I got a haircut, my nails have grown, that dress I often wore is now in the city dump, I lost a pound or two, and although I have put out flyers everywhere, I am not too concerned about their return. Also, important to note, I have met someone that is more meaningful than just somebody. This is fate. I know this, like I know the taste of chocolate by name alone.
Of course, I will have to write about how it all happened, and what has taken place since then. This feels like something that must be penned, because should I forget, should I find myself unable to remember all of this someday, it would end me.
I will start at the beginning, since the middle is hard to get to without powerful legs to leap me straight there. I don’t have that. Instead, I have two undercooked noodles, that wobble if they go too fast. I put ugly shoes on the bottom of them, to cover socks with holes.
So here it is: Sometime in mid-June, I took a trip to Mexico, to attend a family member’s wedding. The plane departed from Los Angeles, which meant that I would have to take a train there.
My sister, feeling kind, or wanting to play a joke on me, had arranged for a friend of hers to pick me up at home, and drive me to the station. Though the friend called to confirm the night before, he never showed up in the morning. I was left with no choice, but to call a taxi cab, which put me in a terrible mood, as I hate to part with money. It only got worse when the driver told me she would not be able to leave her home, and make her way toward mine, (her cats had to fed and groomed), until twenty minutes before the train was set to depart. In my opinion, that was cutting it too close for comfort. An hour after that, and long after the train left, according to the booking agent, the cab showed up. With no set plan, I had her drive me to the station anyway, where we found my train just pulling in.
It was the first time I had ever been near a train, let alone on one, and I was not particularly impressed. It had much to do with the scenery. California’s Central Valley is all cows, dirt, and abandoned buildings.
Somewhere in Modesto, everything filled with color when a girl who looked to be in her very early adolescence boarded the train, walked past me with who I assumed was her mother, and sat far enough away from me, so that she became hidden by other passengers. This irritated me, since I was suddenly filled with a need to see, and speak with her.
I cannot explain why I was engrossed by her presence, only that I was.
Having seen pictures of her since then, I can say the camera draws out a beauty she does not truly possess in person, though she is far from horrid to look at. (Girl) is her name. I found this out moments later, when we were made to get off the train, only to board another, where she would motion me to sit next to her.
(Girl) is of slight built, and minuscule height. Her hair is kept short, near her shoulders, and dyed black. While she is half African-American, her skin is pale, or more accurately, corpse-grey. Freckles surround her doll-like facial features. She clothes herself in modern gothic clothing, that seem to be designed by a woman upset at not being naked. A whore that thinks that the color black, adds depth to character.
(Girl)’s voice is soft with a subtle crackle, marked with desperation and a need for approval, which only rises with each statement she makes. I heard enough of it during our first conversation to remember for a lifetime.
She seemed lonely that day on the train, misunderstood, and neglected. At seventeen, she was a few years older than she appeared. When I thought her younger, I couldn’t offer her a friendship, as I believed it would be inappropriate. The relief I experienced when arriving at this conclusion was immense. Almost suddenly, I felt her to be a burden in my life. Something about the way she talked to me. It was as if this dependency was growing within her. There were no answers I had to give her, but she wanted them. I could see that. In revealing her age, I couldn’t reject her desire for my company. I have never been particularly good at denying anyone anything, especially when it causes me a great inconvenience.
In the blink of an eye, the world changed. It will never go back to the way it was. I felt the shift occur when (Girl) informed me that she had a friend who lives in my city. Before she gave a name, or even a gender, I knew he was mine, as I was his. I knew he was formed to form me. This was love. Sudden, dramatic, and not to be appreciated by an outsider, often dismissed as nothing more than infatuation.
I hid my eyes, so that (Girl) would not see my excitement. How could I explain or justify the ridiculous notion, which had suddenly sprouted in my brain. Robert, she said, was the name of her friend. It sounded as much foreign as it did familiar.
For the remainder of the trip, I listened, but spoke as little as possible. I could not risk giving myself away.
In Bakersfield, we exchanged numbers and parted ways, promising to call each other upon my return from Mexico. Unfortunately, I missed my flight back, and lost her number. I don’t remember finding myself affected by this, because I felt, without reason, that it would all work out. I was placing my bets based on faith alone, and that had to suffice in a way that it had never before. My left eye, usually shifting violently toward darkness, had straightened out.
As if it was possible to form reality based on thought, my obsessions paid off when (Girl) telephoned me, just minutes after I had arrived home from my trip. She asked why I had not reached out to her, after she had called me several times. Her dependence continued to grow in my absence, proving Lord Byron wrong. The heart does not forget, simply due to distance.
While I am not implying, and did not assume, that her affection for me was romantic, it certainly bordered on that territory. I would learn in that conversation that there was not enough room to keep me in her heart, when Robert occupied so much space. And if love makes a person soft, and nothing can exist without an opposing force to lend it balance and weight, then it can make a person fierce. If (Girl) stood in my way, it was easy enough to tear her apart. I could not decide if that thought was more deranged, than feeling connected to someone I had yet to set eyes on.
