Memo to Myself
She has eyes the color of hoarfrost. White skin, not albino, but damn close. I had decided that for my sanity to stop writing about her. My shrink said it would help. He was wrong. I looked forward to sitting with that damn legal pad, scribbling away hour after hour, trying to write her out of my mind. Each sentence resembled the entire relationship, agony wrapped in a warm coat of pleasure. I wasn’t so much getting her out of my system as reliving what had trapped me. Trapped? No, that’s not right. I where I had wanted to be. So, I did it. I stopped writing and convinced myself that I needed to talk it out. The phone there the whole time. I tapped the Voice Memos ap and talked to myself. Stream of consciousness. Except, it didn’t seem like I was talking to myself or the phone, no; the difference is that the more I spoke, the more she was in the room. I was finally saying what needed to be said. Now, I am stuck with a phone full of this obsessive crap. She isn’t only in my head; she is my pocket too.
Today. It needed to end this. I first deleted the text messages. Good god there were over 1,000 of them. The voice memos. I need to get rid of this shit. Okay, I want to see what I said 7 months ago. One last listen. Can’t hurt. Might be funny.
Uh…. This is strange. Okay… Okay… so I fucked up. They say that it is a bad idea to get involved with someone you work with, but I did it anyhow. I mean, with over 1,000 people in that building I figured the world was big enough that we didn’t really work together so what was the harm. But how could I not notice you? I mean those eyes and that skin across the room at the sandwich shop. I sat there sipping my soda and didn't take my eyes off of you. I couldn’t hear it, but I saw how you looked when you laughed and how you kept pushing your blond hair behind your left shoulder. Hell, I barely touched my sandwich and when you and your friend left, I wrapped my sandwich back up to follow you down the street like some sort of stalker. I almost danced when I saw you turn into our building….
Man, I was a goner the first time I saw her. She was so far out of my league it was sad. What’s that old saying about a lightning bolt?
… Holidays were tough. She couldn't get away from her family — her husband. I was such a jerk to my family, moping around the dinner table. Sis knew what was up, but nobody else had a clue. I would sit there eating turkey, nodding to people and asking myself if she was thinking about me right at the same moment. Well, at least this year everybody knows and they are sure that I am through with that craziness. It disappointed Mom when the story came out. After what dad pulled that time, how could she not be. I guess I am a chip off the old block. But I can pull this off. Pretty funny to be recording this in the car on the way to their house. I am such an asshole.
People get dragged into these things. Maybe that is my biggest regret. It’s strange how friends want you to be happy and do their own little rationalizations around that. Ray didn’t hesitate to introduce me when I found out where she worked in the building. He’s a good guy. But is he? He even knows her husband. I told him right off that I was taken by her at a distance. He knew the score. Perhaps it’s just the “greater asshole” theory. I was the greater asshole, so he was in the clear. I don’t know, but it didn’t take long to create our network of conspirators. Maybe they were living vicariously. Racy entertainment. We were sure giving off a buzz when we were in the room together. Everybody in the circle got to live a little dangerously…..
Wow, I was a junkie looking for a fix. On the outside it all started so innocently. A new friend. Ray did his thing, and we took some coffee breaks together. She was so easy to talk to. Music, books, gossip. In a 20 minute break we clicked. That was the problem. Every time we met, it just felt so natural. Our old break buddies had to have noticed we stopped showing up, but neither of us cared. We weren’t hurting anyone.
…I was lying to myself from the first cup of coffee. Looking at her up close, hearing her low voice, I wanted her. That same old feeling, the heaviness in my chest and little twitches between my legs. What’s that thing about pheromones? Yea, chatted away and the whole time I was breathing her in. I anticipated the smell of her perfume, not flowery. Citrus? Just a hint that I caught when I walked behind her to a table. Man, I started living for those breaks 2 times a day. This is the shit I can’t get out of my head. The feeling in my body when I think about those first conversations. I’m a good person. I knew what I was really feeling. I should have stopped it cold. God, how many times did I get in my car to drive home and yell at myself? What an idiot.
I still marvel at the ease with which she lied. Her husband, her family, her friends. I saw her do it. Heard her on her phone talking to him. There wasn’t a trace of guilt, a hint of hesitation. I mean, I lied too, but I didn’t have a wife. I was the home wrecker. Imagine that. Somehow, all the chances she was taking made me feel like I was a better person. Morally superior. Perhaps I was the better liar. The fog of self-deception I generated around myself was the actual big lie.
