Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York
I'm cleaning the apartment. Marie is following me around biting me on the arm, the ribs, my stomach. I laugh, tell her to stop. She bites me once more on the shoulder.
Things are back to normal.
Domestic bliss has been restored.
I crawled back from the edge of the cliff like a repentant jumper - someone who doesn't really want to die, but doesn't really know how to live anymore.
Not before staring blankly into nothingness.
I went to look at apartments out in the no mans lands of Brooklyn on the far reaches of the subway lines. Small, dark and cold spaces, each one more depressing than the next. Each one more expensive than our sad little love nest. I dragged myself around day after day through the gray and cold searching for a place. Sitting across from girl at one of the better places, comfortable, clean, cared for and loved I started to feel sick to my stomach. Anxiety and sadness welled up inside of me as I pictured living with a girl that wasn't Marie in such a tight and intimate space. I couldn't see myself doing it. I just wanted to go back home. I just wanted us to be okay.
I left the place as quickly as I could. My head was spinning. I thought I was going to throw up. I stepped out onto the street as the orange glow of the sun faded over the darkening silhouettes of the industrial warehouses that surrounded me. The wind began to blow the leaves around the barren streets reflecting the disorder of my thoughts. My clothes couldn't keep the stinging cold out. Regret rose, choking. How come we couldn't make it work?
I went to the restaurant where I was taking her for dinner. Warm. Silent. Waiting. Making order of my thoughts. She'd stopped drinking. She was willing to look at my concern. She said that she wanted to change. She said she didn't mean to dismiss me. She said she cared. She said she didn't want me to give up on her just yet. She said she loved me. I didn't want to run again. I didn't want to run again. Searching for the words to work it all out. The words are wrong. She is upset again. Wrong. The words come out wrong. I'm coming undone.
We lay together on the couch that night. Home. We apologize. Warm. We can work it out. Safe. We don't want to hurt each other. Love. We love one another.
Why is this so difficult?
She hears my words.
She doesn't want to hurt me anymore.
I believe her.
I hear her struggle.
I let my struggle go.
An old friend comes to town, tells me that this is my pattern - I run when I'm hurt. He says that he thinks that I would regret it if I gave up her now. He says I have an opportunity to grow, as does she. Don't give up on love just yet, he says, you'll regret it. She seems like she's willing to work with you. Don't give up on her just yet.
I walk down the street. I see the signs. Love spray painted under the overpass. Love scribbled into the sidewalk. Love conquers all on a poster posted on the building. A car passes playing, ALL WE NEED IS LOVE!...