Continued from Episodes One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine and Ten.
Previously: A two day breakup that sucked a lot...for two days. And suddenly, as if conjured by magic, there he sat eating midnight eggs in my parent's kitchen. Love. Extreme attraction. Watching him undress under moonlight. A sad goodbye and a reunion with our flirty emails. Serious future planning on his part. Serious freaking out on mine...
And suddenly, maybe two weeks later, he was back at my front door in the middle of the night. He had landed at JFK, rented a car and called me from the road. I was nervous and all kinds of weird to him on the phone. And when he arrived, I didn't recover. Were we breaking up? Did we both know it? I did. Was he coming to persuade me to change my mind, or was he coming to say goodbye.
I only know that I knew we were breaking up. Everything about this visit was just off. Physically, we were off. I don't even know if we touched at all. We both looked like complete crap. He didn't like my new apartment. I don't think I did either. I had to go to work when he was staying at my apartment and he hung around in its gloom while I slaved away. Then he met me and some of my friends for lunch in town. Initially I had always been excited for him to meet these particular friends because he had worked with them while still at ILM, but the spell was broken. He was quiet the whole lunch and I was almost embarrassed by him and his gloom. Even though our chemistry had always been truly dynamic, you couldn't find a trace of it during this time. We probably did look our eight years apart. He looked older and I looked like a stupid 16-year-old.
I certainly felt like one.
The short-lived trip was short and dark. Other than lunch, I don't know if we talked about things ending or if we just already knew they were. They were ending. I felt as dark as I had ever felt in my life. It wasn't our relationship ending that was so dark to me; it was the loss of the magic and high that falling in love so powerfully had created in my life. That summer was the highest on life I had ever been, and I couldn't imagine a higher. When it came crashing down, my world was literally darkened. We hugged and held each other. We said goodbye. He left early in the morning, with not much of a goodbye. When I got into the shower later that morning, I saw that he had left a note taped to a bottle of his wonderful skin cleanser that I had always stolen from him when I had stayed in California. The note said, "Take care of your beautiful skin, always."
It was the saddest goodbye note I had ever received. I crumpled the note into a ball and then crumpled to the floor. I didn't leave my bed for days. I called in sick to work. I wasn't mourning our relationship, though. I felt way too numb to do that. I thought my decision was a good one. Part of me was excited to get back with my ex. I was mourning the end of the magic.
I stopped believing in magic the day he left. And I cannot tell you yet how long it took me to believe again. Years.
Probably that same day, or week, I got back together with my ex. Full force. I remember defending my decision to my mom and sister by telling them that Cassidy was too old for me and the magic spell had been broken and that my ex was where it's at. I'm positive I couldn't convince them of these words because I could not for the life of me convince myself of them. Ever.
I focused on work and my old/new relationship. I focused on my cute little kittens that I had adopted from a local shelter. One was sickly and one was obnoxious. Always. I coasted through the month of October in mixtures of denial, numbness and some happiness. My "boyfriend" came over one night and we made a taco dinner together and got really silly and started throwing food. In my new apartment. It was probably a little manic. At one point I threw soft taco shells directly up to the ceiling to see if they would stick. They did until the next morning.
This was my new life, so different from my old life. No plane tickets. No California. No flirty emails. Just a numbing darkness. You know what feels worse than sadness? Nothingness. That's my version of what depression is. It's not feeling too much, or feeling too badly - it's the lack of feeling anything. Except that you know what you should be feeling and it feels worse to not feel what you're blocking from feeling than it does to actually feel it. Much, much worse.
When November came, like clockwork, the numbness lifted. True sadness started. True feeling. My ex, god bless his beautiful soul and everything freakin' beautiful about him and our love. But my ex and I were not meant to be. We knew this instantly, when our old patterns started right back up. Instantly we realized we couldn't work. I don't know how long we lasted. Days? Weeks? Not even a month. I realized I had made the single worst mistake of my life. I could feel again. I could feel everything. I banged my head on my keyboard trying to write to Cassidy. It had been radio silence on his end. What was happening? Where was he? Was he still moving? What was he feeling? Did he still love me? I didn't know ANYTHING.
I knew that I still loved him enough to cry while writing this.
So I wrote him. I called him. I laid it all out. I wanted him back. I wanted our magic. I was in darkness. My numbness had turned to sadness. I could feel again after several weeks spent as the Tin Man, with no heart. I was no longer the Tin Man. I was Dorothy! I wanted to go home. I wanted my prince. I wanted my home. Home was him. It always was. It was him. All along. Our dreams of Thanksgiving! Our plans to live on the same coast! All of it should be ours! I called him. I wrote him. Again and again. He took my calls and answered my emails. He was happy for me that I could feel again. I propositioned myself eight different ways. I could go there. He could come here. We could be together. We could save Thanksgiving!
Thanksgiving was canceled. So were his plans. He had called his building manager and gotten his apartment back. He was staying in San Francisco. He had gotten a job. His mom's husband was no longer going to drive with him cross country. It was all canceled. In those few weeks without contact, his whole world had changed. It made perfect sense but I felt desperate. I told him repeatedly that I wanted him back and that we could work.
He never said "yes." He never said "no." He said he would think about it long and hard and that he would think about his feelings and his trust for me and think about the best logical plan. He sounded numb now and I ached to beat it out of him. I understood that his defenses were up again, but mine were down! I was alive again, so alive, and I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him. He said he would think long and hard about us and call me.
I waited every day for that call.
