But then I think about going home. I think about walking through the door and you not even getting up off the couch. I think about how you’ll just look at me and say, “Pho for dinner?” and I want to punch the wall.
So, fine. I’m here. I’m alone. I’m miserable. And I know it makes me a terrible person, but I really hope you’re miserable, too. That’s the truth. That’s how I feel right now. I really, really hope that you’re miserable, too.
• • •
I know I told you not to call me, but sometimes I can’t believe you aren’t calling me. I can’t believe you’re able to just live your life like I was never there. How can you do that? It makes me furious to think about sometimes. You’re probably just going to work and acting like everything is fine.
I told my parents about us today. It wasn’t easy. They were not happy. They got really mad at you, which I thought was weird. I tried to explain to them that this isn’t about one or the other of us. I tried to tell them that it was a joint decision. But they weren’t listening. I think, you know how they are, they have such a narrow view of marriage. And they are disappointed in me. They made that clear. They kept saying, “This is not how you should be handling your problems, Ryan.” And they kept saying they were upset at you for taking my house and my dog. They can’t see clearly, I don’t think. They think we should split it up so that one of us gets Thumper and the other one gets the house. Neither of us should get both. I don’t know. I don’t agree with them. I don’t see it that way. It doesn’t feel right to take the house from you, and it doesn’t feel right to take Thumper away from his home so abruptly.
I know I said that I wanted to date other people, but now that I’m out in the real world, it feels really strange to think about. Very unnatural. How is that even supposed to work? It doesn’t make sense. To think about kissing someone other than you? I almost feel like I don’t remember how to do it. There is a new girl at work who keeps flirting with me, and sometimes I think that I’m supposed to jump on it, go for it or whatever. I don’t know. I don’t even want to talk about it.
I’m still not sure if I’m going to send these to you. Sometimes I think I will. There is a part of me that feels like years ago I stopped fighting with you. It just became easier to agree with you or ignore you. I feel like I just said whatever you wanted to hear. And I stopped being honest. I stopped telling you what I really thought. What I really wanted. And so maybe if I tell you all of this now, maybe we can clear the air, maybe we can start again. The other part of me thinks that if we do tell each other everything, if I send you this stuff, we might not survive it. So I don’t know what I’m going to do.
I’m not sure you’d care, anyway. I mean, sometimes I think you don’t really see me anymore. I know you see me, see me. But I’m talking about the fact that sometimes I don’t think you listen when I say things. Sometimes I think you just assume you know what I’m going to say next, or what I’m going to do next, or what I’m going to feel next, and your eyes glaze over as if I’m the most boring person you’ve ever met.
You didn’t use to think that, though. I remember in college, one of the reasons it was so nice to be around you was that you made me feel like I was the most interesting person in the room. You made me feel like I made the funniest jokes and told the best stories. And I don’t know, I don’t think that was fake. I think you really thought that.
And now I don’t think you think that at all. I think I’m like looking at the back of a cereal box for you. I’m just something you sit and stare at because I’m there.
This is getting sad. I hope you are doing OK. Sometimes I think I should send you these just so you might write back and I can hear how you are. I wonder how you are all the time.
• • •
Do you remember when we moved in with each other for the first time? Right after we graduated from college? And it was such a hot day, and we moved into the shithole apartment in Hollywood, and it was way too small, and the kitchen smelled like some sort of weird chemical? And you almost started crying because you didn’t want to live in such a crappy apartment? But it was all we could afford. I was living off of the last of my parents’ graduation gift money, and you were starting your job in the alumni department. And I remember thinking, as we crammed into that small bed that first night, that I was going to take care of you. I was going to work hard and get you a better apartment. And I was going to be the man who gave you the life you wanted. And I mean, things don’t really work out exactly how you think. You were the one who made enough money so that we could afford to move out of that place and into Hancock Park. But I mean, I negotiated with the landlord. I did everything I could to convince her, because I wanted you to have everything you wanted. I really did think I did a good job of taking care of you. I always wanted you to feel safe with me, to feel loved by me, supported by me.
I learned how to stop trying to solve your problems and just let you vent about them. I learned that you need a few minutes in the morning before you can talk to somebody. I learned that you never leave yourself enough time to get somewhere and then you freak out about being late. And I loved it about you.
Why wasn’t that enough?
Doesn’t it seem like it should have been enough?
Back then, moving in together, lying in that tiny bed, I just thought that my job was clear. All I had to do was support you and love you and listen to you and take care of you. And it all seemed so easy back then.
Now it seems like the hardest thing in the world.
What am I doing sitting here writing to you? I’m wasting my time.
• • •
The last time we had sex was in April. Just in case you were wondering. Which you’re not. But you never seemed to care very much, and I do care. So if I ever do send these to you, I think you should know that the last time we had sex was almost five months before I moved out. That’s four months before you told me you didn’t love me anymore. Four months of us living in the same house, pretending to be good to each other, pretending to be happy, and not laying a hand on each other. I figured I’d wait until you noticed. And you never noticed. So, you know, in case you ever notice and you want to know. It was April. And it sucked.
• • •
Happy Birthday! I know that you’re at a surprise party. Charlie called me a few weeks ago before he knew we were whatever we are. Anyway, I know your family is with you. I know you’re probably having a blast. It’s nine o’clock right now, so you’re probably living it up as I type this. I’m hanging out here at my apartment. There is only so much you can do to distract yourself from the fact that it’s your wife’s thirtieth birthday and you’re not with her. You know?
I gave up on that about a half hour ago, and now I’ve just been nursing a beer and thinking about you.
I almost got up off the couch and drove over to your mom’s place to be there.
But I figured that was a bad idea.
Because what happens? We see each other and we admit how hard this is and we end this crazy experiment, and then what? In two months, we’re back where we were. We haven’t changed. So nothing would change. You know?
So instead, I’m sitting here, doing nothing.
I just want you to know that I thought about it. I thought about showing up at the house with two grocery bags, ready to make you Ryan’s Magic Shrimp Pasta.
I didn’t do it, but yeah, I guess I just want you to know that I thought about it.
• • •
Is Thumper doing OK? It’s killing me being away from him. It’s so stupid, but I was in the grocery store the other day getting dinner for myself, and I remembered that I needed laundry detergent, so I went into the aisle to get it, and it was also where they kept the pet food, and I thought, “Oh, do we need food for Thumper?” and, you know, it just flashed into my mind for a split second before I remembered that I don’t live with him anymore.