that? Should I have feared Liam’s lack of confidence in himself? Clearly. Did I? A friend of mine keeps reminding me that you cannot make a race horse out of a donkey, but was it wrong to want to help him grow? Or was my mistake not seeing that he was not focused on helping me grow and without reciprocity the process becomes useless? Times are clearly changing and so are we, but we seem to be devolving. We seem to have forgotten about being kind to each other, being true to ourselves and facing our faults. If this is my one act of rebellion in this world of fear and hate, I will keep questioning until my face (and your eyes) go numb. 
Somehow my “over-thinking”, my constant restructuring of what I see and how I feel, is aimed at the simplification of it all. It does seem contradictory but I truly believe it. Everything from today’s rules of dating to our political context, is aimed at making us dumber, further from our true essence. We are but people. People who love, fear, hate and want. We are vulnerable and we need each other. If we gave people the space to feel all of those emotions without so much repression, maybe our actions would change. Maybe it is the frustration of consistently being told what to feel, how to act, how to exchange with others, that is at the root of all our insecurities. We have become shadows of the moulds prescribed to ourselves, and Plato would be very concerned. I have this mantra in my head lately that I keep unwittingly repeating to myself: It’s time to rise. RISE. It is hard to be headed towards the high road consistently, it is even harder at times to simply get out of bed. I think however that as long as I want to see a world where need is not a bad word and where I can be whoever I am with other people, I need to keep rising, rising up to the challenge, never stop asking the questions that hurt, facing the feelings that shatter, and I need to know that for every pit in my gut, there is conversely space for butterflies.

Chapter Twenty Three – Motorcycle Diaries 

He walked into the crowded and smokey dive of a restaurant and proceeded to say hi to everyone from the musicians, to the servers and wealthy eaters. Immediately my insides curled up and I could hear it ringing in my ears: yumm-eeeee. Single Christine rearing her naughty head, made mad noises in my mind. Let’s strategize; we must get into his pants tonight. We are only here less than 24 hours after all… Yes, ok Christine, calm down. He was probably in his late thirties, with dark hair, and some silver strewn in. His green eyes glistened as he sang and drank the little shots of šljivovica. I only noticed his full sleeve tattoo on his left arm about half way through the night. He had this confidence in his own self that radiated and took up a lot of room. Most of the women I could catch staring at him repeatedly. However, I could tell by some fleeting looks that he was less confident in his ability to flirt up this twenty something bird, dressed in a lacy black shirt and no bra. The friend I was with then stood up to give him a hug, and there we had an in! He was a friend of her brother’s. Thank you Sudbina for this unexpected eye candy with a deep voice. He seemed kind, yet messed up. He declared he was falling in love with me to the whole table without once speaking to me personally. I was captivated.

The songs got darker and more real, as more wine was consumed. Only Belgrade can provide nights like these. Only Belgrade produces people like these. Ovo je za našu dušu. This is for our soul, my friend and I kept saying to each other. My heart felt like exploding from sheer fullness, from the overload of emotion in the songs, the wine and the shared experience of raw feelings, which were or never were ours. As a group, all of us in the restaurant shared intimacy and togetherness in the lyrics that spewed out of each of us. 

He sat at the table behind me and we had both sat diagonally so as to have a peripheral view of each other. He looked like a young, modern Che Guevara, who kept looking at me as I sang my heart out. He didn’t stare, he stole glances. It was like we already had secrets that our eyes were telling each other each time they crossed paths. I could tell he was looking at me as I focused to light my cigarette. I stared at him a little as he smoked and sang, his eyes closed and heart at his sleeve. My friend and I got up to dance and sing, but I could feel his looks ever so often. He only ever looked at me or the band or his drink. All the women looked at him, even some of the men. We huddled at one point to speak over the music and he stole a kiss from me. His friend was talking to mine, as Che stroked my ankle and I his neck. Let’s get out of here, he said.

As we got up to leave, his friend asked if I had a jacket and I didn’t understand as it was about 25 degrees out, even in the thick of the night. We walked out and he put a helmet on, pointing me towards the darkest, largest, sexiest Harley I had ever seen. I climbed on as he put the music on and we drove quickly into the night, as for the first time, I rode without a helmet on, my hair dancing in the wind. I closed my eyes, leaned against the backrest and breathed in the Belgrade air. What a memory this would be, I thought to myself – as long as I don’t die

There was a painting in his living room, of a raised middle finger, with the words “Kiss it ’till it goes away.” Perfect icon for my night with him, and my year so far. A friend in France told me that I was misusing a french saying that said sometimes you can heal the bad with the bad – like drinking a beer to cure a hangover. By misspelling one of the words, it could mean to heal the hurt with men. Soigner le mal par le mâle. It appears that the saying and the painting were indeed my motto. “Fuck the world and the pain, and the men in it!”, said with clenched fist in the air.

We had sex twice, passionately. He was telling me: stop fucking me, why are you fucking me? I would slow down and stare into the darkness. Deep breaths in, deep thrusts out. Fullness. He wanted me to experience him filling up my insides. It felt like he had more than two hands, running up and down my body, grabbing and holding onto my flesh. That could have been due to the many glasses of wine I had consumed. He was intent and decided in each of his moves though. He commanded me in the manliest and sexiest of ways. He was telling me what to do, asking me what I wanted, taking his time… I was drunk on him now too. In the morning, he would not let me go without grabbing me and having me from behind. A man with a high sex drive nowadays is my addiction. So I let him have me sideways, until I made him climb on top of my back, squishing and squeezing all of me, while his thick penis filled every inch of me. He came all over my back and collapsed. I felt this sense of pride, that I had made this large, invincible-looking man fall down and crave gentle back strokes. If I didn’t smell like a barrel of wine and a cigarette factory, I would have french kissed his brains out. 

