Friday, July 3, 2009

"The Best Value Under The Sun."

Terrified and frantic, I pulled his apartment together and fashioned a plan. "You can't. You wouldn't." It was clear that Boston would offer me no options. It became my inherent responsibility to unearth a solution to a problem I had caused; no, a problem I had committed. I dropped him at the local mall at 5PM, promising him that I'd return as quickly as I could. The drive to Buffalo airport to pick up R. was stomach turning. Noticing everything. The way the telephone poles passed on the highway, the smell of the power plant just beyond Grand Island, the sound of planes landing. What could I say? He didn't deserve this.

He had treated me well. It was not his fault. I could not love him.

Numb. I admitted defeat, but in true coward's form, did so introspectively. R. opened the passenger's door and sat down. I started the car and pulled away from the airport. For the first 10 minutes we were both silent. Finally I told him that I planned to leave. That things between he and I had deteriorated beyond our ability to coexist.

In reality, I could not look him in the eyes. He told me he knew, even that he understood. My mind reflected on his departure. The weight of his walk and his paralyzed expression as he moved quietly out of sight. There was a silent understanding between the two of us. The air was palatable, both knowing that after four years and many honest and not-so-honest attempts, there was nothing between us, and nothing left to say. My actions added insult to injury. In this moment, I truly understood what I had done.

He told me that my leaving was fine, but that if he found out that I had someone in the apartment while he was gone, it "would not be good." He then asked me directly, "Is there anything you have to tell me?" Driving 70MPH on the highway, I assessed the situation. This was neither the time, nor the place to have this conversation. I turned my head, looking him in the eyes for the first time. There was a long pause as the seconds seemed to stretch on. My body language said "yes", but I opened my mouth, and said "no." I told him I could not stay in "our" apartment that night. I needed "time to think" and so did he. He was suspicious, at the very least, but his response was trusting and familiar. I dropped him off, hastily packing a suitcase. I told him I would be back the following afternoon and that we would be facing a difficult conversation upon my return. I could feel him wanting to trust me. I had to escape, and quickly.

I picked up Boston. We decided it would be safest to stay in the next town. We checked into a Days Inn in Amherst, NY, stopping only for a cheap bottle of vodka. I didn't want to think. I didn't want to feel. I no longer trusted myself. I'd given up; submitted. A wave of hopelessness washed over my body. I had lost control.

The Red Sox won that night.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

I closed the door behind us, stripping off icy, soaking pants and replacing them with my least appealing pair of sweats. "My" apartment became an unfamiliar place in his company. I was unfamiliar. This course of action, brash and unfamiliar. Nothing had changed but suddenly everything looked, felt and smelled foreign; alien. I struggled to grab hold of a familiar routine but was ill-prepared for the disposition of the stranger I had so passively let into "my" home. Approaching this point, our relationship had been harmless. By the morning of the 12th, there was no going back.
The next few days were a blur of cigarettes, alcohol, baseball games and dirty t-shirts. Before I had time to acknowledge the weight of my wrongdoings, it was Sunday. Boston was to fly back to Camp LeJeune, NC, leaving me just enough time to cover my tracks and swallow the hardest pill; confessing my violation of "our" space and unveiling my blueprint for the cutting of all ties, and my departure to R. Boston had other plans.

I was scared to see him go, knowing, or rather not knowing what would become of the me I knew, and the me which had evolved in the preceding days. I had plenty to lose. I began mentally preparing myself to leave the cats which I had bottle fed as kittens two years prior, imagining the bottle caps and loose change under my sofa, as I moved it onto a truck. The line of bold "W" grades on my final transcript as a result of my inability to attend classes, having moved too far away. I suddenly wished I had taken this time to let these realities sink in, instead of distracting myself with unfamiliar lips that wreaked of alcohol, cigarettes and an approaching end. It was Sunday, and R. was to return Monday evening. I was so completely mentally entangled in facing what I had done, I failed to realize that Boston was not just a stranger, he was a stranger with ulterior motives.

