We play a lot of different roles in the wake of failed relationships. We become amateur psycho-analysts, dissecting every word and action belonging to our ex. We are certain there is a code or reason for their behavior. What it boils down to is we just want answers. We can’t accept that love can just go away.
However, the moods and emotions one feels after a breakup is something much more complex. It is an exquisite symphony of sensations.
You might find yourself alone, when the first tones of jealousy cut through you like the gentle sound of a piano cutting through the dark. With it are three shades of anger, the scratchy agitation of the alto, the whiny wail of the tenor, and the bustling snarl of the baritone sax. Then the low trumpets of despair slowly build on the wave of the dancing flutes of paranoia. Then comes the thunderous drum of self-loathing. Your skin vibrates with every boom. That’s followed by the violins. Finally, the violins of self-pity. Their cries weave their way so delicately around the rest of the instruments, pulling them all closer.
When I wrote this next chapter I had stopped the symphony in order to put on a gratuitous drum solo.
I’m what they call a failure, a loser, a bum, an asshole. I’m one of those guys that slipped through the cracks. The one that no one is ever really sure what he does for a living. The guy you see everywhere. At the end of a bar, weddings without a date, looking at post cards in gift shops, and going to the movies alone. We are the victims of the American dream. The ones that bought in too all the bullshit in our developmental years, and believed that as long as you are kind to strangers you’ll succeed in life. We were the ones ‘Just say no’ worked on.
It’s a self-hypnosis. You just keep believing you’re worth something to somebody, and that somebody is going to find you, and pull you from obscurity. And you might have to work a little for once, but it will be worth it for that slice of the American dream. You believe it so much you become a leech. Some of your friends you don’t even like, but you keep calling them, not because they’re the only ones who will give you a job, but because you’re holding out for when they really hit it big, and you’ll be right there to gather up everything that spills your way.
The truth is everyone you know is doing whatever they can to get by too. They’re never going to hit it big. They’re going to plug out a living for 40 or 50 years, and at the end retire to their wives, husbands, and grand kids, and you’ll just become an old hollow face they see once in a while.
But at this point in the story I am unaware of this. I am still an unassuming, slightly lonely, slightly depressed, and completely unfulfilled person, which would make me no different than anyone else. But unlike me, and others like me, most people live in a colder reality. It’s a place where dreams have died on the vine many years ago, they fell, sunk into the soil to sprout a tree of adult responsibility. It is a sturdy tree, strong enough to support the ever growing dream vines, so that others might pluck that fruit.
I still had the blinders on, and believed I was special. I was better than those schmucks that went to school for four years, partied their asses off, got laid constantly, and got a thing that will keep them gainfully employed .
Yep, I was a complex intellectual, an artist, and all around cool guy. I had a spark about me that no one else had seen before. I knew this because the 10 people that read my shitty blog about obscure films tell me how great I am. I knew this, because in the first few months of all my relationships girls think I’m mysterious, and a great lover. It turns out the mystery is just a little mental and emotional espionage to keep her from being engulfed in the full breadth of my loserdom. And when that wave of broken dreams and dishpan sadness comes crashing down it washes away the emperor’s clothes, and I become the naked stranger in the room.
Even as I write this, though I am fully aware of the delusion, I still have a belief that this is my ticket out.
“I’m gonna put this up on my blog, and people are going to see it, and it’ll catch on, and more people will see it, and then hipsters will debate it in dive bars and internet message boards, and they’ll say things like:
Well, I don’t know, I think it reads more like a comedy? I know everyone else thinks it’s a tragedy.
Never mind the fact that I am currently sitting on a stained office chair, eating Thanksgiving leftovers, two doors down from my parent’s bedroom.
With every word I type, and every forkful of semi-cold green bean casserole I eat, I keep hearing a voice off in the distance, it’s faint but clear when it says……. “I deserve it.”
The thing is, the world needs people like me, because every human being on this earth is a loser Everyone lays awake at night and doubts themselves. Everyone has a secret, and guilt for enjoying it. Everyone thinks they could have done better. It’s people like me that remind them they could have done worse.
However, people like me are different than those you never see anymore. Not the ones that grew up and moved away. No, the ones that never grew up, and when they go away it is for different stretches of time appointed by the government.
What makes them different is you knew they never had a chance, and they knew they never had a chance. They were cast-offs from the beginning, no one ever expected anything from them, and most lived up to that promise.
Even the ones that managed to make something of their lives still consider themselves outsiders, and so do people like me, the assholes that had everything they didn’t growing up, and managed to piss it all away.
So anyway, I first met Emily just two weeks after the end of another failed relationship, this time with Anna…