High School Letters and Radiohead - Story #12

November 17

A couple days later she sent me this response:

To: lorenzoraymundo@hotmail.com 
From: JessicaT*****7@yahoo.com
Subject: 'Let Down'

Dear Lorenzo,

I know that you’ve never intended to let me down, but you consistently do. It's so easy to talk about happy endings, but if a person can't deliver, if that person keeps making the same mistakes… well, eventually I guess you just have to say fuck you. Or words to that effect. You say you don't want this life – all I ever hear about is how you're meant for something greater; how you want something more, something with substance. Yet it seems to me that you don’t. Not really. Talk is cheap - actions are choices. I'll admit that you're noble in belief, but you're so weak in action. I need something tangible, something I can believe in. You should have chased me out of the club that night. You should have fought for me.

But okay... let's give it one last try.


November 14 – Sometime after midnight ('No Surprises' playing in the background)

I feel guilty. I technically didn't cheat on her, but the feeling is just the same. It has me acting outside of myself. It's been a couple of days since we've seen (or talked to) each other. She refuses to return my phone calls, and the text message ratio is easily 5 to 1. As a rule of thumb, I generally like to keep said ratio heavily in my favour, but with Jessica, that rule has been completely abolished, and I've pretty much been reduced to stalking her as my only form of contact.

I'm at a dead end. In one final move of desperation, I decide to send a high school-esque “you’re-the-one-for-me-I’m-sorry-I’m-such-a-douche” letter.

To: JessicaT*****7@yahoo.com 
From: lorenzoraymundo@hotmail.com
Subject: 'Karma Police'

Dear Jessica,

I don't even know where to start. I guess I'll start by saying something I never said nearly enough: I love you.

Growing up, my parents never said those three words to each other; I thought that I’d be different, but I guess I'm not. I try not to be like them, but somewhere along the line you slip into what you know. I'm sorry about that.

I'm also sorry that we haven't been happy for a while. I don't remember what went wrong between us, or the exact moment everything changed, I just know that it did. One minute we're laughing and planning the rest of our lives together, the next we're here – in this place – filled with anger and resentment. It seemed like it all happened in the blink of an eye; our smiles turned into fights, our laughs turned into scowls. I don't know if that’s my fault or if it’s yours, or if it's just how things go, but I guess it doesn't really matter because this is the reality of us... this is where we are.

I also have a confession to make. I met someone the other night and came dangerously close to crossing that line. I don't know what combination of thoughts of you stopped me from going farther, but something did. I do these things - coasting along life, acting a fool and making the same mistakes. I don't know why. Maybe you're right. Maybe I'm just not built that way. Maybe I'll never change.

I have this recurring dream that I wake up in the twilight of my life in this habitual but unfamiliar place. In a conventional home with a two-car garage, surround sound and a yard with a garden filled with dead flowers. There is a faint whisper of children making breakfast that echoes through the hall. I can hear them from where I lay... barely awake, sleep still dormant in my eyes. I get on my feet and hastily make my way to the shower, aware that I'm behind in my daily routine. I put on an ironed pair of pants, then the suit jacket and shirt to match. I pick out a tie from my vast collection, inhale deeply and fall back onto the bed. I let the sheets and the dark thoughts birthed by the paradigm of mediocrity consume me for a brief, but seemingly eternally fading moment. These introspective thoughts do not escape me – they are buried for the time being, but are carried deep in my pocket until the day that I can muster the courage to act upon them.

I walk down the stairs. There are old photographs of the undying ghosts of what once was adorning the walls. They greet me with an unforgiving torment – haunting and mocking my very existence. I turn a blind eye to them and keep walking. I jump on a train, drink a hot cup of coffee and read the paper. I sit in a box, underachieving for half my day, and return home when the sun turns dark. I go back to sleep and wake up to the same day. Every day.

For so long I've had this dream, and for so long I’ve fought against anything remotely close to it. But then I met someone. She was totally unexpected and, truth be told at the time, undesired. I wasn't looking for her. I wasn't searching. It was totally random. It just happened. She smiled at me and I smiled back. We would lie in bed for hours like idiots, staring at each other. Just smiling. She wouldn't say a word and neither would I. The next thing I knew, I felt at home in that silence. It's a cold, unwelcoming world out there – full of artificial and expressionless people. I was so fearful of being lost in that passionless routine before she found me. The thought of coming home to her makes that routine bearable. Desirable, even.