By Sunday afternoon it occurred to me that Boston hadn't ever mentioned the time of his departing flight. I spent the next several hours asking him, hourly, when we should prepare to leave; citing the distance to the airport and that "everyone knows you should arrive two hours early" etc. Each time he soothed my inquiries by stating that he'd "let me know" and that I should "relax and enjoy the time we have together." By 7:00PM I'd had enough of this and demanded that he let me know what his plan was. He told me that he wanted to surprise me, planning to stay another night. R. was to arrive Monday at 6:00PM, this could work. I told him that would be fine, secretly ecstatic at the elongation of my mental escape from reality. Monday morning arrived and passed. By 2:00PM I grew suspicious of Bostons motives. He confessed that he planned to stay one more night...

It became evident that I had lost control of the situation, and that Boston aimed to take control. He had reduced me to a dependent. He was my responsibility, and was not to be trusted.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I drove R. to the Buffalo airport in the early morning. No "I love you", no hugs, kisses or tearful goodbyes. I told him I'd pick him up in a few days. He trudged away, looking morose, vanquished; ill. Still, I felt nothing. The world, or at least what was within my grasp, looked different. Black and white. Every object fell below shadows and faded hues. The sun was covered by clouds. I drove back to what was now his apartment, kicking my shoes off at the door and flopping onto my couch.

844 80th Street, apartment #3: The ruins of my coward's "love".

His, mine; suddenly everything had a label. I would use this time to plan my escape. What would I take; and did I have the heart to take anything at all? I began mentally calculating what I felt belonged to me and what of my belongings felt indebted to R. My washer and dryer became his, but I would take my new sofa. He could keep my dishes, old sofa and love seat; the record console I'd refurbished, after all, he bought the parts. I'd take my records but leave the ones we'd bought together. My books were mine, but he could keep old cd's. I'd take my fair share of the nicer antiques, leaving behind a large number of small pieces I'd grown to love. The DVD's were his, as were the television and electronics. In the end, I didn't take much. I didn't want much.

He had been gone one day and I hadn't heard from you in over a month. I took nightly phone calls from Boston, who would continue to plea for my aproval of a visit. "Just give me the word. I'll be on a plane tonight." 27 years old, he bore a shocking resemblance to a young Robert Oppenheimer. R hadn't been gone two days when I broke. I told him to do "as he wishes" and go no further than he can be held "personally accountable for". On April 11th, at 9:00PM, I was waiting for Boston at the Buffalo airport.

His plane would arrive at 11:00PM, two hours behind schedule. I was walking to my car, prepared to drive home alone and believing that I may have written myself into some alternate universe when he called to tell me he had landed. We met on the second floor of a two-story parking structure. He was tall and narrow, his arms were foolishly long. In the freezing rain, and with the sound of airplanes skidding into port he threw his foolish arms around me. I drove us home quietly, through the rain.

When we arrived in "my" parking lot it was raining hard. I felt feral as I jumped in freezing puddles, running for the door of an apartment that I could no longer call my own.

Boston and I spent the next three days behind closed doors.

Friday, June 12, 2009

The fantasy of a more elegant breed; The aristocracy of Atlantis, or at very least, something more beautiful than this.

I do wish people were more kind.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Jackson, Felix and Jane

My life continued in a obdurate state of instability for the remainder of my time in Buffalo. I told R that I planned to move home following my junior college graduation in May of 2008. He was scheduled for a second spinal surgery to be preformed the first week of May. We agreed that I would stay and care for him following this second surgery. If everything were to go as planned, based on our agreement, my departure would arrive and pass on civil terms.

I arranged for R to fly to Melbourne, Florida to visit his best friend a few weeks before his surgery. Sharing an apartment had become difficult. I could not pretend to feel either sadness or happiness in the wake of our break-up. I felt nothing. It was this vacancy of feeling which became the canvas for my absence of morality. I had a friend of three years in Boston, Massachusetts. I'd never felt strongly one way or the other about this person. He was simple minded, but charming and funny, and prior to his military activation in early 2007, consistently available for light and humorous conversation. The nature of our relationship had always been casual, without any urgency and, for me at least, neutral territory; not incredibly important. I can easily recall the stories of his enlistment as a Marine, when he left for boot camp and his return from Paris Island. I remember the weeks prior to his departure. He had been activated as a gunman for caravan-style patrols in the city of Ramadi, Iraq. Immediately following his return I sensed a difference in the nature of our conversations. I should note that this difference was vaguely noticeable, as he was scarcely a supporting character in my larger life-story. He was pressuring me to visit, or that he fly in and visit. It was purely coincidental that he be on a one week, military-sanctioned leave the same week that R left for Melbourne.

