My memory is a blur of one concert after another. Were you ever really there?
Over the course of two years I must’ve interviewed Chiodos over half a dozen times. Definitely over half a dozen times. They seemed to be the never-ending assignment and always about you.
Were you there with me that time?
I can’t remember if you were ever there and yet I know you would have had to have been. You would have had to be there in the beginning, at least. You were the reason I was obsessed; the reason why every one of their songs reminded me a time I was dying to get back to.
♫Don’t let this die, we may never fall in love again
It’s hard but worth the wait when it’s over… ♫
Like so many words I’ve heard before, these particular lyrics came like a knife of forgotten memories. All, but one.
I should have never moved in with her or had anything to do with her and her family. It’s not as though I had a choice – living from couch to couch and out of my car at a different a house every week. So much of my life wasn’t good back then, but you were. You helped get me back on my feet – moving me from N–‘s house to J–‘s house and from J–‘s house to S–‘s house.
It was the best situation I had been in for a long time, but I hated going home to S–‘s house after your parents sat you down, insisting that I was spending the night too often. Mostly, I hated being away from you from one night to the next.
We were so completely in love – a typical summer romance, but better. It was Fall. It was my favorite time of year. There was no better time to start a romance, wrapped in each other’s arms to keep warm through the nights.
I let go of my previous life, putting the likes of Happy Valley permanently behind me. I traded it in for a temporary desk job in South Salt Lake and sacrificed sleepless nights on a broken couch in the dark basement of an unfamiliar family just to be close to you. And you know what? It worked. I wouldn’t have asked for more or thought that I could do better.
I took on some extra odd jobs for nights you weren’t around, going line-by-line over hand-written receipts for her parents car sales business. Most of the hours were lonely attempts to organize someone else’s mess, but I enjoyed the work. Every hour, every penny in my mind went towards a life we could spend together. I had no doubt I wanted to spend the rest of my life with you.
I think that’s how it came up. I think that’s where she managed to pry, asking question after question with that fake, high-pitched baby voice spewing out sounds rather than words as if “Bleh!” were a viable expression.
“Weren’t you almost married before?” she asked.
“Sort of,” I said, typing in more numbers into the computer.
“And wasn’t that like,” she said like all the time, “like, only a few months ago.”
“Sort of.” I wasn’t doing anything to provoke the conversation further. I was just minding my own business, working on things that I thought were dependable sources of income. That would just be one of the things I was wrong about when it came to S– and her family.
“Well, then how do you know? Why don’t you still just marry that other guy?”
“Because I don’t love him I guess.”
“But you did.”
It was more of a blunt statement than any kind of question, and it was enough to make me stop what I was doing and see what it was she really was getting at.
“Ya, I did. He was an important part of my life and I really didn’t treat him well. I loved him. I still love him, it just isn’t the same ya know?”
“How can you still love him and love D–?”
“I don’t. I mean. I do. But…” Now she had me thinking. “B– was one of the best things that happened to me. I met him at a time he didn’t think I would really be open to going out with a guy like him, but he made me laugh. I loved his energy and his willingness to get out there and try. But bad things happened. Really bad things happened. And ya know what? Months later when I showed up on his doorstep, he was there for me. It was technically only our second date and by the third date, on Christmas Day, we moved in together.”
“Lauuul my gosh!” It was another one of her sounds – like an over annunciated hipster pronounced lol, only before hipsters started pronouncing text-speak like it was an actual, real thing.
“He used to write me these cards, like these little love letters telling me how much he loved me and we had this thing where, I dunno, I can’t really describe it, but they were cutsie things based on mannerisms that we really only had with each other. I miss that. I miss him.”
“Why don’t you talk to him?”
“We didn’t part ways very well. I really hurt him. I don’t know what I was doing. I freaked out I guess. My therapist says I have a real problem letting people love me so that’s probably it. My therapist didn’t like Brandon very much anyway. But ya, I miss him. I miss the way it used to be. It was easy living together and doing everything for each other.”
