In an effort to not let the ghosts of my (not-so) romantic past take over my Being, I am writing a series to purge the stories I’ve gathered of the men who have left me. To protect their identities, I call each man “Eddie”, The series is therefore entitled, “Eddie, I Hate You”.
I met Eddie when I was twenty-six years old and fell in love with him two years later. The romance I imposed on him was symptomatic of a rare manic episode I was experiencing. Months previous to falling in love, I had conquered a depressive slump with additional anti-depressants but soon, with a change in season and personal habits, the prescribed mood stimulants proved to be too stimulating.
Hyper-stimulation led to high romance, as it should.
Those who claim mental illness is “not terminal” are full of shit.
Thanks to my illness, I have lived many lives. Each terminated for whatever accidental disaster.
Eddie was one of my lives, I died a year later and, it took about six months since death but, perhaps the autumn spins resurrection via fog and deadened opportunity.
Here it is, she says, and a man laughs in the background, yells at his dog, lies back for a blow job from his boyfriend and allows her to hear nothing but the beginning.
I wince at the excavation of dead Eddie.
Montreal in the Spring glistens with adventure.
Roaming passions, provocative impulses, directly the result of The End of Things. Months from now I will graduate from theatre school as a playwright which momentarily feels relevant and so, walking, relevance glows, I know I am attractive.
The ugly that was previous to my artistry is gone, I am awakened and I know I am limitless if I play, if I breathe, if I welcome everything.
I see Eddie one day. He happened to coincide with a fit of blood-flow.
He is a not-as-complex-as-he-thinks, nearly formulaic, bubbling stew of vulnerability and absolute narcissism. As a trope, he fits The Prophet. He and his few friends have segregated themselves for years, they seemingly judge everyone, they virtuously reign ideological argument and they like me and I like it.
Younger yet more self-assured, they look up to me and they do not include me in their little group but when Eddie makes time for me, I feel Wanted. He makes time for absolutely no one, he has no time, sitting holed-up, writing poetry, reading archaic literature, in the millionth apartment he has occupied due to a streak of tenant rebellion, no fixtures, just a pile of books, some kind of a kitchen, a bed and a projector, he sits, alone presumably and he will let you in when he decides whether or not he can trust you. He is afraid of the indecencies of others and he judges their impurities as if they come from a contrived place. He is the wounded one, he thinks. Everyone else is just an imitation. All at once he scorns and chases conformity, idiotically presuming that he can create a tangible nirvana for those who love him and to love him, of course, is to follow him obsessively, is to cling him without freedom from that hold.
I clung to Eddie.
First, he shared a piece of his with me and I read it before he came over. We sat on the cold Montreal roof of my building, while I left my puppy downstairs in the excitement that I actually mattered to this person and I could matter more. His calculated preciousness, unevenly cut at the edges, made me want his approval. He spoke about art with messianic intent. I listened.
The next morning Eddie will message me to tell me that he left my house and didn’t know where he was, what street he was on, where he was going. I will ask if he is ok. He will not reply. I will wait for his reply until I forget about it. It takes a week to forget.
Weeks later, I will send him a poem I have written, unsure that it is a poem, I ask for his approval and he gives it.
I wrote the poem in a fit of mania, in the middle of the night, dreaming of a woman I believe I used to be. I am afraid to call it a poem because I do not write poetry but it is the beginning of something and his encouragement keeps me writing it.
I keep sending him writing.
I keep getting his approval.
My small Montreal loft becomes a lair for creativity. I build the space so that Eddie can live with me. I decorate it, I move the furniture, I send him images, videos, descriptions, poetic everything. I wait to hear from him. I always hear from him.
His ego becomes a ghost in my home.
I feel him everywhere.
I light candles, I craft spells, I perform yogic ritual, I change my appearance, I send him documentation of everything, walking around the city with him but not with him and sending him images of everywhere.
Eddie has been in Toronto but he returns.
The night of his return, I send him a bedtime story and I fall asleep.
He has sent me a message in the night “look outside”.
I receive the message hours after he has sent it but I look outside. Nothing is there.
My computer beams with messages.
Eddie asks me to come over immediately.
I arrive with my dog. My mother is staying with me because she knows that I am unwell but, at five in the morning I lie to her and tell her I usually meet a friend in the park at this hour, I go to Eddie’s house and he stands.
I have not seen him since the messaging reached creative absurdity. I have not seen him since I invented him.
His appearance is a surprise.
I sit on the floor, upright and breathing.
Eddie shows me a film. He has edited footage he took while he was in Toronto with his friends. He has edited in some footage that I sent him. I hate it and I love it. I tell him I love it.
I tell him my mouth is dry. He gives me water.
I insist on leaving.
I kiss him.
It is a terrible kiss.