How good it felt to be taken out of life… I was going to say reality but since I had no set routine at that moment, I cannot really define what was more or less real in my life. It felt especially great to live just like in a movie for a moment, because I had realized only a few days prior that I had been lying to myself for a while. I had become quite uncomfortable with that and scared. I have always been looking for a love that’s true and deep and painful and somewhere deep down I knew that it was not what I had had with Liam. That just wasn’t what we had and the pain wasn’t painful enough and the panic was not suffocating enough to fear death. 

It is fascinating to me how love somehow seems inextricably linked to the reality of death. You forget death in moments like the fleeting passing of love on a motorcycle in the night, yet you cannot seem to ignore the presence of death when love breaks you to your core. No wonder Hemingway so often sought to cheat death, with lions or women. To chose to bring oneself to one’s own is a message of his that I have yet to decipher. All I can say is it feels good to be alive in moments like these. It feels good to escape the seriousness, the heaviness of permanence, and to relinquish oneself to the evanescence of a moment, of an impulse. This is what my life was about for a while after moving to France: Men. (And Women.) Each bringing me whatever it is they had to offer for a fleeting moment, wether it was motorcycles, slow-dancing at dawn or a home-cooked meal on a silver platter. As long as it came with a side of sex, I would take it. The fear I felt, from having managed to live a lie, convincing myself that the love I had created was true and pure, had to be undone with the only truth I could trust: the truth of the moment. Suddenly, a new life unfolded.

Chapter Twenty Two – All I Ask

Here I am, on a frail patio table, in the sun, writing and smoking, just like I had dreamed of doing not so long ago. Liam will not be meeting me to plant that soft kiss on my lips however. No one will be meeting me. 

People are walking around me, strolling through the Friday sunshine and I can’t help my disbelief at this reality I find myself in. Be careful what you wish for. The words keep ringing in my ears. I had been asking for this subconsciously for over a year; I had inadvertently set my intention and the universe answered. The thing about asking the universe for things, is that unintentionally and inevitably, your wish is one of utterly selfish nature. Perhaps things work out for two people if they both happen to set the same intention. This one definitely was not powerful enough for two. I did not ask for Liam to love me, I did not ask for him to thrive. No, I asked for my own happiness and I painted the picture. For fuck’s sake, I longed for that summer spent living in Croatia, failing to remember that that life came from incredible pain and utter disappointment. 

I know you’re waiting for an explanation; you are waiting for me to tell you what happened. Motherfucking life happened. 

I was sitting on the floor in the toilet of our Airbnb, scrubbing the bowl and sobbing into it. My busted knee made for this pathetic scene of a broken woman, upholding her responsibilities as her soul tore to pieces. He had flown back to Canada for a family emergency; he had left with only an overnight bag. Now here I was clearing out our temporary Airbnb of our last memories. Clearing my soul of this incomprehension that was too painful to bear. It was all too meta for me. Scrubbing the shit off the white ceramic I had believed in. I moved into the apartment we had picked out together, with just three suitcases and a heart full of pain for baggage and company. 

There is no explanation to give. There are no words that will tell you exactly how it felt to experience an international move, a detachment of all things, material and human, from a life you know so well, a job change, yet another breakup, an uninsured knee fracture, palpable loneliness during a two-week training course in Marseille, and a total lack of direction, all in one month. Fuck you 2016. 

I decided in the midst of it all to quit my new French job. The job that allowed us to speed up the move and make it all possible, was eating at my soul. Quitting was the only thing that was in my control. It made me unhappy so I quit – to start over completely since that was the only thing that made sense in all this mess. Not everyone understood. Not everyone would have done it. As the universe decided to turn my life upside down, I realized it was best to take some time and breathe. So here I was, learning how to swim again, and jumping off the deep end at that. Sudbina was leading me to start fresh, to write again, to breathe again. I was craving some peace in this world and perhaps a complete sense of anguish was where my peace laid. 

We had broken up on the phone over broken promises, family obligations and a lack of common vision. There was no hate; there were no screams; it was very civilized. Until we both realized he would inevitably have to come pick up his stuff. Deep breaths. How do you even do this? How do you spend 48 hours with someone you know is exiting your life for good? What do you say? Even attempting to write about it gives me a very uncomfortable feeling at the pit of my stomach. I felt peaceful about it up until he landed in Paris on his layover. I had imagined us as two functioning grown-ups that would give each other closure and move past it all. Then he posted a picture of the Eiffel Tower on his Instagram and instantaneously some girl liked it. Who was this bitch? After three years with someone, you don’t need to stalk to notice a new name on his page. Fuck, here it comes again: that feeling I had on a different bathroom floor a few years prior. 

What are you doing, Liam? I don’t need this right now, I kept thinking. 

I picked up an exhausted and grumpy version of this man from the airport. My body didn’t even shiver. I had been so emotionally stretched out and exhausted for the past two months that I seemed unable to feel a thing anymore. Whatever would happen would happen. As we sat down on my patio, he tried to explain that he had been having doubts about us, about his certainty of choosing me to spend the rest of his life with, since Vancouver! Now that he had to commit some time to his family in Canada, those doubts and fixes we would have had to work on became insurmountable. Before I even realized and could control it, the words came flying out of my mouth. 

– Who’s Rachel Eli*?

– What?

– You heard me. Who is she?

– Someone I’ve been talking to.

– Talking to how?

– It’s nothing. It’s just a distraction. Someone with whom I don’t have to talk about my problems right now and who doesn’t constantly ask me questions.  

– So now I’m constantly asking you questions?! Did you fuck her?

– No.

– Did you make out with her?

– No.

Fuck me. My body’s not even cold yet. 

We eventually moved on from the topic and tried to be civil. I asked him not to talk to her while he was here and if he could avoid dating her right off the bat. He shrugged. We had two more days to spend together. I was so over it. I was so disappointed. How much can one starve for attention and admiration? It was so childish, so selfish and so unnecessary. We slept, next to each other, in the coldest of nights. It rained the whole time he was here – inevitably. We attempted to leave the house the next day and go for a walk. He talked about his family, about logistics, about his new car. I just sat there, chain-smoking. We were seated at these comfortable white art-deco type of chairs, in a trendy cafe on the patio, under big white umbrellas. I kept thinking that it was weird the 45 year old guy next to me had frosted tips. Well, you’re in France, Christine thinks to herself. She takes another sip of wine and stares in the distance.

