Monday, November 21, 2011


Three years. I had made it three years. My hair had finally grown back out. You could never tell by looking at me. Brown hair. Average. Brown eyes. Average. 5’11”. Average. Average enough, anyway. 148 pounds is low average. Maybe. I think it’s all average. I don’t know. I don’t stand out. No one ever stares, or double-takes, or anything like that. Not for three years, at least.

I sort of forgot the word “relapse” even existed. I remembered “remission.” I remember being warned about metastasis. I remember sitting in that chair, just sitting, for what felt like days. I remember being asked where my parents were, because even though 22 is an adult, it isn’t adult enough to hear the words “you have cancer” on your own. Not that he said that exactly, but you know.

I remember the seven months of chemo. I remember the look on Erin’s face when she walked into the bathroom, and saw me with the shaver. I remember her reflection in the mirror, after she offered to help, and the single tear that rolled down her left cheek. And I knew right then that that tear wasn’t for me. She wasn’t ready for this. Not what she signed up for, but what kind of girl leaves her boyfriend when he’s going through chemo? I remember not being surprised when she left last year. No relapse in two years means you’re in the clear, right?

“Leo! Lee-o! Come ‘ere, ya dumb cat. Come Leo! Come!”

I forgot Matt was even here. He banged his hand against the side of the couch, louder and louder until I looked up. I gave him the smirk I figured he was hoping for, then looked over at the cat, just outside of his arm’s reach. He stared too. “Dude, I think your cat’s dumb.”

“I don’t know man. I think he’s just a cat.”

“Naw, this isn’t any cat. This is Leo! Leonardo DiCatrio. He ain’t just any cat.”

I turned back to the TV. Matt has no idea.

It’s been three years. How does this even happen? Last time I had this conversation with him was four years ago – when he had heard the word “lymphoma” before, but he never really knew what it was. Four years ago, when my paraphrasing of what the doctor said was simplified to “white blood cells go rogue.” I guess he took it more seriously when I was throwing up in the morning for reasons other than a hangover. Well, that, and I didn’t have it in me to go out drinking. And the hair thing. And the weight loss. He caught on pretty quick.

My lap suddenly felt heavy, and I must’ve missed when Wins, the other cat, jumped on top of me. I’m not even sure what’s on TV, despite the fact that I appear to have been watching intensely for the past 20 minutes.

“Well well well, if it isn’t miss Cat Winslet herself. I can’t believe that old broad of yours tried to take her when she left. What kind of person tries to separate Leo and Kate?” Matt reminds me that he’s with me. Physically. To talk. “Hello? Jake are you even here right now?”

“Huh? Yeah. Yeah. Sorry. Just distracted.”

I invited him over because my cancer is back. I invited him over, to tell him that the cancer is back.

“Well, sure. Your lap’s full of pussy.”

And he has no idea.

I cracked a smile and turned to see that Matt finally got a hold of Leo. Even though he was hardly paying attention to the thing, Matt’s half-assed stroking could not have been making that cat happier.

“And I see that doesn’t seem to be distracting you at all?”

“Clearly not. You see, I’m a fantastic rubber – I know this, they know this. My hands work magic. I don’t even have to pay them any mind to still make ‘em feel fantastic. Ain’t that right Leo? Yeah, that’s right. You love it. You love the rubby!”

“I bet he does. You do seem to be fantastic at stroking that male right there…”

He slowed the stroking down and glanced up at me. The look on his face told me that he was trying to come up with a clever comeback, and with each passing second, he and I both knew that it was going to be too late to be effective. He tried anyway, by telling me “I’ve had some practice.”


“Uh. Yeah?”

“I know that but I mean, really? That’s all you could come up with?”

“Just shut up and keep watching that 30 Rock you can’t get your eyes off of.”

“Oh, that’s what this is?”

“What do you mean ‘that’s what this is’? You’ve been watching for twenty minutes!”

“Yeah but I told you-”

“There were even those stupid ‘and now, back to 30 Rock!’ announcements after every commercial!”

I paused. Matt had completely distracted me. This realization, of course, has brought my mind back into focus.

“Nuh uh. I know my mind’s everywhere right now, but I’m not that bad. They don’t even say those things anymore!”

“Sure they do! TBS does it all the time.”

“I bet.”

