It was a slow night at the cafe on 7th Ave in Park Slope. There was a threat of a major snow storm and the temperature was a frigid 19 degrees. I was sitting alone on this Monday evening doing or trying to do the Monday NY Times crossword. In the past I have gotten close to finishing the Thursday Crossword – but lately I leave them on the side with just half of the puzzle solved. Not sure if its boredom or depression – but its something and it doesn’t feel right.
My girlfriend and I broke up a month ago and at first I was relieved. Then the reality of it began to sink in and the clock was changed.
“You are not really serious about anything, Tommy.”
“I am serious, I am serious that I don’t want you to leave. I am seriously horny too and this would be a really bad time for you to seriously leave me. Seriously.” I felt a cold wet liquid hit my face.
“Wake up, Tommy. I am packing my bag and I am going back to my apartment. I’d rather be back with Sad Sarah then to be stuck with your indifference. All you care about is your stupid fantasy football and going out and getting drunk. I am tired of this life – you are boring, sloppy and depressing. Sorry to be so blunt but maybe that will wake you up.”
“You threw water at me.”
She just turned around, opened the door and said, “When you realize just what it is you are losing just hope that I am still willing to give you another chance.” She closed the door and not softly, I might add.
I didn’t run after her or try to stop her; I didn’t call her or pretend to be ‘sorry’ for my behavior. I was so self absorbed that I could not realize that when she closed the door it was possibly the worst thing that had ever happened to me.
That night was Monday, so I went down to my bar and watched football with my bar buddies. I drank just enough that I would avoid throwing up or falling asleep in a strange place. I made it home expecting to see Diane there. Nothing, not even a note or a voice mail. I checked my phone and there were no text messages or emails from her.
I fell into the couch and woke up as the sun was softly lighting up my apartment. Sunday morning now, six days since any word from Diane. I had texted her and I had left a couple of messages but she had ignored them. How could I blame her?
That morning the clock had been adjusted one hour back ending the daylight savings time or maybe starting it? Whatever the case it makes the evening begin before it should and when I am kind of in a sad place it just exacerbates that emotion.
I had forgotten about the time change and the day was dragging. Finally i went for a walk in Prospect Park and found myself standing by the lake along with fallen leaves and broken branches at my feet. A cool breeze was blowing, dark clouds were forming ominously announcing the winters days ahead.
I found a coffee shop, bought the Daily News and went back to the park. I sat on a bench and read in the sun. Looked at my watch and it said 3:08.
It was getting cold, I checked my phone and there were no messages or emails.
“Come on Diane…where are you today?”
Checked on my fantasy team – not the best season of my career…still losing week after week. I had basically gotten tired of the stupid thing – tired of my friends in the league especially the ones who brought their girlfriends in on it. Should I have brought Diane into the league? Why would I? Just because I like something does that mean I need to impose that on her? Plus, its nice to have something that’s separate from her and I.
Some time between 3:08 and 3:38 I must have fallen asleep.
We were running. Diane holding on to my hand not letting go as we raced towards the 6:09 train from Penn Station to Willet’s Point. We were meeting some friends at the Met’s game and we were running ten blocks to try and make it on time. As we raced onto 7th Avenue and 38th street I tripped on something and found myself on the ground. I lay on the sidewalk and she was telling me to stand up so we could get going.
“Come on don’t be a baby – you fell, you aren’t hurt so stand up and lets go.”
At a party at some pretentious artistic friend mine and she is drinking cosmo after cosmo. She is speaking louder then is necessary and is flirting with every man with a pulse. She is also mocking the art and the artists to each person she speaks to; including the artists themselves. I approach her; “Honey, come with me outside for a minute I need to talk to you.” She follows me and once outside begins to put her arms around me, open her mouth for a kiss.
“Stop it. Can you please stop drinking and acting as if you are above everyone else in the room?
At dinner we are discussing Thanksgiving; I want her to come to my family for the weekend in New Jersey. “Why cant we just be alone, you and I?” She responds defensively.
“Because Thanksgiving is a special holiday to me and I would prefer to spend it with my family and the lady I love.”
“Sorry – no can do. I have a 4 day weekend and I intend to ‘vacate’ the premises. You are welcome to join me of course.”
A look of ache flies across his face and he feels an empty pit in his stomach.
I wake up with a shake – the dreams I had are like distant memories with a twist of the truth. In my dreams I witnessed several scenes from my relationship with Diane; only the positions were switched. She had fallen on the race to Penn Station; I had acted like an ass at the party thrown by Diane’s (Still pretentious) friend and Diane had asked me to go with her and her family for the Thanksgiving weekend. I felt the pain from the dreams of being rejected and minimized by my partner; how could I have acted in such selfish ways?
I looked behind me and noticed that the wind had picked up – it was blowing the dead leaves in circles or mercifully freeing the leaves from the branches causing them to flip or float towards the earth, all dirt and no grass.
I felt a gust and It was time for me to head on home. I stood up, put the paper under my left arm, closed my coat, pulled the visor down on my Met’s hat and headed towards my apartment.
When I got to my building I noticed the swirling wind like mini twisters spinning the leaves and the paper bags in circles. A lone woman was walking her dog and smoking a cigarette; a man sat in his car and stared straight through his windshield and another woman walked taking pictures with her phone at the scene in front of her.
I saw a neighbor of mine who was cousins with Diane standing and smoking.
“Hey Bruce, hows it going buddy?”
“I heard she finally dumped you.” He said with a half-way smile.
“Its temporary, so don’t get all excited now.” I responded with a pissed off look on my face.
“Whatever.” He said dismissing me.
“What do you mean, ‘whatever’?” I asked him.
“I heard she is seeing someone already; some dude she dated before you. Scotty the guy that sells spam?”