– You’re not talking to me. 

– What do you expect me to say? 

– I don’t know, say something. 

 – I have nothing to say to anyone. I have spent the last weeks and months working 13 hour days, for us, coming home to empty apartments and hotel rooms, and breaking up with you. I’m sorry I’m not exactly enthralled by talking to you about Rihanna’s latest hit.

 – I’m sorry.

 – Yeah, well me too.

We walked home in a sort of contemplative silence. We got back to the apartment and I went to go to the bathroom when suddenly: You have a friend’s request from Rachel Eli. I showed him my phone in shock and proceeded to go to the bathroom. As I sat there, pondering what to do, I even forgot to pee. My whole body started shaking. Are you FUCKING kidding me. As I went to accept it, merely to give her a heart attack at the sight of my “acceptance”, the request was gone. I came out shaking and lit another god forsaken cigarette. I held myself up on my beautiful white farmhouse sink and smoked out the window. 

– I swear, I’m gonna message her. This is ridiculous.

– You’re gonna do what?! You’re gonna start some shit like, that are you serious?

He slams the door. She walks out to the balcony, and screams up in his face.

– I am not STARTING anything. If you’re gonna protect her in this mess, you can go FUCK yourself. Jump off the balcony, leave, do whatever you want, but get the fuck out of my life.   

Silence. Another cigarette. 

– I’m sorry. You’re right. I told her it was inadmissible. She clearly did it by mistake.

– Of course, she did it by mistake. This is exactly why I was pissed off last night. This is how it starts. You think you’ve made it clear that it was casual, that you needed time. But this is what girls do when they feel like they have a shot. They check out the competition! I only blame her for being stupid enough to fuck up by accidentally pressing that fucking button. 

– I’m sorry, okay? This has totally changed my mind. I understand what you mean and I feel terrible. 

– I hope you fucking feel terrible. That actually makes me feel better. 

– That’s harsh. 

– Well it’s the fucking truth, ok? I can’t even imagine what would happen…. You know, this is how it starts! In two weeks, she’ll be posting you had coffee with her and all our friends will come to me to be like WTF! And I will be the embarrassed one in this fucking mess. 

– No, that won’t happen. Are you gonna message her? 

– I already did.

– What did you say?

– I just told her to BACK OFF. I didn’t tell her to “Back off you fucking cunt”, which is what I truly wanted to say. 

– Did she respond? 

– No. She blocked me.

Fast forward 24 very awkward hours. I dropped him off at the airport and he kissed me goodbye. That would be the last, and only one of the weekend. As I drove away, I felt nothing. I was out of emotions. I had spent all of the feelings allotted to this one man. I have been here before. 

Chapter Twenty One – The Big Bold Move 

The decision fell, almost exactly a year later. The plan is set in motion and we are doing it. We are really doing it. I cannot believe it is actually happening and will probably wait for something to screw it up before we are on the plane. 

Yet, here we were! In FRANCE! Can you believe it? We moved to France. What a sigh of relief. I felt like a little kid the night before Christmas. I had two weeks until my new job was due to start and we had to deal with the unbearable bureaucracy that all who have moved to France are all too familiar with. It was challenging but it was blissful. We had gotten ourselves out of our rut in Vancouver, sold everything we owned, and shipped only a handful of suitcases. During the first days, we walked around, tried to get a bank to accept our application, struggled to get a phone plan, and enjoyed having some time to ourselves.

On a particularly sunny day, we sat down at the only beach bar open in January and drank rosé with our happy feet in the sand and cigarettes in our hands. This bar was a little hut, literally on the beach, in Juan les pins. The waiters were handsome and smiling (a feat in France) and some awesome electro-chill beats were playing. The sun was strong even though it was soon setting. I could feel it hit my skin and could have sat there with my eyes closed until the end of time. We smiled at each other like blissful idiots. I’m not sure it if was the vitamin D, the sweet sweet wine, or the surreal actuality of the situation, but it felt like we had succeeded at life, like we had gotten it right if just this once. There was another couple there, and the four of us seemed to be the only ones in on a very important secret in this world: the secret of the little things in life.

I will always remember how we looked at each other in the car at the first sight of the sea arriving on the riviera and sang our lungs out. “I’m so proud of us bébé; we made it!” We had made it this far and were so confident that it was going to be amazing, super hard but amazing. We picked out an apartment that was too cliché to be true, with colourful tiles, an arched hallway, creaky doors and high ceilings. I could just picture us dancing there, to some jazz, in our beautiful kitchen. It was one of those kitchens with a big white farmhouse sink and an old gas stove. It looked onto a small courtyard, where a old palmtree died and a orange tree grew. It was just like a movie. We lived above a tea shop for fuck’s sake.

We spent those first couple of weeks eating on patios, strolling down pedestrian cobbled streets and watching old men walk around with baguettes under their arms. It was the dream come true and I couldn’t wait for life to unfold, for us to meet our new French friends, for us to go dancing, for us to live the lives we thought we were destined to live.

I eventually started my job and Liam ventured into town on his own, texting me to inform me of the new words he had learned. “Une autre bière, s’il vous plaît.” Amazing stuff. My job was alright, intense. I was working from 8am to 8pm to sustain him not having a job for a while. It felt odd working that much when all I wanted to do was explore the scenery and revive the passion we had somehow lost in the incumbrance of the stuff we had accumulated in the past. But it was all worth it, as it allowed us to live out the dreams we had made up for ourselves.

To be perfectly honest, it was all a bit surreal. Everyone in Switzerland thought I was mad to move to France. “You got it the wrong way around my darling. In this day and age, there is no money to be made in France!” Yes, I know. Thanks. We picked it because it allowed him to get a visa rather easily and it allowed me to finally see some sun. The French Riviera… The dream! I get to live inside the same city walls within which Hemingway drank and Picasso painted! How do people forget this? How does society not allow for those kinds of musings to matter, for art to become an integral part of your life, for money to come last? As I have said before, I can handle a lot, as long as I see my happiness indicator moving up. No matter how hard it was going to be, I was ready to take it on. I was ready to work as hard as physically possible, because we were creating a life worth living for ourselves. In that instance, I was so proud of us.

