I guess I could blame myself for allowing this situation to develop. No, not the act of Ryan meeting Sarah. Or the alleged physical contact between them. The rational part of myself–which wields more control over my life than one might imagine–knows that this has nothing to do with me….even if the tiny (yet powerful) worst enemy portion of my mind–the one that can’t meet my reflection in the mirror without feeling sick and disappointed–has decided that any bad situation is always, inarguably my fault.
But it is my fault that I have spent the last two weeks pretending as if I didn’t care about any of this. It would have been completely acceptable for me to ask Ryan a few things. Like, “What were you doing that night I want to you apartment to check on you?” and “Who was the girl I saw you with on Damen?” Even an all-encompassing inquiry like “What did you do while we were apart?”“Apart.” It sounds so casual, like one of us was merely taking a business trip.
Instead I asked nothing. I pretended that nothing ever happened. Somehow I convinced myself that it was better to spend the rest of time speculating on the events of those two weeks, than to know concretely every detail. I told myself that I didn’t want to appear jealous. But really, I was afraid of what I might hear.
Every time the slightest bit of curiosity hit me, I jammed the question back down my throat. I held my breath for a few moments, lest letters tried to sneak out my nostrils. Constantly holding my tongue in case the questions decided to stage a rebellion, fighting for freedom at my weakest moment. At breakfast, in a booth at Rainbo, in the last moments before we fell asleep. Always convincing myself that the past did not matter. I had an upset stomach and ringing head.
I should have known that the dam would break after 10+ drinks.
“So where did you meet this girl?” I ask this as I light a cigarette. Apparently Ryan is so racked with guilt, he is allowing me to smoke in his apartment. I’m wondering if I can extend this sudden possession of the upper hand to breakfast. I want him to make vegan french toast.
“The night after we broke up. I realized once again that all of my supposed friends would much rather hang out with you than me. So I went –by myself–to this club near Pilsner. It was empty, because it was early. She was there with a bunch of guys and she offered me some pills.”
“Of course. “
His grimace indicates that I said that aloud.
“Listen, I’m not going to lie to you. The entire time we were apart, I was really fucked up. And everything everyone told you to get you to come over to my place was true. In a way, I had hoped that word would get back to you and you would try to save me or something. But then when it really happened, I was just ashamed.”
I’m trying not to appear smug.
“Nothing happened between me and Sarah. But I did practically live at her house for that period, because I was just so fucked up. I took time off of work. I just ate a lot of pills and did nothing. It’s all just a blur.” He chokes on that last word. “It was so bad, that I lost count of how many Oxy-Contin I was taking. Like, when I finally was able to really figure it all out, I took at least five more than I thought. That’s serious! So much money just gone.”
Um. This is the point where I should admit that I took them, but I have no interest in coming clean. In some fucked up way, I feel completely justified. I like seeing him feeling remorseful.
“I woke up one morning on Sarah’s couch–where I slept sitting upright–and looked around me. And it was just all so sad. Everyone was smelly and dirty and wasted. Sarah was locked in her bedroom with some guy, trading sexual favors for drugs. It didn’t bother me for the first few days, because it seemed like a logical thing to do. But that morning, it made me feel sick. I walked outside and started throwing up on the sidewalk. “
I sit there silently, because I really don’t know how to respond. Suddenly I feel guilty for smoking in his living room. I spend too much time extinguishing my cigarette.
“And then I realized that I missed you. Because you give people plants as gifts and you pet strange cats in your neighborhood. You get excited about new soap and stupid Hello Kitty plastic things. And you’re always trying to escape all of this, even if I make it harder for you.”
I put my arm around him. I don’t want to kiss him because I smell like smoke and vomit. And I don’t want to say the wrong thing.
This is the best I can do, in a situation that calls for much, much more.