I think of him sometimes. Not often; but from time to time, I see something that reminds me of him, of a certain memory in our past, of a certain way he would react to things, or of how he is doing. But the terrible thing is how I don’t think of him enough. In fact, he is absent from my mind and from my daily concerns most of the time. I go on with my new life, my new love and my new work without him. And that makes me feel a sense of guilt whenever I do think of him, because of the fact that we have been together for seven years and that we have shared so much together. Even if things had turned sour for the last few years or that we had become trapped in our own selfishness and inertia, we share family, common friends, common habits, pets and lived under the same roof. It scares me almost that he seems like such a distant part of my past and is stashed into an abandoned closet in my mind.
The night before I was to leave for San Francisco on my exciting roadtrip, we had one of those tiring “discussions” that we’ve been having for the last couple of years. But what was different about that discussion was that I knew it was going to be the final one — that there wasn’t going to be anymore. Maybe he knew too, but would rather pretend that things were alright than to face the truth and tried to come to terms with it. Something had broken in me just several months before — right about the time I started this blog, maybe shortly after. We had been having a lot of problems for a long time… perhaps the biggest problem is that we didn’t know why we were with each other. He was constantly unhappy with the way I did things and I was always nervous that I might be doing something wrong. And this resulted in a relationship that was at best stagnant and at its worst, stifling.
Looking back, I wonder if I had ever really loved him or whether he really loved me. It’s easy to say now, I suppose, since I have fallen in love with someone else that what he and I had was inferior, but it’s so hard for me to think of those times when we were actually happy or really enjoyed each other. We never had a honeymoon period — from the time we met, things were turbulent. We fought for most of the first two to three years, mostly because we each had so much baggage from our past and from life. I guess we were damaged individuals who needed love and hung on to any semblance of it. I remember thinking in the first two weeks that we were “together” that “we” would never work — mostly because we were so different and that he was the kind of person that was so stubborn to the point that it would make you cry. He was the kind of person who held on to his beliefs and opinions as if his life depended on them. If you wanted to know how I felt being around him, it would kind of be like being around a really stubborn dad who might let you have your way but still thought he was right all the time. And perhaps it’s not illogical to use the dad analogy since he was much older than I am — when I met him at 23, he was 42.
At that time, he looked much younger than he does now. Ruggedly handsome, and Italian, I was taken with the fact that he knew so much about the world and I remembered feeling safe with someone who “took care of things”. Of course, it was exciting that an older man would take an interest in you — I had until then been with men who were losers or douchebags, who really only wanted one-night stands or casual relationships, yes sex. So, having someone who wanted something serious was a new thing to me. I think I’ve always had this inferiority complex and felt like I wasn’t good enough — even though I know now that I’m a pretty great catch for any guy. But at that time, I didn’t know that. And to me, it was great to have the type of stability and assurance that L (that’s his initial) provided me. It made me feel some semblance of normality and also the normalcy of being in a stable relationship made me part of my own family again as well as part of his family.
We had good times of course, where we shared a couple of laughs. But mostly, our relationship depended on us putting up with each other’s inadequacies. Initially, the 19-year age gap between us was just a superficial value and number that we overcame because of our need for each other. But as the years went by, the age gap between us manifested into this unspoken gulf of differences in lifestyle, habits and preferences which would drag the both of us in a constant state of war with each other. He would always be impatient with my childishness and need for attention, and I would be frustrated with his constant state of fatigue, weary indecision and unwillingness to try anything new. After the initial excitement of being with someone new, and constant quarreling, we wore each other out into a status quo of inertia. All we did for years was watch TV, movies and lots of DVDs. Routine became an excuse for the slippery plateau and slow death of our relationship.