30 Rock. I decide that maybe I should try to pay attention to the TV. Maybe staying distracted is a good idea. Cancer’s a big deal though. It was a big deal before. It’s still a big deal the second time around. To me, anyway. Probably not to other people. I can see other people not really caring. It’s kind of like the second baby. If you’re the parent, you’re having another baby. That’s awesome. You feel good. You’re excited. But to everyone else, well, the first one was exciting. Now you’ve already got a kid. Cool that you’re having another but you’re already a parent. You have a baby, you did it. You have a second baby, everyone already knows you can be a parent or whatever. And I’m already “the guy that had cancer.” People don’t separate “had” and “has” as often as they should. Either way, cancer guy has cancer isn’t a big deal.

“Remember that time we thought that I was gonna be a dad?”

“Yeah, and it scared Erin into being crazy about her birth control.”


I start to wonder if something baby related just happened on the show, or if Matt is simply used to drastic subject changes that are seemingly completely unrelated to what is going on. I guess Tina Fey was pregnant not too long ago.

“Instead of just crazy.”

Matt’s on my side. Cancer’s still a big deal to him, when it’s me and my cancer. The second time isn’t just a second kid, because “oh well you made it the first time, you can make it the second time” isn’t as convincing an argument. This is more like beating the boss and forgetting to save, so then you have to do it again, and even though you know you somehow managed to do it the first time, you have no idea what you did and are not at all convinced that you can do it again.

Or maybe it’s a little different. I don’t exactly have a reset button.


“Imagine if though? What would we even be doing right now?”

“Probably watching Sesame Street instead of 30 Rock.”

“And your place would probably be messier.”

“Probably more toys.”

“Less beer.”

“More beer.”

“Less women.”

“More women.”

“Maybe if it was a girl.”

“Less cats.”

“Oh shit, that’s right. You didn’t get Wins until after that whole thing, huh?"

“Yeah. Wanted to replace the baby she lost. The so-called baby that she so-called lost. So obviously getting another cat was the best way to do that.”

“You coulda worked that one out in a way that resulted in you getting laid a lot more.”

“But then I’d be a dad, dude.”

“More beer, more women, right?”

“More problems.”

We both laughed, but I stopped short because apparently cancer is the only thing my brain will allow me to think about. I wonder if this would’ve happened, was I still with Erin. And had a baby. I don’t even know if I can do that now, post-chemo and everything. It’s not exactly something I want to try to find out.

I figured that I had set myself up enough that it was time to say something, since the thought was literally driving me crazy.

“Well, maybe not more problems.”

“You don’t think? I’d consider a baby a problem…”

“Yeah, same. But-”

“But you don’t have the woman so you can’t have the problem.”

I took a deep breath. “It’s back.”

“What, your crabs?”

“Matty, I’m being serious.”

“Baby scare? Are you still fucking around with Erin?”

I shook my head and mouthed the word “no.” I don’t think any sound came out. Erin and I were sort of hooking up for a bit, but then she suddenly had this new guy in her life. And I guess that’s what happens in life, and I knew this. I know this. I wasn’t too upset and it’s not like we were hanging out or anything. I just wasn’t allowed to text her at the end of the evening to ask if she was down.

When we broke up, I knew it was going to happen at some point. I still loved her, and she still loved me, but it wasn’t that passionate love like the movies show. It was some sort of loyalty. Responsibility, maybe. She couldn’t leave because of the cancer. I couldn’t leave because then I become the asshole. It might even be worse to be the one that leaves your sweet loving girlfriend who cared so much about you and was there for you and helped you through the cancer and whatever else they might say. Not that I wanted to leave. I knew that it was all too much for her and everything changed and somewhere along the lines that meant that we changed too much to be together. I knew she was going to leave, but I couldn’t know when. Maybe I thought that love was gonna be enough.

I realized Matt was still looking at me, for some sort of explanation.

“No babies. Just the-” I had to stop myself. No “just the.” No such thing as “just the cancer.” “You know how I had that doctor’s appointment the other day?”

“Sure, sure…”

“Well, yeah. They called me this morning.”

He readjusted himself on the couch, his eyes not straying from me. Even when he shook his hair to move the curl out of his face, he was still watching me. He either knew exactly where I was going with this, or he had no idea.

“Blood test came in and it tested positive… which I, uh, I, yeah. I guess it’s back.”

“You… shit. No. No, there’s no way. They said you were cured! Didn’t the radiation kill it all?”

“Zombies, I guess.”


“I know. Sorry. It’s just-"

“Don’t apologize man. It’s just… you have cancer. And you already had cancer. What the fuck, man.”

