Morning comes too soon. I refuse to buy blinds for my windows, because the sunlight offers an illusion of cheer when I am struggling to wake up for work. But on weekends, when I really need the sleep, the sun is only an annoyance. Ryan generally refuses to stay at my house for this reason. “Put up some blinds or curtains, and then I’ll consider a slumber party.”
I find myself waking up at eight on Saturday morning. Ryan is breathing and warm, so I guess the worst is over.
I’m restless: too tired to read or write, but too keyed up to sleep. I get dressed and drag my bike down the stairs. I’m going to go to Jewel-Osco for breakfast food.
As I pedal, I review the events of the previous night. Boring dinner, boring time watching others do drugs, boring hangout at the bar….wait, it wasn’t boring. I was actually filled with anxiety, wondering if Ryan was mad at me. Or if maybe he just finally realized how mediocre I really am.
And then the drive home. It’s amazing, but true: harsh words, the things I wish I had never heard, always carry more weight than their positive counterparts. If I had even the tiniest bit of balls, if I were even remotely the person I pretend to be, Ryan would not be sleeping in my bed right now. I should have driven him home. Or left him on Damen to rot.
But I could never cast him aside. He has all of the power.
Strolling through the store, filling my basket with sensible items, this is all I can think about.
When did I lose all of the power? Because at this point, I have nothing. This feeling I had all summer, the sensation of suffocation…drowning on the air surrounding me…this was less about drugs and more about the an overwelming loss of control. I just do what Ryan wants, when he wants, how he wants. Nevermind the agonizing pressures of day to day adult life like bills and work and social drama. Sure, I’ve never been free, but now I don’t even have the slightest options.
I pedal home faster than I ever thought my legs could move. I toss the grocery bags on kitchen counter. I storm into my room.
Ryan sits up and looks at me groggily. “Hey, girl…what time is it? You should really get some blinds so you can sleep in.”
I start taking off my clothes. “Shut up. Take off your pants or I will do it for you.”
His face is a surprised question mark.
“Guess what? You’re going to fuck me now. I’ve been waiting this whole time, holding back, because it gives me the false impression that I have some sort of power in this relationship. Fuck it.”
He quietly takes off his shirt.
“You think you’re cursed to be with me? Like it’s some sort of fucking miserable obligation? You don’t even know anything about me. I’m just a good little girl when you’re around, doing what you wish before you ask. You wish I had died so you could be free? Well, fuck you….because you can close the door on this any time.”
He doesn’t move.
“Here’s some stuff you don’t know: for one, I fucking hate spinach. It tastes like poison to me. And I’m sick of holding my breath and shoving it down my throat just to make you happy. Second, I am really fucking intelligent. Like, genius level. I’m not bragging, just stating the simple truth. You wouldn’t know this, because you’ve never asked me one single thing about my life. How many hours have we spent together? This has been going on for months. And you have never asked me my opinion on anything deeper than my favorite record or color.”
I toss my shirt on the floor.
“My boyfriend Brad never wished that I were smarter or funnier or more interesting. He just wished that I would be less crazy. And I’m not saying that I have gained anything in the sanity area, but at least I haven’t thrown any furniture at you. You have no idea how lucky you are.”
This may be the longest stretch of his silence I have ever witnessed.
“My mom has been married five times. I went to like, ten elementary schools. I had cancer when I was little. I have one brother; he’s actually my half-brother. I am allergic to bee stings and every time we eat outside and bees are swarming around, I pretend that I don’t care because I know how fucking important outside dining is to you.”
I’m running out of clothes to take off, but I still have so much more to say.
“That night you said the worst things you could ever say. Sure, it pushed me over the edge. But you know what? As I was jamming pills down my throat, all I could think was that finally I could say goodbye to all my problems. I would never have to pretend that something didn’t matter to me, when in fact it’s killing me. Death would be a dream that I would never have to wake up from. But you know what, I’m still here and I’m so fucking glad. I need more hours, days, years to build something out of the ideas that have been growing in my head since I was born. I have a long way to go. No one is standing in the way of that, not even you.”
I climb on top of him and kiss him.
“I love you, “ he whispers.
“Tell me that tomorrow. It will mean a lot more. Because after this, you’re getting dressed and driving your car back to Humboldt Park.”