He hooked me at goodbye!
1 year wasted on a dead relationship
A year ago, the man I once dreamed of marrying messaged me,
‘Breaking up with you was hard. But being without you is worse. I can’t do (it).’
My heart sang louder than Adele live at the O2 Arena.
I invited him over straight away. However, he would come over to my flat in Budapest only during the weekend. I knew that. It was always over the weekends. Friday night, at best. That meant I was doomed to spend the next three days restless.
72 hours yearning for his lean arms to wrap around my waist and for his svelte body to muffle my fears. Followed by 48 hours of blissful indulgence of my five senses. And then, EITHER me shoving bucketloads of popcorn in my downturned mouth after his departure on Sunday night, OR a Monday morning spent together bickering.
Whenever we were in each other’s company for more than two days, I would blow up like a sensitive grenade. He had the trigger in his hand and yet couldn’t comprehend my ‘inexplicable’ bitterness; Clueless that my mood shifted because of the smirk on his face when pointing to where a woman he almost impregnated lived, or because he accused me of being a witch sent to pervert him. Yes, Christian superstition dies hard in some (not so) foreign lands.
Sure, they were my insecurities. But why did he poke the embers and pretended I was insane when he had the red iron in his hand all along? And despite all this, my heart never waived in its incessant burn for him.
The distance between us was roughly forty miles (sixty kilometers on the local odometer), yet, it was an epic journey for Eric to reach my place, taking him at least a couple of hours, occasionally four. The joys of public transportation in a former communist country, ridding for ages in a dark train seemingly about to disintegrate at each crossroad.
Why this country boy had never taken part in the rural migration remained a mystery to me. He would reason he had to care for his family. I would suspect the opposite, sensing he was the one pampered, given the admiration he would display for my ‘talent’ as a chef, watching me prepare… a plain omelet!
We were about to see each other after five weeks of longing, at least for me. During the time we had spent apart, I did my best to save appearances — by this, I mean wearing long pants to hide my King-Kong like hairy legs — but the obvious lack of self-care betrayed my emotional state. I was a wreck after the breakup.
We argued on that, though. According to him, I was the one who had cut our time short the moment I gave my notice period to my landlady and told him about my plan to spend the summer traveling around the Baltic countries.
I had trusted our bond to be strong enough to allow me to express all the facets of my personality; not only the maid in the living-room, and all the rest, but the adventurer too.
And a highly ironic one too, considering that my free-spirit was the reason he had fell for me in the first place.
I got my flight tickets for Riga, the Latvian capital, at a bargain.
Too bad, I was under the flawed premise that ‘compromising’ was quite the same as ‘bargaining’. The difference is that in the former, you equally care about the outcome for the other party. Turned out, loving someone just isn’t enough.
[I’ll fast-forward over the details of the weekend to spare my young readers and keep this article G-rated!]
My love for Eric was far beyond anything I had known before. Both a passionate affair and a refuge for the soul. In him, I had found my twin flame. We understood each other just by reading the subtexts in each other’s eyes. Not that we had many other options. It was either the visual cues, or Google translate.
My friends would tease me,
“Having fun with Toy-Boy? Isn’t it odd for a writer to date a guy with the vocabulary of a three-year-old?
Nevermind… I bet you found other ways to put his tongue to good use!”
I argued that my love(r) wasn’t dumb or lacked education; only his English was a bit rusty. At least, I wanted to believe it. Deep down, I doubted too. I was mindful of all the controversial topics we’d avoid to maintain harmony in our relationship; Same-sex couples, previous partners, family history,… there were a lot of traps.
Kissing was the safest option to silence the blanks.
And it worked! At least until day three, when my lips ran dry and my chin turned red, rubbed raw by his birthing beard, forcing us to pause our smooching.
I was translating his broken sentences into romantic melodies to suit my tempo. But, was there any poetry behind his usual go-to answer, “It’s complicated. I don’t have words. I tell you (later)”? Was I truly bewitched by his magical drum, and not merely charmed?
NB: I did say ‘drum’, not ‘flute’ — it wasn’t just about the sex.
It wasn’t the sole reason, but I admit I was enchanted that Eric played drums as a hobby. A talented drummer and a dreamer. One aiming to climb the world’s highest peaks in winter and spend the rest of the year playing on the biggest festival stages. A ‘rock’ star, in every sense of the word! And I, his fascinated groupie.
Looking back, my legs were more open than our dialogue, but I was committed.
I wanted a happy future for us. At least tenfold the blissful time we had shared before — ie. during the six months prior to our unexpected breakup. I imagined a hippy existence in a van on the road. An artist life on the edge of society. A simple togetherness…once we’d had our grand Eastern European wedding with far more vodka bottles than guests! A serious commitment with an expiry date after five years*.
*What?! ‘Medium-term’ was already a huge deal for me, considering I was even scared to sign up for a credit card. Plus, no matter how wowed I was, I wasn’t oblivious to our clashes!
