Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Same Mistakes

When Richard and I had been dating for a couple months, we took an overnight trip to New York and went to the MOMA. I had never been, despite living there for two years, so I was excited to go. I was excited about this new guy I was dating, too - he was different than anyone I had ever known before, and I was giddy with the newness of dating someone post-Alix. I felt like an adult - Alix and I were so young when we were together, and this felt different. Look, we were going on a trip to New York! Like a day-long date! It felt like a big deal.

The museum was packed. We started on the top floor, and I wandered happily from painting to painting, reading the descriptors of some but not all of them. I would catch his eye periodically, and we caught up to each other before going down each subsequent floor. I was happy. Anxious, yes - mostly because of how crowded it was and because I was starving but still too freaked to eat in front of this new person (yes, really) - but happy. On the first floor, we sat down on a bench and I could feel the waves of tension and...anger? rolling off of him. I was perplexed. I asked him what he was upset about, I couldn't think of anything that had gone wrong. He turned to me and told me When I asked you out today, I thought we'd be spending it together. You just walked around the whole museum without me and I just don't understand why you'd do that. I was baffled. I stumbled through some messy mix of an apology and a defense of the fact that I usually just wander through museums and if he had wanted us to look at each painting together, he should have said something...? He was pissed. I clearly didn't care about spending time together. It was obvious that the point of going to a museum was to look at stuff together. I should have known that. I got pissed back. I said he needed to communicate something if he expected me to know what the hell he was thinking, that I wasn't a fucking mind reader and that if this was really something he was going to get bent out of shape over, then he could leave.

So he did. He got up, and he walked away. I sat in stunned silence on that bench, my heart pounding and my empty stomach now clenching with nausea. I took some deep breaths. I'll call Jess, I told myself. I'll call Jess, and I'll go stay with her and Scott tonight, and I'll take the train back myself tomorrow. It'll be fine. I can do this. What the hell is wrong with him, wait, no, what the hell is wrong with me? Is this it? Are we done, him and me? I'm so confused. I got up, prepared to walk out the door and head to Brooklyn. I felt better. I felt like maybe, just maybe, I had dodged a bullet.

But there he was. He'd turned around and walked back. He apologized. He said he shouldn't have left like that. I mumbled that it was okay and we went and ate lunch and we never spoke of it again.

* * *

He and I broke up about a week ago, after three years of communicating just as poorly as we'd done that day in New York. I loved him - I still love him - so fucking much. Every day now is a messy mix of anger, shock, depression, guilt, failure, and gut-wrenching loneliness. There is so much more to us, to him, than I've ever written here (out of respect for his and our privacy). There are deep and beautiful things about the person he is and the people we were together. And all those wonderful things couldn't trump the problems we had. His version of this story is undoubtedly different. That's part of the problem. The stories we each have - about who we are, about what we planned, about what's important - don't line up. They don't match. It hurts a lot right now and I miss him.

I feel like I'll never get this right. How can I love the people I love so deeply, and still keep fucking it up so profoundly?