It’s 3:56am on the Fourth of July. I can’t sleep, because this isn’t my bed. This isn’t my apartment. I can’t sleep because, you aren’t the man I fell in love with a year ago. A year ago when we took an impromptu trip to Montreal in the spring after my college graduation, I felt like I finally found someone who I could stand to be around for a long time. I couldn’t say it aloud to you for another two months, and even then, I whispered it. I love you. You whispered it back. Those two lovers, who had wildly moved to California together, are strangers to me now. I remember them from time to time and envy their boldness, passion and recklessness.
You told me recently that you believed I was too good for you. It’s ironic and cruel that I couldn’t see that until you broke me and brought me to my lowest point.
You moved to Chicago with me only six months ago. A new city felt like a fresh start. We were both on the edge of being unemployed. I worked as a freelancer, and you worked at a pizza joint down the street. We were managing life fine even though we were carrying heavy anxieties about finding careers and paying our debts. It was kind of beautiful just spending all day together in my aunt’s tiny basement apartment. I miss bingeing Netflix and going grocery shopping together every day. I miss sleeping in and taking long midday naps with you on the couch. I loved just being around you and being able to lean over and kiss you whenever I felt like it.
Even then, we fought because we were incredibly bored and living in that dark basement without Vitamin D. It was my favorite kind of fighting though. The kind of fights that left us hugging it out and saying how lucky we were to just have each other.
Those aren’t the kind of fights we’ve had lately.
I admit that I am equally to blame for our downfall, but not for lack of caring. At some point, I put work before you, and you put your social life before me. The difference is that I was working for us. You were drinking for you.
Your birthday was Friday June 30th, and as usual, I had to work a closing shift at the office. I had made a rash decision to buy us round trip flights to Amsterdam for a surprise birthday gift. The stress of spending a month’s pay all at once had me down 5 pounds.
I trusted that the stress and anxiety would be worth it in the end. To relax with you in a coffee shop in Amsterdam, to walk next to the canal at night holding your hand, to ride bikes like idiots around the city, $1,400 would be a small price to pay for those moments. On your birthday I wanted to give you an experience. I wanted to give you something more than the temporary indulgence you would have gotten from a cake or a beer. I wanted something for us to remember what we had started as.
We had not spent more than a few hours together all week, since I had been hustling from one job to the next due to the impending credit card payment. Leaving the apartment before sunrise, and clocking into my second job at dusk, I was losing weight, sleep and patience. The night before your birthday I had almost cracked from the physical exhaustion. I cried but collected myself. Instead of giving me comfort, you asked me to go out with you and your friends for your birthday the following night. Since I had already made plans to surprise you, I suggested we meet at home when I got off work. You agreed.
Before leaving that night, I hid your other birthday presents in the apartment. The Supersonic DVD, a harmonica and a new set of headphones. Little trinkets to let you know that I didn’t forget your special day.
I nearly sprinted home from work that Friday. On the train, skimming through all the playlist we made each other on Spotify, I was trying to find the perfect mix for Amsterdam. In the end, I decided we could watch Moonrise Kingdom since it was one of those Wes Anderson movies that drew us together during those late nights in college. I got home, ordered you dinner, opened a bottle of wine and I even lit mother fucking candles. Two hours later I was in the exact same spot on the living room floor, sitting in my worn out sexy underwear with a cold plate of noodles in front of me and a warm bottle of wine. Under the pillow hiding were two printed tickets to Amsterdam and a $1,385.00 receipt.
Staring at my phone, waiting for you to tell me you were finally on your way back, I was struck by how sad and pathetic this picture must look.
I asked myself how I got to this point. When did I lose track of my self-worth? When did I let myself become so vulnerable with a man who could break me in half just by choosing a drink instead of me? When did I settle for someone who didn’t even value me enough to show up on time?
I understand. You were right. I am better than you.
Be the man I deserve or don’t be with me at all.
P.S. Mom, start packing for Amsterdam.