I've hesitated on writing this post. Partly because I've been sick and sleeping (I just ate the most substantial food I've eaten since Monday lunch, it was a scrambled egg and toast. I'm not sure my stomach appreciates it) and partly because my thoughts have been incredibly scattered.
To say that I was not expecting this ("this" being Che thinking we should call it quits) would both be an incredible understatement and a total lie.
Had it happened on Saturday, when we were both cranky, sniping at each other and bringing out each other's worst qualities and I was wondering whether or not we really were just too different for things to work out, I would've taken it in stride, I could've discussed it with him rationally, I may have tried to convince him otherwise but eventually probably would've agreed that we're just too different and that we'd be better off as friends (no matter how good the sex has been).
But it happened on Monday, which happened after Sunday, which was kind of an amazing day. It would be a lie to say it was a great day in the emotionally up sort of way, but it's probably the first May 3rd in the last seven years on which the pain of my father's death seemed bearable. Why? Because Che was an absolute sweetheart (I have yet to decide whether or not the fact that he had been planning to break up with me taints this, I'm trying to not let it. As you'll read later, I'm pretty sure he's confused as fuck) and basically let me do whatever I wanted. He didn't try to distract me with activities or insist that I'd feel better around people. He let me, in my own quiet way, grieve. We went to brunch, I got a scoop of my father's favorite ice cream at Baskin Robbins, we went to the beach and took a walk in the fog and sat on a rock and stared at the ocean. He didn't try to force me to talk about my father or what I was going through. He just stayed by my side, patiently listening when I wanted to talk, talking about normal things when I didn't.
It turns out Sunday was also his grandfather's birthday, so he decided to make dinner for his mother and I. We were going to have a really uplifting meal talking about our deceased fathers (I imagine this would've continued to be incredibly depressing once started because undoubtedly it also would've reminded Che of his recently passed father and Mela of her recently passed husband). And while making dinner, this, this is when Che used the word "fate" in relation to our romance. Fate. That's not a word you toss around lightly, you don't fuck around with using a word like fate. Especially when you're talking about non-believers like us. People who feel the need to preface sentences with "I don't believe in fate but..." which is exactly how Che started the sentence ending in "this being both your father's birthday and my grandfather's birthday and the fact that you've been living just 3 blocks away from the Berkeley house this whole time..." Once you mention fate with a girl there is no way in hell she's going to be prepared for you to break her heart the next day.
Mela remembered that it was their tenant/project manager's birthday and she was invited over. We decided it was a much better way to acknowledge the day, celebrating the life of somebody living, realizing that though death and grieving are difficult, life goes on. It was a good dinner. I was in my element of passing plates, making small talk, clearing the table. The comfort I find in domesticity. There was wine and laughter. Che kept glancing at me, making eyes and quick hidden smiles.
I thought "okay, yesterday was terrible, but if we could just learn to relax around each other, not be so reactionary, not let our egos be so easily bruised, life could be like this". And maybe in those moments Che was thinking the same things. Maybe that's why he misled me in such an unintentionally cruel way.
We were going to go sit in the hot tub for a bit before I headed home but the heater somehow broke. We laid in the bath instead until we both we're concerned we'd fall asleep. He asked me to stay the night. To wake up early and drive home in the morning despite knowing that I am very much not a morning person. In the morning he looks at me sleepily and thanks me for staying the night. He asks me if it was worth it, waking up early. I say something utterly cheesy and true like "anything is worth waking up next to you," and he smiles.
"Give me a kiss before you leave"
These are not the actions of somebody trying to separate themselves from you.
He drives down to Berkeley Monday evening and asks me to come over.
"I had a really amazing time with you yesterday. It was really good for me to see how you can cope with this and life does go on. Thank you for letting me experience that with you."
I thank him for staying with me, for putting up with my moodiness.
"But I have to be entirely honest, I haven't been that happy lately, and I think this is a really good place to stop, to end on a high note. I think you're really great and I want to end this while we can still be friends, before you start hating me"
I stare at him blankly.
"Is there anything you want to say? Or would you like to talk later?"
"I just um... I... I don't know what to say yet"
"Are you ok?"
"I don't think you get to say that and then ask me that"
He looks taken aback, like he hadn't expected me to go back to being my usual guarded self so quickly, like he expected me to immediately be willing to be his friend.
"Can I call you next time I'm in Berkeley, maybe you me and Alex can hang out?"
"I don't know"
"How about I'll call and you can decide whether or not to answer"
"Sure. I guess, I guess I should go. I don't know what I'm supposed to do."
