We Listened to Miles Davis
I feel like a lot of people felt “off” today from what I’ve been told. Like conversations were random or faint, like not a lot could have been done about this “Monday” feeling. I got off the phone with her and she didn’t even let me finish. It bothers me that she wouldn’t let me have the last laugh, the last word, or that she would walk away and expect me to chase her. I never asked for much, but I just wanted you to love me.
I’d like to believe that I have been absolutely smitten by someone better than me. I wanted this to be over fast and easy because that was us; we fell for each other so quickly, or maybe that’s the difficulty we played at. Is it wrong to empathize with me? That’s exactly what she’s doing and I can hear her faint voice saying, “It’s okay, I understand,” over the noise from the diner’s record player playing “Funny Valentine.” Her light perfume stood out to me when we met this afternoon; she smelled like my mother, a woman who never liked the scent of vanilla, but wears enough lavender so that she can smell herself to feel like she’s blooming, despite the fact that she was dying. When she sat down across from me, the buttons of her top were purposely undone; I noticed her cleavage and dark matte lipstick immediately. Her attire for our afternoon date made parents in the restaurant uncomfortable, but she really paid no mind.
I knew that she — that you would get back into your old habits from when we dated at sixteen, when you drank like a forty year-old bar rat and gave those eyes to every passerby. I thought I knew what you would do. That’s the thing, I didn’t know. It’ll hurt less if we end this now than in two weeks time. We broke up not too long ago and that was because we wanted to work on becoming better people. Instead of that, we fucked other people, each other, and then we fucked each other up. It’s funny how things come about, but I didn’t want to mention what I did last week, and you didn’t want to mention all of the guys you’ve been with in the past few months.
What did we have in common after all? What did you mean you understood? We didn’t speak for the twenty-seven ticks on the wall, for as long as the eager waitress stood idly by eyeballing our cups of coffee that weren’t steaming anymore, but then time stopped seizing this moment when you spoke up.
“My last name means little hoe in Italian.”
“My mom made my middle name her last name.”
This was true, but she knew that because I’ve said this before and I accidentally annoyed her by repeating myself.
I had to break the silence again, where I regretfully asked,
“Was your upbringing just as great as your name?”
“Yeah I just had sex again and I’m okay with living with that.”
She was smirking. Oh my God, you are so condescending.
I guess we had a good run. We ran far enough to live through the passing of my friend, but you left. I hated how you kept leaving when I needed you the most; after the fight with my brother, after my friend overdosed, after I was about to have my first art show. I didn’t understand why you left so much and so abruptly. You resonated with my absent father, and today was the last time I’d see you with the intention of seeing you. I’m doing this for me, just like I’m quitting smoking for me because my I’m coughing up the mucus I built up from crying last night.
“I can’t do this anymore.”
I expected you to say something wholesome afterwards, but before I could think of what you could say, you interrupted me again because I couldn’t even finish my thoughts before you looked down at your watch and said,
“I don’t really care anymore.”
I swear to God that Miles Davis’ record was skipping as your last words worked their way into my head the way the needle worked its way into the scratch on the vinyl.
You’re taking this so easy. I’m forcing myself to validate why we can’t be together, but you’ve figured it all out already. I got up and left. This afternoon fell to dusk, and I fell deeper in love with you, more than I expected. I would have wasted my breath trying to say more, but because of who you are, these heavy words would have been just a casual conversation with you.
Weeks later I heard that you got into an accident, no details were listed in the article and I didn’t give you a call. It’s not that I didn’t care about whether or not you were okay, but as selfish as it sounds, you didn’t care enough to give a fuck about my well-being. I always felt that in an alternate universe, you’d still be in my life in a constant way, maybe a positive way. Sometimes I wished I didn’t leave, maybe you wouldn’t have gotten into an accident, maybe the inevitable wouldn’t have been possible. I inhaled the guilt, and exhaled empathy. You’re physically in pain, and I’m mentally straining myself from pretending like I don’t care.