This was my fortune. I may be conservative, cautious, and practical—emphasis on the possibility. Because there’s a large chance I may not be. A large chance that I continue going about my daily life highly irrational, impulsive and impractical. I don’t want a fortune that’s up to me fulfill. I want something to happen to me, a fate that I cannot control, an ominous message, something radical. Instead, I got a reminder. A reminder of something I’ve always known I should change. Perhaps this is the sort of fortune that could actually come true, a sign that my impassivity re: my dysfunctional personality should end.
I told my therapist all of this last Tuesday. Suzie and I ordered take out Sunday night, both in a particularly open, hasty mood. Usually, the thought of Chinese takeout and its copious amounts of MSG turned me off quite quickly. But I needed something artificially delicious. I had a depressing weekend, ran into my ex-boyfriend and some redhead at a bar in the East Village. I quickly left the scene, after the most awkward hello I’ve experienced since my first one-night stand freshman year in college. I gave a Queen Elizabeth-esque wave across the room when I saw his brunette bowl cut, but he seemed to look away just as my hand timidly raised up. It wasn’t until my hand did one twist left-to-right that I noticed his head was turned and I was now looking at the back of his skull.
He looked different. Slightly older, more worn out. The tiredness suited him. He was always a little too jovial and naive when we were together, with a brightness in his eyes and a curvature in his smile that told everyone he never felt the pain of a loved one passing, never looked in the mirror with his conception of himself debilitated by self-hatred. He was classically handsome, in a way that I began to resent months into our relationship. His features were so right and fitting that it almost made him boring. The sharpness of his nose and bluntness of his jawline began to embody my general feeling of boredom when we were together. When I looked at him, I felt like I was looking at a presidential portrait; he was no longer someone I wanted to fuck. But he was convenient, and looked good in photos with me, and his parents had a summer house in Rhode Island, so I decided to wait it out until Labor Day Weekend, when I could be tanned and well-rested thanks to his WASPY hospitality. But my impending dislike of him began to be obvious; although he was naive and greatly un-self-aware, he was not dumb. To my surprise, he noticed my disgruntled inflection when I spoke to him, or that my eyes rolled back when he would sing along to a Beatles song. Oliver was sensitive, to an almost alarming extent. So, by July, he was the one who broke up with me, which to be quite frank, had me really fucked up. I began to romanticize the innocent smile and relationship I once hated.
He broke up with me in Central Park, during one of our weekly Saturday walks. We sat on the bench we usually sat on at around 79th street, with a view of a pond that housed underwhelming, fat ducks and two grandiose pre-war buildings. In line with his nature, he broke up with me too politely. It felt like I was talking to a diplomat in their embassy. He treaded lightly on my feelings and on his feelings too; it was obvious he was hurt, but he was never quite able to express that.
“Monica, I think we should stop seeing each other,” he said.
“You think? Or you know?”
“I think that I know.”
I didn’t want to cry in front of him, but I did. We uncomfortably hugged goodbye. My whole body shook from weeping. He walked away from the bench after ending it, leaving me alone to cry in front of German tourists and a 5-year-old with his nanny.
The next few months, whenever I got drunk, I would text him. Never anything too exposing; no rhapsodic paragraphs about the way I missed his company, no sexual innuendos via emojis, because, to be honest, I always hated having sex with him. Just a simple hi, or maybe hey, if I was really feeling dejected. He never responded.
After two minutes standing awkwardly in the crowded space, I left, not in the mood to deal with small talk, especially considering my 5 hours of sleep.
On the subway ride home, there was a man who smelled like pee with the sole of his shoes falling apart, flapping about as he walked up and down the car. His presence scared the people on the train, as they left at the stop after the one they had entered. I did not mind his presence. His wails about Jesus were almost comforting. After a minute or so of spacing out to the sound of his voice, I realized I was using this man’s voice and his declaimer like my friends use the meditation app Headspace. It was time to text my therapist.