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Goodbye to All That

Sunday, March 9, 2003

So we finally split up today. To call it bizarre is an understatement -- but, then, the whole relationship was bizarre. The way she clung to her parents, was obsessed with their lives and they with hers. It gives me the creeps.

She made pancakes. It was so like her. Everything was neatly arranged: the plates, the silverware, the perfectly cut fruit, the phony flowers sitting in a waterless vase. Just once I’d like to see her embrace the chaos and disorder of life, instead of fleeing from it. So scared. I felt sorry for her -- and myself for clinging to her so hopefully for 11 sexless, middle-aged months. “Only people over 60 have artifcial flowers,” said CF later; I remembered what W's cousin had said to me on the train, “She never rebelled. She never fought her parents. At least I don’t remember it. She was always an adult.”

I sat there, eating the pancakes with the tasteless, sugar-free, low-fat syrup, and listened as she prattled on about God knows what. It was like we were two old drinking companions (except she never drinks), not two would-be, never-were lovers who, after 11 months of holding hands and one big argument, were now facing the end of the road.

Even my recent illness was treated as tea time chatter: polite concern with a sequeway to how great Robin Williams had been in AWAKENINGS. Why was I here? Would I have to do the breaking up?

Then, finally, like a quick summer shower, it was over. She escorted me into her living room, talked about where the chandelier would be hung, how the mirror would add depth to the room, and how I should search for someone who could say “I love you” to me. But she wasn’t the one. My talk of her family 


on Monday and of the need to have a real relationship, had made her “physically nauseous.” Not a word about what I had meant to her. Because I meant about as much to her as the pretty stuffed pillow I was sitting on. Maybe less.

I said goodbye -- after saying two things: that she couldn’t have a relationship with a man until she stopped having a love affair with her parents and that if she couldn’t say, “I love you” after 11 months, she never would.

We embraced, promised to keep in touch (I knew it was a lie), and as I walked out I thought two things simultaneously: I wished I had exited the relationship sooner – and the pancakes weren't half-bad.