One year ago, today.
8 a.m. The first thought in my mind when I wake up is that something is terribly wrong. It's Sunday. The bed's comfy. I'd had enough sleep (for once no insomnia). My dreams were ok. But he isn't here. This has happened before--he sleeps on the couch a lot--but it seems wrong this time.
I crawl out of bed to go find him. He is on the couch.
"Come to bed, baby." I am being sweet. I gently tug on his arm to wake him up.
"Hold on a minute." It's a dismissal. He rolls back over.
"It's morning. You didn't come home until very late. I want to be cuddled."
He follows. He knows better than to ignore it. But something is wrong. I know it. I don't know how I know it, but the thought persists and the words bubble up before I can stop them. I don't even want to have this conversation now--it's too early. But still we sit on the bed, neither of us fully awake, and the words come out of my mouth.
"Something is wrong."
He looks at me. He's awake now. We both are. "I don't want to talk about this right now."
"What's 'this'? You've been distant this week. I haven't said anything because I figured you're busy, but it's more than that." I'm starting to get angry, but I keep calm on the outside. "What's going on?"
He breathes. I don't. "I met someone."
Pause. "You told me you were at a party last night. Were you with her?"
"Yes. And I could have cheated on you. But I didn't."
So, what the fuck, I'm supposed to be grateful you piece of shit? But I don't shout. "And?"
"And what? I told you. There." He's not even looking at me. I've already been erased. I take in the picture of us from the ski trip to Colorado hanging on the wall of our bedroom--our bedroom--looking so happy.
"What do you want to do about it?" He doesn't respond. Apparently, I'm talking to a little boy now. I break it down. "I mean do you want to work things out with me, or do you want to pursue her?"
He finally looks at me. "I don't know. I just met her. And she lives so far away--it probably wouldn't work out anyhow--but... I don't know. We just--clicked. You understand?"
"Just to be clear then--it's her."
"Ok. Please leave the room now. I need to get dressed and pack up my things. I'm moving out."
"Today? You don't have to go. You can stay until you find another place or something--"
I'm not going to cry in front of him. Fucker. Not going to cry. "I asked you to leave. I'm not dressed."
He stands. Turns back at the door. "Fuck, this is hard."
"What's hard?" I'm amazed how calm I am.
"I've never broken up with someone I still care about. I mean someone whose life I'd like to turn out well."
That's because you let things drag on until you hate the other person. You'd let me stay here if I wanted to. You'd let me come to your family's Thanksgiving next week. You'd act like nothing was wrong, except I'd know. I always know. "That's sad, Dan. Please leave. Now."
He closes the door. I sit on the bed for a few minutes, not trusting myself to move. It dawns on me that I'm feeling some relief that my anxiety this last week was not just in my imagination. Dan's good on paper, always has been, but in the flesh, something seems lacking. I'd been fantasizing for months about moving into my own apartment, researching teach abroad programs and new jobs, been severely depressed for no reason since his brother's wedding in August, and when I wasn't with him, I couldn't recall Dan's face (I kept seeing Jeff's, actually). In retrospect, something wasn't right for a very long time. Like almost all of the nearly two years we'd been together.
In the shower, the doubts and questions start back up. I love this house--the nicest place I've lived in since I moved out of my parents'. What am I going to tell our roommates? Fuck it, let him deal with Ken. Anne will understand. Where am I going to live? What about our trip to Whistler in March and the one to France for Christmas? What about his parents (I love Dan's family so much)? I'll never see them again. That's so sad... Who the hell is this bitch and what's so fucking special about her that he'll throw away our history for the possibility of something with her? I've gained weight. Maybe that's it. [I'm not particularly proud of this last line of thinking.]
It occurs to me now that not one of these thoughts is sadness over losing Dan. My heart is not broken, though my pride is severely bruised.
The shock sets in. I call Sarah. She hops on the metro right away. God, I love my sister. I move out later that day to stay with my parents in Damascus. The Friday of Thanksgiving--one week later--I moved into my apartment in Greenbelt.
Dan was not the guy I dated after Ric. Between them was James, who has the same name as one of my brothers. This was ok because he was known as "The Jame." Jame was six and half feet tall (well, 6' 5.5"), a would-be Zionist, and a close friend of both Tom #3 and me. I helped him run his failed campaign for SGA president at college, and we hung out a few times the summer after we graduated. He was heading to law school that fall, and I was starting the PGCPS Resident Teacher program. I developed a huge crush on him.
The night I moved into my first apartment in Beltsville with Anne, I saw him. We stayed up late talking. He kissed me.
After that, we started dating. It was only a few weeks until he left for New Jersey, but we agreed to keep seeing each other. It lasted three months. (Something about November is strange for me with relationships--so many of them start and end at this time; the other month for that is September--so much for spring fever, eh?).
One time on the phone with Jame, he asked where I saw myself in five years. I remember saying I didn't really know, but that within ten years I'd like to have lived in another country, written some stuff that got published, and maybe get a graduate degree of some kind. He said, with some hint of scorn, that within five years, I'd be married and having kids. I said that would depend on circumstances.
Three years later, he is married. I am living in South Korea.
Breaking up with Jame brought up a lot of the feelings I'd avoided after breaking up with Tom #3 because he remained good friends with Tom, because it was the only relationship I've had that I wanted to continue at the time and the other person didn't, and because I didn't hop right back into another relationship. In fact, the most depressed I've been about being single was in the three months between Jame and Dan. I experienced fear bordering on panic. I wasn't in school anymore--I didn't meet new guys on a regular basis and most of the ones I met seemed to be in relationships already.
This fear could explain how I ended up meeting Dan on match.com and falling into my good on paper "perfect" relationship without really thinking about if I liked him all that much.
So what happened with Dan and the other girl?
Well, I being the keen observer of human relations that I am kindly suggested that his feelings for her may be a manifestation of what was lacking in our relationship and that he take some time to process that before jumping the gun. And then I didn't speak to him again.
He took her on the trip to France he planned for us. He proposed to her on New Year's Day. They've been married since sometime around February or March of this year. She has two kids from previous relationships. He always said he hated the thought of raising other people's kids.
Anne and Ken give it a year until the divorce proceedings begin. I'm more generous. I think they'll last three or four.
I feel kind of sad that my fondest memories of my life with Dan are of the trips we took, the wine we drank, and the meals we ate. With other guys, I have more happy things to say about the guys themselves. All I can say about Dan is that he's intelligent, attractive, ambitious, and has a great job. He's a really good friend to his high school buddies. Sometimes he's funny.
He also has no emotions whatsoever. He's extremely shallow and petty. He has a mean streak and he's very selfish. I kept thinking there must be more to him, but looking back, I'd say my psyche knew more than I did. I have a pretty intuitive little psyche when I bother to listen to it. I just elected not to for 22 months or so.
And so, that basically catches you up on where I am today--flirty and mildly boy crazy in Korea.
Happy one year, Diana. This is definitely the best relationship you've ever had!