we knew from the start that things fall apart, intentions shatter…
I’m all confused when the phone rings because it’s late and I just got off of it and nothing that needs my attention at this time of night is a good thing.
I’ve literally never heard someone crying so hard. If I wasn’t already familiar with the New York exchange, I probably wouldn’t have even known who it was.
“Ella what’s wrong?”
More tears, sniffles, and mutters under her breath that sound like grunts. She is speaking in patois, and I know from that cue that she is angry. I have no idea what she’s saying but it isn’t good.
“El what happened babe?” I ask in my most tender voice, my heart literally breaking at hearing how distraught she is.
“We’ve just been fighting. Bad. All the time. About stupid shit. Constantly. And you know that’s not us. And I just got so tired of not saying shit to keep the peace. Earlier this week she called the doctor and told them we weren’t going through with IVF. Without even telling me. She came home, announced it all proud like she was making some kinda grand declaration, said it all flippantly while she was looking through the mail. I just…lost my shit.”
I love my friend, her lover and partner of (seven?) eight years. But she’s an asshole. Plain and simple. And this doesn’t sound completely out of the realm of probable.
“I accused her of not wanting to go through with it because she didn’t wanna have to deal with explaining it to work.”
Because she likes control. Because she is a do-er. Because Mariella is the type of woman that doesn’t believe in closed doors, only things she needs to tear down. Because she doesn’t believe that anything can or should stand in her way. Least of all the things she creates herself.
“I mean it’s like she only wants me in her life the way she wants me in her life. On her terms. The way she shapes it. And I guess when I was younger that wasn’t a huge thing but now… I dunno. Do you know she wouldn’t even let me take that job in Europe? But she doesn’t make it home before midnight. Works at least 6 days a week if not more. Even when she is home she’s always on that goddamn Blackberry.”
and that’s when she flip and get on some ‘ol another lonely night seem like I’m on the side…
“You think there’s someone else?”
The phone grows silent.
“You do not think she’s fucking somebody else. Y’all have been together for (7?) 8 years. She wouldn’t just throw that away.” Right?
“Not her. Me.”
She tells me about her, this other woman, this yoga instructor she met uptown. That nothing has happened between them but she’s been there for her. A friend. Kept her from being lonely. Listened to her. Talked to her. Wiped her tears. Held her hand. Made her smile.
Easily found a way to fill the gaps left by the one that shares her bed.
“You fucking her?”
“No. I wouldn’t cheat. But I feel…something. For her.”
“You think it’s just because you’re lonely?”
“I met her last fall. When we first moved. Two days after we first moved.”
“WHAT?!?! This has been going on since LAST YEAR?!?”
“Not like that. It’s just been… building.”
but yo I need some sort of love in my life, you dig me? While politicin‘ with my sister from New York City, she said she know this ball player and he think I’m pretty…
It’s always been amazing to me the person you can turn into when faced with the alienation of affection.
“You told her?”
“Yeah. Last night.”
“She said she didn’t care. That she didn’t have time to hold my hand every little time I felt lonely because she had a real job that didn’t involve being responsible for my insecurities.”
Knowing them, knowing Mariella as I do, I am pretty sure this a direct quote from her lips, probably spoken in her rapid fire intelligent way and followed with muttered Spanish underneath her breath.
“I think she’s just checked out.”
Most marriages don’t even make it 8 years. 43% of all marriages that fail do so within the first 2 years.
“I left my key on the table by the door. She went to bed on our argument. Just stopped talking. Went to sleep. I left in the middle of the night.”
“She bought that place for you. You know she wants you there.”
“And my ring.”
That makes us both go silent. I imagine Mari waking up, finding the apartment cold and quiet, seeing Ella’s keys laying next to her thick platinum and diamond band by the door. Despite her faults, my heart breaks for her.
For them both, really.
“I bought a ticket home to Jamaica. One way. Gonna stay there for awhile. Yoga Chick wants to move back to Cali.”
“She asked me to come.”
I don’t have it in me to judge her. I can’t. I know what it feels like to want to build a life with someone and knowing that maybe the whispered desires you express in the safety of the sheets at night, might not be what actually comes to be when the moon becomes the sun and it’s time to act on it.
And I can only imagine what I would do if someone stretched out their hand to me when I was feeling alone, offered me the life I wanted and needed.
“So maybe you should go,” I say quietly, and I hope that between this moment and the next time I speak to Mariella I can find a way to eloquently explain why I would say such a thing so she won’t hate me.
“I’ve been considering it. I like her alot La. She’s dope. You’d love her.”
“And she’s…kind. And thoughtful. And stable. And emotionally available.”
“All the things Mari is not. Got it.”
“It would still be over even if I’d never met the other chick.”
“It’s not me you have to convince.”
I hear her sigh on the other side of the country. I wanna hug her but I’m sure I’ve already overstepped my boundaries and betrayed some loyalties.
“(7?) 8 years is a long time to throw away.”
“I know it is. I love her. But I stayed about 5 years too long. It got comfortable. We chose to try and just bear the fundamental differences about us and the way we choose to live our lives rather than having a frank and honest conversation in the beginning about what we were willing to tolerate and what we wanted and needed.”
“And I’m not 18 anymore.”
I remember not too long ago having the conversation with First Love that he could never love me at 24 as he did at 18. Because I am not that girl anymore. That we are strangers to each other now in a way we never have been. Not because we are no longer together. Only partially because we have lived apart so long. But mostly because we have changed so much. Because we have grown. Because we are not who were were back then. Because we will probably never be those people again. Because that person has rolled into the larger picture of who we are becoming and transformed and molded itself into different shapes in our lives. I understand that.
But I guess it is different seeing it in practice.
And with a Yoga Chick involved.
“I wish I’d loved smarter,” she says to me, wistfully. “I’ll call you when I get back from Jamaica.”
And then she is gone.