I learned later (too late!) that the success behind any long-lasting love story was to master the 3C: Compromises, Communication, and Commitment. At least it explains why ours ended. Half-of-one ‘C’ scored out of three wasn’t enough to make it.
To be fair, our couple was doomed from the start. Both of us knew it.
Long ago I was told the name of my soul mate by a clairaudient friend and it wasn’t his, not even close enough so I could pretend my friend had misheard. Surprisingly, Eric was gifted with prophetic visions too. After our first night together, he announced to me with the drama of a great Shakespeare’s play — but not the wording — “I know you hurt me in future…
…You are the one to break with me, one day.”
Way to cast a tragic foreshadow on us…and spoil our Sunday brunch! A snag, not even my Masterchef plain omelet could clear.
I should have forced myself to move on the moment the credits had rolled out at the end of the first act of our romance. Except, I didn’t.
Even after I had moved out of the country, I returned regularly to Budapest to see my dentist (good practitioners are almost as hard to find as decent partners) and… to see him, for multiple encores. I begged Eric to reprise the role of my boyfriend. Always one more time, each new moon cycle, throughout the warmest months of the year.
Then, I would wonder:
Are the tip-toed kisses enough to justify the following heartaches? Will the time in his arms stretch long enough for me to feel less lonely after we part ways? Can our love-making sessions release enough endorphins to last for several days?
Our final (good)bye was my birthday gift; the curtain-closing fight was our Big Bang!
It happened on our last evening together. Drawn by hunger, we had gone out of our Airbnb flat to a nearby supermarket. We were debating options to replenish our forces, him casting his vote for cereals and milk and I leaning for an ancient grains salad with tofu, when someone called his name. He turned around to say hi while I immediately scurried off to hide in another aisle, head as low as humanely possible without risking head-butting another customer.
A few minutes later Eric came to get me. “Why you leave and not say hi?”, he asked.
“Well, you didn’t want your friends to know that you had a girlfriend!”
“It’s okay, I don’t care now…” and with what sounded like a giggle, he added,
“now, I don’t love you.”
Tick… Tock… 2 ½ days…
I exploded, but in tears rather than anger; I was still in love.
Eric looked perfectly fine, ready to perform some cool Tik Tok moves, while I, eyes fogged and knees down on the bitumen, was running my fingers all over the parking lot desperately trying to collect the bits of my heart before he stepped onto them.
This battle-less combat was pretty much our last interaction.
We took our shower separately, slept side-by-side without brushing skins, and the next morning we gave each other a Soviet hug — as cold as their winter temperatures. He wore this ‘whatever’ look on his face. I snorted.
This time I promised myself, it would be the last! And it was indeed the last time I saw him. Yet, not the last time he intruded in my life.
Eric was always lurking in the background, penetrating my thoughts whenever I looked at skyscrapers, like the ones he used to sneakily climb, and disturbing my peace when I would hear the rumbles of a metal band, his favorite white noise.
Cosmo taught me that there were five stages to survive a break-up; just like coping with the death of a loved one. I had yelled and cried enough to have gone through the stages of anger and depression. I figured I had clumped up the phases of denial and bargaining both at once, negotiating for meet-up (and make-out) sessions, for several months, long after the breakup.
So for heaven’s sake, why was I stuck in purgatory? This limbo where I was single, however not emotionally available. When would the final stage — acceptance — finally come?
I had tried all the tricks:
- I sought comfort in buckets of Haagen-Dazs, only to feel sicker, not cured, three tubs later.
- I dated another man, hoping that it would help me move on, just like getting a new pup can help you deal with the loss of the one you once called yours. Younger, taller, well-trained, and highly educated, he should have been the perfect fix.
Yet, the farm boy with broken English was still in my mind.
- I attempted therapy too. Sort of. I entrusted my sorrow to my closest friends. I had wasted enough time crying over him, I wasn’t going to waste money as well by visiting a licensed therapist.
- I even shared one of these ‘I’m so over you’ post on Facebook, believing that if hundreds of my contacts read that I was over my ex once and for all, I would integrate it too.
It’s been over a year now and I can finally watch his latest Messenger story without feeling a wave of despair crashing upon me, burying me for hours deep under my blankets. Through it all, I grew immensely. I learned that steady relationships aren’t always as easy as A, B, C, but they must include a lot of C, C, C.
Love doesn’t hurt; what stings is the absence of it. That’s why I wanted it back so badly… And that wrongfully led me to think I wanted him back.
I was haunted by Eric’s absence because I couldn’t deal with his rejection. I couldn’t bear the stigma of being unwanted. I hated feeling sent back to eighth grade again, being the last one to be picked in PE class or at school parties.
Ultimately, I wanted my ex back, just so that I could finally move on.
And am I free now that I unveiled the true nature of my pain? I’d say likely ‘yes’… But, I guess, the next relationship will confirm it!
Tinder, here I come!
¤ Many thanks to the Annette Street Writer’s Group
¤ Names and places have been altered to protect the privacy of ‘Eric’.