It was right about this time of year that we crossed the bridge of no return. She kept telling me that she and her husband were essentially done. Their marriage was a shell, and she wanted out. I am not one of those people whose life is always filled by another person. I have never had a new relationship lined up to leave the current one. I didn’t want this clue, but she told me she was having an affair with her current husband when she left her first one. Good god, she once told me she had never gone more than a couple of weeks without sex since she was 16. I wish, I told her. She is so beautiful. It just made sense to me. When I think about how it never occurred to me I was that bridge guy until she left her husband. Fuck… what a moron….
… A business thing she told him. A holiday party. I loved that bar. She had never seen live jazz and fell in love with it immediately. Yea, I was a little buzzed and said I just wanted to kiss her. A married woman. For fuck’s sake. But when she didn’t hesitate and said, then you should, it was over. She had even thought to turn off the location function on her phone. So damned smooth about the deception. Second nature….
Good lord, the sex. I had never been with such a beautiful woman. It was like winning the lottery. She just laughed, both of us naked, when I asked if she was sure. And there it was again. I was the good guy. She was making the mistake. She was the bigger asshole. Hey, I had permission. What kind of lunatic thinks that? Yea, this damned lunatic….
The sex never stopped being great. And it never stopped being sex, not lovemaking, even when we professed our love for each other. We would stand in the street yelling at each other and she would squeal away in her car screaming all sorts of motherfuckers out of the window. I would slink into my apartment, toss back a couple of shots of whiskey, smoke a joint and shake my head, yelling fuck! Fuck! Fuck! at the TV. The drama was exhausting. I wasn’t sleeping and scheduled more appointments with my shrink. I didn’t pay attention to a word he advised because a couple days after the blow-ups she would show up at my door, smile, touch my face and say, hey big boy, wanna fuck? And away we went. So much for my will power.
I don’t know. Is this helping? What a schmuck. I knew, I mean, I knew it would all change after she left him for good. Pretty damn dramatic her pulling off her wedding ring and putting it on the nightstand as she slipped into bed. I remember watching her doing that, two ideas spinning in my head. Thank god I don’t have to feel that ring when I take her hand. And, uh oh, now she has no other place to go. I mean, she got that little apartment, but there was no more excuse for not being with each other all the time. We both said we loved each other so that should have been a totally good thing, but I stared at the ring until she turned off the light. Yea, buddy, you knew didn’t you and you didn’t do a fucking thing about it….
Look, I totally understood the in love phase. Great sex, every word important, tangled up in each other watching TV or walking down the street. Been there, done that. But that wonderful lustiness fades some over time and then you have to find the bigger themes in a relationship, the level balance point at the top of the fulcrum. I had been in a 5 year couple, had been through all of that. I actually knew a couple whose marriage started just like this with infidelity. They were happy years later, found their soulmates, so I had a working example in my head. But what I never did figure out is how to stay alive inside when the drama fades, when the adrenaline and worry about being caught doesn’t tinge every meeting. She took away my drug.
I saw her today. God damn it. Walked right into her. I was having a good day. I mean I hadn’t been obsessively thinking about her for a few days, then bam there she is. She had changed her hair. Dyed it sort of reddish black. And that dress. It was one of her hottest ones. What the fuck. She was even hotter. And there it was, that little come on smile. I think she enjoys torturing me. Such a natural tease. Fuck it, I need to get high.
There’s that thing most everyone does when a relationship ends. I kept replaying what she looked like with the new hair color and asked myself, “who is she fucking now?” I knew it was none of my business, but I couldn’t get it out of my head. I told Ray, and all he said was that I needed to get laid. He set up this thing with his girlfriend and a new temp in his office. We met at a bar and drank too much. Well, that’s not right. The new girl, Elizabeth, drank too much. There was no way she should drive home so after a nightcap at my place, the four of us, she stayed. “I’ll just sleep on the couch here and get a ride back to my car in the morning she said.” Yea, that was bullshit. We fucked. The next morning, we could not get away from each other fast enough. Mutually embarrassed, we didn’t say a word on the way to her car.
Maybe Ray was right. I haven’t been talking to her on these recordings as much lately. Time and sex with someone else I have nothing in common with, but whiskey and getting naked seem like a cure. Ah, fuck… wise up dude… not a cure but at least a distraction. But damn, I still miss her.