And this is absolutely true, the last time I was the dumpee instead of the dumper was in the seventh grade. I'm a heart breaker. I'm the person who is usually a little more aloof, a little less in love, the person in control. The person it was always clear to me I wasn't in this relationship, but I still didn't guard myself. I guess if I had, the whole exercise would've been pointless.
"I don't think there's any right thing to do. I don't know, I'm horrible at this. I brought stuff you left, in case you never wanted to see me again. I expected this to go much more terribly. I expected you to be angry"
"Why would I be angry?"
"I don't know, I'm breaking up with you"
"I'm not angry, just really really sad"
This, again, makes him look confused. I don't know if he just doesn't know me as well as either of us might think or if he's had too many horrific break ups. Or if he's just confused.
"I'm used to screaming and hitting. You're being so great. Thanks for not punching me."
This didn't seem nearly so condescending in person.
And any semblance of composure I had breaks when I look up at him and sob "Why would I want to punch you? I'm in love with you".
"I just think it's better to end it like this, to end on a high note, don't you?"
I didn't think it was, I don't think it is. It honestly seems cruel to me. Sunday showed all of the potential of what our relationship could be- why would that be the place to end it, not the place to really begin?
He again looks taken aback, I take the bag he's been trying to hand me, he offers to walk me home (a gentleman till the last) I tell him I drove over and that I'm going to go sit in my car and cry for a while now. He apologizes.
I walk outthe gate, I realize I haven't even made an attempt to dissuade him. I realize that I was taken so by surprise that I made no argument to the fact that we're too different, made no mention of the fact that we could be as amazing for each other as we are occasionally terrible for each other. I turn around, knock on the door and let myself in.
"I have to say this now, while I'm brave enough, before I'm never able to say it again, 'any way you'd give me another chance? I know we're incredibly different people, I know we misinterpret each other a lot but..." I trail off and try to contain the sobs rising up from my broken heart.
"It's just, we're so different. You make me so happy but you can also make me feel kind of disgusted with myself and I've been thinking a lot about family lately. I know we joke a lot about having kids but it something I've really been considering and I think we would have some really fucked up children. We would be arguing constantly."
And this is how you know I've really fallen hard. That statement doesn't freak me out in the least. Not even a little bit. I never thought that either of us was entirely joking about kids.
For the first time since he said this was a good place to stop, I look up and meet his eyes.
"I've been thinking a lot about family and children also, I don't think we necessarily would, I think we could really balance each other out."
There is so much more I want to say but so distraught, trying so hard to fight back tears that I can't turn my thoughts into words.
He surprises me by saying "You balance me out, you balance my craziness".
"Yeah, 'cause I'm always sane"
You didn't think I could really make it through a break up without my sarcasm coming out at some point did you?
"Except when you've had too much champagne"
And at this point we both start crying.
"I don't know, I haven't gone through a birthday since my dad died, maybe this is just me being crazy. Just give me a couple of weeks, I might decide I'm crazy, it's been known to happen before. I'm sorry, I hate to play the dead father card..."
"Oh god, don't apologize for that, I'm so sorry, I came back in. I didn't mean to make you cry. I know how hard it is. I don't want you to feel like you have to deal with even more. I'm sorry."
"It's fine, as long as you don't mind me being all stupid and crying"
He apologizes again, I ask what he's apologizing for. He says he doesn't know, he points out our conversation that established we're just stupid around each other.
I start sobbing. I mean really really sobbing. He puts his arms around me and I sob into his chest. He takes my hands out of my coat pockets and puts them around his neck. I feel him rest his head on my shoulder, and I think, lightly kiss my coat collar. At that moment, I want nothing more than to kiss him.
"I hate seeing somebody I love so unhappy."
Wait, what? At this point I'm so confused, so emotionally distraught, that I'm shaking and can barely support myself. Had I known he was going to break up with me, I wouldn't have worn heels. I ask if I can sit for a minute and he tells me I can do whatever would make me happy, then checks himself, and says as happy as I could be, whatever would make me happier. And I resisted the urge to tell him not to lie to me, that what would make me happiest at that moment would be to kiss him and that I was pretty sure I couldn't do that. Instead I put my head on my knees and started crying again (at this point I really just wanted to stop crying, stop seeming so pathetic and walk out the door, calmly accept his offer of "maybe in a few weeks, after some space...") and he puts his arm around me, I pull away, so instead he awkwardly pat my back.
"If it helps, I think you're the best thing that's happened to me since I came home and everything went to shit."
"Then why are you dumping me?" (and no, it didn't fucking help, it was just another unintentionally confusing, cruel, blow)
"I just think you're awesome, and I want to be able to be friends with you. I don't want it to end in fights and hating each other. I've had too many that've turned into that."
