Look back when nothing remains
Maybe I was too busy for her. Work was tough. I’d gotten promoted, which meant a metric ton of new work, requisite panic attacks, and waking up in the morning still wearing my office clothes because I’d been too exhausted to change the night before. I’d promised to call her every day, even during overtime; somehow that always got rescheduled.
Maybe her dad’s attitude was rubbing off on her. Tito hated my guts, hated them ever since I had one of my first dinners over at their place, hated them even more when he found out that his little girl, her beautiful chin jutting forward, told him that I was her boyfriend and there was nothing he could do about that. But the dad’s dislike never really waned, and that chin jutted out a little less each year, it seemed.
Maybe our attitudes about religion were ultimately incompatible. Maybe I wasn’t ambitious enough about getting money to really invest in any sort of future. Maybe I did think about other people too much. Maybe I’d truly become less and less easy to love, and harder and harder to forgive.
But then again, I could turn the blame around, and fixate on everything that she did wrong, and conveniently transform self-pity into righteous fury. This was on her. I was the one who’d gotten tired of her. It was my passion that had died, and she’d been the one to deliver the icy execution.
That’s really how these kinds of relationship post-mortems go: a weighing-scale blame game trivia show of whofell-out-of-love-withwhom-and-why. Those first few months (or years, or decades, depending on your constitution) of love feel like such a vibrant, living thing—to look back at them when nothing remains but white ashes is to wonder where it all went wrong.
My ex and I, we’re still friends. Not good ones, but we’re cordial. When we see each other, there’s good-natured bantering about what used to be, and why I was the worst, and why she was the worst, and boy were we smart or what about getting out of that nightmare. Sometimes the laughs are forced. Sometimes the passion that we’d so effectively and easily euthanized sits between us like a corpse.
Picking up the pieces.