I was proud of how easily we de-cluttered, of how committed we had become. We were unhappy with our lives in Vancouver and we did something about it. Everyone warned us; this was going to take a lot of effort. He was a man who was going to depend on a woman. I have to admit it bothered me that in 2015 this was something that I had to worry about, but they were not wrong. It was part of a bigger thing that he would have to face. Just as I had been faced with all of life’s uncertainties in 2009, he would now have to face his internal music and create something that he would be proud of for his own little self. I thought it was magical that he was brave enough to do that, regardless of his age and status. It was no big sacrifice for me, but admittedly we are not made from the same cloth. It was a huge achievement for him. I knew it was going to make us or break us, but I had been preparing to take that risk. Taking the risk is what made us in that moment. I could not be more excited.

“- I love you bébé. – I love you too. – I can’t wait to see what this year has in store for us.” With those words, I fell asleep peacefully and dreamt about champagne glasses and passionate kisses.
***
March 1st. 

I sit here, on my so-very-cliché patio, drinking wine in the dark. I am trying to decipher the words that best describe my current situation. Let’s see…

Single?    Yeah, that one definitely applies.

Unemployed?    Yep, that one too. I quit my job. Out of desperation and exhaustion.

Aimless?    Yes, absolutely. Perfectly, decidedly, aimless.


How could this have happened? What’s next?
Oh my poor heart. The carousel never stops turning. My life currently looks like an episode of Grey’s Anatomy and Bridget Jones has become my spirit animal.

So I take another swig of that delicious red wine and light yet another cigarette. I watch the amber as it shines through the darkness, perfectly still and shivering all the same. I have been here before.

Hiatus

Sometimes life eats up all of your creativity.. It soaks it dry. I am working on giving you the best of me. The truest of me. I promise I will do better. In the meantime, she is making me remember Christine. So while I say see you later, you can see her now. Now, she is me. 

  

Chapter Twenty – Autumn

I was sitting across from him at dinner. We had not spoken a word in the last 30 minutes. He was on his phone, looking up cars that he could never buy. I was twirling my fingers, looking out of the window onto the street. It was a quiet night. The wind was moving the leafs around and you could tell it was about to be fall. I gazed onto the street, watching passersby walk their dogs and live their own lives.

Fingers running through my hair.

I shiver. I look at him still sitting silently, ever so distant. We are doing well. He looks up and smiles at me, and I can see the love in his eyes. It has just been a while since we have had the occasion to be intimate. Something always comes up. We ate too much, the dishes need to be done, he needs to finish that excel sheet for work. Wait, do I have enough change to do a load of laundry when we get home?

The humidity of a tongue, gliding on the side of my neck, as fingers run down my chest, past my stomach, nearing my zipper. Long, passionate kisses in the dark, making me wet.

Why am I thinking about this right now. Look the food is here. It is an ordinary steak, with some mashed potatoes, laid out in an overstated and overpriced plate. His eyes glisten over this and I am only happy that it means I will not have to do any dishes tonight. How is this my life?

My eyes and hands mapping out his abs, I cannot believe what is happening. I only met him 4 hours ago, and here he is in my bed at 5.30 am. My hands are undressing him, performing the sort of par-court that I was only discovering.

Don’t get me wrong, this routine makes me very happy most of the time. The way he says “Welcome home!” when I come in through the door, after a rough day. Liam is one of the few people who make me smile nowadays. He holds me and the voices in my head suddenly silence. For some reason however, my insides wonder if his are the last parts that I will get to know.

The man in my bed is handsome and rugged at the same time. I can feel his passion inside of me, grabbing at my gut and pulling me towards him. He is the most handsome creature I have ever had the pleasure of putting my hands on. His hair is dark and soft, to match those perfect green eyes of his. And there he is naked, in my bed, beside me, intruding my privacy in glorious ways. He picked me. He has been getting to know me for the past four hours, looking into my eyes. The desire he was projecting made me feel like I was the only thing he had ever wanted.

That night happened what seems like a lifetime ago. He was one of my first real one night stands, whom I would only run into for a split second years later, one memorable Saint Patrick’s day. All I can think about is him kissing me, touching my breasts, feeling his growing self through the denim, on my aubergine leather love-seat. Years later, I would watch him on TV and find fan pages riddled with shirtless screenshots of him. That may be why I am thinking of that night, the night the handsome actor picked me out of all of the girls at the club.

***

I walked into the club with my Serbian friends, ready to sing out loud and dance all night. The last thing I had on my mind was picking someone up. It often works like that, doesn’t it? When you least expect it, there he is, picking up his coat at the end of the night. I was joking with the coat-check lady, and he laughed. After a few quick words, I proceeded to head outside and light a cigarette while I waited for the rest of my entourage. I thought how funny it was that he was taller than I had expected. Granted I had caught him staring at me from across the bar a few times, and since it was a Serbian party, he would have been standing between 6’5 ft guys. Suddenly, there he was again, right in front of me. “I need your number.”

– Hum, excuse me, I don’t just give away my number to strangers, just like that.
– Yes, but you see, I have to drop my friends off at home now, I was the DD tonight, but I need to see you again.
– Well, if fate has it, you just might…
– I’m not taking that chance, I need to see you again.
– Is that so?
Christine! Let’s go!!!!!
– So, what do you say?
– Oh fine, here you go. The ball is in your court. Bye, now!

Luckily I was able to contain my friends’ inquisition rather easily, and soon I was home.

*1 new text message*

I need to see you.
Well, maybe you will. You got home alright?
Yes, where do you live?

Okay, I’m curious about this guy but am I really going to tell a stranger where I live?