“I know dude. That’s what I’m saying. I don’t even know what to do. I haven’t told anyone else yet.”

“You gonna tell Erin?”

“I don’t know, you think I should?”

“Probably not before you tell your parents. Or Kevin or Brian. But she was there through it and I don’t know, they might ask how something was and you don’t remember but she could?”

“Yeah. That’s what I was thinking.”

“But dude. I… when did they call you?”

“9? 10? I don’t know. Some time this morning. I was doing laundry. Pretty sure all my stuff’s still in the washing machine.”

“And you texted me at what – 1? – to come over? Why didn’t you say something then?”

“Over text?”

“Yeah, I guess you’re right. I don’t know. Fuck. Now I feel bad for fucking with you.”

“I’m still the same.”

“Yeah but, no. You know. How does it even come back after so long? I thought they said you were good?”

“Just a cancer thing, I guess? I guess it’s not in your body anymore but it was, so it is, you know? My body knew how to make it before and it never really forgot.”

“So it can just happen anytime?”

“Well, with lymphoma apparently it happens more often than with other cancers. I need to go to talk with them Tuesday to see what to do. See how bad it is and stuff.”

“Jake man.”

I wonder if there’s a correct way you’re supposed to respond when your friend tells you that your cancer’s back. Or a correct way to tell them. I don’t think there’s any sort of “I’m the big sister!” shirt, like for the supposed only child.

Not surprisingly, telling Matt didn’t free me. I spent the next few hours merely existing. The world was doing its thing, but I was blocked off. Mental capacity full. Everything came back to cancer. The cancer came back. I was scared the first time, but I had no idea what it was like. This time, I remember it all so vividly and that’s what frightens me. It’s miserable. It’s painful. I feel like any steps forward in my life don’t matter, and I’m exactly back where I was four years ago. Except Erin’s not by my side, which of course means that everything not only comes back to cancer, but it comes back to cancer with Erin. And Erin. I’m moved on, and suddenly I’m caring about her again. In some sense, anyway.

And that might be the worst part. Moving on, moving forward, and then getting caught and falling back into the past. Any progress you made, or thought you made, gone. Exactly where I was four years ago, but even worse off now.

What did I do?

I grabbed a glass from the cabinet, took three ice cubes out of the freezer, and poured myself the still-open Jack sitting on the counter. I figured that now was just as good a time as any to let Erin know. She was good to me, but I’m not trying to bring her back. I’m not in exactly the same place as I was.

I pull out my phone and open up my messages. I jump to the body and begin to type the words “I have cancer.” And again. “I have cancer.” I had cancer and then it went away and now I have cancer. It came back. I leave the recipient field blank and type out “I have cancer” one more time. I guess you could call this an exercise of acceptance.

Why do I even feel like I need to tell her?

I close the open text message and go to the phonebook. Scroll to Erin, and call. It’s ringing. Ringing and I don’t even know what I’m going to say to her. Do I small talk? What was the last thing we talked about?

No answer. So I go back to my messages and type out “hey, can you talk?” and hit send. Do it before I back down. Even though I just called, and she’ll see the missed call. Or ignored call. Whatever it was.

I’m losing my mind. No response. Maybe I was a little too unclear. I type out another message, this time saying “I really think that we should talk. It’s important.” Before hitting send, I decide to add the word “please” in there. Not that that should make a difference, but it feels like it will.

And it does.

My phone vibrates in my hand. I let it ring once before picking up.




“So uh, shit. You want to talk?”

She made me realize that I don’t want to talk. I don’t want to have to tell her I have cancer again, but I want her to know, and I want her to know why she’s supposed to know, and whatever that reason may be, I want it to be something beneficial. For me.

“Well, I guess. I mean… I heard some stuff… and I think we should…”

“Oh, um. Yeah. You’re probably right. I meant to say something… I didn’t want you to have to hear through the grapevine or whatever. Guess I fucked up.”

“You think you fucked up?” I am not processing what she’s saying. Did someone else tell her about me? If that’s the case, I highly regret making this phone call. But I guess I don’t have to figure out what it is I want to say, or how I’m supposed to tell her.

“I’m sorry Jake. I meant to tell you.”

“You don’t have to tell me anything.”

“I know, I guess I don’t have to, but we were pretty serious and I suppose that you’d find out soon enough, but you deserve better than to find out through Facebook or something that your serious ex that you still occasionally talk to and have some leftover shared things that require us to sometimes talk is getting married…”

“You’re getting married?”

