but it can’t ever thrive if i’m forced to keep proving it.

As part of my plan to continue acting as if I don’t miss Ryan, I agree to go to a party Friday night with Cheryl.

I would rather spend the night lying in my bed, chain-smoking and listening to Elliott Smith records, but I don’t want Nate to say to Cheryl, “Hey, does Amanda seem depressed to you?”

And then Cheryl will mention it to Thom and Andy. “Yeah, I could kill Ryan, because Amanda is really sad right now.”

Next someone will say to Adam, “Fucking Ryan. Amanda’s all torn up about him again.”

Soon the phone will ring at Ryan’s apartment on Crystal Street. “Dude…Amanda’s a mess right now. Way to go.”

No thanks.

I’m just fine. Really.

Going out is going to require a shower. And hair washing. Not to mention makeup and tights and nice shoes. I have been avoiding all of these for the past week. Instead, I’ve been wearing the same pair of worn out black (now more grey) corduroy pants and paint-covered Converse low tops. At least I’ve changed my t-shirt every day. Fortunately my office has no dress code, perfect for depressed young women.

Rinsing shampoo from my hair, I realize that showering is actually making me feel better. And going through the process of foundation-mascara-blush is strangely cathartic. I might feel like I’m dying, but at least I can look like I spent the day succeeding at everything I tried.

I am surveying the contents of my closet when the phone rings.

“Hey, Amanda….it’s Thom.”

I assume he’s calling for the address of the party.

“No, no….I’m actually calling you about Ryan.”

Huh?

“Listen, I know that you shouldn’t care. But then again, someone should care. So I guess it should be you. Andy and I saw Ryan earlier at Jewel-Osco, and he was super fucked up. He hasn’t sleep in days. His eyes looked crazy. “

I’m not really sure what I can do about this. Apparently everyone imagines that I have some level of control over Ryan. I can’t help but laugh at this idea.

“Ha, yeah…I guess it’s funny because it’s so typical. But I don’t know, I thought you might want to check on him or something.”

I say something I don’t mean. “Fuck him…seriously, I just don’t care what he does. Do you think he is losing any sleep over my well-being? Thanks for telling me, Thom. I’ll see you at the party later.” And then I hang up.

Fuck. Now the night is already ruined. Now every time I take a drink or a boy talks to me, I’ll just be wondering if Ryan is somewhere ODing and/or having his wallet stolen. Jesus.

I really shouldn’t care. I’m tired of sharing his problems.

This is my chance to be free of him.

And really…when has he actually cared about my own problems? He certainly doesn’t tiptoe around my feelings.

Like last Monday… what a fucking awful day.

Drama abounded at work. Stupid office politics gone awry, complete with the slamming of office doors and coworkers sobbing in the restroom. I hid at my desk, feigning concentration, lest someone felt compelled to drag me into the turmoil. I sighed with relief as I ran out the door at 4:59.

And then when I walked in the apartment door, Cheryl was crying in the kitchen. Some kind of lunch time fight with her quasi-boyfriend Fred. I tried to comfort her while I made dinner. “Listen, Fred is just CONFUSED about what he wants. It’s not you, it’s HIM.” And so on.

Next the phone rang. Since is was barely 7:30, I was shocked to hear Ryan’s voice.

I silently listened to his monologue.

“My work is suffering because I’m so unhappy.”
and
“I can’t grow as a painter when I’m living in a cage.”

“I need space.”
and
“I love you and think you are awesome, but I’m not completely satisfied with our relationship.”

I took a deep breath and swallowed. “Yeah, okay…I understand. We definitely need a break.

He tried to hide the disappointment in his voice. “Wait, I mean, don’t you want to talk about this more?”

“Well, not really. But….okay….um, do you want to elaborate on why you feel this way?”

He had no answers.

I pulled my “calm, cool professional” voice out of the box. “Okay, well, obviously I’m going to miss you…but right now we want different things, so I guess I’ll just talk to you some time?”

I hung up the phone feeling angry. There were so many things I could have said.

“If patience were money spent, millions and millions…no wait, BILLIONS of dollars would have passed through my fingers in the past seven months. And if patience really were currency, I would reach into my pockets to find only a ten-dollar bill remaining. I feel ripped off. Thanks, Ryan.”

No, he would have preferred some weeping and begging on my part. No thanks. That time is long gone. My pride now outweighs my love for him. The thing is, this is just the same old plot twist. Except now it’s neither shocking nor exciting. Apparently he suffers agonizing withdrawal when there isn’t any ridiculous drama in our relationship. So he takes matters into his own hands, trying desperately to shake me up.

I swear…did he ask Thom to call me? Did he have some psychic feeling that I might actually have fun tonight?

As I get dressed, I decide that I’m going to make out with the first glasses-wearing boy I see tonight. I change into nicer underwear, just in case. Of course, if I really want to guarantee some action, I should wear stained panties–preferably with a hole or two–and skip shaving my legs for a week or two. The grosser I am, the more beguiling I become.

I’m laughing about this when Cheryl appears in my room. “Who called?”

She rolls her eyes as I tell her. “God…Andy told me the same thing today. He called me at work. He was like, ‘I think Amanda should go talk to him.’ I told him to stop being a pussy. If he’s so worried, he should step up and handle it.”

I shake my head. “Seriously, Cheryl….this is the first day this week that I haven’t felt like I’m going to die of sadness. I know that everyone means well, but why can’t they just leave me out of it?”

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