On campus, and you? Why do you ask?
I told you, I need to see you! Downtown, btw.😉
Now?!?
Yes, now, if you’ll have me.

Ok, ok. That is a bit forward, even for me. What I am going to say? Am I really going to invite this man to come over? It’s 2.30am! By the time he gets here, it will be at least 3, and that is a clear invitation. What if I actually do not like him? What if this is all just the attraction of the unknown? Oh what the hell, let’s see where this goes.

He knocked at my door and my heart was pounding. He was standing there wearing ripped jeans, a white V-necked T-shirt and black chucks. Now I realize this is cliché after the whole “50 Shades” thing, but I promise you that is what he was wearing that night. He sat on my couch and I offered him a drink, thanking the heavens that my room-mate had not drunk all my wine. He just sat there, and talked. I was so comfortable that I put my legs over his – after all it was a very small love-seat. He stopped talking, and went in for the kill. He leaned in, staring me in the eyes and kissed me softly, but intently. I was never a big fan of dry-humping. Yet that night I felt a passion I had not found since Joe. I remember being extremely aroused, and my knees being very chafed the next day.

I find it interesting how I also remember clinging to him, like to my other handsome nightly hobbies, as if to cheat intimacy, trick my brain’s chemistry with flesh and proximity. The actor was handsome, sweet, gentle and caring, yet a stranger. I would never know where his intentions came from. He would never know that I did not orgasm. We were just strangers, passing time, faking it all, most likely because loneliness is terrifying on a summer night. I remember this feeling, the addiction to the thrill of getting that penis to enter me. I know that feeling all too well, convincing myself that I was getting to know others, creating connections, when in fact it was all just pretend.

Liam may not jump me in dark alleys (yet). He may not make my knees chafed with desire. I have not had sex in two weeks, and though I may be slightly worried about it for the sake of our relationship not even being old yet, I do not feel that unstoppable need to mount and be mounted. I know that what we have is true intimacy. I know that he picked me and not for a night. I know that we have and will share countless nights of passion, whatever shape passion takes these days. It is an interesting transition for me, and I wonder where the thrill comes from. I wonder what the future has in store for us. That uncertainty is somehow more terrifying than the one I had been used to in my single years. Back then, it was only uncertain who would be the next stranger. That, I could deal with. Now, anything can happen. There is a certain magic to knowing someone is ready for anything, with you.

Chapter Nineteen – The Roaring Twenties

The blank page, a writer’s worst enemy, today stares at me impeccably mirroring the state of my life. “So what’s new?” “Nothing, I hate my job, my life is bleak and I want to run away…” I have been hearing myself repeating this over and over for the past 6 months. I feel like I am being strangled, and I need to physically cough it out. I cannot believe where I am sitting and the ordinary nature of it all.

In fact, there have been a lot of changes in my life recently. And no, it is not Liam hurting me again, but thank you for the assumption. In fact, our relationship is going better than I ever could have expected. We are happy. Liam and I have been living together. We met each other’s families on two separates trips. Yes, we get on each other’s nerves and yes, we could be having more sex. Relationships are never perfect, but this is pretty close. The trust is being re-built every day a little bit more and we made space for our respective personalities. I also officially graduated, moved to a downtown apartment and started wearing suits. A lot is new in my life.

Yet here I am, gasping for air. I have not written a single word in over 7 months. I am working at an HR company, Monday to Friday, 8-4. It is eating my soul away. I have reasons for this pitiful job, with its pitiful pay. It would go great on my resume, and allow me to get my immigration papers sorted. Yet I cannot come to terms that this would be my life. Your twenties are for trying things out, exploring and being broke, they said. Well here I am, in the midst of them, and that is not my reality. “Do whatever you want” really means find a job that you can survive at. It means find a job that shows progression in your life. Do not stall! Grow!

Fuck that. Let’s do the math together shall we? As a recruiter, I cannot seriously consider candidates with less than a year at each job for simple retail positions. That means that in my last 5 years of my twenties I have 5 things, 5 jobs, that I can try before my body clock starts ticking louder and I start considering life choices that I will not longer selfishly be at the heart of. Wow. That is not soul searching, that is bullshit. I want to waste away the time with loving every minute, and that in our day and age is not sustainable.

I want to go back to school. I want to travel. I want to drink the day away. I want to sit in a hammock and look at all the freedom I have left to spare. Instead, last weekend I spent two days trying to think of a place where I could go sit in the sun, write, drink and smoke in peace, and even that seemed impossible on this damned continent. I had no money to go away, and if I did, I would not even be granted the time to do so. That summer in Croatia spent living seemed so unattainable and I hate feeling this way. This is not growth; this is stalling. My T4 may be the only thing showing improvement since all I do is work, but my heart and soul, I can feel them shrinking.

Liam and I went to visit my family in Europe for two meager weeks and I was very happy for those brief 15 days. I did not foresee that they would invite sorrow into my soul. I had these plans after university, to write and live off bohemian positions, earning enough to get by, somewhere in the world. I had this vision of myself in a long flowy skirt and sunglasses, sitting at a frail patio table. Liam would come to meet me for an aperitif after work and we would revel in fresh summery foods. I could see him walking towards me from a distance. He would take off his sunglasses, just to put this little soft kiss on my lips. “Hi bébé, how was your day?” This could be my life.

Instead I am living in Vancouver, working to be able to stay, not knowing whether that is something I even want. Liam and I are talking about uprooting ourselves, living in Europe, where that easier life can be found. Something always comes in our way. I want to be able to come back if I so choose, thanks to my university and not a shotgun wedding. That requires time and a real job, and so much paperwork. He wants to see if that promotion will happen and try to finish night school. Things would develop one way or the other in the next 6-8months, but what if they don’t?

This is not how I want to live my life. “Oh, I see what you are going through,” said Sam. “You’re in post-university crisis! During those four years, everyone had been admiring your brains. Your grades served as approval, congratulating you on your efforts. And now, you’re on your own honey! It’s not the same.” Thank Sam! I knew I could count on you. She was right. Life was telling me to shut my pretty little brains up and keep my head down. This politically correct pretend game was the boa constrictor to my soul.

