J broke up with me after I bought him dinner. I always bought him dinner because he worked in a grocery store and I worked in an office that paid me decently. He had access to food but never brought any over to cook so I bought him dinner. J was a butcher and the one time he actually did bring over pork chops from his natural foods store he only brought enough for himself. This should have been a sign.
J broke up with me on McAllister Street outside the pan asian restaurant that was just ok but close to my home. After dinner, after sharing short ribs and rice and spring rolls and noodles. After he ordered three beers to my one. After it started to drizzle and he opened his mouth and told me that he didn’t think this was working out and that he was going back to Texas for a few days and I stopped listening. I wanted to go back inside because it was raining. I wanted to go back inside because maybe it would rewind us for a little bit so I could be more prepared or maybe he could revise what he was going to say and say something like, “Thank you for dinner. Do you want to go get ice cream?” or “Goodnight, I’ll talk to you tomorrow.”
J started to follow me as I turned around to start walking home. I didn’t know what to say although my mouth kept opening and closing, all start and stop. Nothing was coming out so I just started walking because everything was shutting down. I could feel my body sink into itself, like it was deflating and I needed to a soft place to land. Home. Walk the two blocks home. Get directly into bed. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200. J was still talking but I had no idea what he was saying. The rain started to soak through my jacket, my shoes. My toes squished with each step.
“So you’re not going to talk to me? Is this is?” He asked. I turned back around. His glasses were wet and I couldn’t see his eyes.
“You’re going home to Texas,” I said. “You’re not going to come back are you? Are you seeing her when you’re there?”
“Well, we’ve only texted. I might meet her for coffee.”
“You don’t drink coffee.”
He didn’t reply. Laura. She dumped him before he moved to San Francisco. She had the J who had health insurance and access to his meds. She had the J who didn’t need a 40 of miller high life to go to bed every night or he’d freak out and think he’d lose his job and become homeless and then die within a year. She had the most functioning J there ever was and she dumped him. I had J of the 40 oz. J. who rationed his klonopin until it ran out. J who hid in a bathroom for three hours at a friend’s party. J who had broken up with me before in a drunken haze then woke up with no recollection that he had dumped me. I had this J and I stuck with him.
He pulled out a pack of Basic’s from his pocket and started to pack them, smacking them against his left palm. He would never be able to get one lit in this rain. He was looking for something to do to take up this silence.
I turned around and started walking home again.
“It’s not what you think!” he called back out. “We’re just catching up!”
I whipped myself around. He had taken one step towards me.
“I don’t care! I don’t know what to say to you! I need to go home and I need you to stop!”
“Whatever this is! I need you to stop so I can go home!” Before I start crying. Before I start thinking about wasting time on something that was so harmful to me. Before I start listing all the awful things about me that are the cause of you breaking up with me. Before I start thinking about Laura who is thin, Laura who is white, Laura who I’ve only seen myspace pictures of. Laura who had the good version of you and threw you away when I was the one who had the dysfunctional version of you who couldn’t bear to let you go.
He put the pack of cigarettes back into his pocket.
“Go home,” he said. “I’m sorry. I still want to call you when I get back. We should still talk.”
I turned again and made my way home, wet, heavy, throat tight, wishing I had taken his pack of cigarettes as a parting gift, wishing that my roommate wasn’t home so I didn’t have to explain anything, wishing I was someone else altogether because being myself sucked so bad.