Date 3.1 – 3.?
Julio Cortázar wrote en Las babas del Diablo on the subject of telling a story: “Siempre contarlo, siempre quitarse esa cosquilla molesta del estómago” (Always tell it, always get rid of that bothersome tickle in your stomach), so here goes…
I did not chronicle our dates because I thought I wouldn’t need to. Because I thought they wouldn’t end in the same tragic comedy as the others. Because I thought that the third try was the one where I did everything right. But I was wrong.
Unlike my usual impulse to immediately dive headfirst –oblivious to my sub-par swimming ability- into the deep end of any new situation in which I find myself (i.e. job, relationship, dance, etc), I took my time with you, so that when we actually met, I knew you. At least I knew the you of our letters and of the voice in my telephone. I was developing an increasingly large crush on your brain and was already enamored with the sound of your voice, so as I walked toward you for the first time it felt as though I was greeting a friend I had known my whole life and hadn’t seen in years. At the end of the night on our first date, we stood next to my car saying goodbye underneath the light of the almost full moon, and you reached for my hand and leaned in to kiss me. My senses processed the warmth of your hand, your smell, and the sweetness of your lips simultaneously as one word: home.
The next few weeks were a happy honeymoon of utter infatuation, frequent contact and the small joys of partial cohabitation, and then. you. were. gone.
It was okay though because you were coming back in a few weeks, or so… once you attended to some things in your life before us, as we were rapidly becoming an “us.”
But you didn’t come back.
You were sick, you were busy, our schedules weren’t matching up, you were tired, you had a headache, you were still sick, and then you were better, but you had to take care of your nieces and nephews. Then the tone of your messages changed, I stopped being querida o cariñosa, and the content became brief and superficial. You no longer said that you missed me. And when you stopped voluntarily telling me where you were and began ignoring my texts if they were sent at night is when I realized you had gone back to her.
Still you didn’t tell me. I asked leading questions, and still you wouldn’t be honest with me. A month later- not in person or on the phone, but in an email– you finally admitted what I already knew, and added “I am moving out of my apartment this week and in with her.” You continued: “We can’t stay away from each other, even for the littlest things like going to the grocery store.” Then as though the loss was not sufficiently agonizing, you flaunted her academic accomplishments in my face by telling me: “Sometimes I even spend days on campus with her.” That she is childless and therefore free to pursue her PhD without limitations adds a certain sting that only a mother who has sacrificed her own academic ambitions can fully appreciate.
In an email full of details about the extent to which you had betrayed me, what you did not say, not even once, in the entire confessional was I’m sorry.
Heartbroken and disillusioned, with my faith in humanity on slightly shakier ground, I consoled myself with your lack of car-fixing knowledge, inability to dance and dislike of vegetables. I ignored that in every other way, we fit together like butter and honey and decided that exes aside, we wouldn’t have worked out anyway. Even so, you could’ve at least exited with a little more grace.