I’ll be writing for the next month, the last month of my twenty-eighth year, to purge stories from my “romantic” history (inspired by recent abandonment).
In an effort to not be such a bitch, I’m going to protect the anonymity of my past lovers by calling them all Eddie. I have thereby entitled this series, “Eddie, I hate you”.
American Theatre Shool
Malourished, you weren’t
Dehydrated, you weren’t
Covered in blood, you weren’t
Murdering children for no reason, you weren’t
Trapped in a glass prism, you weren’t
Eddie, why were you so sad
He stood a foot taller than me and I loved him.
I saw him for the first time when I was 17, touring my new university, looking around at everything but secretly already obsessed with him because something about his full man beard satisfied my evolutionary gravitational pull towards exaggerated secondary sexual characteristics: He must have strong sperm, beckoned my youthful uterus.
I never found out.
Eddie was sullen. I never figured out how to get him to need me but I knew he felt he needed a lot of things. I loved how sad he was. I hoped to be his comfort but I’m sure I only validated his depressive theories.
First year in an American theatre school. My only year in this school, it turns out, because I have my first second or third but whose really keeping track mental health episode, I get dis-functionally sick and I decide to drop out. My first year on my own, out of my parents house and I accomplish: A nervous breakdown and an unrequited romance. My father paid a lot of money for a very grim annular life-ducation. Academic acceleration? I can’t remember.
I loved Eddie. I loved him so much I stared at him. All the time. And all the time, he knew.
The front steps of my residence are freezing, we’re sitting on them, we’re both quiet, sad people but I smoke so I at least have an excus. He’s sitting with me and I think it’s on purpose. We force conversation.
He says, “Have you been to any parties?”
I say, “I don’t know,” which as an amusingly absurd answer. How could I not know if I had been to any parties?
He says, “I’ve seen you at a few.”
I say, “That’s good,” which, again, makes no conversational sense but this is romance and I am merely hoping it never ends.
He says, “I want to throw my own party, like a small one.”
I say, “yeah.”
He says, “My roommate is going out of town for the weekend, he’s going home. I might throw a party in my room.”
“is it weird?”
“I mean, how big is your room.”
“Just a small party.”
“Ok. I guess that makes sense.”
“Do you want to have a party in my room with me?”
The question looms. I wonder if it’s sexual. I can’t ask. I have yet to kiss a boy in my lifetime so I sit and wonder if that’s about to happen and he repeats, as if repeating the question helps the discomfort, “we could have a party in my room, right now.”
I throw my cigarette away and say, “Maybe later.”
He laughs once. I am too shy to know if I am kidding or not.
We sit there until he leaves.
I sit there until I’m out of cigarettes.
He doesn’t speak to me for months. I see him around school, in classes, in parties, he avoids me. I still stare at him but his awareness of the stare has turned to fear. I’m convinced in my head that we’re meant to be and that this not so subtle chase around campus will last for ten years until we finally date and then marry. His avoidance of me is just a school yard game. He doesn’t know how to handle the rejection. But he still likes me, I know. He loves me back. Because, I love him.
We’re assigned to work on a show together eventually and it turns out, I am totally wrong. Now that he can’t avoid me, it becomes painfully clear: Eddie hates me.
We are assistant stage managers on a very small play with minimal duties. Each effort I take, he interrupts with a condemning correction, insulting my ability to sweep the floor or place props on a table or sit in the correct chair. I hate him back (but not really).
One evening, I’m cleaning the rehearsal space and a designer asks me where Eddie is. I tell her I don’t know.
“He must be in the cage hooking up with someone knew.”
“He hooks up with all the designers in the workspace across the street. I’ll find him, it’s fine.”
First of all, it isn’t fine. Second of all, if she’s about to walk across the street and interrupt a sexual encounter just to ask Eddie an inane question, I’d like to follow her and third of all, of course he resents me. I pushed him to the point of absolute whoredom.
The next day, we’re mopping the floor.
“I hear you’ve been hooking up with designers.”
In a dramatic slow motion, sound-tracked, crying man holding a mop moment, he turns to me and promises: “That’s none of your fucking business”.
I felt it. I felt my mistake. I then left Eddie alone.
Problematically, once I left the school, fantasies of Eddie crept back into my head.
I’d visit the school to see my friends in shows, I’d see him and I’d wonder if I had any chance at all of…what, exactly, I don’t know. I do not know what I wanted. I didn’t think about what I wanted. I just felt the impulse to love him.
