Saturday, June 21, 2008

Flood Waters, continued

Facebook status update: Tim is being hit from all sides this week.

Still reeling from the aforementioned company woes that signal worrisome things for this industry we still love, even if it doesn't love us back, things outside the newsroom have been rough. A and I kinda broke up the other night, something that was in the tea leaves from the first day she got back for the summer. But I say "kinda" because the edges of this situation are still too fuzzy to form a coherent picture.

The nut of this whole situation is that she's moving to San Francisco at the end of the summer with some friends from college, without a plan or a place or a job or any sort of guidance beyond their own survival instincts and an internal compass pointed West. This news came to me the first day she was back in town, us lying on my dark blue comforter and her face contorting into a frail, nervous smile when she told me, betraying her excitement to be plunging her car into the great American frontier, mixed with a vision of me waving goodbye, my legs stuck by an invisible cement to the East Coast.

So for a few weeks we talked about it and play acted like we were staring at a positive recovery instead of a terminal prognosis. I don't know if I had planned to stick through the summer with an attempt at blissful ignorance until the cold winds of September reality came around, or if my brain was overworked trying to put together a plan of action. After I returned from Bonnaroo, we took a walk outside the apartment and she forced the issue in the calm heat of a June evening. After lots of talking and an about-face into pragmatism, I said I think we'd be better just walking away from the situation now. The alternative was trudging along awkwardly until an inevitable messy conclusion at the end of the summer.

That sucked. In my head, I had the words all lined up and ready for a march out of my mouth, but I choked on them each time I tried. Finally I yanked them out, and the words hung over us for a few seconds until they were carried away on a summer gust into the full moon.

It'd be different if we were breaking up for a concrete reason, something cliched like infidelity or disrespect or just general douchebaggery on my part or hers. But breaking up because of situational inconsistencies hardly seems fair. Particularly after we had just held on for eight months of a long-distance relationship while she finished school.

I don't blame her for going to SF. In fact, part of me is more jealous that she was able to commit to a big plunge. There was a 21-year-old version of me that envisioned the same blind trek west after graduation; then an internship and final credits and the ho-hum first legs of the career ladder popped up and were tempting in their own way, I guess.

This whole thing between A and I, of course, was my first foray into the LTR (previous record: three months. Yes, I am aware I am lame now, but you should've saw me in high school) so I'm far from an expert in this kind of stuff. The age difference between us was never was much of an issue, especially since she acts more mature and responsible than I do most times. But the era of post-graduation is pretty intense, when all the tailwinds of four years of higher education rush up behind you and you feel you could be carried around the world just on your ambition. Those are some big forces to compete with.

We talked again the other night over a grilled cheese sandwich and Yuenglings and she said, Of course I was going to jump at an opportunity to do something when it came up.

That opportunity arose after months and months of hearing me reiterate the phrase "I don't know" every time the question of what I'm going to do next came up, so much the words wore deep, tiresome ruts into the walls of my apartment. She thought I was just going to wait around here for some opportunity to pop up; I thought if nothing popped up, whatever direction her life spun in might be the magnet that pull me away from here. We apparently never communicated this to each other. And there's the rub.

I found myself saying things I hadn't realized were in my head, like that in this time of newspaper implosion, family crisis and borderline insanity from the thought of being stuck on Hilton Head any longer, she was really all I had. Maybe that just wasn't enough.

1 comment:

joey said...

This is heartbreaking.