I got into a fight one night with a girlfriend and I stormed out of her apartment. I didn’t get far because I had left my keys inside and had to knock on the door to get them back. She let me in and told me to get the keys and get out and I was more than happy to do so but I couldn’t find them. We were on the porch for a while, we were in the kitchen, we wound up on the sofa they could be under the cushions, damn, where did I leave them? Shit, I locked them in the car, didn’t I?
She handed me a clothes hanger and told me to get out but I was a little too drunk to break into the car and it was cold as hell. I asked to sleep on the sofa and she laughed at me and told me she wanted me to get the hell out or apologize to her for the way I acted. I thought about the consequences of trying to break into a car, in the dark, in the cold, versus the possibilities of an apology in a nice warm apartment. The alcohol was indecisive. Jose’ told me that on one hand this would teach her that you would rather brave the elements than bow down to her extortion. That was a really good point, too. But the alcohol also told me that if she was willing to let me crash on the sofa after a fight she might be willing to kiss and make up, and hey, that was better than trying to break into a car in the middle of the night when it was cold.
So I went up to her and put my hands on her hips and she pushed them away and I told her I was really sorry about getting angry about nothing, and she looked away from me with that look on her face that told me to keep trying that she wasn’t quite there yet. After the third time the hands stayed on the hips and she allowed me to get close enough to make a difference and the sofa slept alone that night. The next morning I found the keys on the kitchen counter just like they had been there the whole time but it took a very long time for me to realize that she had never intended for me to leave that night.
We broke up, she and I, but we orbited one another as if we couldn’t truly stand to be together or apart. She found someone new, someone more stable and someone with a steady job, but we never stopped seeing one another on odd occasions. She lived in a house with four apartments in it and I was friends with everyone there so I had an excuse to be around most of the time. She lived next door to a woman who sat me down and said that I was doing the my ex wrong by hanging around and drinking with her. But, I protested, you and I are drinking together. One thing led to another. It was an odd encounter because I knew she didn’t think I made a good partner, just a good buddy.
It was a couple of days later I was back visiting my ex and we both went next door to watch a movie and as I was sitting there I noticed my hat on the coffee table next to the couch and realized I had left it there during my last visit. I very causally slipped in onto my head during the movie and she never noticed. The woman whose apartment called me later and told me she nearly died when she realized that hat was there, but hey!
When you are young and sexually promiscuous there doesn’t seem to be any harm in casual sex or even very casual sex but it all depends on if you’re doing any damage with your actions. The woman who loved me valued sex more because I put a high value on physical contact. After a while, it became the currency in which we traded in, emotionally speaking. Any woman who knew me, and liked me, knew this was how to reach me. But it’s like knowing someone who never wants anything else to eat but that one thing. It’s great for a while but in the long run you’re only good for a snack.
You have to know what your currency is when you are trading for someone’s time. Are you a kind person? Do you make that person feel valued? Do you feed some part of that person’s life more than you feed off of that person’s life? Does that person feel as if the love you hold is something special and holy and unique?
I failed the test for each and every one of those questions at one point in time with that woman.
There has come a point in my life where I value a person’s creativity very highly and I am more than willing to trade my time for that currency. Yet there still has to be those same questions asked. The woman loved me but she and I broke up several times before she finally rode off into the sunset with someone else. Was it my fault, yes, but she also had a habit of presenting me with a List of Particulars whenever she broke up with me. She didn’t like my clothes. She didn’t like my hair. She didn’t like my apartment. She didn’t like my friends. She didn’t like… And with each new conflict there was something else, some other fatal flaw that I had to fix before everything would be right again, for a little while.
It was my fault, and I will always believe that it was my fault, that we never stayed together. But at the same time I do not think she realized that each time she broke up with me it was like kicking a dog. No matter how many time you do not kick the dog, if you do kick the dog often enough the dog begins to believe he will be kicked. Whenever we disagreed I felt as if I were about to lose her. Whenever she was angry I felt as if she were leaving. When I didn’t hear from her when I thought she would call I would think she had left again, and eventually, this became to be true.
Sam is deranged. Lucas is expensive. Lilith is, hmmm, Lilith hasn’t shown any signs of trouble yet other than she chews Lucas’ collars off him too often, but all my dogs are in some way imperfect beings. Yet I love them perfectly. The currency for love must be love. There must come a time when two people vow that it won’t ever end, it cannot end, or someone will wind up writing about the end, and writing about regret.
I do most sincerely with all of my heart and all of my soul and with every atom in my being regret not knowing what currency I needed to make her stay.