Call it obsession or frivolous infatuation, I eventually pushed myself to specifically state my feelings to Eddie, my feelings which were mostly based in whatever I picked up on while staring at him, hardly speaking to him and certainly never touching him.
He was in a show.
I was staying in a dorm.
It was winter.
I have texted him, telling him to meet me in the theatre lobby because I need to talk to him.
This is a full year after I have left the school. He’s dating a woman who has the same name as me but slightly better hair and a personality that sparkles an almost manic positivity. Of course she’s not manic because she’s so absolutely put together, everywhere she steps, the Earth’s crevices tighten.
I tell him to meet me. I’m wearing wedge heeled boots, they break on the way. I sit in the lobby and he finds me. He clearly doesn’t care to speak to me.
“Thanks, for, I guess being here.”
I haven’t yet mentioned, because I don’t absolutely know, what made our relationship a relationship. I still don’t know if we had actual chemistry but it felt like we did. If that counts. I’m still confused, over ten years later regarding my certainty. I knew something. I can’t account for it. But, I knew. When I calculate how many times in my life I’ve ever been that certain about anything, I fall far into the negative. There was something there.
“I just. I’m sorry. I just saw you last night at the thing and I decided I couldn’t leave without telling you that I think l. I think l. I at least really like you and do you have feelings for me too.”
He exhales. He stares at me.
“You live really far away.”
Long dead silence.
Such a long dead silence.
I say, “So you’re dating _____”
And I wait for him to tell me that it’s none of my fucking business again but he doesn’t. He just shrugs.
“Why are you dating her.”
“I wanted to try someone less my type.”
“What’s your type.”
“Moody Canadians with tattoos on their asses.”
I have a tattoo on my ass. I couldn’t tell if this was a complement or not.
We spoke quietly for a few more minutes. I complained a little about the lack of interest I have in my own life. I left for Toronto that day.
Two years later I go to New York City to see my friends. They’ve all moved there. They’re all very exciting people now. It’s my birthday. I can drink legally in the states. I plan to do that with my friends but I can’t actually get any of them to commit to making plans with me. They’re all very busy and interesting people.
I post on my Facebook page that I’m coming to New York City.
Eddie messages me.
I only posted to hear from him.
We make plans.
I meet him where ever he tells me to.
I wear a dress and heels and I look like an idiot.
He starts inviting other people to come.
One of his friends ends up drinking with us all night.
The obscurity of endings takes over. Where are we all headed? He asks me and I tell him I guess back to Brooklyn where I’m staying. He invites me over. I nearly vomit.
Alcohol leads me to his home in Queens.
The Third Wheel comes back to Eddie’s place with us once he sees that I’m going there, as if we’re going to continue drinking in Queens, as if I need to do that without the promise of sex, as if I even like this third guy at all. I like neither of them. I just need to go to prove to myself that this is an ongoing story because when I met Eddie, at age 17, I knew it would be an ongoing story. I go home with Eddie to continue.
A silent subway ride to Queen’s. I pay attention to nothing. I don’t know where I am.
His home is a real home, a house he shares with other men. There is a costco-size box of condoms in the washroom which I notice from the hallway and, staring at it, I hear “Rachel, are you coming in”
The third wheel is arranging himself on the couch. I enter Eddie’s room.
I don’t know what to do. I sit on the bed like a virgin. I am a virgin. I am a virgin sitting on a man’s bed which is second to being a POW on the scale of terrifying things to be.
Eddie starts rubbing my shoulders. I don’t like it. I stop him. He stops.
“so what do you like to do”
WELL I HAVE NO IDEA, THANKS
But, instead I say, “let’s just get naked”, which is actually my rescue from their being something in my nose that I need to pick out so I use my dress to de-booger and then I’m naked and ready.
Let’s just say, Eddie couldn’t get ready.
We lay in bed.
His hands wouldn’t leave me alone and I hoped eventually that they would rub me to complete disintegration.
He asks if I’m tired. He’s tired. He falls asleep. I lie awake until six AM. I pee, seated next to the, now noticeably full box of condoms.
I wake Eddie.
“I’m going to go now.”
“Now?” As if he wanted me there.
I should mention that I have to go to Brooklyn and I don’t know where that is.
He walks me to the door. Hugs me, half asleep. I ask him where the subway is. He points very vaguely. I leave his home, dress, heels, mascara under the eyes. I walk a block. Two very small children walk me to the train.
If only you weren’t so sad, Eddie