With uncertain momentum, I let him hold me in a very strange and nauseous way.
That evening Eddie and his partner come to my house for my dog’s party.
His partner is very nice to me.
I have yet to realize their partnership.
Eddie has referred to her, in text as “his lover”.
This is her, absolutely. Her kindness is focused on me.
Eddie’s partner confronts me on the roof of my home.
We are very drunk.
Eddie told her that I kissed him. He told her right away.
I feel sick.
I get yelled at. She cries.
I call her either a lesbian or a young lesbian.
I do not cry but I would like to.
We go to a party.
I have a drunk conversation with Eddie about monogamy and commitment. I cannot be a second girlfriend, I tell him. He stands without movement or speech or gesticular syntax. He stands without his usual passion or dominance or prophesy. He vacates while I go on.
I leave the party.
I am sure he did not expect to see me because Eddie never sees me.
Eddie enjoys my fantasy. Eddie enjoys the poetic conversation I give him. He enjoys the creative sexy craft of something we only ever read about. I write to him about it because I think he is committing to it but he never agrees to see me.
One evening at home, weeks later, I am desperate, crying, the memory of Why is ineffective but I reach for my phone and tell Eddie I have to see him, he has to let me see him.
I go to his house.
He lets me bring him flowers and maybe a painting or some booze.
I have made public disgrace of myself at a theatre event and, when it was obvious to myself that I should leave, I left. I wore a red dress.
When Eddie agreed to have me over, I threw clothing into a bag along with the gifts.
When I got there I changed.
I gave him my dress.
The conversation is boundless.
The room is not a room and the window only gives light because we asked for it but otherwise, the world is gone.
We are really in love, it feels but the feeling is terminated by Eddie’s conversation regarding my confrontation with him at the party, my insistence that I am monogamous, “I need to know what that means”, he insists in a paternal voice as if it could mean anything than what I said.
He does not explain his partnership.
He only sets rules for me.
We cannot have sex.
He must tell her everything.
I say ok.
Love in the entire body makes the suggestion of it being taken away make me feel weak, I feel weak but he kisses me anyway. There will be no nudity and there will be no sex, there will be no satisfied impulses, there will only be arousal.
The arousal will validate him and suck the fucking life out of me.
I leave confused at four in the morning.
The same instance happens weeks later.
We have more conversations about his partnership and my imposition on it but he will not describe what the partnership is, what rules between them he is breaking, he only describes what I cannot do.
I tell him that his partner is clearly upset with me, that I am afraid of her, that she is openly rude to me when we used to be friends.
He refuses to talk about her.
He says I should talk to her myself.
For him I get home and message her. We should have dinner. She agrees.
We see each other and we are friends again.
I let her tell me that I offended her and she felt a bit threatened because I told her I was in love with Eddie, which I do not remember, and I called her a number of labels she does not appreciate it.
I wilt in embarrassment and shame.
I explain my mania, which I have since come down from because my medication was adjusted again but it is not enough of an explanation for her hurt.
“You are with my partner”, she says.
I only understand it when I hear it from her.
I do not want to be with anyone’s partner.
I apologize. I thank her for her forgiveness. I see her from now on as an emotional authority. I respect her maturity but get annoyed by her age-appropriate immaturity, her twenty year old Nowness, her attitude of Aboveness, her effortless relevance.
I hurry home.
I message Eddie that I cannot talk to him anymore or see him anymore because I did not realize his partnership to this woman and I feel terrible, I feel cheap, I feel like an adultress.
He defends our relationship, telling me that Partner is just a label, he could call her or I anything else “sister, friend, girlfriend”, who cares about semantic appropriation.
I go to bed crying.
In the morning he takes it back. “Partner was the right word”, he says. No apology. I assume he has spoken to her.
I assume their partnership is only stronger because of my intrusion.
I am right.
As we move to Toronto, Eddie disappears. He commits fully to his partner, they become completely monogamous and I hear from neither one of them.
I am close to Her. We are structuring projects together. Him, I do not hear from as he commits to her and leaves me entirely.
When I do hear from him, I hear only in the context of the two of them.
They have come up with a project they would like me to write for.
I write him a play.
He loves it.
I love it too. I cannot wait to see him in it.
I have been writing a lot about him over the summer.
I have written some tiny stories, some poetry but mostly I have been writing a play for the two of us, the two characters I love deeply but I cannot write a true story about them because I do not understand what the story is so I continue to craft and re-craft, needlessly, since it is probably not a great play, too literal, too much about Eddie and the ways in which we will love each other forever despite circumstance.
I believe it is only circumstance that keeps us apart.
He told me the same.
In Montreal he told me to just wait until we are in Toronto. He did not explain what that meant but it sounded to me like “just wait until circumstance changes” and I did wait and I only became more isolated from him but I have not given up on him yet because he still validates my work.
