You can do better
Pretending to sip warm tea from our porcelain cups, and clinking them in the air – was so much fun! The tea, though none was there, tasted sweet. It made us happy. Never did it matter to me that you thought you didn’t have the time to brew the leaves properly, nor did I worry that imported sugar was too expensive. What I tasted was pleasant and plausible, and went perfect with the crumpets I never baked. Sometimes just when you think the timing isn’t right, you realize what you have at the time is actually just right.
I wrote the above thoughts about the entire process of getting to . . . you can do better. That single statement ruined everything about our relationship.
Your sister won’t listen. So, you poke her with your finger, jabbing her shoulder. You poke harder and harder, until she listens. It’s so effective at getting her attention. So, when you grow up you realize it’s probably effective at getting everyone’s attention . . .
So, that’s what I did for a week after being stood up by someone I had been dating for more than 6 months. I was worried when noon the following day I had heard nothing from him at all. The previous evening we went to listen to a live band and dance. Before we headed out I gave him my BFF gift, a preserved alligator foot from Florida. We had a lot of fun out! We had a great time when we got back to my place! Everything was fine the next morning when he left. Well, except that I stepped on his glasses and broke them. I felt terrible, 1000 degrees worse than terrible. Anyway, he finally sent me a text at 12:46 pm “Sorry yesterday was just all around one of those days but I did find my phone thank goodness for find my Iphone !! Still no glasses I tried to solder them cause LensCrafters wouldn’t fix them but no success guess ill find a jeweler that can braise them.”
ME – I’m glad you’re ok. I’ll call you in a few. And I did.
He talked and I gushed. He explained that he went to his friend’s house in Raymore and ended up drinking too much to drive home. He couldn’t call because he had dropped his cell phone in the parking lot at work. While I appreciated his apology, and believed him it felt shallow and a bit callous – almost like he was trying to write it off as ‘no big deal’. It was a big deal to me, I was embarrassed in front of my friends, disappointed that he didn’t show for the evening we planned earlier, and scared. Scared that I was trying too hard, afraid that something happened.
I said a lot of things in that telephone conversation that were fraught with frustration, relief, disappointment and fear. As all that emotion spilled into my words I could hear myself confessing, “I drove over to your office to see if you were ok”, and he probably already knew I had called his friend. Something about him keeping me at arm’s length fell out of my mouth – I don’t even know why or what I meant. It was terrible, I behaved terrible. He had to go and I wasn’t finished. I texted him later that day, begging to see him. Offering to work alongside him cleaning out his garage. I needed to see him. Needing someone is not good.
Next day, Day 1 – I texted him a lame apology and tried to make it light by admitting being impetuous. No reply.
Day 2 – Someone at the office wanted to buy a new car. I texted him asking about the several he had for sale. He replied twice, both times all-business.
Day 3 – Nothing
Day 4 – Morning I said, about 8:40 am Did you ever get your glasses fixed? (because I was still feeling bad about that) Nope, he replied. I have been working haven’t had time to go. I offered again to have them fixed. He replied but didn’t want help.
That’s when I dropped the bomb about Texas. I was going to Texas on a business trip in a couple of weeks and invited him. I explained he could ride on the company’s dime since I was going anyway. He never replied.
Day 5 – I thought maybe I had said too much, so I gathered up the one thing of his at my place to deliver to him. Maybe if I saw him in person, I could let him off the hook. Texas was just for fun. No big deal. That’s what I could tell him. “Are you in this morning?” I texted. “I’ll drop off that liquor from the wine party. No sense in me keeping it forever.” No, he replied. I am working on a job. Yeah, exactly what I figured and I said so. No biggie, I ended with.
