This story has a subtitle. (See above.) I felt like it needed one.
We’ll get to that part, though. Let’s start with the other stuff.
Matt and I dated for about a year and a half. It was a whirlwind from the start, and by that I mean I fell fast and hard for Matt, and he never let me forget it. We spent the night together on the floor of my dorm room, just talking, on our first date. He told me everything. I told him more than I’d ever told anyone (which was still less than everything, but dude, I’m mysterious like that).
Later I found out that Matt did this fast-and-hard bit with everyone. He told everyone everything. He was best friends with everyone. He butted into everyone’s lives, whether they wanted him to or not. But at the time, I thought I was pretty damn special.
Because I was so crazy in love with this kid, the red flags that should have sent me running for the hills failed to give me the flight option. It was always option B: Fight.
When he picked fights about stupid shit, I engaged in screaming matches until I was too exhausted to make sense of anything. When he pushed me, I pushed back harder, until I ran out of strength and just collapsed and gave in to whatever. (That was a metaphor. There was no literal pushing.)
I would have married him if he’d asked. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I think I knew he wasn’t going to ask. I think I knew he’d figured out we weren’t meant to be. I think I had even figured out our incompatibility, or at least almost, but I didn’t want any part of that reality. I wanted him.
He broke up with me after we had a fight about seatbelts. We were driving in his car and he said he needed a pen, so I unbuckled my seatbelt and rummaged around in the back seat for my purse (which contained a pen), and he flipped out that I had unbuckled my seatbelt while he was driving over a hill and I could have died if another car had come over the hill, driving in the wrong lane, and hit us in a head-on collision. Because, you know, that’s a distinct possibility. What? (You wanna talk about what-ifs? Matt lived in what-ifs.)
I got ready to push back. I told him he was crazy and that I was a grown-ass woman and I could unbuckle my seatbelt if I damn well pleased, and somehow that led us to breaking up. I’m pretty sure he was just waiting until the next fight to let me have it. He’d already decided.
I got out of his car in the parking lot across from my dorm, sort of dazed. I remember a vague buzzing in my ears. It was raining pretty hard, so I ran to my dorm. I didn’t even look back to watch him drive away. I know it’s horribly cliché, but by the time I got to the building, I couldn’t tell what was rain and what was tears. I think I cried for days.
I don’t know how the stages of grief go for everyone else, but for me, it goes crippling, horrible sadness, then red-hot flashes of rage rage RAGE.
I was at the rage part when I boxed up all Matt’s stuff to give back to him. It was normal stuff: CDs, a pair of shoes he’d left in my dorm room, some photos. (This was back before the days of ubiquitous digital cameras.)
I also had a Rolling Stones magazine I thought had an article in it that I had meant to show him before the incident. I was disinclined to search it out for him, but I sort of grudgingly picked up the magazine and thumbed through it. It was then that I happened upon what I didn’t know I’d been looking for: a glorious, full-page, text-heavy ad for a penis enlargement supplement.
Should I? Could I? Oh yes. I grinned. Yes I could.
I carefully tore out the ad so as not to destroy any of the beautiful text. I may have actually giggled as I unpacked the box of stuff and carefully tucked it in the bottom before putting everything else back in.
He met me for dinner at some horrible seafood place and we did the I-wish-you-well thing and the awkward let’s-still-be-friends thing (and I somehow managed not to cry or vomit).
And then I handed him his box of stuff and I left. He couldn’t really see my face as I was walking away, but I was smiling. It was like a Mission: Impossible movie or something. I was striding purposefully, not even looking back, but I knew that behind me, there was going to be a giant, destructive explosion framing me in slow motion.
I got in my car and drove away and I never saw him again.
Maybe it was childish of me to get in that one last dig, but I figure a little wiener joke in the grand scheme of things probably didn’t hurt my karma too much.