He sends me pages, I send him pages, of our favourite literature. We find the same pictorial ironies funny. We are passionate in the same way and though we only have passion in common, my mistake is anticipating that we could manifest that shared characteristic into an entire world together.
Truthfully, I know I can do that with the man who loves me but Eddie did not love me.
February comes and Eddie is speaking to me every day.
Through my collaborative relationship with his partner I have learned that they might be growing apart or towards a break but I do not like to think about it because I have learned not to get my hopes up about Eddie.
His previous abandonment of me, in the summer, taught me that I am likely disposable to him. When his partner details her issues with him, I merely pretend that I do not know the man she is speaking of and I do not know him, I know my Eddie, the Eddie I called “Beethoven” or “B” for short because I insisted that he is just a resurrection of the musical legend, the Eddie I feel in my body when I read his work and when I write my own work and when I witness beautiful things, the Eddie of my obsession, the one I invented, who haunted my home, who loved me but didn’t want to but knew he would regardless. Her Eddie was just a boy who might be ok to date. My Eddie is a man I projected onto that boy, that lucky boy, who got to be the spirit of my first romance without ever having shown up.
I send Eddie the novel, my first novel, that I have just finished and he reads it right away. He calls it “tremendous”.
He writes a piece, it’s incredibly captivating, I tell him I love it.
I am staying at my parents’ house while my bathroom is being renovated.
It is two in the morning. Eddie had invited me to a very long movie, last minute, but I could not go because my parents live in North York and I would never make it down in time.
“We can drink wine from pixie cups”
I wish I could make it. I am thrilled that he invited me. B has returned. Somehow. Maybe it’s the winter.
After the movie he messages me about his boredom, walking around the city. He wants to meet up with me but I do not think he is serious until he persists and it becomes clear that he wants to see me. He never wants to see me.
I tell him I will meet him at my place downtown.
I take a forty dollar taxi down to my place at three AM.
Eddie and I drink whisky and speak in the same boundless conversation we accomplished in Montreal. We sit on chairs by the window, smoking. He takes the screen out just so he can smoke, which I have always refused to do but I let him do because I still love him very much.
We lean towards each other, some kind of force pushes us closer and I tell him, I am really close with your partner now, I cannot do this.
And he says, we aren’t really talking right now.
And I say, oh, I’m sorry.
And he says, It’s ok.
And then we say nothing.
We are kissing.
We end up on the floor.
He moves the desk chair away with his hand, I am impressed that he even noticed it.
No clothes come off. Nothing other than movement and breath but it feels, this time, like everything.
He whispers, I have to pee.
I whisper, you have to do it in the bucket.
He whispers, ok
He pees in the bucket I left on the counter for such occasions.
I do the same.
We have an unusual time.
It feels like we have always lived here.
We pee in buckets. We kiss. We drink.
When we leave, the city is being blanketed by snow and I go back to North York, playing with my dog in the backyard of my parents house, wondering what the fuck just happened and listening to Taylor Swift.
I message Eddie as soon as I think it qualifies as “later” and we avoid the topic, we avoid our topic, we do not speak about wayward kisses or evenings in false domesticity, supposing we would live in a derelict renovation site, smoking and drinking and almost fucking, but that is what we would do, it is what we do, we did it and we don’t speak about it.
I tell him we have to because I have plans with the woman who I believe is still his partner and I feel horrible and I need to know what the parameters of their relationship are at this very moment and I need to know what I should tell her.
If he is going to tell her, I say, please let me know so that I can admit my fault first.
He says, would you feel uncomfortable not telling her?
I say, I would prefer not to tell her.
He says, great, then that’s ok.
We are on the phone. He resolves questions about their relationship which I tell him I know is none of my business but I still wonder if it should be my business, if it has been my business this whole fucking time and they have been leaving me out intentionally so they can control me in some way, control what I know, what I don’t know, how I feel, how I can express what I feel, it is their restraints, it has always been their restraints which I have been placed under but I have never known why because I have allowed them to exclude me from reality.
I have been cornered in a world where only their realities matter, where I exist in relation to them, I can love in relation to them but not on my own terms.
And I hate it here now.
He resolves my questions. He tells me it is basically none of her business. He tells me that they have agreed to break off and explore and not have to report back to one another. That I am in the clear. That he is in the clear. What we did was not sin. It was just Doing.
I do have drinks with his ex-partner and I don’t tell her a thing.
She tells me right away that her and Eddie are on a break and I think, ok it is mutual. Ok, she explains this to me in the exact same way that he did so I am on mutual ground and his figuring of my actions will match hers.
Her and I seem close but I have never felt comfortable around her.
