Salt Lake City, Utah
We'd been arguing, fighting, pissing each other off, simply doing whatever the fuck we do when we we're upset with each other - our "thing". To me she'd been finding fault with anything that I did all day long. And she was exasperated that I was upset again by that. The day moved along in an stalemate and we ended another night in an icy silence.
The next day after seeing her therapist Marie caught me at home with a gift before I went to work and apologized for the day before, saying that she realized in her session that from watching her parent's dysfunctional relationship growing up that the way that she'd learned to show love was to find fault with the other person, and that she would work on it.
We made up and I went to work coming in at 3:00am.
We both had the next day off and we're getting ready to go out to the Bushwick Studio Showings. It would be nice to spend the day together and do something different.
As I was washing the dishes while she was getting ready she started talking about what she'd done the night before. And as she passed by me in the kitchen she said that she'd gone to the club Shadows, the place where we'd gotten into the fight when I'd first arrived in town, the place that I'd left her sitting in a taxi cab out front before she went back in and I walked to my friend's bar to get piss drunk, the club where she'd been to the night before I'd left town and'd drunkenly called me at 5:30 in the morning telling me that she'd rebutted the men trying to get her number or kiss her, because of me. And as she told me that she'd gone to the club she stopped to look into my eyes for brief instant as though trying to gauge my reaction and she said that she'd not stayed long after being there, after waiting a half an hour in line, and'd been upset and'd felt foolish for wasting her time.
And she walked into the other room.
I thought for a moment that I could let it go, that it meant nothing. But I couldn't. It meant something to me - that she didn't care if what she did bothered, upset or hurt me; or possibly it meant that she simply couldn't see beyond herself enough to see that? I don't know. Either way it bothered me. And something rose inside of me as though from a well of pain and fear and insecurity, something that had such a depth and life of it's own that I was momentarily shocked by it's force. And I wondered why she felt she had to go to that club at all as the image of her dancing with a sea of black men all night flooded my mind. And as I finished up the dishes I began to feel a sickness rise in my stomach from the hurt of years past with my first wife, from the unresolved issues with her wanting to fuck black men, and my inability to talk to Marie about how I felt about it all. The well was deep and dark and holding all of my stagnant and rank insecurities and fears of not being enough, enough for the women that I had loved, of being cheated on and feeling like a fool, and fearing that I was not enough for Marie. And in that moment my past experiences screamed at me that if there was smoke there was fire, and if there was an intrigue or a desire it would eventually manifest itself in physicality, and she would cheat. And as I tried to hold back my feelings (as I knew that she wouldn't want to hear me say anything at all) my hands began to slightly tremor, and I felt a knot form in my throat as I tried to find words for the feelings that were rising like bile inside of me.
I felt like a doormat once again.
I felt like the proposition that she proposed, that she could do or say whatever she wanted with complete impunity, but wouldn't grant me the same when it came to what I had to say, wasn't holding up for me anymore.
And I simply wanted to tell her how the fuck I felt.
I wanted to let it go.
I wanted it all to go away.
I felt that I would be dishonest to myself if I didn't say something, if I didn't tell her how I felt.
And I couldn't live with that.
I had something to say about it.
I calmed myself and tried to find the words as carefully as I could, trying to let them out without malice or accusation, simply telling her that it made me uncomfortable that she'd gone to the club, and that I wasn't quite sure why, but that I wanted to talk about it.
She walked towards the door, ready to go then stopped abruptly and asked me what I'd said as she opened the door to leave, as though she hadn't heard, or simply couldn't process what I'd said.
I told her again that it made me uncomfortable that she'd gone to the club.
She heatedly accused me of being controlling and said that she felt like she couldn't go anywhere alone, that she knew she shouldn't have gone to the club as she knew that I'd have a problem with it and that she felt confined.
I was frozen for an instant that seemed like an eternity as I tried to process what she was saying, what was happening.
- I was controlling.
- She felt confined.
And I felt like I couldn't trust her not to hurt me.
I felt like a fool for caring.
In a flash I saw that that would be the trajectory of our relationship if I stayed: my feelings would not be respected or considered and she would continue to do or say things that hurt me, and she would feel controlled and confined by my response.
And I wondered to myself what the point of being in a relationship was if you couldn't trust the other person not do things that they knew would cause pain.
I want to be in a relationship where I feel like the other person has my best interests at heart.
I didn't feel like that was the case with Marie.
And I knew then that I had to leave.
I walked into the other room and told her that she could go wherever the hell she wanted, but that I wasn't about to go anywhere with her, that I was leaving... I felt defeated... I felt that I didn't have the energy to do it with her anymore... It seemed futile to me to go round and round with her, over and over, feeling like I was simply fighting an uphill battle to be heard and understood and have my feelings appreciated.
I felt completely deflated, like she didn't get it and never would.
I wanted her to hear me, to respect what I had to say and not to do things that she knew would hurt me, or at least consider what I had to say.
And she didn't seem to have the patience for what I was asking of her as a partner.
She never did.
It wasn't working for me.
I didn't feel that it ever would.
And the relationship was lost to me at that point.
I zoned out.
I didn't want to be there anymore...
