He loved me. I really believe that, even after all that’s happened, I will continue to believe he loved me. I loved him, too, not that that ever mattered to him. I indulged him, and that was what made him love me. But then I never cared why he did, only that he did.
I don’t believe there is another person like him anywhere. He would always say the oddest things, where they came from I certainly don’t know. In conversations, once a topic would finish, he would bring up another widely divergent to the one just discussed, or make some comment relative to absolutely nothing I could ever discern. That was one of the things I loved about him, but it also showed how he was always in his own little world.
That was okay, though. I was willing to put up with him to be a part of that world, even when he did nothing to show he appreciated it. I had my life to live and he had his, but I was the one who had to bridge the gap. Maybe I should have made him reach out to me more, but I don’t think it really would have changed anything.
When we met, it was the same. He was eating alone and I sat down across from him. He looked up, blinked twice, and smiled with that smooth grin I came to be so familiar with.
“Hello,” I said, “I hope you don’t mind if I eat with you.”
“I’m used to eating alone, but no, company is always welcome. My name is James.”
“I’m Alex,” I said, “Nice to meet you.”
The rest of the conversation I don’t remember, except that he had an abhorrence for jewelry which wasn’t practical or significant, including his class ring as an example of significance, but nothing related to religion. I’m not sure why I remember this part of the conversation, except that it’s an example of the typical subjects and opinions that would come from his mouth, with little or no prodding.
I wasn’t smitten, but I was entertained. He, I think, enjoyed having a receptive audience.
We hit it off immediately, but it was another week before we actually got together again. Another week and a half after that before we even considered dating. After considering it, it wasn’t long before we were actually doing it, though. We went out often, eating, drinking, even shopping. We were always happy together, but the first few months were bliss. We were always just happy to see one another and be in the same room together. It was a special event, and being apart seemed to be torture.
I suppose it’s not surprising moving in with him was what changed everything. I’m still glad for the next two years I had with him, but those first months are probably the only part of our relationship worth remembering. Once we were living together, being with one another obviously wasn’t special anymore. Even sleeping together became a routine, rather than exciting or romantic. We shared duties around the house, alternated cooking when we were both home for dinner at the same time, and were partners in the way two people are supposed to be, but it wasn’t a partnership. Once I moved into his place, I was his. He had conquered me and I was no longer his audience, I was his possession.
The spats happened as they will between couples, with rising and falling frequency, but the general trend was for fights to become worse and more common. I spent the night with friends on more than one occasion, promising them and myself that I was going to get all of my stuff and go somewhere else. But then there would be the apologies and the promises that everything would be different and back like it was before. We both believed what we said because we loved one another, and loved the way things were during the good times.
I don’t even remember how the last fight started. It was something small. Hair on the soap or something trivial and cliche like that. It escalated until we were talking about things that had happened a year before and bringing up every negative aspect of the relationship. The usual name calling took place, and I stormed out, off to spend the night with one of my friends who I hadn’t used yet.
He ended the relationship for us by putting all of my things outside for me to find when I came back the next day. If he hadn’t, we’d probably still be together.
It wasn’t a healthy relationship by any means, but he made me happy in a way no one else has since. For all of his cruelty and selfishness, he could be charming and funny and tender, too. I prefer to remember those things about him.
James moved on, too, and I hear about him every now and then. His first love has always been himself, so I’m not surprised he hasn’t done any better than I have.
It’s not a surprise that we didn’t last, but a part of me still can’t believe it’s over.