I woke up in a haze, my head pounding, my muscles tight, and my eyes stuck shut with sleep. I stretched hard and forced my eyes open. After a split second of luxuriating in the warmth of the sun rays shining through my window, a wave of anxiety came at me full force as the events of the night before came crashing back into the forefront of my consciousness. It came in bits and pieces, but I remember a weird unshakable desire to talk to someone, anyone, from my past. A sort of ravenous nostalgia. I remember a sickly sweet canned cocktail and a shot or four of Fireball. I remember the ringing of a FaceTime call. I remember his face.
It had been so long since I had seen his face. Almost exactly four months but it had felt like years. I lingered on the memory of his face coming into frame. I remember that a year ago, seeing his face made me feel warm, comfortable, even safe. But Last night I felt distinctly uncomfortable, and I remember the second he picked up, looking at my roommate and saying “oh. This was a mistake.”
I remember a fight. No, not a fight. He was mad, but I was confused. He was hurt. Crying? His cat. I remember now. His cat had died. I remember saying I was sorry for his loss but why was he mad?
I gave up on trying to remember the specific details. I grabbed my phone off the nightstand to see if there were texts to accompany this elusive call, and I saw something I didn’t think was possible.
Me: “What the hell is wrong with you?”
Him: “Fuck you. Don’t ever talk to me again.”
Me: “You got it.”
In four years of knowing this man, I had never definitively ended things with him. Was this the ideal method of doing that? No, not really. Now in his retelling of the events of our relationship, I will always be the bad guy. I will always be the person who drunk dialed him and said something distasteful about his dead cat, and he will always be the pour soul mourning his dead cat and hounded by an evil conniving ex who had been waiting in the wings to abuse his vulnerability. But I didn't care. We were done. We had ended things so many times before but this time was different. It was final. It wasn't accompanied by a sense of overwhelming anxiety that he was going to come back a week later, or a desire to change my phone number to avoid any more contact from him. It was real this time.
Just as I was celebrating my massive win, my triumph over this everpresent but suddenly gone force in my life, this thing which has abused me, ruined my self-esteem, destroyed my relationships, and completely decimated my understanding of my own emotions, I feel my phone buzz in my hand.
I look down, and there is a single text from a number I don’t have saved.
“hey, i’m really devastated, and just needed something to be angry at. I know that y’all didn’t mean anything the way i took it.
i didn’t mean what i said either, and i wanted to reach out so i can just think about my cat rn without anything else attached.
i hope you’re doing ok,
and i told you you could pull off the buzz cut btw lol.”