I started mindlessly pulling my clothes out of the closet as she asked me what I was doing and began begging me to leave the house with her and not to ruin another day. "You're not leaving" she said to me over and over again as she put the clothes away that I'd laid on the bed. I walked into the other room to search for bus fares on the computer.
I was done.
She sat on the couch across from me as I searched for a way out of New York, resigned.
She asked me snidely to tell her what the problem was.
She didn't give a shit.
She was simply humoring me.
I didn't have the words for it anymore.
I couldn't articulate.
I was too upset.
I was too fucking unnerved by it all.
It felt like de-ja-vu to me.
We were a broken record repeating the one shitty verse from an otherwise good song.
I felt that I couldn't talk to her about any of it - what was going on in my head as she would become upset (looking back, probably rightly so as the material is better suited for a shrink rather than a lover).
I was lost to my fears at that point.
I'd let go of the reigns of sanity and would be dragged back down into my own private hell.
I would run again...
I told her that I wasn't telling her a fucking thing and that she could go and fuck every black guy in the city for all cared at that point. She asked me if that's what it all was about, if that's what I thought, my anger and resentment overflowing as I told her that there was something cruel and rotten about her (repeating lines from her book from an ex infatuation she'd had that I knew would sting her and hurt her as much as I hurt at that moment). She told me that I had to grow up, stick with and work through something.
But I didn't see the point with her anymore.
She begged and pleaded for me to simply leave the house with her and go out, saying that we just needed air and that it would all be okay.
She told me to trust her.
I told her that I trusted her about as far as I could throw her.
I couldn't let her in.
I'd shut her out for good.
But she wouldn't relent for me to simply go with her.
Finally I consented to leave the apartment as I felt my will to battle her drift away as I saw that it was useless to fight her anymore.
And we left.
As we walked down Metropolitan Avenue she grabbed my arm and tried to hold my hand. I felt her touch but I felt no more corresponding feeling inside. I felt as if the care for her had been drained out of me, sucked away by her ambivalence. I loved her deeply, but her searching looks and touches as we walked side by side down the street couldn't seem to reach me anymore.
I simply felt numb and wanted to drink - nothing more.
I wanted to drink...
We wandered into an art gallery out of the sun and up the stairs of the building that reeked of cat piss and neglect, and I thought it a perfect metaphor for the state of our relationship as I wilted under the smell.
Inside I sat on a bench and stared out the window as she stared aimlessly at the art on the walls. She came over to me, saw that she was losing me and asked what I wanted to do, searching for the simplest of responses to let her know that I was still there.
I told her that I wanted to drink.
We came upon a bar not far from the gallery and we drank in near silence as she touched my arm and stared intently into my eyes with big blue pools of sadness as I told her how absurd it all seemed to me at that point - what our relationship had become; neither of us seeing or understanding where the other person was coming from.
I was vacant.
I was empty.
I was desolate.
I didn't want to try anymore.
And she went outside to smoke.
We left the bar after a few drinks and ate at a place around the corner in virtual silence and walked home in the same fashion.
When we got home I told her that I was done with it all.
She said that I could stay with her and try to find a place in New York City, that I didn't have to leave as she started to manically rearrange the apartment to the way that it'd been before I'd arrived, reverting what'd been done since we'd been living together, trying to erase the fact that I'd ever been there, in the process tearing pictures off of the wall and getting rid of anything that she suddenly found useless or simply in the way - like me. She stacked things on top of each other and dragged chairs, foot stools, plants and the mattress that we'd just gotten out into the hall in a desperate silent rage.
I sat quietly in the eye of the storm waiting for it to pass and blow over, went to the fridge and got a beer and began taking the items that she'd put in the hallway down the four flights of the stairs to the trash, the mattress threatening to jump through the window at each landing as though trying to escape from the bedlam.
I walked out the door and away from the chaos of what our relationship'd become with no destination in mind.
I just wanted shelter from the storm.
A few blocks away I walked into a bar looking for escape as she called on my phone. Ignoring the call I turned around and walked out of the bar knowing that it wouldn't help the situation at all to drink anymore. I walked blindly down the street under the screeching rails of the subway train as though in a nightmare that I couldn't shake myself from.
I was shell shocked and disoriented at what was happening to me again, of what had become of our love.
She called and I picked up.
She was looking for me.
She was coming to find me.
On Broadway under the elevated train tracks, the distant rumble of the JMZ and the cars in the background filled the air with the tumultuous sound of horns and grinding metal as we stood there in silence, her eyes filled with pain and confusion. The tracks blocked out the sun as she put her hand on my arm and sent chills of sadness and regret down my spine. "Let's go somewhere and talk." She said. "It's so depressing here."
We walked towards the Williamsburg Bridge near our apartment and sat on a park bench surrounded by a few lonesome trees in the midst of the concrete jungle as the sun began to slowly set to the West over Manhattan in the distance.
She wanted to talk.
But I was too close to the precipice to turn back.
I was ready to free fall again back into the abyss.
A lone tear rolled down her cheek tearing through me like shrapnel as I wiped it away, nothing to say...
And if I could take anything back I would have opened up to her at that moment. I would have pulled us back from the brink of destruction.
But I had nothing left to offer.
And I left her sitting on the bench with tear filled eyes in the dying light of the day.