She was quiet for a moment only because she was answering text messages on her phone. I took the opportunity to think about what it was I was saying. I really was going to marry this guy. Why didn’t I? Why did I have to go and fuck things up?
Fear set in. That kind of backwards, double-jeopardy fear like you’ve out done yourself this time and really fucked things up for no other reason than second guessing your second guesses. It is confusing, but that’s because it really doesn’t make sense. What if I had duped myself and purposefully destroyed everything in one, over-dramatic swoop because I was incapable of receiving love?
By the time she looked up, I’m sure I had one of those ohmyGodwhathaveIdone looks on my face.
“You should talk to him,” she said. “At least tell him that you still love him.”
I knew it was a bad idea, but she had a point. I needed to know why I had just said those things. Sure I loved him, but did I still love him like that?
I felt the sudden and familiar pit in my stomach as nausea overwhelmed me. Oh God! I had been here before. This is exactly how our relationship ended. I loved him and still I believed I loved someone else. I left because someone else was there, giving me the attention that I insisted I was no longer getting from what had been the longest relationship that had survived me so far in life – 8 months.
What if I was doing the same thing with D–? What if I just thought I was in love with him and he was just this fling that was ultimately going to drive me into complete disinterest because he would flip flop between being overly attached and completely distant like P– had just done to me?
I thought about what she had said for days. Three days to be exact. Then she found me again, buried in work at her dad’s desk in the basement office. She asked me how I was doing and all I could say was, “Horrible.”
She had unlocked an insanity – a complete insecurity in me over my ability to make any real decisions for myself. I was, after all, constantly against myself. Just the fact that I was practically incapable of allowing love into my life was evidence enough that I didn’t really know what love was at all. So maybe I wasn’t in love with D– at all. Maybe I was just playing out the same old scenarios from every relationship before now – being asked by his parents to no longer share rooms like M–‘s parents had done so long ago. After all, I thought I might be in love with one of his friends at the time that I met him and switched gears. That certainly wasn’t a new story!
“I’m going to do it,” I told S–. “I’m going to tell B– I still love him and see if he’ll still marry me.”
The idea of it was nerve-racking. I had to pick an outfit. I had to change my hair. I had to do everything to look my best for no other reason than I so desperately wanted to hear that he still loved me and all could be forgiven.
Insecurity filled the gap between this decisive moment and the last time I had seen D–. It had been days. In the depths of my mind, desperate for security I somehow believed that this time apart meant we could never make it work. It was too much. It was too hard! He had to work and was going to school. I had to work and couldn’t stay enrolled in classes to save my life! My life was going nowhere and somehow this was all his fault.
Without warning, I stopped calling him. I stopped sending out texts insisting how I couldn’t wait to see him next. I didn’t bring him lunch at work. I didn’t wait at his house in the evening until he came home from a long day just so I could lay in his lap while he meticulously drew mathematical lines on blank pages that would somehow, someday turn him into an architect.
When I did see him, everything about him annoyed me. I had no patience with him. The way he laughed; the way he sounded like a complete idiot all of a sudden, despite knowing he was one of the smartest people I knew. It seemed as though I had discovered his complete disregard for the obvious, and with that, I could no longer even look him in the eye without feeling some sort of regret for having fallen for a joke.
When I first moved to be close to him, he used to tuck me in at night and sit at my bedside until I fell asleep – spending every moment we could together before the adults in our life weighed in on their, “What will people think?” opinions of our young love. Now, I just lay in bed at night, watching television reruns of shows B– and I used to watch each night together, calculating the complexity of my heart and which side of this black hole was the actual truth of how I felt and where I belonged.
I knew that at times I couldn’t even stand him. He seemed gullible and overly amused by everything. I felt that. My annoyance was very real to me, but I didn’t understand it. Why? At the same time, I loved him more than anything or anyone, yet somehow believed the real love of my life was someone I had so easily left behind.
♫If you believed what you felt you would be in love…♫
♫I’ll drown in my consideration… Baby, this won’t get any easier…♫