“That is why you’re calling, isn’t it?””

“Yeah. Yeah that’s it. Just wanted to say good luck. Congrats on moving forward with your life and shit. I gotta go.”

“Jake do-”

I hung up the phone. Erin is getting married. Erin is off getting married, moving forward with her life, and I’m here. Alone. With cancer.

I grab the bottle of Jack from the counter.

This time, I don’t bother with the glass.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Broken Up 101

People have this funny way of not knowing how to admit to defeat. Especially when it comes to love, relationships... anything, any time they feel vulnerable, they need to be in charge. People have this way of lying to themselves.

One of my least favorite arguments is the girls, or even sometimes guys, who rely on that stupidly inaccurate quote: "If you can't handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don't deserve me at my best." Really? Do people believe that? People think that they go through some little bullshit and the guy isn't interested anymore - that's when they were at their worst? Listen, that's not the worst. When it's 9am and you're late waking up for work, hungover as fuck from the night before, no time to shower or "get cute," you're crabby and miserable - you think that's your worst? When a guy sees you without your make up on, that's when you're at your worst? You're PMSing and not making any sense, arguing about anything and everything you can? So what?

You don't get to your worst until after he's already gone. That's when you're at the worst. Of fucking course he can't handle you at your worst - and he doesn't have to, doesn't want to. That's why he's leaving. You don't get to your worst until he tells you that it's over, and everything you thought you had, everything you invested, it all becomes meaningless. Your worst is that moment when you two are done and his mind is set. It's not a "I think we just need some time apart, but we can still sleep together and act like nothing has changed" type of thing. It's when you try to suggest that. When you're stupid and desperate. You lose it. You lost it. You go crazy. You probably were already over-analyzing everything, and were likely irrationally jealous about things like porn and him going to hang out with just the guys once a week... but now? That looks like nothing. EVERYTHING out of his mouth has secondary meanings. Third meanings. Fourth meanings. You did something wrong. Hell, he can even give you a reason of why it's not working out - but you won't believe it. There was something else. Something bigger. "That was okay before, that can't be the problem now."

It might not be the worst moment of your life, but between you two - that's the worst he will ever see you. You're going to be angry. You're going to be hurt. You're going to feel betrayed. You'll want to be mad, but then feel bad for doing it because somewhere in that fucked up mind of yours, you still think that maybe this will work. If you keep trying hard enough, you'll find something that will work. You'll tell him that you're thinking very straight, you're very calm, you're completely relaxed and you know exactly what you're saying. All of these things are lies. You don't know that, though. You can't see that. You really do think that you know best. You selfish piece of shit. Don't you love him? Don't you see that he's not happy anymore? You are at the worst that he will ever see you. You'll have your friends and whoever else around, and sure, they'll see you bad, but they won't really know. You can't understand the full extent until that's you on the other side, being pleaded to about how "I can be better" "Just give me one more try." "Let me do this one last thing."

Then there's a point when you accept it. You give up. But you don't really give up. This is when you get angry. You're still at your worst. You might try talking to his friends. You might try talking to girls he knows. Who knows what you might do, but lucky for you, this is the end of the worst. You feel horrible and want him to feel the same way. There are a select few who have been on that other side though, and know just how bad it feels to be pleaded to like that. It might cross your mind that maybe you should stay, that maybe things can and will finally change, or whatever the problem is. But you know. However, it's so easy to forget. It's so easy to forget being on that other side. It's hard to be rational at your worst. Near impossible, even. So you get mad, do something stupid, and then you try to make yourself feel better. Instead of just admitting that this is the end, that maybe you were both wrong, maybe whatever, you play pretend. You act like it was your doing. You tell the world that he couldn't handle you, and therefore he doesn't deserve you.

What a fucking joke.

On the other side, there are the people who stay sad when rational, instead of angry. And you know what quote they use? The "you don't know what you have until it's gone." That's true for some situations - you were an unappreciative asshole who didn't see how good he was, or how good she was, or how much you needed and relied on this person, whatever. Sometimes people try to use this as a claim - a more passive aggressive way of saying "you don't deserve me." A little "hey, I was great, you couldn't see that and you left me."