I don't know if I believe in 'the one', but if I did, I have this feeling that she might be it. She's completely spontaneous and enigmatic, but in a way that is absolutely disarming. She is you, Jess.

I used to be impenetrable - nothing could touch me. Then you came along, and, in that instant, my heart was beating outside of my chest, exposed to the world in all its fragility. Loving you was unexpected and undesired, but it has been the most powerful, profound and agonizing experience of my life.

I wanted so badly to protect you... to rescue you from your past, but in the end you needed to protect yourself from me. I’m the one who ended up hurting you. I know it's been a while since we knew how to be happy together, and it’s become increasingly obvious that maybe we just can't be together. Maybe you're right. Maybe it's my fault. Maybe I never really took the time to understand you. It's true, I don't know how to be with you right now, and that scares the hell out of me. But I have this feeling that if we give up now, we might get lost out there and never find our way back to that comforting silence.

I don't know what the future holds or what's going to happen between us. I don't have any logical reason to give this another shot, but God damn I can't stop thinking about you. I miss coming home to you… and we knock the boots pretty well, that's gotta count for something right?

Please call me...


P.S. I've been drinking and, in hindsight, maybe I shouldn't have had Radiohead's 'Ok Computer' album on repeat while I wrote that letter.

Last Call for Sin (Story #11)

Saturday 4 am, November 11

There are certain moments in life wherein the choices you make alter its course forever.

Saturday 1:50 am, November 11

My personal Jesus is standing in the back of the line waiting to use of the bathroom. At any half-happening venue in the city, women always have to wait about three times longer than men for the exact same purpose of relieving themselves. I’m not really sure why this is, though I’ve often wondered what it is women do in there. I suspect that it’s because men urinate upright and all the hardships associated with peeing sitting down cause this major delay in bathroom time, but who knows, really.

I'm standing by the exit with her coat tucked under my arm. I contemplate the obvious outcome of the situation. For a brief second, I reconsider my decision. I turn my attention towards her, studiously looking her up and down. She flashes me a flirtatious smile from where she stands. There’s no turning back. It's over; I don't stand a chance. She's armed with witty banter, seductive smiles and questionable motives. Not to mention, I’m completely powerless against her short mini skirt and long legs.

I'm fidgeting with my BlackBerry, pretending to look busy while I wait for her to finish. Twenty minutes later she comes out, smile and mini skirt perfectly intact. She swiftly makes her way towards me. She grabs her coat from the security of my arm, lightly kisses me on the cheek and asks, “So what now, stranger?”

I take the last sip of my vodka soda. Maybe it's the combination of alcohol mixed with my tolerance for Jessica's dramatic and unwarranted blowouts that provoke something inside me to change... to regress. I swallow that insecure, unsure, idealistic love fool with that last sip of vodka soda. I ignore any semblance of my newfound moral rectitude birthed by my change in relationship status, and divert back to the pre-Jessica version of myself – confident and composed.

I suggest that she accompany me to an after-hours spot located under a hair salon that, twice a week, housed designer- collared-shirt-tie-wearing weekend warriors. I intend to be one of them and invite her to bear the same label.

I mean fuck it. Why not right? She's dope, her outfit could cure cancer and everyone knows in an after-hours, there are no games; true colours come out, especially with the help of a small group of Columbian guerrilla mercenaries. If Red Bull has wings, then Cocaine has a strap-on jet pack. All one really needs is to have a small segment of the rebel forces fight their way into any girl's bloodstream, and you’re guaranteed that she will be a lot “friendlier.” Buy a girl a drink, you get a conversation. Buy a girl a ring, you get a minivan and a mortgage. Buy a girl a couple lines, and at the very least you get a blow job.

I place my hand on the small of her back, guide her out of the club and into a cab idling by the curb. We get in. I'm decisive. She's nervous. I'm relaxed. She's antsy. My demeanour is calm, while hers is in frenzy.

Noticing the change in her attitude I ask, “Are you game?”

She tensely responds, “Can we go somewhere else? Maybe get to know each other a little better? I'm not really an after-hours kind of girl. ”

“Really? What kind of girl are you?”