–  Good morning! How are you?

–  Amazing!! How are you??

–  Well, let’s see. It’s 7.30a.m on a Tuesday and I’m at work. I am awake; I showed up. That’s all you’ll get from me.

You can imagine this does not go well in the corporate world. After being called out twice in four months for negativity, I sincerely started wondering if I was being negative. It seems that my critical skills, that I spent so much time and money perfecting, were now coming across as negativity. Granted, I hate being there so it probably shows to a certain extent. More worrisome to me, is the fact that even in my worst bartending gigs, I was always complimented on my bubbly personality. “How do you manage to smile like that all the time? I don’t know Hun’, maybe it’s just seeing you! What can I getcha?”

It seems that now, even the little things I used to do have lost a little bit of their sparkle. I used to sit at my kitchen table at UBC looking out the window, smiling as people walked on by beneath me, wondering what their lives were like. That nerdy guy with the backpack, did he have a girlfriend? That girl I saw everywhere, why did she seem so sad? I was curious and still am. I just seem to have lost that little Christine thing and it is scaring me. This is also why I am anxious about waiting to see how plans pan out. What if I have in fact become this boring and negative woman, permanently unhappy? I can handle being broke. I can handle heartache. I can handle Sudbina being thrown at me. I cannot seem to handle idling. I have by all first world standards absolutely nothing to complain about. Yet, I feel that this cannot be it. My life has to hold more sparkle than this; there had to be more bliss in store for me.

I cannot even bring myself to talk about these things with some of my friends. Fucking brat, is what Lola* said to me. Lola had that Irish twang that made everything sound that much harsher. She had a path. She was working as an interior designer, after having studied just that. This is what she had to say when I showed up at her door, crying about my job: “Granted the pay is shit but I love my job!” She always had just the words, that bitch. She was very realistic and told me how lucky we were to have the possibility of hating our jobs. Most people had it much worse. I said I was not most people. Lola looked at me like, poor puppet with her big girl problems, and buried my head in her enormous, comforting breasts. Lola is right. Yet even she knows that I am supposed to be doing other things, things that make me happy. That’s the key isn’t it? If you have all the necessary means of survival, it seems that happiness is the ultimate luxury. Yet a part of me knows that toying with the ability to survive, taking chances that may see you losing it all, brings you that much closer to a faster heart rate and a bigger smile.

Chapter Eighteen – The First, The Fantasy And The Faults

I am struggling to choose what story to tell you next. How could you possibly understand what it is in my poor soul that stops me from letting go? For someone who floats along life, letting it happen and living at the rhythm of her desires, how could I explain the control freak in my brain that refuses to live in that moment? I am struggling with either telling you a nonchalant, fun story that will allow you to escape your drab reality, or telling you more about mine? Looking back to the things that led up to my unique moment of loss, and ultimate gain, I realized all the fantasizing that I had written up in my head.

I wrote a script, back in 2007, before I ever knew I was going to be writing this. I wrote about a night in a man’s bed. He was a decade older than me. He told me about movies and art and the seventeen year old that I was, was hooked. Ses baisers sont légers, incertains, fragiles. It was a night that really happened, and the words I used to describe it are filled with insecurities, tainted with fear and naïveté. The most noticeable to me, is that I lied. I lied to my own self, describing multiple orgasms I knew too well never happened. The shallow self-awareness I was expressing in the parts about knowing him was heart-warming, yet still encumbered by the lies all around it. I wanted so much to fit in; I wanted so much to be a certain person.

Today, I sit here staring at who I really have become. She may not be the best woman I can be, but this girl in the reflection of my computer, she is real. She stopped romanticizing (mostly). She stopped wanting to fit in. She lives her own little life, trying to be true to that gut feeling that has always commanded her choices. I think the first time I saw pieces of this woman, was another night, back in 2005. It was one of those nights you spent hours, weeks and years envisioning. He was my first. He was my first love, my first kiss, my very first boyfriend.  We met when I was eight and he was nine. We saw each other every summer after that. It was like my holiday home, my beach boyfriend. To this very day, he is one of the dearest persons in my life and I will love him forever. He was the sweetest, most caring boy. Year after year, each summer was a new benchmark. That particular night had been long coming.

Like every first time, it was far from spectacular. Drab is the word I am sticking with. There was no fighting reality with romance. It was reality slapping you in the face, giving you a preview of what love was going to feel like: sharp pain, want, sadness, fear and intimacy. He was gentle; it was not his first. He looked me straight in the eye. He held my hand every step of the way. I wanted for that first second to push him away. I was overwhelmed by the pain, sharp and so deeply personal. I wanted him to disappear and for no one to ever touch me again. Then he was in and it became bearable again. The whole ordeal lasted about a minute. No, it was not glorious like some will have you think. It was overrated and underwhelming once it was over. But yes, I was left wanting more. I wanted to persevere, see what all the fuss was about. It is so far in my memory it saddens me how much I forgot. I do remember the stray cat bursting through the door of the basement of my house. I was staying there for a week because the rest of the house was rented out. There was a bed, a fridge and a toilet. No shower, no furniture but a couple of plastic patio chairs. Romantic as hell. The fucking stray cat scared the shit out of me and broke the little “specialness” this moment was to hold. After he managed to kick the cat out, we laughed a lot, loudly.

Those are all the things I have left from that over-romanticized moment: pain, a new intimacy, the cat, the concrete walls and his eyes. I realize now, writing this, that again, I am struggling with the words to express what I truly do remember. It is a very mixed feeling, at the pit of my stomach. It is a feeling of something being over and done with, and an open door. The loss and the gain. Language is universal. We have rules, grammar and undertones that are supposed to be used in the same way by all. But life! Life is far from universal. Each word is used contextually for each and every one of us individually. Life is nuances. The woman staring back at me is smiling, thinking of him so dearly, wishing she could hug him. She knows he was part of creating a little bit of her that remains. She is also wishing that this control issue in her head would stop. I do not like to lose control. It is for that reason that I do not do drugs. See you can snap out of being drunk, if something happens, if something needs you back to reality. I like knowing that I can be in control (to a certain extent) if I need to be. Yet I like the unknown; I love travelling for that precise reason. You can however think through the unknown, you can ensure that you have thought of possible scenarios, and escape routes, even if the reality often exceeds anything you would have ever predicted.