Here's the thing. When he left you, he knew exactly what he was doing. You might try to tell him that he'll regret this. That he made a bad decision. Listen, if he thinks he made a bad decision, he already knows. Any time - ANY - time you ever make a poor decision, you know. Not in the "I didn't appreciate you and I know that but still chose not to appreciate you" kind of way. That's not a decision. That's an accident. You don't mean to do that. But when you CHOOSE to make a bad decision... you know! You'll think, or even say, "this is a bad idea." If you think about every bad decision you've ever made, you'll remember. You know that's right. You always know that you're being stupid. Maybe not making a mistake, because you want to do this, but you know that somewhere, there's something telling you you shouldn't do this. You can justify it all you want. That doesn't change anything. When you're doing something stupid, you know you're doing something stupid.

Usually if he actually decides to leave, it's two things. One, you're right - he's stupid and making a bad decision. Bravo. He knows, or at least will realize and remember, his stupidity. More likely though, he knows it's what he has to do. People have a very hard time understanding the difference between a bad decision and a hard decision. If something is hard, something is making it hard. You have to overcome something, do some sort of big difficult thing, to complete it. Sometimes you know that leaving means breaking your own heart, and what could be harder than that? So you stay because you think it's stupid to break your own heart. But sometimes it's what you need to do. It's the hard decision, and it will hurt - it will hurt both of you - but it's the best choice. When he leaves, don't tell him he doesn't know what he had. Of course he knew. He knew and he still chose to go. Doesn't that make you feel worse? It should. So don't say it.

Or keep lying to yourself. Keep telling yourself that you were perfect, that he'll never meet anybody as good as you. That he's making a mistake. All of these things - he knows. Instead, make it constructive. You live, you learn, you move forward. You don't have to blame yourself. But blaming him? Trying to make it look like this was all your choice?

Just remember. He's seen your worst. You haven't seen his.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Male vs Female

Every time I write something, whether it be a full-on story or just a silly little conversation like the previous post was, I try to get some sort of feedback. I don't necessary want positive or negative, or helpful even; just some sort of reaction. Some response. I got two responses from the last post.

"I know exactly what you're going through. Does this mean that you guys are together now? Like, an official couple? Or are you just trying to get that to happen? You shouldn't put up with that bullshit! This is like that time I was with..."

And so on and so forth. Some sort of tangent about some sort of relationship she was in, that has absolutely zero relation to the story. Or my interests, for that matter.

"Are you trying to tell me that you're pregnant?"

Monday, January 17, 2011

This is Your Brain on Words

"You know that thing when someone tells you not to do something, or not to think about something, and then because they said that, that's the only thing you can think of?"
"What's that have to do with anything?"
"No, but, you know what I mean, right? Like when someone tells you 'don't look' so then you automatically turn around to see why they said don't look?"
"Or you just don't look?"
"No no, you look. Or when someone tells you bad news that they know is obviously going to freak you out, but then they tell you 'don't worry' and try to get you to go on like nothing changed."
"Because maybe nothing did change?"
"No dude, like if a girl you were with tells you she's a week late but don't worry. Like, why would you even tell me that if you don't want me to worry, you know? Stuff like that."
"What are you getting at?"
"What's that called?"
"...being pregnant?"
"No the whole thing. When they say don't and then you do."
"...not listening?"
"No seriously, it's called something, right?"
"I don't know what you're getting at."
"I just want to know what it's called. What the name of it is."
"I'm pretty sure it doesn't have a name."
"It's gotta be something!"
"Why does it have to be called something?"
"Because it has to have a name."
"Why are you so obsessed with it having a title?"
"It's just bothering me."
"Because. You know what I'm talking about. It's something, so it has to be called something."
"I shouldn't have to describe it and give examples every time I want to talk about it."
"How often do you talk about it?"
"That's besides the point."
"Not really."
"It comes up."
"So describe it to the people it comes up to, and then they'll know for next time."
"But I shouldn't have to do that. It should just be called something."
"Sorry dude."
"It's really bothering me that it doesn't have a name. They have words for everything else."
"Do you know how petty you sound?"
"Don't say that."
"I'm saying that."
"See, look you just did it. I told you to not do something, and you did it anyway."
"That's stupid. That doesn't even count. I said it first."
"And now you're getting all defensive about it."
"This is stupid."
"You're stupid."
"No this is seriously stupid. I'm not talking about this anymore."
"I just want to know what it's called."

