September 12th, October 12th
He wrote another text message that would never be sent, a practice he adhered to since she dumped him back in September. This was the 4th time a girlfriend had ended a relationship after returning from a trip to Europe. They'd leave for a week or so, enough time to think, weigh their options, commiserate with friends over wine at a sidewalk bistro while smoking cigarettes. She'd been gone for two weeks.
She text him in the early hours of September 12th. "We need to talk". He read it, lay awake for a while. He knew what to do and made a point to not mince words or waist time. He told her he'd be there by four. "We don't have to do this today" she said. Like hell, it's now or never, you set this off, you chose this, so here you go, here's my resignation.
The days, weeks, and months after were an absolute hell. He'd only said "I love you" to one other woman, his ex-wife, now her, and now more than any moment in the past 7 months, he needed a drink. He was angry and he needed fuel to break every item of garbage she'd given him. There were so many people to text, call, e-mail, and inform them of the terrible tragedy and injustice he'd been handed. The irony had made it a perfect angle for his story, comedy, self deprecation and poor me, and fuck her and her friends. Fuck them and their gentrification, their identity politics, their token liberalism. He had so much to tell her and anyone who'd listen, but no one would listen.
So he found a meeting, then another, then 3 or 4 a day, and after three weeks he'd found the serenity he needed.
Then he did something that totally saved his ass. He wrote her several text messages and e-mails, one e-mail after another, and sent them to himself. After a few weeks he'd go back and read one, then another, then write more. In time he'd go back and read what he'd written, smile and know that he'd done the opposite of every impulse he'd ever had. This was good. This was growth.
That's what he told me one night after a meeting. I let him take a big pinch from my can of snuff. We talked and spat. I had twenty years on the kid, but he reminded me of my mistakes. I told him about what it was like for me, and for the first time in over a year of working with him, I saw him listen.
You feel like drinking?
You gonna be alright?
Yeah, I will, and I am.
You loved her right?
Still do... she's a good person...
And you never blamed her for anything or called her anything or...
Yeah, man, I swallowed it, shit it out...
Then you do love her. You put her ahead of yourself. You see, lashing out, blaming, manipulating... well, you know... it's you, it's the part of you that you fought to change. You did well, kid.