Consciously renouncing all control is something I struggle with. It would be like taking away the universality from language. It would be removing all structure, on purpose. Even if I trust the person in front of me in that moment, there are so many things in my life that demand my attention, in my own head, at all times. What if? is not merely a question for regrets. It is also what if I forgot the stove on, what if I did not attach the file to that email, what if he is not turned on by this particular position… Suddenly I am filled with sadness. The beauty of simplicity I am able to enjoy in so many other moments and instances in my life… Life is nuances and contrasts and contradictions. Ecstasy might escape me still; she might be but an acquaintance. She might be the one choosing when she wishes to meet me next. It is out of my hands, so why can I not let go? I struggled with deciding what story to tell you because the truth is, it is all one big story. It is my story, my shades of grey, my insecurities and failures, as much as my unexpected moments of life’s glory. Most men reading this by now will think I think too much, that I should relax. Most women reading this will finally feel like they know me a bit better, understand the complexities and perhaps identify with me, more or less. Still I do not think my overanalyzing—let us call it that—is a gendered issue. It touches each individual differently. This is why I am choosing these words for you right now. In a society that so easily edits and creates time lapses, for all of our faults to be hidden, it feels good to create room for them. The sadness has left. The woman I see in the reflection is now smiling, feeling something like hope; she sees an open space for the nuances in her personality, a space for her soul to breath.

Chapter Seventeen – A Twist Of Fate

He was going down on me and I was going down on him. I was surprised at how easily I multitasked whilst still enjoying every movement he made. I was so tired; my focus was blurry; all I remember is his tongue slowly hitting my clit as his fingers thrust so deeply. I feel shivers writing this. He had his mind set. He had a goal. I was so responsive. The delusion from the lack of sleep, overload of emotion and utter inability to comprehend what I had done to myself were all that I knew at that point. He kept jabbing, precisely, right there. I died a little bit every time. I was trying to suck, but after I while I could not do anything but fall at his hands. I was panting, moaning, and groaning. My legs were leaving my body. I was losing control and for the first time I did not mind. For the first time, there was no control left in me. My entire body was separating from my brain, in a sort of evanescent fashion. I told him not to stop. I did not say the words. I mean I did, but they came out of somewhere that I did not control. He kept doing exactly what the voice coming out of me was telling him to do. His tongue was wet, gliding like velvet, stroking me. His hands reached into my soul; I could feel it in my gut. My stomach was shuddering. Finally, the voice took control of the body. I slammed him down, jumped on top of him, swiftly sliding him as deep as I could, inside of me. I had control, I lifted myself up and down rhythmically, maintaining our bodies stuck together right where they needed to, but I had no control. Something stronger than me took over. It was speeding up; it was gearing up for the finish line, leaving me totally unaware. I was out of… out of breath… It could not possibly go on like this—I could not possibly withstand more of this. It did not stop. He was staring at me, focused, set on his goal. He was grunting too, joining me in this maddening feeling of want. I was unaware, dreaming; there might even have been singing in my head. And it hit. It hit and my entire body convulsed. The tremor consumed my every ounce of being. A loud laughter emerged from my mouth. I could hear my breath. It was rugged and broken, as if I was sobbing. I rolled over because my legs were unable to sustain my weight. I needed air… I needed…

The giggle. It would not stop. I giggled. I was overwhelmed and giggling.

There it was. I had finally stopped thinking. The man had literally consumed my last thought until all I had left to offer was complete surrender. All I could possibly do was abandon myself in the mistake, miracle, blessing, or horrible error, whatever this was. I bombed the midterm because of him. I would never have let myself do that at any other point for any other man. So I gave up, I surrendered to whatever had dictated me to give in, to forgive, to love at a price, to booty-call when really all I should have done was run. So I ran, but straight at the wall. I said: Fine, Tornado, take me, I’m all yours to swallow and spit right back out, destroyed, disheveled, eaten.

I was giggling. “What are you thinking about?” he said. “I’m not: I’m staring at that corner, I’m staring at the top of my closet’s door.” I giggled. “Hallelujah!” he exclaimed.  I rolled around, still shivering and shaking. The pleasure was of epic proportions. I was blank with bliss.

I had to stand up to go to the bathroom and I nearly crumbled. I was high, high on life, high on SEX! I walked around to get water and just felt, inside and out, like a zombie. A happy one, and overwhelmed one, but a zombie nonetheless. The ecstasy. That is the word. “Intense delight, intense feeling, and loss of self-control.” I was in ecstasy. Now, are you going to tell me what that was supposed to mean, life? Why him, why now? This had to be sudbina. It do not know what else to call it. On that October afternoon, he gave me my very first orgasm.

 

