Wednesday, December 14, 2005

I Wish I Was Special

The rollercoaster ride that is the relationship between Em and I is officially over. I ended it earlier today with an abrupt conversation that broke my heart and made her cry.
Tuesday night, after a whole day which I spent with her, she had dinner with a college friend.
“Would you like to have drinks afterwards?”
I call up Molly and decide to have dinner ourselves. She meets me at my apartment, we order in and watch Flirting with Disaster. I mention my birthday dinner. I also mention that Em would be there.
“Whoa. What’s up? Why don’t you like Em?”
“I don’t not like her. I don’t like how she treats you though. I mean every time you two start up it seems she puts up a roadblock. Have you considered that she’s just not interested in you?”
“She likes me. She’s told me she likes me.”
“Alright, but I feel like I’m missing some of the picture here.”
“What do you mean?”
“She’s withholding something from you. Something important. Are you sure there isn't someone else?”
Cut to later that night at the speakeasy bar in the Lower East Side. I’m sitting with Em’s two best friends from her college days. I took this to be a test: The “Can You Survive My Friends” Test. Each of her friends, a guy and a girl, are funny and charming. And I held my own. I’d be talking to one of them while Em would text message someone and simultaneously talk to the other.
At one point, early in our tenure at the bar, both Em and her female friend started dancing to a song. This is the sort of bar that doesn’t have people dancing in it. But there they are dancing. And if anyone other than Em had been doing it, I would have been upset. I don’t like drawing attention to myself. I just want to talk, drink and be left alone. But there she was dancing with her friend and everyone’s looking at her. And I’m smiling. Because in this moment I realized something, a pretty powerful something: that I loved Em. It was 12:07 in the morning.
Em slowly would go on to drink more as the night went on. She drank so much that she spent the last part of the evening in the bathroom expelling it. She emerged from the bathroom, with a sweaty brow and a look of sheer embarrassment. I took her home in a cab and got her into her apartment. I got her into her bed, set up the garbage can next to her bed (just in case), and then did something that was unexpected.
“Can I ask you a question?”
“Of course.”
“I promise not to get mad. But could you please be truthful with me?”
“Is there someone else? Someone you like and likes you back? Someone other than me?”
I let her go to sleep. And that drunken declaration of truth haunted me all night. So much so that I didn’t sleep. Not a wink. I wanted to be angry with her, but I couldn't. By the end of it, I was most upset with myself. “How did I get here? How did I let myself get here?” That Talking Heads song was blaring in my head.
Em awoke a couple minutes before 7, and I was there holding an Advil and a glass of water. She smiled and was in a state of shock.
“I can’t believe you. You’re a martyr.”
“No I’m not.”
She got up and took a shower. She didn't remember any of what she had told me. And now I was distant. (That’s what comes with no sleep and deep thought.) I took her to work on crowded subways while she tried to pick my spirits up with laughter. I barely budged.
She went to work and even in this state, I got her some bacon and eggs for her mild hangover. I went home. I tried to sleep but I couldn’t. I couldn’t because I had a decision to make and I didn’t want to make it. But a hard look in the mirror and a visit from Rebekah helped make the decision easy.
I text Em to come over after work. She does. We sit on the couch.
“I realized something last night: I'm in love with you. And I chose that. I chose to love you. And what I also realized, for the first time since I've known you, was that you’ll never choose me. I’m not the one you want. I thought maybe if I just treated you right and stuck around, that you’d find my quixotic nature charming. But it isn’t enough is it? You’ll never love me. And I think it’s best that we never see each other again. Please don't call me or write me. And if you think that this is easy for me to ask of you, then you underestimate how much I truly love you.”
We walked out of the apartment, down the staircase and as we exited the building, I just looked at her simply and said, “Good-bye”. I walked away and didn’t look back.


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