Laying in bed one night recently, Ms. K was pressed against my back. With her arm hooked around my waist, she was, as she likes to call it, a big spoon to my little spoon. Content and warm, I began to drift off into the gentle waves of my unconscious only to hear her ask,
“Did you ever want to break up with me?”
Jerked back awake, I hesitated to answer — not because there were times when I had secretly considered ending the relationship, but because the question was far too loaded for pre-bedtime conversation. No, I cautiously answered, not apart from the two times we actually did break up.
(Consider this post some relationship DVD extras. Or rather a missing part of the narrative.)
The first break up came a little over a month after we started dating. For those who were reading at the time, I was enjoying myself. Highly. I wasn’t taking things very seriously because for the first time in a very long time I was having fun. There was booze, hot sex, and staying out late on a work night to be had. But at the same time I had my Lesbian Red Flag Detector set to kill and with each successive date I proceeded to interrogate the shit out of Ms. K. In hindsight I feel bad because I probably came across more as a member of the CIA than a fun date, but the point is that alcohol makes for good truth serum and I learned far more than I needed to know — far more than was relevant.
Armed with too much information I came to the conclusion to break things off and sometime in late August 2007, after blowing her off a little, I sent her an email outlining why I thought continuing dating was not in my best interest.
“Anyone else I would have told to fuck off,” Ms. K later said about my email. Instead she wrote a strong rebuttal and told me why I was wrong and why I should give things another chance. She made a convincing point and the burgeoning relationship lived to see another day. Actually what she said was, “I can completely understand why you don’t want to get involved with someone carrying around a lot of baggage . . . . I feel like maybe it’s possible that because of what you’ve been through with other women, you really aren’t giving me the benefit of the doubt.”
(I found out much later that my initial email had not only been mean, but had caused her to cry while at a her family’s Thanksgiving, Summer Edition. Yes, I am an asshole.)
Speaking of mean . . . this brings me to the second time Ms. K and I broke up, which was last December.
To simplify a long story, let’s just say that Ms. K had enough of my bitchy snark. (Hey, it’s a defense mechanism!) She met me after work one night in Union Square and as we huddled under the awning of a subway entrance trying to stay out of the steady drizzle, I watched her nervously pick at the the hole in her brown striped cashmere glove. She obviously had something to tell me, but her mouth was having a hard time forming the words.
“I . . . don’t think I can do this anymore,” she finally said after more than a few halting starts.
Oh, no way. No way she’s breaking up with ME, I thought.
We stood there for a long time, conspicuously positioned by the entrance of a busy subway station. Intervals of people pushed by us, umbrellas opened and closed, a German tourist asked us for directions, unaware that it was Not A Good Time.
When I asked her why she was breaking up with me, she reluctantly explained I was mean and that I didn’t make her feel good about herself.
I can’t remember what I said or what sort of defense I had, but I do remember that all I wanted to do was leave that perch above the stairwell and head back to Brooklyn. I was totally done.
We stood there awkwardly some more, unsure how to leave things. Goodbye? Nice knowing you? I watched as she continued to play with the hole in her glove as another wave of commuters flooded by.
At some point there was an energy shift and Ms. K started to back track. Life force quietly seeped into the corpse of our relationship. One of her gloved hands reached into my pocket and found mine, her touch rekindling our affection for each other. The warmth of her hand felt like water after a drought.
She later said that at one point I had looked at her with hatred and that’s what did it — that’s what made her regret ending things. Her heart, she confessed, would have broken if I hated her.
Suddenly exhausted from the emotional lurches, I motioned to the subway below, “Let’s get out of here and find someplace to talk.” Standing on the subway platform, we held each other as we waited for the Q train to take us back to Brooklyn.