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Coffee Shop: Him

Casey wants me to meet her at Java Hut after work. Straight from work, actually. I agree; not because I want to, but because I don't have a choice. We don't go out for coffee because I don't like coffee. We don't go out straight from work because I want to shower and change after work. I consider ending my day early to get this over with and decide it's not a good idea. She wants to talk to me for a reason. In public. I have the next three hours to think about what she's thinking about and why she wants to do this. Does she know?

That's it. That has to be it. She must know. But how? I've been careful. Eliza's been careful. It would crush her. She's a sweet little thing, my Casey. She can't know. I can't let her know. Where did I go wrong?

I let the time pass slowly, keeping my mind as empty as possible. There's no way Casey could figure this out. I thought everything through. Foolproof.

But she's no fool.

I find Casey just after six, already sitting at a table near the back of the store. Somewhere private, but not private enough where if we get loud we wouldn't be noticed. She's organizing the empty Splenda packets next to her. Horizontal, then vertical, then horizontal, then vertical. Then she makes them all aligned vertically. The tops of the packets are making a sort of fortress around her design. The four walls. I feel the symbolism and know she's got me figured out. I'm surrounded. She knows. I order a coffee. I pour in some cream. I don't particularly enjoy coffee, but if I'm sitting in a coffee shop, I have to keep up the appearance. I'm here for coffee and small talk. Nothing deep. No one knows about Eliza.

I make my way over to the table Casey's sitting at and take a seat across from her. I take a sip of my coffee before looking up at her.
"I thought you don't drink coffee?"
She knows I don't like coffee. I'm trying to piece together how she found out about Eliza, and it doesn't make sense. Nothing adds up. There's no way she could have known. I don't know if she's trying to guilt trip me into talking, or if she just wants to make me uncomfortable, but she keeps asking about my coffee. Either way, it's working. She knows I'm nervous.

"Do you know why I asked you to come here?"

Did she look at the credit card statements? She probably saw how often I'd been getting gas in Melrose. There are other reasons to be in Melrose though, right? I can't get caught with a rookie mistake like that, right?

"No Casey. I don't know why you asked me to come here."
"You have to have an idea."
"Then why would you ask me that?"

I can't believe she figured me out. I don't know if three months is a long time or a short time to get away with this, but what happens now? Was it my laundry? I know Eliza has never left anything behind, but I've left a few things over there. Maybe she was looking for that striped button-up she got me. She was doing the laundry and couldn't find it anywhere, so she did some investigating. This is so ridiculous. She wants to talk to me, but she isn't saying anything. I'm sitting here sipping on coffee I don't even like because Casey is afraid to talk to me at home. She tells me that she wants us to be honest. I can't believe it.

I know better than to admit anything, so I play dumb. Or play cute. I tell her I can be honest. I tell her coffee isn't as bad as I've always made it out to be. Maybe she'll forget why she brought up honesty.

She does.


She tells me we should stop seeing each other.

I don't know what to say. Is she going to ask about Eliza? Is that why? She thinks I'm happy. I'm starting to think that maybe she doesn't know. Maybe that does make me happy, a little.

"Casey. Is that why you asked me to come here?"
She says no. She didn't ask me to come here so she could leave me. She asked me to come here to talk to me? She wanted honesty. No. No, she started packing my stuff. She asked me to come to a coffee shop because home was already in the process of not being home anymore. If I see my clothes in piles, or suitcases, or whatever she did with them, I'd already know. She's leaving me. I want to ask her about Eliza. I stumble over the words.
"Is it because of someone, that... did you find..."
"No. It isn't because of someone, Justin. It's just me."
Just her. She didn't find out about Eliza. It isn't because of someone else. It's her. It's not me. It's her.

"I'll get my stuff."
"Please take everything now."
"I'll get my stuff and I'll go."

I head out and once I'm sure Casey can no longer see me, I call up Eliza.

"Hey Eliza? Yeah. I'm gonna be coming by a little earlier tonight. I'll see you soon."

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Coffee Shop: Her

"I thought you don't drink coffee?"
"I don't."
"But you're drinking it right now."
"It's an illusion."
"But that's coffee. And you're drinking it."
"Just because we're at a coffee shop doesn't mean I'm drinking coffee."

We sit in silence for a minute and I watch him take a sip of his drink. He's holding the mug with both hands, both fingerless gloves still on. Scarf tied tight. He looks like he's ready to go. He looks nervous. I tear open another packet of Splenda and add it to my coffee. I mix it without thinking. The only sound I hear is the spoon clinking against the sides of my mug and I look down to see my hands shaking. Maybe I'm the nervous one.