He could have been anyone really.

R's trip was planned well in advance with reason. I had phoned you to tell you I was sending R on a trip. I told you I needed to see you. I gave you dates and times. I told you I would be alone. I told you it was now or never; an obviously weak and unsupported ultimatum. This phone call was an isolated incident. I did not hear from you in the weeks prior to or following our conversation. I have only a vague recollection of our sparse interactions during my final months in Buffalo. I spent a lot of time in Niagara Falls National Park. Burred deep below late-winter snow, the falls were abandoned by tourists and employees alike. I would retreat almost daily to Goat Island. I was alone in the purest sense. The island became my secret. I claimed ownership of the park as I walked in the snow, in an oversize winter jacket and knit cap smoking Ben Sherman cigarettes. I sent you a text message; something about the trees who's bark looked like water-color and how you'd love me if you did not know me.

In the park that winter, I did not know myself.

For those few weeks, on my island and engulfed by my own copious solitude, I felt love.

You never responded. There was clear evidence of a missed connection. Of poor timing. I felt pressure, my body was being crushed under the weight of inaccessibility.

He could have been anyone really.

Friday, June 5, 2009

In my cupped hands

In the fall of 2007 R had surgery on a cluster of slipped disks in his lower back. He had been on military medical leave for a month prior to his scheduled surgery. Sadly, the procedure was unsuccessful. His recovery was slow and offered little relief from the shooting pain he experienced as a result of these disks pinching nerves which directly supported his lower extremities. His income had supported both he and I for the duration of my time in Buffalo, and I had no reservations providing the extensive care he required following this failed surgical procedure. From October of 2007 to March of 2008, I assumed the role of a nurse in our home.

R recovered, gradually requiring less attention/aid for his more basic needs. Before he had recovered to a pre-surgical physical status, he began playing drums with a local band. While I supported his social conquests, I was resentful of his failure to follow his doctors orders. He was lackadaisical in other areas of recommended recovery procedures as well. His doctor had advocated the incorporation of simple exercises into his daily routine, and sanctioned that he diet, as the loss of 20-30 pounds would have provided a notable relief from pain associated with his injury. While I was losing weight rapidly, and eating a healthy, all-inclusive vegetarian diet, R put very little effort toward satisfying his doctor's recommendations. We both felt the trauma of insurmountable stress. He was becoming depressed, and I was in deeper than I could handle physically, mentally and emotionally.

March broke my silence. Spring break, 2008. I fled to my Father's house in Fayetteville, New York. Tearfully, I told him I planned to leave R. That things were not working out and hadn't been for a very long time. I spoke of how the guilt I felt for not loving him, despite his most valiant efforts, was feasting on the "good" I could find in who I was. Dismissive, my Father told me I was overreacting, and perhaps overstressed. His reaction came as a surprise to me. Fleeing to my parents home in a state of distress was not typical of my behavior. I had lived in Buffalo for three years, and aside from holiday visits and monthly phone calls for which to report "all is well", this admission of defeat was not in my nature.

I returned to Buffalo bitter and without support. I had no money and nowhere to go. I no longer felt any connection to my belongings. I felt demolition, destruction and a consuming sense of numbness. You had resurfaced briefly during this period with text messages stating that you "needed more" if you were to stay committed to the idea of who I could be for you. This admission, after months of silence, came as a shock, but I was deeply enveloped in my own hard-comings and brushed you aside. My mind and body became separate entities. I was unstable and unpredictable. I wanted to cover your eyes and ears.

I had nothing to offer. I had nothing to lose.