The text said: “Come home early, if you can. I made us dinner. I miss you.” So, I hurried home. My significant other and I had a tumultuous relationship. From day one, even. At the time, I wasn’t certain how much longer we could go on like this. Him making dinner for us that night and hurrying me home was effort on his part, and for fleeting moments, I felt hope for us.
He moved in with me two weeks after we met. Two weeks. We met four days before Christmas on an online dating site. After talking nonstop online for 48 hours, I drove from my dad’s house to Portland to meet him person. He met me at the car and struggled to meet my gaze. Shy or shifty? I couldn’t tell. I was equally nervous and infatuated. I couldn’t discern my intuitive, warning feelings from my irrational, falling in love feelings. He led me inside and handed me a plate of breakfast: an omelet and home-fries and a hot, black cup of coffee. He, a starving, nearly evicted, jobless, Anarchist musician. 40. Jaded and passionate. Chaste and wild. Loved Walt Whitman and cooking. The loneliness and desperation he felt was a drug for me. I couldn’t resist him. It sounds weird to admit that–but I felt that I had to help him. Half ego, half martyr–I have a tendency to collect misfit and hopeless toys. Every one I save or try to save is me trying to save myself. I had to help him because bringing him home with me was easier than fixing my own, recently divorced train wreck of a life.
He would make me breakfast every morning before work. We would cook together in the evenings. I loved it. But, as most whirlwind, baggage-laden, doomed-to-begin-with relationships go, we were always one fight or lie away from spontaneously combusting.
So, the dinner he made me and texted me about…five minutes before I got home, I got another text: “Hey…can I go out with my singer for drinks tonight?” (He and his female singer often rehearsed at my apartment while I was at work. I wanted so badly to believe him.) I said: “Go ahead.” I got home and the dinner was cold. Spaghetti was gummy and starting to dry. Meatballs were gray and sitting in grease on a baking sheet. He made an effort, but couldn’t wouldn’t follow through. So, I packed his things and threw them by the door.
When I reflect back on this day, on this relationship, and how it didn’t even end that day (although it should have), I see the meatballs and pasta. I see an attempt, but ultimately a choice that makes me scoff at the idea of good intentions. It is strange the flashes of memory we hold onto. The images and smells that define these moments. The metaphors and writings on the wall that are oh, so clear after the dust settles. When you make a mistake in cooking, you can evaluate what happened, correct the mistake, then throw ruined food in the trash. I wish life was that easy.