“I just... go with the flow. I know I came off a bit strong earlier but I wasn't bullshitting you. I don't just typically approach random guys and talk about the alignment of the stars.”

“So was that whole cosmic approach reserved specifically for me? ‘Cause I'll have to admit it really did weaken my resolve.”

“I don't know - It just felt like the thing to say. I don't plan things, but I also don't chase the night. Why don't we go to my place and hang out?”

“Actually, that sounds like a better plan.”

“Good. But I don't want you to get the wrong idea. We're going there to hang out. We're not going to have sex.”

“Oh... okay?”

She laughs and attempts to win me over by adorably saying, “I have old records.”

Sold. We settle into her place half an hour later. She brings out a bottle of wine, lights a stick of incense, sparks up some green and spins 'Low End Theory'. We discuss politics, religion, music, life, love and Star Wars... everything and anything without pretentiousness or over-intellectualizing the conversation. She brings out old photo albums of her friends and family. She starts to confide in me about personal events from her past. She even shows me some teenage dance she did during her high school years that won her a local talent competition.

She's completely random, but in a way that catches me off guard and makes me smile. I only met this girl a few hours ago but she acts like we've known each other for years. It's 2 a.m. on a Saturday morning and without a shred of fear she invited me back to her place for reasons outside the typical after the club norm - sex. For all she knows, I could be a psychopath, a date rapist, a talentless hipster, a child molester, a murderer, a Nazi, or one of those bible quoting freaks – all equally menacing. But for one reason or another, she’s determined to get to know me and not just hook up. I guess her astrology-inspired discourse earlier in the night was genuine.

Naturally, I'm a little taken back. It's been awhile since I had dared to talk to anyone of the opposite sex. I've spent so much time in the last couple of months making my failing relationship with Jessica my vocation that I've forgotten the excitement of raw human interaction.

Before meeting Jessica, I spent the majority of my adult life frequenting all the 'wrong' places in hopes of accidentally running into the 'right' girl. That's what most of us do. Do we really expect to find the kind of person that doesn't frequent clubs in clubs? As blatantly idiotic as that sounds, that's what I did. But tonight it seems that I may have found her. Old records, serendipitous conversations, a genuine aversion to the nightlife, short mini skirt and long legs – summon one of those child molesting bible quoting freaks and we're ready for our nuptials.

We step out to her twentieth floor condominium balcony and both lean against the ledge. From where we stand, I can hear the faint whispers of Tribe's 'Bonita Applebum'. We stand together, on the edge of her balcony and watch the late night city traffic. She leans in closer, playfully nudges me with her elbow and smiles. I smile back. She stares at me, silent. The moment is transcendent. It's the height of decadence. She wants me to kiss her, but I don't.

She is absolutely magnetic and she seems like the girl I've been waiting to accidentally meet, but there's only one problem – she's not Jessica. Earlier in the night, I was sure she was the obvious wrong choice that I was willingly prepared to make, but now she is turning out to be the right decision. Ironically, the right decision is not the one I crave tonight. I require a short term fix; an impermanent form of retribution. I'm looking to cheat, not fall in love. I already have some screwed up version of love waiting for me at home.

I'm so tired of the weight and responsibilities that come with this being-in-love bullshit. I want the freedom of not having to justify every single interaction I have with the opposite sex. People are so quick to cast off sex without love as an empty experience, but as empty experiences go, it's definitely the most fulfilling. I should really go through with it and let the cards fall where they may in the morning, but for some reason I just can't. Damn you mom and damn you Catholic upbringing. I guess legitimizing Jessica's behaviour and accusations will have to wait another night.

“Honestly, you're really dope but I haven't been completely honest with you. I need to tell you something...”

But before I can even go into my in depth emotionally rooted monologue about how amazing she is and that I'm actually a scumbag in a committed relationship, she interrupts, smiles and contently says, “I think I'll hold on to this moment right here. Let's not ruin it by chasing the night.”

She walks me back into her apartment and guides me towards the front door. She opens it and I hesitantly cross the threshold. I look back at her one last time. She walks over, kisses me on the cheek, slips a card in my coat pocket and whispers, “Satisfaction is the death of desire.”