Reflections on the remains of a relationship
Both my dear parents, who read my weekly posts, have advised me not to write so intimately for the whole world to see. Though cancel culture still runs rampant, validating their fears of reprisal as during the Cultural Revolution, I have written freely for the most part. I have avoided writing about sex, drugs, and rock and roll however, not because I deem the content inappropriate, but because I have nothing insightful to say about them. However, I have not written about love and crushes. Perhaps it’s because I remain a romantic at heart, that it’s the one thing I refrain from baring to the world. But at a certain point, it does also seem dishonest not to, almost a lie by omission as I write about every other thought that crosses my mind.
In college, I had a friend who briefly dated a blogger. When they broke up, she posted all sorts of vitriol on her blog, lambasting him in all manner of personal attack. The running joke thereafter was that one should never date a writer of any sort. A blog would be one thing, but imagine being castigated in a newspaper op-ed, or cast as a villain in a novel! The absolute horror! Who would have thought that I would be penning one of these a few years later?
I miss her. I miss her wit, her warmth, and her laughter. I miss how she brought out the best in me and brought me out to the best places. I miss her unequivocal communication and acceptance of my many idiosyncrasies.
Before we started dating, my dermatologist had prescribed a battery of skin tests. For each of them, I had the patches placed on my back on Monday, taken off on Wednesday, and then reviewed again on Friday. The first Monday, I was told that I didn’t need to come to the Wednesday appointments if I had someone to take off the tape and take a photograph my back, a friend, a partner, or a parent. It was a sad moment when I realized I didn’t have anyone to help me and it was easier for me to return to the clinic. The city is a lonely place. When I received the next set of tests, I didn’t have to go in because I had someone to help me take them off.
I remember all the good times we had. I remember parties in lofts downtown. I remember our two favourite restaurants, in Chinatown and Koreatown. I remember trips to Europe. I remember meeting her friends for the first time and vice versa. I remember dancing together in clubs. I remember planning dinners on Sunday afternoons.
But it wasn’t only the excursions or the experiences. It was also the nights spend talking about everything and the days spent doing nothing. It was making popcorn on the stovetop, grabbing groceries together, and even asking each other how the day went. It was her very presence that I reveled in. We spent many great nights working alongside one other, her drawing and me writing, taking turns playing our very different music. Many of the things we cooked, movies we watched, and songs we listened to are now tinged with her tones.
She taught me a lot of things about myself. I learned that I was a fast eater and a heavy sleeper. I learned that I was quicker to annoyance I had thought. I learned that I was absolutely a bro. I learned that I had inherited my mother’s tendency to overplan when traveling. I learned that cooking is quite easy.
One of the things I learned was that I’m an irrational slave to routine. I had always thought that I was a free spirit, untethered by anyone’s arbitrary rules, but never realized how dependent I was on my own routines. I charted out a week’s meals in advance when doing groceries. I metered my phone usage so I could charge it at the same time every day. I craved the structure plans provide, and any deviation quickly made me feel out of control. She learned to conform to my schedule while teaching me to ride with disorder, to make decisions on the fly, and to accept that things don’t always go as I want them to.
I’m sorry we never went to Yukyuk’s. I’m sorry I wasn’t more patient and more caring. I’m sorry we never did those dance lessons. I’m sorry I was pretentious and elitist. I’m sorry I didn’t buy you more flowers. I’m sorry you didn’t feel heard. I’m sorry for making you cry.
We were very different people but didn’t see that as a big issue. I was a fast walker and she was a slow walker. She drew, and no one could decipher my handwriting, much less play Pictionary with me. I wrote, and she couldn’t tell me the last time she finished a book. She had an eclectic, punkish style, and I was clean cut and preppy. She was sometimes overly sensitive, and I was sometimes inexcusably caustic. I meticulously tracked my spending, and she often didn’t even know how much money she made the prior month. She was a romantic, and I no longer knew how I stood in that regard. But the important thing is that we were in love. Until we weren’t.
I would defer to the well-worn “separated amicably citing irreconciled differences in opinion”. Though we were both torn about the breakup, we agreed it was better to rip off the bandage instead of returning to the same patterns of behaviour. I think it’s unlikely that she’ll ever seen this piece since she never followed my blog and blocked me on social media to make a clean cut. But although I wrote this mainly for myself, I still hold out hope that she’ll learn how much I appreciate her, and that I wish her nothing but the best.
I hope that you find successes with your work that paid the bills and your passion that doesn’t pay the bills just yet. I wish you well in all your future relationships, platonic, familial, and romantic. I hope you enjoyed the time we had together as much as I did. I hope you still believe in love and you find the love that you’re looking for.
Although I’m not sure where I stand regarding romanticism about life, I still believe in love, in the one that’s out there for me. I’m not sure when I’ll find it, or when I’ll start looking again, but I know it’s out there. Thank you for the time you’ve spent in my life.