Then he texted the what came to be the worst text preceding the worst telephone call ever in the history of ME and E. Do u have a min to talk if I call? I breathed in with a choppy breath, my eyes welled up just a bit and as I exhaled slowly trying to calm myself and remove the emotion I felt. I texted him back S U R E. I knew it was going to be a scolding for jabbing him in the shoulder all week. I had poked and jabbed him, and knew it tore through his patience. When my phone rang moments later I wanted nothing more than to disappear, close my eyes and make what was about to happen never ever happen.
Here is how it went, sort of;
E – I can’t go to Texas with you. The job in STL could call us back at anytime. . .
ME – Yeah, that makes sense. I just thought it would be fun. I don’t like asking you things you will say no to. So, I try to not ask very often. It’s ok if we just see each other every other weekend when you can because that works for me too.
He stuttered a lot. Stammered. I knew he wanted to say something important, so I was silent and he tried several times to form a sentence.
E – I think you can do better than me.
Honestly, I remember some of the context from the conversation as soon as I got into the office and I wrote it down. I knew who said what, but I was crushed with that comment ‘you can do better’ I was smashed and so angry at myself for doing all that damn jabbing. I wasn’t sure how to reply. I did tell him that if he didn’t want to see me anymore he needed to say just that, instead of making decision for me. I repeated versions of this several times as I recall. No matter how much I wanted him, if he didn’t want me then what I wanted didn’t matter at all. He never said that was the case, in fact he said at least once, ‘no that’s not it.’
ME – I know we are in different places right now.
I meant about the relationship, but he took it as in life. And then he agreed with me.
E – You are right about that.
E – You want something I can’t give you right now
ME – This has to be what you want, I know what I want – well I don’t know exactly what I want, but this is your decision for yourself
E – I am very busy (common theme, but I did understand because he had a lot of responsibility on his plate)
ME – It’s actually positive for me that you’re busy allows me time to focus on work and Allison
E – Nothing is going to change until the kids are gone
I may have replied in between these statements, or maybe he made them earlier in the conversation, I’m not sure. My breath was choppy and the rest of his words were stinging me, I just wanted them to stop coming at me. He really needed to through in a joke, or a jk somewhere. Please. He made a hole and as he continued to talk, every word was an affirmation of how we can’t work or are broken and the hole kept growing.
E – I don’t want to lead you on
I was spinning, I think he said he had to go back to work. I don’t actually know. I couldn’t sort any of it out – not then.
ME – I am a little confused, so where do we go from here?
and I will never ever forget what he said to that innocent question, because he could have said anything – I waited for the worst news ever . . . the end, the final sentence, I waited to hear the last thing he would say to me and yet, he said;
E – Can’t we just see where it goes?
What? That was hope! I was excited, ready to get out of the car and run into the building – put this crazy nonsensical conversation behind me. I wanted to hug him, and kiss him a million times. Who would think ‘can’t we see where it goes’ would make a girl so elated so happy, so pleased.
But, I learned that actually it snuffed out all the magic as I let the words sink in. It ruined that specialness we had. Fun was reevaluated. Intimacy was being examined. The relationship now needed a tight box to fit into – a definition.
So, I wrote him some prose. And worse yet, I sent it.
You let me be me. / That makes me happy.
And I love that you read my sappy messages – like this one.
You are who you are. / I like that. (Actually, I like many things about you, but I don’t want that to go to your head.)
Family (kids at the top), job, other; being a slice of the 3rd priority is best; we have enough kids and neither of us wants to be like an extra job.
Quality wins over quantity. / Hanging out together is always good.
It’s better to have a few awesome days together than a bunch of average days more often.
We can talk when we need to. / So, let’s keep talking.
However, sometimes when we’re together I prefer touching and not talking.
I can’t know the future. / You can’t know the future.
We just chill and see where it goes and what happens, we will be waiting either for something or for nothing.
One of us may decide we don’t want the other one at all. / One of us may find someone else for something long term.
If so, one of us just invokes the talking rule.
He didn’t respond to receiving it or reading it or before he deleted it to his trash can or even before he reread it for the third time. So, I wrote about it, my way of sorting through the chaos; Untied.