“Oh please he is her friend doesn’t he have a girlfriend?”
“Nah he got dumped – apparently he was not keeping it in his pants.”
“Thank you for the graphic – I doubt that I have been forgotten so quickly.”
“Yeah,” he said insincerely, “because you are such a stud with so many prospects.”
“I can only dream to be half the man you are, Bruce – i have to go upstairs. Its been anything but real.”
I took the stairs to the 3rd floor to my apartment and opened the door and listened as it closed behind me echoing throughout the floor with a bang. It reminded me of a jail cell door slamming shut – possibly one of the most depressing sounds in the world of sounds.
I sat down on the couch and I looked at my phone; no messages, no emails. I checked my watch and it was 6:32 – at least the day was ending. I turned on the TV and I noticed the time difference. It was only 5:32. They changed the clock. I immediately began to feel an emptiness inside of me – an overwhelming sense of loneliness and waves of sadness…
I didn’t know what was happening – maybe the coffee was too strong? Then it hit me and I realized that I had hurt Diane and treated her as no one should be treated. I was not ready to be with another person yet and at 34 years old I wondered if I ever would be.
I began to shake hard and my heart was beating fast. I didn’t understand what I was feeling – was it the darkness outside or the chilliness within me? Was it the time travel with the ‘subconscious dreams’ telling me what an asshole I had been and am? I wanted to sleep and wake up tomorrow – I needed it and I was just thrown another hour to spend in regret and pointed thorns reminding me that I need to ‘grow up’ and ‘think about other people.’
I called and texted Diane, but there was no response. I missed her and I felt an overwhelming void inside of me. I missed her and it was the first time I had felt the sadness about her leaving. Why did I let her leave without a fight?
The night passed slowly way too slowly. I drank myself to sleep and woke up to the sound of blaring horns and sirens. My phone was ringing – I answered.
“Hey Tommy – what is going on over there it sounds like a war zone.”
“Where have you been?”
“I have been around; just not around you. I am calling you because I wanted to let you know that I am going away for Thanksgiving.”
“I thought we were going to spend…Oh OK. Where are you going, with your boy Scotty?”
“Oh Tommy, Scotty? Really? For your information I am going home to Michigan to be with my family. You know the family you didn’t want to spend Christmas with?”
“Whats the deal with Scotty?”
“There is no deal with Scotty – he is going through his own crap now so we are keeping each other company as friends.”
“Sure, as friends.”
“Its possible, you know. Anyway I have to go, take care of yourself and have a great Thanksgiving.”
Dear Doctor Blum,
Throughout my life I have been given everything I asked for and even given things before they were even a thought to be requested. My parents were wealthy and when they divorced when I was 17 years old, I was given a BMW convertible as a consolation prize. My bank account was funded by annuities set up by father and my mother provided me with a sense of entitlement which has actually plagued me and slowed any sense of appreciation for others and the value of anything or anyone.
There have been hundreds of girls in my life – from one night stands to week long engagements. None of them changed me and none of them inspired me to lose my self centered views of the world. None of them until Diane. When I remembered the look on her face when I rejected her emotions it hurt me to realize just how blind I was. So as I find myself alone, again, naturally, the usual one night stands or even week long engagements have been exposed as fast food for my soul. Looks delicious, tastes delicious but once its eaten the ill effects begin to take its toll. The cancer on my emotions has created a vacuum akin to a black hole. Nothing survives within me because the cancer is my inability to look outside me and notice my surroundings and the people who stayed. This past year with you as my therapist has taught me just how important it was for me to shed any part of my past and to begin again. I no longer require booze or drugs to satisfy me or get me through my long nights. Solitude has become my friend and instead of hiding from the silence and the dark – I face it and I can now sense the music of the night in peace.
Signed, Still Clueless but still a work in progress.
Two years passed by since that Sunday when the clock changed and I saw myself for who I was. I began to see Dr. Blum who recomended that I put my money in a separate account and begin again with a more modest amount. The idea was for me to learn to appreciate the value of everything. I also began to do some volunteer work in soup kitchens, visiting the elderly and hospital visits to the childrens ward. I moved into a smaller apartment in a different neighborhood, still not so modest but more fitting to what I was trying to accomplish. I furnished my apartment from IKEA and gave away the old stuff to charities.
In addition I began to have a relationship with my parents and learned, to my great surprise that they were loving and cared about my well being. When I told them the worse thing they ever did was giving me the BMW each of them sighed and blamed the other. That was ok and I let it go. I loved them and that was a start. I also began to keep in touch with my brothers and their families – having Sunday lunches with them and the occasional Toys R Us trip with my nieces and nephews.
It was on a winter’s evening that I found myself sitting in that same cafe, doing the Thursday crossword puzzle with ease and drinking a nice Italian brewed coffee. As I stood up to pay for my coffee, i saw Diane walking in. She looked at me and she smiled. She was glowing and she was carrying some bags from shopping.
“Why are you carrying all of those bags?” I asked her.
“Its ok for me to carry these bags, they aren’t heavy. Besides inside of them are the presents I have bought you for Christmas; so mind your own business.”
“You look beautiful.” I told her kissing her.
“Yeah for a fat pregnant chick who is having twins in three months.”
We laughed and walked to the car. I drove and she was humming a tune. I thought about how fast time goes and how lucky i was to have Diane back in my life. It was the February after our breakup when I sent her a Valentines Day card with a quartet singing, “Sorry seems to be the hardest word” to her. We had dinner after that and when I told her about my therapy and the progress I had made in such a short time, she told me that she could see the difference in the way he listened to her now. Again, I apologized to her and she put her fingers to my lips and said, “Lets start again.” We began a new romance and I proposed to her on a clear warm June evening as we walked across the Brooklyn Bridge towards Manhattan.