My life is over.
It wasn't supposed to be this way. I was going to start my perfect adult life with K. I graduated college, moved from College Town to Raser City, started grad school--I did all those things like I was supposed to, but K isn't here.
Twenty-three years old, and I should feel like I'm just starting my life, but instead I feel hopeless and abandoned. I couldn't afford to live on my own, so I had to find a roommate at the last minute, some friend of a friend named Julie. She doesn't seem too happy about sharing her house with me, but whatever, I just try to avoid her.
I can still hardly believe K dumped me, just like that, and over email too. That coward. Now I'm just going through the motions. I'm here in this city where I don't know anyone, except a roommate who doesn't like me. I'm just another stupid heartbroken girl--no one wants to hear my pathetic story. Not like it would be any better back in College Town. Most of my friends have also graduated and moved away. Even if they hadn't, I couldn't face the humiliation there, with everyone telling me "I told you so" about K. How I should have seen it coming. How I should never have dated him in the first place. It would definitely suck worse there, but that doesn't make it any better here. I wish there were someplace I want to be.
I spend all my time trying not to think about K, but he's like a habit I can't break. While we were together, every night I would go to bed and wake up thinking about him, every little detail about him playing out like a movie in my mind, and now I can't find the off switch. Everything reminds me of him. When I think about that girl he dumped me for, I get so mad my eyes start to roll back in my head, and I feel like I could spit.
When I try to explain to my friends why I feel this way, they just don't get it. Not even Nam and Kara, who were my best friends and housemates while K and I were dating. They say I just have to get over him, but I won't, I can't, not ever. He was the one perfect guy for me, like a prince in a fairy tale, the one true love I was fated to meet. I know girls say that all the time, but this was different. It was like I made a wish, the biggest wish of my life, and it came true. I wished for a blind boyfriend, and I got K.
When I think of my ideal boy, he's always blind. Or most of the time. Sometimes he's in a wheelchair, or on crutches, or missing an arm or a leg. I don't know why, it's just always been that way. I thought it was because K and I were destined to be together. I was made to be perfect for him, and he was perfect for me, only he didn't think so. I never told him that his blindness turns me on. He would have hated me for it, I'm sure. I can't ever tell anyone, ever. I'll never find anyone like him ever again.
Free at last! Ok technically Julie kicked me out of the house, but whatever, she eventually apologized and admitted she was being a bitch, and just didn't want to have a roommate any more. It's her house, so she can do what she wants. Now I'm in a new apartment, all my own, with no more crazy roommate waking me up at 6 AM with her juicer and disinviting me to her dinner parties. For the first time ever, my own place, and it feels so good.
Alright, maybe this isn't the most glamorous apartment. It's an old house that got divided up, and I have the back ground floor rooms that look out into the parking lot (too bad I don't have a car). There are only two rooms, the front room with a desk and bookshelf, and a folded-up futon in Pepto pink I got from my friend Rachel to serve as a couch, and the back room with a tiny kitchenette, single bed, and walk-in closet all kind of mashed together. The refrigerator is right next to the bed, but at least the apartment is furnished, because I don't have any furniture of my own. The front room smells like grilling meat from the Burger King across the alley and I can hear people shouting their orders at the drive-thru (I SAID NO PICKLES!!). The back room smells like chicken teriyaki from the restaurant in the front of the building; I think we share a wall. But directly across the street is a supermarket, which is convenient (again note lack of car), and I can walk to campus in under ten minutes. There are kind of a lot of homeless people panhandling around the supermarket, but the landlords assured me they don't cross the street.
New home, new life. I am determined to start over, for real this time. I still think about K all the time, though. When he dumped me, the thought that I would never ever talk to him again was more than I could bear, so I made a deal with him: we wouldn't try to contact each other for ten years. At the end of ten years, then maybe we could try being friends. Ten years, my god, it seems like forever. I'm trying to forget, but thoughts of him sneak up on me all the time. The way he touched my face for the first time, in the woods at night in winter. The uncanny, flat blue of his eyes, scarred over with glaucoma. The look on his face as we were having sex.
