About 16 Years Ago
I stood still underneath the tree as the wind passed, blowing autumn leaves down to my feet. I watched him in silence load the last of his things in the trunk of the car. He shut the car door and started the engine. He came back out and made his way towards me. He leaned in close, shook my hand and said, “Lorenzo. A man should always love a woman more.”
I wiped a tear from my eye and said, “Goodbye dad”.
Friday 7 p.m., December 18, 16 years later
I run down the stairs and through the turnstiles, hurriedly showing my monthly subway pass to the TTC worker. I try not to push through people to keep some semblance of civility, but it's a feeble attempt. I almost knock over an old Jamaican lady carrying several bags of groceries. I apologize. She kisses her teeth at me and in Patois, resentfully curses my mother's name along with mine. I apologize again, but I hastily keep going down another flight of stairs. I hear the heavy sound of the oncoming train as I make my way down. I briskly rush for the subway doors. They instinctively close on me. I sigh loudly but no one is around to hear it. I'm going to be late. Again.
The next train arrives several minutes later. I calmly get on and take a seat. There is a copy of the daily “Metro” paper next to me. I pick it up and read it to pass the time during the long ride. After reading the sport's scores and a quick synopsis of the current celebrity gossip, I flip to the horoscopes. Mine reads, “Taurus, make a conscious effort to control your emotions. Don't react to unjustified provocations. The main danger now is that if you go too far you might not be able to turn back.” Bad news from the stars.
I arrive an hour and half late. As I approach the Manulife Center, I see her standing outside with her arms exasperatedly crossed. She's angry and rightfully so. I was suppose to meet her for the 7 p.m showing of the new James Cameron film and it's now 8:30 p.m. Over the last few months she's become increasingly irate with me, starting daily fights over the most trivial of things. I've started to grow tired of always having to defend myself so the last thing I want for this night is to be the cause of yet another fight. I just want to enjoy each other's company, argument free. It's been so long since we've had a carefree night. We use to have them all the time. We use to never fight. We use to smile and laugh. We use to talk for hours and fall asleep happy. We use to be a lot of things, but that all seems like an eternity ago – in another life.
I make my way towards her with my excuses and reasons. “I'm so sorry I'm late. I just got stuck at work and couldn't get out and then missed the damn train.”
She looks at me with minimal disappointment. “It's fine. All the shows are sold out and there really isn't another movie I want to see anyways. Do you want to grab a bite instead? I've been dying to try that new Japanese place on Queen.”
I agree to her suggestion. We casually walk back to the subway. We get on the next train and take a seat beside each other. She barely talks to me. The train makes a couple of its routine stops and still, not a word. I decide to break the uncomfortable silence, “I heard this new movie is suppose to redefine the cinematic experience. I'm really sorry we missed it.”
I turn to her and eagerly wait for her to say something back. She looks at me and angrily responds, “I don't care about the movie... I know you've been cheating on me.”
I wish I can say that her accusation completely caught me off guard but unfortunately they've become rather routine. One minute everything is perfection and the next she finds some little thing to momentarily justify her fears of me straying. She yells. I comfort her. She cries. I comfort her. She apologizes. I comfort her. Rinse and repeat. Defending myself has become my new found occupation over the last few months. The two of us keep doing the same thing over and over but to our failed expectations, the results are the same each time. I guess collectively, we've become Albert Einstein insane.
Before I can even comfort her for tonight's “Lorenzo is cheating on me” session, she continues to berate me further with the same accusation. I attempt to calm her down, but it's without success. A couple sitting across from us looks away and pretends not to overhear our conversation. With each passing subway stop, her accusation becomes more infuriated and her tone grows louder and louder. Each time I attempt to clarify the situation, she raises her voice, as if speaking over me would somehow prompt a confession. I grab her hand gently but she violently pulls away. She begins to yell at me, loud enough that people couldn't help but pay attention to the situation. A different, bag-less old lady judgmentally shakes her head at me. I continue to stand there in silence. The less I say, the angrier she becomes. Her accusing attitude eventually turns vindictive. She begins to verbally assault my character, arming herself with anything and everything I have ever done wrong.
Months ago, I didn't understand what brought about her sadness and anger, but as I stand here, tonight, it starts to become clear to me that she's no longer content with “us”. We used to be so passionate for one another. Then some time passed and “Us” became convenient and boring, but I enjoyed the stability. I've always rejected the idea of low interest mortgages, Sunday morning masses, water cooler discussions, PVRs and 2.5 kids. I hated the concept of monogamy and monotony. I've perpetually lived like everything in life had an expiration date. I've preferred to keep a comfortable distance, because nothing and no one had ever been worth the risk. But with her, Friday night movies and “Cranium” activity dinner parties grew on me. She made me want to tuck my Oxford white shirt into my pants, put on that suit and tie and seek out a corporate career. She made me want forever. She was my exception. But she couldn't see any of that. All she saw was the monotony that “Us” had become. “Us”... “I” was not making her happy anymore.
I pull her in close, hold her for a minute. I can feel her tears running down the side of my face. Just as the train temporarily stations into the next stop, I pull away and whisper to her, “Your instincts are right; I did cheat.” I let go of her and take a step out of the train. She looks at me – heartbroken, but relieved. She remains on the train as the doors once again instinctively close. We shared everything. She was the closest person to me in my life, but literally in a couple of moments, all of that was gone. As I stand still on the subway platform, the train slowly departs from the station and it takes everything I know with it. That's the last time we would see each other.
I didn't want to let her go, but I had to. I wanted to let her know exactly what she meant to me. How much I love her. How she's everything to me. How I started to read horoscopes because she believes in them. How although I wasn't the best boyfriend by any stretch, that cheating on her was never really an option. How she's all I ever needed and wanted. How she saved me from a directionless life of 6 a.m. last calls, pseudo friends and jaded hearts. How I had been occasionally stopping by jewelry stores on my way home from work to look at stupid rings. How although I'm not religious, she's my personal Jesus. How my pursuit of happiness ended with her, but just took some time adjusting to. I wanted to do all of these things, but instead I told her what I knew she wanted to hear. I lied to her. I increasingly saw it on her face over the last few months; she had grown tired of the life we built. She had started to miss the excitement of our old lives that had been replaced by stability of this new one. She needed a justifiable reason to leave. So I gave it to her.
We all seek out the love we think we are worth. She had been hurt before. She came from a past that didn't allow her to believe in happiness and forever. She had learned to grow comfortable in the idea of being emotionally numb. I wanted to save her. I wanted to be everything she was to me, but she just couldn't accept what we had. I had to give her a reason to seek out what she felt would make her comfortable. A man should always love a woman more, so I let her go.