He looks up. "Casey" he says.
I close my eyes. A slow blink. I don't know what I want to say, so I say his name again. Justin. Justin Justin Justin. It feels so safe. It feels like it belongs there. I sip on my coffee, hoping I'll lose his stare when I look back up.

But I don't. It's still there. He's still there.

"Do you know why I asked you to come here?"
He looks at me like I'm stupid.
"No Casey. I don't know why you asked me to come here."
"You have to have an idea."
"Then why would you ask me that?"
He's beginning to notice that I'm nervous. More nervous than him, even.
"I want to know that you know."
"That I know that you asked me to come to Java Hut because you wanted to talk." He paused. "You asked me to come to Java Hut to talk, knowing that I don't drink coffee."
"But you're drinking coffee."
"You asked me to come to Java Hut, knowing that I don't drink coffee."

Oh. Right. I don't know whether to nod or shrug. I do both. Awkwardly. I'm not sure if either movement was significant enough for him to even notice. He lifts his coffee mug up to his mouth and takes a sip without taking his eyes off of me. I wait until it's back on the table before speaking, but he keeps it in his hands.
"Justin" I say again. I smile a little bit. I'm trying to wear his name out.
"Justin." I pause, knowing we can't keep going back and forth like this. "I just wanted to talk to you."
"But you couldn't wait to do it at home?"

There's a slight change in his facial expression, and I want nothing more than to be able to read his mind. I need to know what hes thinking to know how to continue.
"We need to talk."
"I know."
"You know?"
"That's why you asked me to come here, instead of coming home."
He's almost right. Is that obvious? It has to be obvious.
"I think we need to be honest with each other."
"I can be honest."
I take a second to think about his word choice. Can be. Is that implying that he's not being honest? That he hasn't been honest? I want to look in his eyes, but I'm afraid of what I'll see. If he hasn't been honest, I'm not sure I want to know. I look at my coffee.
"Coffee... it isn't as bad as I've always made it out to be."

I can't help but smirk. He's doing the same.
"That's your honest?" I ask, knowing it's a silly question. He's trying to change my mind. Justin. Justin's trying to change my mind.
"That's my honest."

Of course I can trust him.
"I think we should stop seeing each other."

He finally puts his coffee back on the table, only to lift it back up and take a long, slow sip. He doesn't look back at me.
I'm confused.
"Okay." He takes another sip. "We can stop seeing each other."
"That's it, though?"
"What do you mean that's it? You already made up your mind. What am I supposed to say?"
"You're not supposed to be happy."
"I'm not happy."

He won't look me in the eye. I lift my mug, but my hands are visibly shaking now. I put it back down before I get to take a sip.
"I'm not happy either."
As I say it, I know it doesn't mean anything. We sit in silence.

"Is that why you asked me to come here?"
"Why here then?"
"I started packing your stuff."
"You started packing my stuff."
"If we went home, you'd know."
"If we went to a coffee shop and I hate coffee..."

He didn't continue his thought. Only his coffee.

"It's hard for me too, you know."
It took that to get eye contact back, but that's all I got.


"Is it because of someone, that... did you find..."
He couldn't finish his sentence.

"No." I took a deep breath. "It isn't because of someone, Justin. It's just me."
"It's not you, it's me."
"No no it's not like that. It's just me."
"And not me."
"A little you. Mostly me."
"It's not you entirely, it's mostly me."
"I understand."

I ran out of words. I also ran out of coffee.

"I'll get my stuff."
"Please take everything now."
"I'll get my stuff and I'll go."

He stood up. I let him go. I pushed my coffee mug next to his. Both empty. I let the tears trickle down my face and I sat alone.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Happy Beginnings, part 2

Phone calls are made. It's almost a nightly thing now - almost.

Monday I ask Ashley if she wants to come into Boston with me on Friday and maybe we can meet up with people there? Or maybe this weekend? But this weekend doesn't work and Friday should so that will be the plan.

Before getting the chance to suggest anything, I get a message on Myspace on Tuesday from Shawn, saying him and some friends are probably going into Boston Saturday and I should come. I guess we both had the same idea. I reply saying I'll try and he says okay and we'll surely talk before then.