Before I moved to Raser City, I took everything that reminded me of him, all the photos I took, every little piece of junk of his I ever saved, and stowed it in an old shoe box, tied it up with black string, then hid the box at the bottom of my bedroom closet at my parents' house. Whenever I find myself thinking of him, I try to think of that box instead, sealed away, buried, hidden.
Toward the end of my time as her roommate, Julie happened to take a photo of me, which she gave me after she kicked me out. Oh my god. Two years of dating a blind man, and I look terrible. How did that happen? I have never dressed like the popular girls, but at least I used to be put together in a cute, indie girl kind of way. Now I realize all my clothes are baggy and old, my extra-long hair is scraggly and unstyled, my face is washed-out and I'm hairy and gross everywhere. I may still be a huge nerd who never goes out to bars or clubs but at least I could look a little nicer. Step one: pluck eyebrows.
This grad school thing isn't so hard. One year down, only ?? more to go. Ok, so I spend all my time studying, but it's not like there's anything else I want to do. When I'm not studying, I'm doing things like sewing or cooking. I still don't have many friends here.
There's a cute guy who works at the campus bookstore. I go in there every Friday afternoon when I know he's working. At first I would browse around and pretend to look for something, but lately we just talk. I think he likes me.
I've been spending the whole summer with the guy from the bookstore. He isn't a boyfriend, exactly. He enlisted with the Army Reserves right before we started hanging out, so it's more like we're just killing time together while he's waiting to leave for boot camp and I'm on summer vacation. I don't love him, and I know he doesn't love me. In fact, I don't think he even likes me that much. He's always criticizing everything about me. The first time he saw my apartment, he said, "I don't like a bunch of shit on the walls," meaning all the posters I put up, mostly reproductions of Pre-Raphaelite paintings. He thinks I'm over-educated and over-privileged, as he's constantly reminding me. He never even went to college. When we're having sex, if I say he's hurting me, he just says, "You're too sensitive. It's all in your head." The sex is ok, even so. Not mind-blowing simultaneous orgasms every single time like it was with K, but good enough.
If all this makes bookstore guy sound like a jerk, he has his good side too. I like his black Buddy Holly glasses and 1950s bowling shirts. He's an amazing cook. He used to work in a Chinese restaurant, and he teaches me to make real Chinese food. He introduces me to Jackie Chan movies and the music of Johnny Cash, both awesome. He's really obsessed with Johnny Cash. He's even considering legally changing his name to Johnny. So that's what I call him.
We have enough in common that it's fun to hang out together, but like I said, we aren't in love. We're just two lonely people passing the time together because it's better than being alone. A few years ago, the girl he loved OD'ed on cocaine. He still talks about her all the time, and he keeps her death certificate tacked to the wall above his bed. I don't even know how he got that. It can't be very healthy for him mentally, but there it is. Actually, he doesn't even have a bed, just a mattress on the floor, since he's spent the summer getting rid of all his stuff. He lives in a high-rise downtown. It's a cool old building, over a hundred years old, but they're renovating the front half, so all the roaches have fled to the back half, and into his apartment. He started putting the ones he caught in a big mason jar, and it's gotten to be almost half full, the new additions scrambling over the carcasses of their predecessors.
His last night in town, he tells me not to come over, but I do anyway. I thought it would be nice to spend the time together, but he spends the whole night packing and ignores me. I help a little, but there isn't much he'll let me do. As it gets to be past midnight, I start to drift off, but I can't really sleep with the light on and him fussing around. He has the radio turned on to Art Bell. I lie there on the mattress in the bare apartment, looking up at the roaches and the death certificate on the wall, listening to Art Bell's predictions of the end of the world: horrifying 100% true visions of a future earth empty of all people, nothing but abandoned buildings. The night seems to drag on forever, like I'm stuck in limbo. But eventually the morning comes, and we say goodbye for the last time. It's over now, he's gone, and whatever was between us is over too.
Whenever he slept over at my place, I had a recurring dream that he was blind. It wasn't even a sexual dream. In the dream we're just walking down the street or something, but he's blind. WTF is wrong with me?