We had a dinner discussion that turned sour, not unlike previous dinner conversations. He would say or ask something and I took long sips of alcohol whenever the words were not right there to give. I was thinking. I feel that I owe calculated answers.
“You drink more when you’re nervous.”
He had put a crack in my heart Valentine’s weekend, which I had taken work off for, when he saw the gift bag on my record player. This was just before dinner out.
“It’s your Valentine’s Day present.”
Upset, he sighed. “Autumn, I wish you’d stop. I can’t keep up with you.”
As he struggled with getting ready, getting dressed, getting his keys, pretty much simply gathering himself together to walk out the door…he announced as if the task was all too much, “I don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day.”
I don’t know why he asked me why I looked so sad, eating lobster tails. I couldn’t get his expressions off my mind. I refused to explain. Tears would well up, but never actually fall. I somehow managed to suck them back down my tear ducts every time.
When I ‘pushed my gift on to him’, he seemed upset that the Armani cologne was not the cologne he already had, from his lifetime ago. But then he said, “I used to buy this”, as if to say that it was not only his lifetime ago, it was discarded from it. Or that he had simply been there, sprayed that.
His late wife had bought him the scents from the other side of the counter that are made to smell clean, but to me reek like baby wipes and Febreeze – therefore reminding me of assholes, ass wiping and covering up the smell of ass.
“’My blue guy’, she’d say,” because something is probably called ‘Blue’. All I see is that huge Febreeze bottle, spritzing over ass-covered couch cushions.
It’s fine for people who like that. It’s fine for me, that I like Armani and have a bottle of D&G stored in the closet for his birthday (along with a shirt that has a floppy disc on it and says OLDSCHOOL, get it?).
Smelling better helped. I do like my scents. His gaming room has been spritzed with Britney’s “Hidden Fantasy” more times than I’ll ever admit.
‘I never tell/tell on myself/ but I hope she smells my perfume’-Britney Spears, “Perfume”.
He took me out twice that weekend. I’ve learned to keep my head turned away from everyone else and never make eye contact with them. I can see Dan’s eyes roaming around, ever since I had painted his face for Halloween and noticed how they tallied everyone’s movements carefully. This is to keep him from ranting later on, about how he thought I was getting too close to a stranger or was somehow behaving inappropriately.
“You can’t see yourself when you drink, Autumn, you don’t know.” And yet I’ve never had this problem, or any like it EVER before in my life, to which he explains, “You were with a stupid, young person and you’re used to doing whatever you want.”
A part of me says, “Or maybe I was just being social at the Applebee’s bar”, and I have a feeling that I’m right and he has some sort of problem. But we all have problems.
Daniel received a bouquet of flowers from me, to his classroom. For the second time in the year we’ve been dating. He kept asking me why I did it, but it was too hard to explain, “Because it’s February, and the living room in fucking February should have some FUCKING flowers on it, but I trust you not to know that.”
We went out – correction, I dragged him – to the Detroit Institute of Art recently. He gets so upset before we go out because he says he has to get back to work. Having neglected to eat before the visit he was “gonna pass out”, and I nervously walked through the rooms with him. For me this is like regretting your time with me before it has even started.
At one point I was looking at a stunning oil painting of a volcano and he answered a phone call from his mother. Always on speakerphone. Always mutually sounding so upset, my background music, of those two people complaining about how much work there is to be done. On the drive home he was cursing about the time he had lost and he asked what my favorite part had been.
I hold back a lot of tears, in this relationship.
He says that his late wife understood that he always had to work and that she left him alone. “She said it was enough just knowing I was nearby. THAT’S TRUE LOVE, Autumn.”
As opposed to? SO SORRY if I felt a kind of magnetism. I’m sorry I wanted to be close.
At the dinner during my long sips, he had both hands on the table. They were two individuals.
“This person lives and grows this way, and the other person grows SEPARATELY and grows along WITH the other person.” He was being the teacher, teaching me about how relationships work. It immediately pissed me off.
“What about when one of them is always ever making a hard left”? I asked, and I grabbed his hand and pushed it backwards. “I feel like I can either constantly tag along or I have to get lost.”
“You always take what I’m telling you and then you twist it and only see it YOUR way, Autumn. I can’t believe you just had to hurt my hand to make your point. You should SEE yourself right now.”
He had been making these very separatist points for a while, now. My attachment style seemed unappreciated – he even made it a point one day to say that I had “latched on to [my] life, because that’s what you do.” Really?! Figuring out ways to help someone who claims he never has enough time to have a life worth living, and I was being clingy?
I took all of this constructive feedback and I detached.
Just started taking steps back.
Skip a few days forward, over more of the same, insert streaky little static marks like a speeding VHS.
This morning Daniel says to me about his framed photos on the bedroom wall where I’ve slept for a year, “Hey, Autumn. Do you think you have six photos that we can put in this frame?”
I never thought he’d ask. Yet at the same time, something inside of me gave up on ever believing that thing would come down. The night before I had reached out and touched the jewelry organizer under it.
“You can use the one I bought for my wife,” he’d offered, when I said I was trying to organize my things in my one room I’m allowed-
Oh, don’t say that, I’ve let you put shit all over this house, he’ll say now, because I waged absolute bloody wars for any inch of mantle I could wrestle from Americana fauxtiques and decorative cats. But believe me, all of my s-h-i-t, is in one room upstairs.
I was looking at that jewelry organizer, under photos of the late bride, something I would have never, ever picked out as it stood empty because it was hers and she died and her jewelry is all probably appraised and in a safety deposit box somewhere, and I just said, “Fuck this thing.”
“Fuck, this. Fuck everything here, that isn’t mine. I’m never touching it. Don’t want the shit,” I decided, as I fell in to bed. The same one that was theirs. To be fair, I’ve had to pick some or leave.
Do I have six photos. I don’t even know what to say. I don’t know, anymore.
I don’t go down and have coffee with him anymore. I don’t butt right up next to him on the couch. I don’t wait up at night. I’m finding time to do other shit.
I haven’t decided if I’m still fighting.
He all but spelled out that we needed to be separate and my life is NOT taking the course of a constant hard left. Gotta move forward. And now he has to bring everything up. Says it’s a pattern – even though he didn’t KNOW me before – and that my time on the treadmill and off in another room playing on my laptop is all part of getting ready to leave him.
“It’s nice just knowing you’re somewhere, around, somewhere,” I answered, flailing my hand, “It’s TRUE LOVE, you know.”