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At what point does a fun, unspoken agreement between two people become something more than that? Is it one month? Six months? I’m asking because I can’t answer it. I can’t anonymously post to my Tumblr account and ask for someone else’s perspective. We’re talking about an ex-girlfriend who left me in complete and utter shambles. Conventional wisdom would say that I need to get out now. That I should have stopped this before it even happened. But I swear this is different. And maybe it isn’t different. But it’s my mistake to make. What I’m about to divulge has been kept out of this particular series for fear of the wrong person reading it.
I guess it all started last October. It was three or four days before Halloween, and I hadn’t talked to her since June when she essentially told me that I needed to move on. And then she broke radio silence. A G-chat about Phil Collins. So inane. So arbitrary. Yet my stomach was in knots. I hadn’t thought about her in months. She’d pop up on my Instagram feed from time to time. I’d think about a double-tap and then sometimes literally say out loud, to no one, “Better not.”
It happened quickly. One minute we were talking about plans for Halloween weekend, the next I was asking her to dinner the following week.
That little discretionary voice that tells you when you shouldn’t be doing something? That voice doesn’t exist when it’s in regards to her. This is a girl who ruined me for the better part of eight months following an absolute shitshow of a breakup. We dated for two years, and I’ve talked sparingly about her in my posts to this point because I’m not big on trials and tribulations. It’s like when a friend comes to the bar and just talks about their ex all night. Nobody wants to read about my ex-girlfriend. It’s boring, and even the most sympathetic person in the world grows weary of hearing stories about exes. But I’ve now been seeing her since just after Halloween, intermittently between all of the dates you’ve read about. It’s usually a simple text during the work week. Occasionally we’ll get together on the weekend, despite many of her friends knowing who I am and rolling their eyes at me or groaning when they hear that I’ll be joining them.
“Do you want to hang out tonight?” That’s pretty much how it always goes. A simple yes or no, we hang out for a few hours and that’s it.
I stood with her in the air conditioned portion of the rooftop bar, waiting in line on two Oberons and dancing around a subject that has evaded both of us for a few months now. I had invited her to this event four days prior, and it was nice to get away from the rest of our group for a few minutes. Out of ear shot of others. Out of the sun that had, by then, burnt my face to a very flushed red. The fact that I showed up to a Sunday afternoon function, seven hours after getting food poisoning, was quite honestly a small miracle. I didn’t sleep Saturday night. I thought my appendix was rupturing as I laid on my bathroom floor vomiting bile and water that I was trying so desperately to keep in my stomach. I eventually walked a half a mile to a 24-hour Walgreens for Pedialyte. That eventually did the trick, but I struggled mightily to keep a good face on Sunday while I slowly sipped Tom Collins and beer. My desire to see her, however, outweighed any pain I still had. I closed my tab and put my arm around her. She looked up at me, and I looked back and smiled.
“At some point, we should talk about what this is.”
“I know”, I said, “but I haven’t eaten solid food in a day. My stomach is empty and I’m too drunk to have this conversation.”
She kissed me. Or maybe I kissed her. It was too close to call. But it felt different from how it usually was with her. Simply put, it was just really nice. We finished our Oberons some fifteen minutes later. We had been there four hours now and both of us were ready to leave.
“I’d like something on the lighter side,” I said.
“Let’s go to the store and make a big salad.”
“Yes. Very good.”
Once again, we stood in a queue. The temperature had dropped since leaving the bar, and the hair on my arms was standing up while the clerk rang us up.
“You guys have a good day?”
“Solid day. Ending it on a high note with this salad,” I answered.
Almost instinctually, I put my arm back around her and she kissed me. I’m sure of that. It was nice. And that’s all I have to say about that. .
Image via John Naffziger