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Relationship Whining

So sad, so sad. From the Subway Diary, 27-Oct-97.

Last Saturday, I opened up what is in my skull to Rhonda, my recent ex-girlfriend, and suddenly, we chose to return to the fussing and letters and too-short visits that barely salve our loneliness. Because somehow we need each other, something keeps coming up through the cracks in the sidewalk and growing, no matter how many flagstones we press on top of it. At least so far. I think.

I managed to forget the taxi-meter in my head that ticks off the dollars during this most recent, six hour, phone conversation. The most depressing part of splitting had been the arrival of the final phone bill, to see the last conversation recorded in a line of numbers to the left of the name of her town, with the dollar sum to the right. It cost $15 to split before; coming back together gives MCI $40. It's cheaper to be alone, but I still believe getting back together gives the better value. If this new attempt fails it's be proportionally more depressing.

The only problem is she won't call. I've sent mail and email and rang the phone for the past three days, and except for one call where she promised to call me back the next day and didn't, no contact. This is a beginning, the most delicate time, even more delicate because it's the second time and the mystery is all but evaporated: the things we offer each other are familiarity and safety, not the blue flame of intimacy and the first sense of fingers on breasts and legs and in mouths. So I want it to go right. She runs from feelings and our choice to lock our lives back together is like a zipper going up against the winter, and it requires us to start up a machine gone rusty and in need or repairs. I can see her sealing up against feeling, can feel it, and can feel her oscillating, reaching a hot plateau of affection and suddenly dropping to confusion. If it works, this will not be easy.

What a burden it is to know a person's feelings but not have skills or desire to change them. I could manipulate; I'm a good manipulator, but it's better to be wanted as I am, and not by dint of some grand headfuck. I will not, cannot convince her to love me. A hard thing to accept.

So it's the same old twist; I thought I was free of it: will she call? And if she will, when? And if she calls soon, what will she say? And if she speaks, will it be the truth?

I don't know an answer, but I love her in flashes and couldn't care less in others. Were our relationship an essay question, I'd flunk the test for lack of a coherent answer. I feel the question will soon be asked, but it'll be worse in the asking, more like a thesis defense, and I know I'll flunk, unprepared as I am. Or get caught in a lie.


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About the author: I've been running this website from 1997. For a living I write stories and essays, program computers, edit things, and help people launch online publications. (LinkedIn). I wrote a novel. I was an editor at Harper's Magazine for five years; then I was a Contributing Editor; now I am a free agent. I was also on NPR's All Things Considered for a while. I still write for The Morning News, and some other places.

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