So I’ve been trying for two decades to write a book. A love story. The cheesy shit most chicks write because, well, that’s what most chicks read. And underneath all the sarcasm and crassness and occasional tomboyishness, I happen to be a sucker for that cheesy shit.
I am soft. I blame this on my father. My mother says I’m just like him. When I was younger and having trouble making friends, my father would often suggest to me that I emulate my mother. Oh, how easy my world would be if that were possible. Every time he said that, my heart would break a little because I could never be like her. Always, always, I was told of how I should be… by my parents, my peers, my educators and employers. I am a four-letter word.
Anyway, at the time this post was written, the past few days I’d been tanking… badly. This particular day I woke up, and all I wanted to do was stay in bed and sleep all day. It was a good day for it, after all. Rainy and gloomy. But I had bills to pay and whatnot …
And Five Hundred Days of Summer came out in wide release that day. I’d been waiting for this movie for months. I’d thought I might see it a dozen times. It is just that good. The best movie to come out that year.
So I went to work to collect my check and get a cup of hot cocoa because that always makes me feel better, and then I went to the banks to transfer money so that I could pay those bills, and then I went back to work to get a jug of water because while hot chocolate makes me feel better mentally, physically it makes me hot — yes, I know — and jittery. And then I went to the movie.
There’s a scene in which Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character’s sister is telling him that maybe when he looks back on his relationship, he should look not only on what was good about it but also on what was bad about it.
Do people really think this doesn’t happen?
One of the guys I’d dated – the one I’d liked the most — suggested, basically, that I’d colored my memories with emotion and that made those memories different for me than for him.
Okay. Fine. I can see how one might think that. It makes sense.
I can remember that he emailed me on St. Patrick’s Day. That I hadn’t been looking. I’d gotten up at ten or so, played spades on the computer for a while and gone to work. That it was a glorious day, the first glorious day we’d had in some time. That work went well for a change, that a group of coworkers and I went to Friday’s afterward and chatted and drank for an hour or so. That I took the long way home. That I’d checked my email accounts (all three of them, the last of which was one I’d not checked in several weeks), and there in the last, sent that day, was his letter.
Yall, it was a damned fine letter. I’ve a thing for guys who can communicate well.
I remember telling him, later, of this coincidence. He told me that he’d considered writing me the week before but had decided against it. I’d asked him if he had written me on the tenth and I’d replied on the seventeenth, if he would’ve replied to my email. He’d said no.
After a fight with the clothes in my closet because I could no longer fit in most of them, I showed up at his apartment and he’d had a lone, long-stem rose waiting for me. Because I’d been late, he’d said. That was the first time I’d ever gotten flowers from a guy who was not a relative, and it couldn’t have been a better occasion.
That the first time he kissed me was horrible, so much so that I worried over it for hours afterward. That the second time was awesome, so much so that I was wound up for hours afterward.
I remember him taking me to first Friday at the Blue Star Art Complex in the King William’s District of San Antonio. I’d never been. He led me up a narrow flight of stairs, my hand in his. I asked where we were going. An elderly woman on her way down looked at me, smiled, pointed and said, Up. Indeed. I was going up. It was marvelous. I don’t think I’ve been that happy since.
Bolting from his apartment because I didn’t want to, couldn’t let him see me cry. I made it to the Phillips Sixty-Six gas station across the street to the attendant who sold me a carton of Marlboro Lights and a Bic lighter to halfway between the station’s door and the driver’s side of my truck before I broke. Right there on the concrete hunched next to the rocks that were the station’s shell for all the world to see. I ended up cruising Loop 1604 — twice – chain-smoking and crying until I couldn’t anymore. I don’t think I’ve been that miserable since.
I remember the way he’d smile at me. The way he said my name when he was happy with me. The way he said it when he wasn’t. The way he smelled. To this day, yall. If I catch a whiff of Ralph Lauren’s Romance for Men, I am flooded by sadness and longing.
I remember everything. Everything. And that is how it should be.
A friend of mine asked me a few days before I’d originally posted this why I’d not finished my book. I’d told her that I can’t pretend everybody gets to have happy. That it makes me sad to try to write it. And then I saw this movie and was reminded of how much I love fate and coincidence and how much I should believe in them. I remembered how much I used to do so and that I missed doing that.
I’d made myself focus more on the bad things about love. I’d let it become a four-letter word.
Originally published July thirty-first, ‘nine.