Eighteen Ways to Forget a Lover

Dear Jack,

I feel as though I did not give you enough information in my last letter.

I knew a boy once, barely in the biblical sense at first. He could identify any sort of species of lizard in the world. He knew all about animal anomalies and he was incredibly photogenic. Whenever we were apart, we would run up hundreds of dollars on our phone cards. This was before we had cell phones.

He was a drummer, he tapped on everything, made little obnoxious drumming sounds everywhere, which I loved, but I pretended it irritated me. We would sit on a dilapidated picnic bench in college, and we would listen to Mr. Bungle’s California album with a fervor. I would have one earphone in my ear and he would have the other in his ear. We were like that “Best Friends” broken heart locket where you keep one half and give the other half away. We always sang the suicide countdown real loud during “Pink Cigarette.”

There was a time when he developed sea legs. I remember right before he left me, I gave him a card expounding my love for him. I figured he would read it on the water, and when he came back, we would be in love. He returned three weeks later, and while he was unpacking, I stayed close to him, waiting for his reaction. He pulled a pair of pants out of his rucksack, and the card fell out, unopened. My disappointment made a sound louder than his silence ever could.

We moved in together. Our cigarettes sat side by side in cartons. I smoked Marlboro Reds. He smoked Marlboro Menthols. Because of this, we were sure we would never take each other’s cigarettes.  We did not trust one another yet.

His sister was a slut.

We thought we would be married one day. We wrote a preemptive letter to the makers of a certain bath gel to see if they would supply us with wedding favors. The bath gel looked like Ectoplasm. We dropped the letter in a communal mailbox at 4:30 in the morning.

He hit me sometimes, but I didn’t mind. I loved him dearly. About three years in, he was vastly uninterested in sex. I came home once to find him wearing my underwear. We never spoke of it. We wrote a song together, but we would fight about the distortion levels on his guitar so much that we just abandoned the idea of starting a rock group.

We moved halfway across the country and vowed to never separate. I would wake up with his shoulder-length hair in my face, the ball of his labret piercing underneath my pillow somehow. For my birthday he set up a gourmet candlelit dinner in our living room. We were scandalous. We danced close at weddings and we did not cry at funerals. We sat on the bayou pier in the rain and ate crawfish. We videotaped all our adventures. He videotaped me sleeping.

He strongly resembled an anime character. he caught the horrible flu once and I made him homemade milkshakes and jambalaya. He felt better. He never said thank you till much later. He presented a challenge, and I found this endearing.

I was obsessed with him. I became so afraid of losing him that I stopped communicating with words and communicated instead with Internet postings that I hoped he’d read. We once watched the numbers advance on his CD player for over an hour while we listened to a Tool album. Everything was perfect with him, everything was fun and nothing, not even a digital display, was boring. It was like looking at fire. We took wonderful photographs together. He seemed uneasy around me sometimes. I was helpless against this, so I ignored it. This was the wrong move. I ruined a part of us, and it is the only regret I have in life.

What started as a homework assignment quickly mutated into a symbiosis of sex and drugs and very little rock and roll. We hated each other’s taste in music, mostly. He was determined to learn about wind turbines and alternative energy sources. He left me for seven months to go on a cross-country road trip and I truly did not mind.

While he was away, he sent postcards from Oregon. They were cryptic and baffling, sick and infuriating. He disappeared and all I had were pictures for a long, long time. He resurfaced long enough for me to miss him again when he left a second, a third, a fourth time. I was enamored. I had his picture framed on my wall. I still do, even though he’s long gone.

He spent a lot of time playing video games. He liked his coffee fixed, though he really wished he could drink it black, like me. His favorite thing about me was that I could draw Pokemon characters and make them look like the real deal. He also liked that I had so many stories, but what he didn’t know is that I had so many because I kept most of my past a secret from him. There was, therefore, never a shortage of anecdotes.

He once let me put eyeliner on him. We joked about moving to Brooklyn. I wondered a lot how funny we were trying to be, and how serious we actually were.

Our tattoos complemented each other. We once did filthy, horrifying things in the bathroom where I worked.  Lasciate ogne speranza!

We drove to upstate North Carolina once and he sang songs to me while I sat in the grass and took pictures of him. He dyed his hair two-toned and I brushed it back with my fingers if I needed to kiss him. It was always in his face. He sang so sweetly and he left me for a time while he tried to “sort his life out” somewhere in New England with nothing but a guitar and Metro pass.

We cooked fancy food quite often. He taught me how to light a grill. I loved him for it.

However, I hated him just as much when he ignored me. He would cite passages from a book on Borderline Personality Disorder about idealization and devaluation. I was only angry because he was so accurate with his analyses.

He was very self-conscious but he pretended not to be. It was almost nine years in, and I wondered how it had come to this. Why was I still the childless, unmarried black sheep of my family? He did not seem to care. He loved lime juice. He loved grits. I loved asparagus spears and I loved shitty, cheap whiskey. I don’t know if these things were related to his jealousy. We fought once through a drunken haze and it was the first time I had ever walked away from him without a kiss.

It was supposed to be more than this.

I am sure of it

Diane.

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Filed under Jack and Diane, life, relationships

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