Saturday, June 04, 2016

Exhibit A: This Toothbrush

I can feel my resolve to be optimistic waning.  It's because the tsunami of change I was feeling sweeping through my life in March passed and it's leaving only the clean-up of what was washed away in June.  
At the time all facets of my life were in flux.  My job.  My writing.  My personal life.  Now...  It all seems the same as it ever was.  
My ex-girlfriend is the best example.  If you know me and are hearing about her for the first time, you're not alone.  I told very few people about her at first.  I wanted to make sure that there was substance to it, that it was "for real," as one might say.  
The irony is that just as I was feeling comfortable enough about the relationship to tell people about it, it just stopped.  With no evidence to show she was anything more than an imaginary friend.  
Except for the toothbrush.  
She is someone I've been acquainted with for about eight years or so.  Japanese.  A member of the language group I've been a part of since 2006.  
We would do things, either just the two of us or with other members of the group.  I thought her attractive, but she didn't seem to evidence any interest toward me.  As I was one of the group's organizers, and part of my job was to deal with male members who joined only because they had an interest in Japanese woman, I didn't feel comfortable pursuing her.  
That's about all I'm going to tell you about her.  When I started telling friends from the group about her some have recognized her from the description.  
It started in a very flattering way.  She sent me a message through Facebook where we were friends.  "Hi.  Remember me?  It's been a while.  How are you?  Are you dating anyone?"
It was the last question that got my attention.  I replied right away.  "Hello!  Of course I remember you.  I'm doing fine, and you?  Not dating anyone at present."  
"Oh.  I thought you had a girlfriend.  I'm not dating anyone either.  How about taking me on a date?"  
I did.  It went well.  Very, very well.  It turned out that all these years she had harbored an interest in me, but had not felt any reciprocating feeling from me.  
I made a very determined effort to make up for that and show her just how interested I had been and was.  
I'm going to fast forward a little bit, because it's the break-up itself that concerns me most.  I will add that it moved very fast.  Conversations about where we wanted to live, about children, about us being together was "destiny" (her term) took place.  She made a point of telling me that any home we moved into together needed to have at least two bathrooms, plus a room for her to work.  
Oh-kay...  Duly noted.  
I think she found me a bit on the slow side to take up our "destiny."  Guilty as charged.  Like I said, this was going very, very fast.  I was trying to find out about her and figure things out while she was trying to get me just accept it and go forward.  
"You like to think," she said to me once while we were laying in bed.  "Thinking is your hobby.  Because of that, you think too much.  You need to ride the rhythm."  
It took a bit of questioning to figure out that "ride the rhythm" meant "go with the flow."  She was right, though.  I do like to think and figure things out.  And I will even admit to over-thinking things at times.  
That night, as she slept, and I was holding her, I cleared my might and asked myself, "How does this feel?"  
It felt good.  Very good.
I remembered that feeling a lot while I was traveling to Japan, a trip planned and paid for well before she sent me her, "Are you dating anyone?" message.  I made the decision that, once I got back home, when I saw her next, I would have a talk with her about taking the next step.  Specifically, about finding a place to move in together.  
That conversation never happened.  
The weekend after I returned we were both sick.  Plus I was exhausted from jet lag and the effort to catch up at work.  
It was about that time that the yen suddenly spiked in strength against the dollar.  I wouldn't have thought that international exchange rates could impact a relationship, but they can.  
While she lives here in the U.S., she makes her living online from work she gets from clients in Japan.  They pay her in yen.  She then exchanges that money for American dollars to spend here.  When the yen is strong, she gets more dollars to live on.  
With the spike in the yen's strength, she decided to go all out with work.  Earn as much as she could, make up for the yen's weakness over the preceding years, invest in things she needed to invest in to improve her business.  She wasn't able to come over and stay with me, as had become our practice.  But we could have lunch.  She wanted me to understand.
Sure.  I got it.  Lunch.  I had things to do myself.  I'd let her know the time.  
Another thing that can impact a relationship is the installation of computer equipment.  The Friday before the Saturday we were to meet, arrangements were made for a technician to install a new firewall and a new wifi point in my office.  I had to babysit while they did the installation.  
I was there until Midnight.  I didn't get home till after one, or in bed until about 2 AM.  
I forgot to set my alarm.  By the time I woke up, it was after ten.  I had things I needed to get started on by eight.  
I texted her to see if we could switch dinner for lunch, explaining the situation.  I went about my business.  I texted her later to see if dinner worked for her.
Apparently it didn't.  She had time for lunch.  She was busy.  It was difficult to adjust her schedule.  She went on to tell me about all the things she was going through.  
I replied tersely at first, asking if such was the case she should have replied back to my message.  I later sent a more conciliatory tone, apologizing for trying to guilt her in my previous message, telling her to let me know if I could help with anything, asking her to take care until I could see her next. 
I never heard back from her.  I sent other messages.  Wishing her good night.  Telling her I hoped she was doing well.  I could see the messages getting delivered, but not that they were being read.  
Facebook sent me a message on a particular day that it was our five year anniversary as Facebook friends.  I sent her a message pointing this out.  And because I couldn't help myself, asked if we still were. 
The answered turned out to be, "No."  
She read that last message, plus the ones before it.  I saw that before I went to bed that night.  The next night, her account disappeared from my Friends list.  It still existed, the Messenger app showed me that.  But a couple days later the icon turned generic, as sign that the account had been deleted.  She even deleted an older, unused account that I had befriended before that.  
Guess I shouldn't have missed that lunch date. 
I recently heard about a new museum that opened up in Los Angeles.  The Museum of Broken Relationships.  It's filled with mundane, ordinary items that have meaning to someone regarding a relationship that has ended.  
I have something I might donate.  A toothbrush.  It's hers.  She brought it over the second weekend she stayed over.  When I opened my medicine cabinet Sunday morning, after she'd left, I found it propped up in a corner.  It wasn't just laid there.  It was on display, a message that said, "I belong here."  
I responded by clearing one of the shelves of my stuff and laying it there.  It's still sitting there.  The only evidence I have that she existed.  
One day, I might donate to this new museum.  Eventually.  I'm sure. 


Post a Comment

<< Home