She intimidates me. She is beautiful. She is loud. She is confidant. She is eight years younger than I am and she seems at least two years older. I falsify my behaviour around her ordinarily because I am never truly comfortable being myself. Ergo, one more lie is fine.
Twice more Eddie and I meet in odd hours of the evening.
On both occasions I wonder if we will touch or if he will indulge our tension once again but he never does. We watch movies. We look at books.
Still, he used to be B.
We never talk about it.
We never talk about the letters I sent him all summer, addressed to him or B or his character in the play I was writing about us.
We never talk about the film he made with my footage and my voice, how he even explained that to people, why, what reason did he give for even having that footage.
Never do we ever speak about the fantasy I created for us.
Or how he abandoned it without explanation the summer previous.
Or how I waited for him to return, sent him messages under the name I gave him and just never heard back.
Or how he only came back to me when his girlfriend walked away.
We watch movies. We read books.
At night when I can’t sleep, he tells me what movie he is watching and he sends me a link, we watch it together.
Eddie becomes one of my closest friends.
I do not know what I am feeling. Or what I want. But I like him in a way I like no one else. I assume he understands me. Perhaps it was pity.
He makes plans with me in a way that made me wonder.
He will bring over movies, we will drink.
We would watch the Raptors playoff game, which we had been trying to orchestrate for a week or so, and then we would watch a movie.
He came over and we drank for, what ended up being a total of ten hours.
We spoke as we would, in a way that is hard to channel with other people, in a way that feels inspired and otherworldly, as if we had taken each other to somewhere new and now we were just there. It is the same feeling from that winter night spent in destitute smokiness.
Eddie says he needs to throw up.
I recognize he isn’t going home. It is three in the morning.
We’ve been sitting on the pull-out bed to watch TV so I make it for him, adding pillows and blankets.
I sit on the bed, staring at the bathroom door, glancing at my phone periodically, wondering what has happened to Eddie.
I open the door and he’s on the floor, passed out.
I say his name, he flinches. I shove him and he laughs, waking up.
He says, Did I puke.
I said, no. Get up and go to the bed, you can sleep on the pull-out.
He says, ok ok ok.
He gets in the bed.
I go to my bed.
I say, goodnight.
I then realize I do not have my phone.
The alarm will go off at 5 AM. If I do not have my phone, I’ll have to hunt the apartment with Eddie lying, sleeping and I’d rather just pass out.
I look for my phone.
He says, what are you doing.
I say, get up, you’re lying on my phone.
Eddie cannot move.
I search around him for the phone.
I search beneath him for the phone.
He says, what are you doing.
I say, you’re lying on my phone, fucking move or the alarm will go if in like twenty minutes.
He says, no no no alarm
I say, fine then move
My hands are beneath him, around him, I don’t care, something in me needs this device while he is sleeping in my home. Something in me needs this phone.
Eddie looks up at me. He kisses me.
We are kissing.
We are kissing passionately.
Kissing becomes sex. The sex lasts a while.
He is on top of me, holding me down, I feel choked but I like it.
It feels incredible.
Eddie gets up and smokes by the window.
We don’t say anything.
I lie back.
He returns to the bed.
He fucks me again.
Soon he eats Raman and wonders about what we have done, out loud. I tell him it’s fine. He goes to work looking like he just walked through a desert storm and then got thrown in the ocean.
Over the next week Eddie and I do not know how to handle each other.
We have a total of three phone calls, or it might have been four, regarding our friendship and what to do next.
The first phone call seems fine. We agree we have to think about it but, I offer, we really were just drunk friends having sex and maybe, if he’s on a relationship break, this is our window of opportunity to take advantage of our intimacy, mutually.
Eddie stays on the phone with me until I fall asleep.
He calls again a couple days later with new opinions.
The conversation ends in a similar ambivalence.
The next day he calls me at an odd time, middle of the day.
I say, Hi.
He says, Rachel.
He sounds like he’s been through that same desert storm, except this time for the twentieth time and he’s had enough of God, Nature and other partial composite of Things That Determine The Future.
He says, So I told (his ex-partner).
My stomach sinks.
He told his ex-partner and he cannot handle, “I just remember passing out in the bathroom and then Rachel is on top of me.”
He blacked out. He doesn’t remember “anything” and so he doesn’t remember consenting (A word he used).
This is the middle of the day.
The bruises across my collar bone still have not healed from when he held me down to fuck me for way too long and now I am supposed to believe, and I do believe, I believe for a long time, that I made him do that.
I leave an hour later for a job interview with little hope in my heart and little understanding.
I walk around the city for a month feeling like a rapist.
His ex-partner never speaks to me again.
I say now what I said to Eddie at the time of the accusation: I’m so happy for you, Eddie, that you had a chance to confront your rapist. Further, I am so happy for you that this is the standard you hold for personal violation.
One more thing, Eddie: You’re welcome.