I had my distractions. For Halloween I had planned costumes with my friends, I don't remember what, but I didn't even show up to the company Halloween party. I was too depressed and too "off." I couldn't seem to get it together to find and wear a costume to a party. Know how when you're down, even the simplest tasks seem hard and when you're up, you're the Energizer bunny who can do it all? Well I couldn't do Halloween. I couldn't do anything except go to work and wait.
I on and off talked to my ex, but mostly about writing and photography and dreams. We weren't seeing each other then. There were lot of guys around during that time. It was weird because more and more guys were seeming to notice me and I couldn't have been less emotionally available. I seemed to give off a strange glow because I was getting asked out and complimented left and right. And my friends were always taking me out to clubs and bars and all of the other kinds of places I'm not into. My heart was not there. I felt the sickening darkness on those nights especially. I tried to feel something, for anyone. I'd latch onto the smallest feelings of any kind of lust or intrigue. And there were a few along the way into 2005...
I was writing a lot to my old friend, April. As I wrote her one day:
"Think about it. Everything that happens in your life, both good and bad, you will feel, whether your brain and heart feel it instantly, or wait 3 years and strike you with random brain lightning.
I think that was just about what was going through my head at all times then, as I waited for Cassidy's call.
I traveled to Texas on business in mid November. It was a dreadful flight and boring trip. One of my largest customers found out I was single and 24 and set me on a date with one of their employees from France. He was exquisitely gorgeous. We went out one night and it was totally awkward because we knew we were clearly set up and that I was going back to Jersey and he was going back to a girl in France and we had no future and neither of us were one-night-stand people. We talked a lot and went to a bar in Houston where they were line dancing. Talk about two fish out of water. We just stared at all of those cowboy hats and then at practically the same time we blurted out, "Let's go somewhere else!" We went out to dessert and he let me pay. Then he walked me back to my hotel downtown. I feel like there was a recipe there for both of us to behave very uncharacteristically, but I don't drink nearly enough to ever go down that road. So glad I didn't.
Back home I was happy to see that my good friends had taken good care of my kittens for me. One of them admitted years later how gloomy that my apartment was. It really was. I never took the care to decorate and love it. I had a framed poster-sized photo I had taken of the skyline of San Francisco from Twin Peaks. One day in a bad mood, I ripped it down. My kittens never made me happy. The sickly one grew sicklier and the obnoxious one grew more violent. Another symptom of my situational depression is how fearful I'd get if someone wanted to come over. It was like if they came to my apartment, they'd be looking at me with X-ray vision and seeing everything that was wrong inside of me; inside my heart. It was really strange and unusual for me. I'd always been very happy-go-lucky and spontaneous but in this new world, if someone said they were just "stopping by" I'd panic and when they were actually over, I'd be counting the minutes until they left.
I wanted to be alone all of the time but I was never alone. I wanted to be alone with my silent phone and my waiting misery.
I discovered MySpace somewhere in all of this mess and would "friend" local guys, because that's what you did back then! There are actually two that I was intrigued by and even went so far as to hang out with. Nothing happened and I'm still friends with both so I'd say it was worth it in the end. It was all part of my quest to feel something for someone, while also waiting for the one person I did feel something for to call me. He still hadn't called by the end of November.
Thanksgiving came and it was so unbelievably miserable. It had been our dream to have Thanksgiving together and I thought I'd at least hear from Cassidy with his answer about a future for us. I had no idea what his life was like during that time. This was before cyberstalking became so easy. My parents had always hosted Thanksgiving but they had fairly recently moved from our childhood home and we still hadn't worked out new holiday rituals. My family was split up and I wound up eating Thanksgiving dinner at my cousin's apartment. I wound up meeting up with my new/old ex and his friends after dinner, because he lived near my cousin. I don't know what we were or weren't but we did still talk on occasion.
I was also back in contact with the first love of my life. We had dated freshman year of college. We were somewhat trying to forge some sort of connection but he was in a very serious relationship and though it had a pretty major problem and was inevitably going to end, he was very loyal to her and I don't believe he had much to give me, and I to give him.
It probably sounds like I was all over the place. I was. I was not dating or physically intimate with anyone. Not even a kiss. I was trying things on for size. I wanted to wait loyally for Cassidy but he wasn't giving me a single reason to do so. A vague, "I'll think about it" was all he said to my grand gesture of love. Over a month later. I wasn't sure whether to wait at home, or date other guys. Two especially cute but very different guys were just starting to show interest. One was blatant and one wasn't. I'm sure I flirted a little but nothing EVER got beyond that point. I was waiting for my guy, all day, every day.
In early December I came home from work to find that my sickly kitten, Pumpkin, was shivering and vomiting violently. I panicked and called one of the two intriguing guys to help me. He met me on a freezing night at a 24 hour emergency vet. They diagnosed her with something called a "liver shunt" which is a birth defect that was not caused by me and could not be prevented or treated. They sent her home with me to get a second opinion from a day vet the next day. I felt miserable. I knew I hadn't caused it but I thought I had. I didn't even know why I had cats. I really don't like cats and never have. It started to dawn on me how self-destructive it had been to get kittens. For one, it pushed Cassidy away. For another, it didn't heal my constant loneliness the way a roommate, a sibling, or a loving boyfriend would.
Pumpkin died the next day at the vet's office. He was so sorry and told me to go home and think about what I wanted to do with her remains. I never went back. I never called. I never did anything official to mourn her.
The day after she died, I decided enough was enough. A month of waiting. A month of strange misery. A month of me trying to feel something for anyone or anything else. And trying to feel less for Cassidy. Of course I couldn't. One day it took all of my guts but I decided to call him. My heart pounded in my ears with just the initial idea. It had to be done.
I went outside and gathered up all of my strength. I dialed his number and waited..