That opportunity would lend itself when after neglecting (Girl) for anything he deemed of greater importance, which seemed to be everything from growing grass to boiling water, Robert had run out of energy to run. And that is when (Girl) asked if I would drive her to see him. A simple request on her part, and the formation of a better world on my end. She warned me that he was not very polite, as he had never been one to pay attention to manners, given or received. All of that was of some relief, since I felt out of control, which was novel and pathetic. That I had zero authority over what happened in life, and the chaos gods created was one thing, but my actions had always been so well-thought-out, exact, and methodical. I was the girl who wanted to grow up to be a robot. All cold machine.
It seems I dreamed Robert. First, in pieces. Later, in whole. He is not my soul mate. Let me state that, because it matters profoundly. I felt, and still do, that we were meant to be together, just not for a lifetime. Not until death do us part.
I know who The One is quite clearly. I am haunted by him. He has come to me, not in dreams, but in nightmares. Ever since I was child, he has been there. It is forever just the two of us, in a home with sets of stairs, doors, windows. All that lead nowhere. His face is hidden from me, always. I sit at his feet, like a good and submissive woman. When I tire of his indifference, I run crashing into the walls, settling down at the piano. Except, it isn’t indifference. It is a fear that paralyzes him. Afraid of love, and its expression. Instead, he continues to sit behind a desk or a table, looking over blueprints, perhaps. He is an engineer. He is an architect. He is mine, and I am afraid to have him. But now, there is no need to worry. Robert is here, and the dark-haired man is in that home, all alone. Let his sighs echo.
When I finally met him, (Girl) at my side, opening his front door with a familiarity that disturbed me, it all felt too real. Something about the quality and sharpness of my surroundings offended me, only to be outdone by his coarseness. I extended my hand to introduce myself, and he looked at it without any interest to take it. It was more than that. I sensed repulsion. I walked inside his home, unsure if I should, but prepared to have the idealized version of Robert I created, perhaps out of necessity, die inside those walls.
I don’t think I ever stopped to wonder what Robert could look like, but even still, the man who had proved himself a terrible host, to say the least, was not what I unconsciously expected. There is who I felt I deserved, and there Robert was, doing battle with my standards. To describe what I saw then, and the thoughts that followed, feels like I am dealing him a betrayal that would injure me more, than it could him. But truth is important to someone, and often it is important to me. In fact, there is no harm in what used to be, if not a bit of it continues to exist. That is to say, I did not find him attractive on first sight, but quickly grew to view him as the most beautiful man I had ever seen. And, while I did not initially find his looks impressive, my body demanded to be near his. However, when its demands were met, would grow weak and ill. Love was created to make the gods laugh.
Robert is my height exactly. If his ego and ears are nowhere near me, he is slightly smaller. His eyes are green, deep, and full of an emotion he invented. His lips are thin, softer than any man I have ever kissed. Behind them are two rows of teeth, equally crooked. His skin is tan, freckled, and more delicate than my own. There is nothing in his physical composition that could be described in such a way that would excite, even those who have found themselves deprived past the point of extreme tolerance.
His charm is unexplainable, just as it is undeniable. It is the way he always has my attention. And when it rains, we find ourselves stuck indoors, dancing about to entertain the other, with dirty socks mopping up anything we may spill in the spin, laughing at only things we understand. There is no one I would rather listen to, and find that I am terrified when he pauses to catch his breath. I fear I will never hear his voice again. Drink coffee, I say, in hopes he stays awake until the end of our days, speaking on unsavory topics, he makes sound infinitely intriguing.
But before I had any of this, before we decided that the idea of an ‘us’ was better than the reality of a life apart from one another, I had to climb over many obstacles. Most difficult of all, it was imperative that I tame the beast within. There was no one who could have jeopardized a future with Robert, the way I could.
I left Robert’s house that night with a bad taste in my mouth. I wanted him in my life, as much as I wanted him off this planet. I felt no one should have to deal with such an insufferable man. Then, it occurred to me that, in many ways, I had found my equal. What I rejected in him, strangely enough, is what I nurtured in my own personality. I am opinionated, to the point of being abrasive. My will is iron-strong. Victory is rejected, unless complete annihilation of my opponent is achieved. I can go on, but anything I could write about the designs of my character, are immediately obvious to anyone that has met me.
And that was it. Obvious. I can lie, but it would not stand for long. Everything about my being, would quickly betray me, and reveal the truth. Robert was obvious, too. A mirror. It is not that the feelings I have for him are centered on narcissism. He is enough of me, that I look at him to see my own reflection. Yet, there are enough differences to keep me a humble student for years to come. But, if there was a part of me that rejected him, was it that I was rejecting my image, or what set us apart?
For better or for worse, we are defined by the things that have happened to us, the people we have known, and the things we have seen. I understood this completely, the minute I saw Robert’s emerald eyes. This is why I could not let him go, and accept there was another woman in his life. What could I move on to? A life that seemed unfamiliar without him? One screaming to be redefined, by a less solitary existence?
Certainly, there was guilt hanging on to my feet, which slowed the process, when I made moves against (Girl), but we are young, and things are quickly forgotten. This is a lie, I know that well. All trials, all observations, all lacerations will form us. Muscles grow stronger, or they atrophy. Bones are strengthened, or they grow brittle. We build, or we destroy. Some only observe, but influence the course of action by passivity, nonetheless.