I have to get rid of the pictures on my phone. Why don’t I just do it? I mean, it can’t be healthy to pull them up and flip through them. That time at the little cabin. Did we even go outside at all? She is still who I imagine when I jerk off. Now, I don’t even consider the insanity of the actual relationship. It seems bizarre that we tried couple’s therapy. What were we trying to save? We could spend days together at my place, never hers, and barely say a word. Hell, we weren’t even fucking that much. But there it is, I look at these pictures and I miss her.
I was smoking way too much pot when we were together. She didn’t like it. Pot and how much I started smoking. Still, she almost always needed a little booze in her system to let go completely in bed. I mentioned that once, and she started yelling at me about my pot smoking. There was something there, but she was right, I was in no position to push it. Maybe the biggest ongoing argument was about breakfast. So ridiculous. I hate the morning and never saw the point of waking up and to stand in line some place to get bacon and eggs. Brunch… Brunch… Brunch. What was the fucking thing about Brunch?
When I see her friend Jill at work, it’s all I can do not to ask about her, what she is doing now, who she is seeing. The real question is: is she still thinking about me? Jill is cool. She knows the score. The big questions hang over our heads like a bubble. I am a spy looking for secret information. Jill is damn good about not giving me anything. That’s what someone caught in the middle should do. Hell, Jill was the great excuse provider in the early days. She saw the whole thing. The thing is. Jill had to tell me one thing. Her Dad had died. I only met the guy twice. He didn't like me. It always seemed like he was eyeballing me. I assumed he really liked there ex, maybe good buddies, and I was the reason the marriage ended. I wasn’t, but that would be the easy take. I get it. Despite that, I need to do something, a card … something.
Jill passed on the card. I tried to write something nice. Supportive. I felt kind of creepy the next day. I didn’t really care about her old man. I was not thinking about her grief at all. Mostly, I wanted to make contact. Even the slightest touch. See if she cared. What a fucking asshole. She could be very kind. When I had to put Bud down, she held me for days when I broke down. She is compassionate, if inspired. I miss having someone that close. Man, am I that much of a heartless son of a bitch?
My heart jumped when I saw her email. She said it was kind of me to reach out to her. She was very sad; she said. It was hard; she said. I hope you are doing well; she said. Yea, that was pretty nice. I must have opened that email a dozen times at work today.
Fuck it is hot today. It reminded me of that time the air condition broke down at my place and she said we cool each other off. She got a couple of wet hand clothes and we laid naked in front of a fan taking turns cooling each other. The sex was amazing. Damn, her white, white skin. Who knows? Maybe someday a hot day will just be another hot day.
I rented a house at the coast and took my new dog out there with me. It was so great to be back to the ocean. Cooler. Beautiful breeze. The pup is learning fast. He already knows how to bring the ball back. Well, most of the time. I met someone new, so different. She has this cautious, closed-mouth smile. She isn’t a flirt. She is a great addition to my collection of friends. I don’t think we were being set up. Even so, if we are, I don’t mind. She loves dogs. Hey, that’s a big point in her favor.
I am an idiot. What the fuck? 2 AM on a work night. Fucking 2 AM. Mister, you are sick. I should have answered the door, saw it was her and sent her on her way. She was drunk, out with her sister and smelled like a bar. Smoke and booze. Hi, she said. No more. I am such an idiot. No more.
I have no idea why I thought I was in control. She sat there at the table looking at me with those ice-cold eyes. I knew where it was going. She stroked my hand and said she just wanted to stay the night, not go home to an empty apartment. I knew. What I was thinking was, wow, I just jerked off to her picture before I went to bed a few hours ago. How is this possible? I told her, and this was me being in control, she could stay if she went out to brunch. She touched my face and said, sure.
I buried my face in her hair. It smelled like cigarettes and stale perfume. We fell into each other as naturally as if we had never parted. Then we laid on the pillows facing each other and fell asleep that way.
I woke to her rustling. There was the faintest light through the shades. What are you doing; I said? I am calling in sick today; I said. Her hair was a mess. She fished her underwear from the sheets, pulled her dress on and wiggled into her high heels. She leaned in to kiss me. Quick. No lingering. I have to go home; she said. Last night I bet my sister that I could get laid and she couldn’t. Then that same soul magnet smile and she walked out the door.