"I don't think it would" is all the response I can muster up. It's not at all everything I want to say.
"I just don't know if it can work"
And at this point I want to look him squarely in the eyes and tell him that I don't know either, that that's how relationships go, that this is absolutely fucking terrifying for me too. That the problem isn't that we're too different, the problem is that we're too the same. We have large, easily bruised egos. We can dish out more than we can take. Life's made us both a little fragile and a little hard. We cover up our soft, insecure nerdy insides 90% of the time by stating things a little too forcefully, keeping a smile a little too in place, spending our time trying convince others that they should lead their lives more like our own so that maybe we don't have to question the things we dislike about ourselves. Spending time with Che is a lot like looking in the mirror. I can see the parts about myself that I love and the parts that I hate. I can see which parts he pushes under and I let surface. I can see why people think I'm a bitch and he's an asshole or alternately that we're some of the sweetest, most caring people you know if you can get past our forceful outwards personalities. But I don't have the courage to say all this. And I don't know if Che could hear it, or if he would just think I was insulting him.
So instead, I just say "I should go".
As I'm walking to the door, he hugs me and says "Maybe we can go see the new Star Trek movie, nerd out together"
"That's this week, that seems a little soon"
"I'm sorry I came back in, I'm sorry I made you cry and deal with me."
In text this seems somewhat passive aggressive, a guilt trip, apologizing to the person breaking your heart, but I really was sorry. He has enough on his plate. I only had to deal with my own grief when my father passed. He has his own and his mother's and nobody to be weak in front of.
"Don't be, just give me a few weeks, ok?"
"I don't really have much choice, do I?"
"I'm sorry, I hope you have a good evening. As good as you can"
"I'm going to go home to my vomiting roommate, now"
Ok, yes, that was a cheap shot. What can I say? I'm a human being. I have a really hard time not being sarcastic and bitter when hurting. It's an automatic defense mechanism. Of course, he apologized again. I went and sat in my car, shaking. I wait for myself to calm down so I can drive safely but of course I start bawling instead. When the tears pass I realize I still have a shirt of his, and the socks I borrowed that morning and that I don't want to have them because I'm not really interested in being his friend. I mean, fuck, we halfway seriously talked about having children after being together three months and the man really thinks I'm going to want to just hang out? Watch him flirt with other girls? Have him try to set me up or be overprotective if I date somebody new like he does with all his friends? I have no interest in being part of his "harem" as his god father calls his bevy of female friends.
Then ensued an awkward interaction where I called him and asked if I could give those things back to him, he was already walking towards Alex's, I drove him over to my house and he got incredibly embarrassed and sheepish when he left his bag in the car out of habit, I was flustered and trying not to cry some more, he apologized more, he asked what I was going to do when I didn't go back inside after giving him his stuff, I said going for a drive and since I was still shaking and barely able to support myself he asked "safely?" and I resisted the urge to say "what do you care?" because I know he does care and I know it would've hurt him to think that I didn't think so and instead just looked at him blankly and said "as possible in my current state" and told him to have a good evening, he apologized again. I got in the car, started sobbing and decided that maybe he was right and I shouldn't be driving anywhere. Instead I went inside to my vomiting roommate.
If he had broken up with me on Saturday I could be his friend, I would be a lot less confused, feel a lot less betrayed. If he like I, sees how similar we are, he knows how hard it was for me to show any form of weakness or vulnerability to another person, he should know that letting him see me the way I was on Sunday when he knew he was going to demote our relationship to friendship would make me incredibly angry with myself for letting someone in. I can't be angry at him, because I understand too well where he's coming from. There have been more than a couple of times in the last few months that I've thought to myself that I just can't do this, that I wasn't ready for another relationship, that it's all going to go to hell anyways and I fought back those inner demons, told myself that being unsure, skittish, was normal and that I should stick with it and work through it if I ever wanted to be with somebody again. I see how terrified he is and I just want to hold him and tell him that it won't be like that. That we could have something beautiful. That I wouldn't ever intentionally cause him pain. That we could use our tendencies to go to extremes around each other to help each other calm down and find the middle way. Maybe that's all a pack of lies, maybe he's right and it's best to end on a high note but I'm willing to risk a little more failure on something that could be so good. For now I'll just try to keep my head up and not spend too much time waiting and hoping for a call.
Because this album still isn't on lala, here is the song that this title is referencing, that's my break up soundtrack right now.
Also, I now realize that the book I'm reading is his and that he has my cake carrier and a book that I bought this weekend, so regardless of his decision, I'll have to woman up and see him again to do a prisoner exchange.