***

“Aren’t you going to text your girlfriends? Aren’t you going to scream at the top of your lungs? Liam did this! He climbed Mount Kilimanjaro!” He laughed. “No, nobody knows you’re here, remember? We don’t like you right now.” Oh my god. He did though; he did do it. I mean I did it. I was in a particular set of circumstances, a particular state of mind (or rather lack there of) and I had conquered my own brain. Yet life had managed to somehow intractably link him to it. Now I knew I would not forget his name, not even twenty years down the line when he will have become a stranger, a passing name, a phase of self-torture in my twenties. No, he was the first to do that. Certainly not the last, and I will one day be able to give them to myself, but he was the first. He gave me the taste of it. Oh, yes, right I did not tell you yet, dear reader. No, that’s right. I am unable to get there on my own, for now. I mean I get close; I get almost there. Every time. But never do I cross the finish line. Never do I get to say “I’m gonna cum.” I just don’t. So no, the many, many, many men before him, none did. (Sorry guys!) I can still distinguish the good from the bad ones, but all of them failed me. It does surprise me that in my plentiful sexual dances, not one came to blow my brains out – literally. Not one of them had a trick, not one of them was surprising. I knew the moves; I had studied them. It is fascinating that patterns emerge amongst men, in their most private of behaviors. Yet, I cannot really blame them, when I do not even know how to get there myself. My problem is my brain. This brain, writing this paragraph today, it has second-guessed every word, every coma, every semi-colon. It over-analyzes every little detail. It remembers every single color, every word, every smell. It allows me to be the excellent student that I am, the semi-efficient writer that I would like to become. It just does not like to lose control. It is a hard thing, fighting your own self, to make space for the ultimate pleasure. And yes, I enjoy sex without orgasms. Hell, that’s all I had known. I still do. I love it. I revel in it. Every time something feels good, I get to analyze why and how: double the pleasure! But ecstasy… I just met her. She is still a stranger, and I am in love. I am sincerely hoping this infatuation informs my sanity that it is due for a vacation. 

Chapter Sixteen Point Three – Somewhere Near The Ground Floor

The week that followed, we kept on texting quite regularly, very nonchalantly. He continuously apologized. He was realizing what he had done and he was sorry. He had not cheated. He had not done anything against any outright written rules. He had betrayed me. He had betrayed the trust of the one person who had not been using him. It caused him to finally start dealing with his underlying issues. I was happy for him, for his progress, yet the nightmares would not stop. He still called me baby, and still did not prioritize me at all. So, I tried to keep living, tried to process what the hell I had been feeling. When my friend called me on Friday to ask if I could help her shoot her first video for one of her songs the next day, I could not be happier. Helping someone else and evading my own life was exactly what I wanted to do. So I went, and it turned out to be a true Christine kind of day. I met a handful of wonderful people and potentially got myself a job. I was networking—one of my all-time favorite things to do. My friend looked gorgeous and it was really cool being in a video. All around, I was ecstatic to be reconnecting with myself. I went to work that night with a smile on my face. I had a big presentation on the Monday, so I had to work hard at it all Sunday, iron my suit and run some errands. It was looking like a very productive weekend.

I realized around 11am on Sunday morning that I had not heard from him since Friday afternoon. All I could picture, from then on, was him, balls deep inside of her. Aha! The self-torture had permeated from my subconscious, my dreams, into full consciousness and all hope of relief was lost. The images, the sounds, the words, the looks. I saw it all. I heard it all, in my head, even the witch’s voice had somehow become real. I had to work through it; I had to keep my head above the water. It was a daylong battle against suffocation, a twenty-four-hour drowning in shallow waters. The next day as expected, he texted me from work. How very convenient I thought. When I had not answered two hours later, he texted again. Never mind that I was actually busy with the presentation, he knew something was wrong. You see, it does not feel good when someone stops prioritizing you; let alone when they never did in the first place. So I started answering, sheepishly and slowly, shyly gloating about my eventful weekend. Until I realized that evening that I could not keep doing this to myself. I had to be my own best friend and acknowledge what I was letting him do to me.

So I told him I did not want to see him again. I confessed to the self-torture of the previous day. I said all the things I had not said to him all this time. I needed and deserved more. Not in a preachy way, but in reality. I deserved a lot more than what he had been giving me. I had never wronged him. In fact, my roommate kept repeating I had been a saint to him. She did not understand how, or where I got the strength from, to keep my cool and listen and not judge him. I did not know either, but now the pain was all there was left of this and I had to stop it. I told him his lying and pretending abilities scared the shit out of me. I said I could not deal with the ugly parts of him anymore; there was nothing to outweigh them. And then he said “I talked with her about it yesterday. I don’t want to lie to anyone. It’s a path I’m also disgusted with myself for.” So he was with her on Sunday! TA-DA! I knew it! Damned stupid woman intuition: her perpetual, refractory presence, taking over all other thoughts in my soul, always every so uselessly retroactive.

I said I was sorry for everything he was going through, the self-doubt, the disgust, the terrible choices… I just could not care anymore. I needed him to become a better person in the end so that this all, my pain, would not have been in vain. But I was done being the good one, asking for nothing, and standing there by his side, invincibly. Well, I was not invincible. And then, he must have felt I was truly giving up. I did not want any more explanations. I just wanted out. I needed out.

He must have known, because he said he was especially sorry that he had no fight left in him, and that I was worth the fight. He said I was incredible, that I made him smile and laugh and cry and truly be himself. That that’s who I was to him: Real. And extravagant and incredible and I wish I could be something more to you. That he truly did but that he could not. And that he did not deserve me.

I had to be my own best friend. I had to be my own mama bear right that instant. It was becoming more and more clear we could never go back. It never had returned to what it had or might have been. He was not the one for me, however much I had wanted it. I wished him well. I told him I loved him. It had to be goodbye. He agreed. So it was.

I went to bed exhausted. I realized his ugliness, his faults and his betrayal had made me better. That week following the night in hell, I had made amends with all the people in my life I still held grudges with. I buried hatches. I did good deeds and reveled in the smiles and the laughs of the wonderful people in my life. It felt great to be able to look at myself and see that I had done no wrong here. Yet there was that little resounding voice in my head: Oh you feel great? No, no I don’t think so. See that pinch in your stomach? You know what that is? That is how you really feel: shortchanged.

***

I saw his towel hanging on bathroom door again as I was exiting the shower the next morning. I smiled and put it in the wash. I went to help my friend Sam* with her baby. She has such a warm soul and Thanksgiving had helped me feel so much better that I could not have hoped for a better task that day. We ended up having coffee and I told her the whole story. She understood my feelings of confusion between caring for him and being so angry at his failures. She comforted me and smiled. We could almost touch the love we truly share for each other and both left feeling warm and fuzzy. She is an amazing, strong and beautiful woman that simply inspires greatness. I went home with all the best intentions in the world, of studying my butt off for this midterm I had the next day.

Instead at 2.48 p.m., I booty-called him.

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