Phone call that night. So Boston. So. It's not definite so we shouldn't count on it. And the next thing I know, I'm being told to come to his town and I'll try, I'll try. When should I come? "When's the next time you're not working?" Tomorrow. "Then come tomorrow" and I would if I could but I can't, I don't think. And what if he starts raising money? Something along the lines of "donate money for a beautiful girl to get home" and I didn't comment on that but I remembered it. The word "beautiful" will make any girl smile. I tell him I'll try to come on Friday and perhaps I could tag along with Lauren on the way there.

Skip to the 6th. Work. Brooke asks if I found anyone to come with me to Boston yet. I didn't. "I haven't." She says she wants me to go. "Yeah, me too" and no one can come.

Phone call that night and he's not going anymore. "Well, that's disappointing" and it is. He asks if I found rides for Friday, and I didn't, not yet at least, and we'll have to figure something else out. Some other time, I suppose.

Friday the 7th. Wake up at 8 to Lauren's phone vibrating. "Lauren. Phone. Your mom I'm guessing" and she's only half away while answering and I try to go back to sleep but can't. I shower and get ready for the day and take my time, until 11:30 when Lauren's mom arrives and I can't bum a ride.

12:02 and I decide I'll go into Boston for the day. It's 12:07 and I ask my mom to drive me to the train station. It leaves at 12:12. She has no problem with it until I mention I'm going in alone. I realize I can't make the train now anyway, get disappointed, and go downstairs. Thinking. Planning.

1:30ish and I pick up the phone. He just woke up. "I got a question. What are you doing today?" "Nothing, yet." "Okay. Well. It's nice out. I got paid yesterday. Want me to come on down?" "That would be fabulous." "So do you want me to?" "If you want to, that would be fabulous." "Okay. Well, because of all the trains and stuff, I wouldn't get there until quarter of 5." "Are you serious?" "I'd miss the next earliest train by 10 minutes or so." I'm told to call when I get to North Station.

I get on the train, pay $10.50 for a roundtrip - which just covers from here to Boston and home, and spend the entire train ride wondering if it's worth it. Get off at Back Bay and have an hour before I have to be at North Station. Stop at H&M and buy a beater for $6, solely because it was $6, I'm sure. Skip ahead to about 5pm. I do not like North Station.

Arrive. Hug. Hello. Where to go? and we don't know. Just start walking. Stop by a few stores, solely because they're there. Continue down where ever we are and we see these girls in a car. They call him over. He waves. "No come over here!" So we walk over to the car.

"Who's this, your girlfriend?" "Yes" "Aww, how cute! I'm Anna, what's your name?" "Hey, I'm Anna too" and the typical where are you from and how did you meet (middle of nowhere, a party) and I got here by train and they start yelling at him for letting me take the train alone and that's not being a very good boyfriend. They're all high and eating McDonald's and the girl in the back doesn't want anymore, offers whoever, and Anna says to "give it to his girlfriend because she's skinny." A half eaten cheeseburger wasn't really appealing. We walked off. Ended up at a playground.

We're wicked cool and play with the army guys I have in my purse. What to do next? Who knows. "We could lay in the field and look at the clouds, even though there aren't really any clouds" and I say okay because that sounds like a cute idea.

I'm searching through my purse for paper, I think, and I say I've got a camera in here. I said I'd take a picture and then he could take it. We took a few pictures of each other.

And at some point, we're talking about something and I tell him "that's not being a very good boyfriend." "Oh, so now I'm your boyfriend?" "Well, according to you you are" and that was just easier than talking to those girls. Which, somehow turned into something else, which led me to ask "so, what, we're dating now?" which was answered along the lines of "if you want to" and something about long distance relationships and I'm not too sure what's going on.

And he wouldn't know how long it's been since I've kissed a boy.

We leave. Don't know what else to do. Decide to stop and get an ice cream. Continue to walk around some more and do whatever until 9:15 when we go to wait at the train station.

This guy is telling me to hurry. We hurry down. Hug and kiss goodbye. Get to North Station at 10:14. Train leaves from Back Bay at 10:40. I'm impatiently waiting for any green line subway to arrive. Finally one shows up at 10:27. There are many more stops than I remember there being and don't get to Copley until 10:35.

Copley is usually a 7-8 minute walk from Back Bay. My feet are sore and blistered and I can't be bothered to miss this train. I get there and check the time to find out it's only 10:37. I'm unsure how I did this, but don't bother trying to figure it out. Get downstairs at 10:38. The train arrives at 10:41. It's a minute late.

And just like that, it began.