My actions were subtle, so that the remorse would be soft and tolerable.
When (Girl) spoke to me of Robert’s fragile emotional state, I was there for him, quick to offer my assistance and guidance. When she told me of their troubles, I was there to suggest and advise. But in between our kind exchanges, there was war. Robert and I could not seem to get along, if there was not a need for it. We claimed our ceasefires were as a result of the respect we had for the other’s opinion, over matters of true importance. I was blind to the affection he felt for me, as he was to the affection I felt for him.
All appeared to be going nowhere. Part of me was glad. (Girl) was not the type to recover from a heartbreak so easily. I never had Robert, so it was impossible to lose him. Then, one day, he called me unexpectedly, to inform me that he could not stand being in the relationship any longer, which is why he chose to end it. Of course he did. From the moment I entered his life, it no longer existed, except in memory. It was a thing of the past, which never much mattered to him.
That night, we told each other how we felt. It was awkward, unfamiliar, and uncomfortable, yet exciting. He invited me to spend time with him, in his home. The following evening, I did just that. We shared our first kiss, and it left a lot to be desired. Perhaps, I should have seen that as a sign, but I was not prepared to listen to anything outside of my bleeding heart. It’s as if I had forgotten everything I had ever learned, and was reprogrammed to be an obsessive mess, ready to give out, if I did not have what I longed for. There was room for nothing else. Not my favorite song. Not the ice cream flavor I would stand in line at the drug store for just one scoop. Not Mulligan with the big, brown eyes. I was reduced to nothing, but what he could make of me.
Two weeks passed, before I told him that if he guessed how much sugar I take with my tea, I would be his exclusively. He said two tablespoons, which made him wrong, but that never mattered. I was ready to have him lead me to Hell itself. I just did not expect that is where he planned to take me.
Every man is a liar. Every man is destined to rise from his tomb. Every man can reject his fate. Every man hides love from his father. Every man is built from impurities. Every man thinks his mother a whore. We are not as careful as we should be.
I felt lucky to be with him. There were men and women out there, in the city, in the world, who paired up with someone out of desperation, and stayed out of habit. But the two of us, Robert and I, we found each other because Fortune favored us.
I write, as if it was all an illusion. As if my love has been shattered, but I say it has only suffered a crack.
He was kind and patient. These things are no longer true, because he takes me for granted, as they say, and I am sure everyone is saying that. My loyalty is a certainty to him, and he is correct. There is no need for special care or attention. Not like the night we kissed, really kissed, and the weight of what a union means fell down upon me with such force, that I ran from him. Down the street we went. Me, in a panic. Robert, with concern. I no longer remember what words he used to soothe my nerves. It was in his eyes. I was in them, fully. The speech he made, was bloated with meaningless statements, that could not be supported in a relationship so young. It was in his eyes.
The change occurred when I told him I loved him, two months into our relationship. In reality, only three weeks ago. He thanked me, and said he did not know if he was capable of feeling love. A few days later, expressed in a poem he had written for me, and then directly, Robert said he loved me. Shortly after, we had sex for the first time. Once again, I felt the disconnect. Something about us was not fitting perfectly where it needed. We were off-center, and graceless.
Slowly, he began to distance himself from me. It wasn’t physical, at least not initially. Robert has an uncanny ability to shut himself off, at will. He is destructive, and a coward.
One evening, for no discernible reason, he began to lash out at me, screaming profanities until he grew tired. I was shocked into silence. Not knowing what to do, I used levity to diffuse the situation, and somehow, it worked. Only temporarily. The chaos in his head, is too potent for any antidote I possess. The following day, he would scream at me once more, and disappear for the weekend. Attempts at reaching him proved fruitless. So, I let go. With no other choice left, I let go of what was quickly spiraling out of control. The decision seemed right, and brought with it a sense of peace and serenity. Unfortunately, not hours after I decided to turn away from a future with him, he telephoned me, expressing his remorse through tears. This scene has repeated itself like a terrible film, accidentally left on loop.
What I have done to even the score disgusts me. While we made love, I told him I felt an affection for another man. Not just any man, but Justin. A friend of Robert’s, who many remark is a better match for me. Justin is tall, conventionally attractive, and a journalism student. He is also, it must be mentioned, a terrible, self-absorbed, pretentious bore.
It isn’t only Robert’s bi-polarity, Justin’s looks, (Girl)’s pain, and my guilt that are in the way. There is Brittany. It seems as though she has always existed in my life, in some form. The name was different. The face was different. She wasn’t always human. Sometimes, Brittany was a thought, an obstacle, an unspoken suffering.
Robert and Brittany have a history of crime, of drugs, of romance. Nothing remains of their past love affair. It isn’t that I am a jealous lover. Not in this case. Not at all. It is that I feel her pulling him away, and his need to live in the filth is strong.
This isn’t the way it was meant to be. The two of us, Robert and I, we were supposed be better than this. The picture is all wrong. It was blurred by too much speed, and movement.