As you are now all painfully aware, the five year relationship with my girlfriend ended a few weeks ago. See “Five Years” for more details. To use a narrative metaphor, after the climax of a story comes the denouement, the extra couple of minutes at the end of a film, or the last few pages at the end of a novel that bring things to a nice tidy conclusion. In the case of relationships that denouement involves returning all the stuff that has been left at the other’s place over the years.
Even before our final phone conversation I had started to bag up all of her stuff: more toiletries than I had realised, assorted personal items, shoes, a table lamp and lots of clothes – in fact so many clothes that I now have significantly more storage space. We arranged a time and place to meet and I loaded all her stuff into the boot of my car in anticipation of our meeting. There was one thing, however, that I didn’t load. You see, my ex girlfriend has a pet Tenrec. As it’s a nocturnal animal, it’s a good fit for her, as she can be at home when the animal is active, something that drew her to Tenrecs, having previously owned a pair of Sugar Gliders. The Gliders weren’t travelers, but she wanted to bring Couscous with her, so she bought a smaller habitat to leave at my place.
I asked her about the “Country House” and she said that as she had nowhere to put it and didn’t need it, I should keep it. I assumed she’d want it back in order to have one for her next/new boyfriend’s house, but apparently not.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, she called me a week ago yesterday to let me know that she was on the boat, so I prepared to head down to meet her. Except that the car wouldn’t start. I’d had some problems with the battery previously, but now it was dead. There was no way the trickle charger would give me enough of a boost in the half hour I had, so I texted her, explained the situation and asked her to come to the house. Wrong move.
She said that she couldn’t take the time to come over as she had to be back in the city in the early afternoon and accused me of playing games. I explained again, and was very annoyed that after five years together she wouldn’t even spare me one hour for this. She told me that I’d have to come over to the city as she’d made a good faith effort. I eventually got the car going and bought a new battery at Costco, (texting her a photo of the receipt and adding the message “See?”) which my son helped my install the next day.
Fast forward to yesterday: We had agreed a time and place to meet in the city and I duly set off and drove up from the ferry terminal to meet her. I couldn’t find it. The name of the establishment was nowhere to be seen, and as Capitol Hill has a bastard of a traffic plan I ended up driving around in squares, occasionally pulling over to read her texts and reply. I found the place almost by chance due to the fact that I was driving north along the street and caught a glimpse of the restaurant she’d mentioned. It was in an above grade mini mall and totally invisible from the other direction.
She’d driven to what she regarded as an easier location, so I had to hang around until she came back as I didn’t fancy another 45 minutes driving around the city. She turned up a few minutes later and took the space next to mine. She was reasonably friendly and we began swapping our gear. I was over the fact that our relationship was over, but I did feel somewhat resentful of her choice, asking “A place that’s impossible to see, you call that a good location?” Her response was to say that decent parking is difficult to find in the city. I can pretty much understand her not wanting me to come to her house, even though that would be the easiest thing, but I find it hard to believe that a mini mall parking lot apparently built on top of a supermarket in a busy part of town was the best place for us to meet.
I will admit that having such a hard time finding the parking lot and her refusal to compromise a week earlier had put me in a bad mood and I’m afraid it showed. There was one thing I couldn’t get off my mind, so I said ” Just one question, who is he?” she replied “There’s no one else, there’s no one else.” “It always pays to have a back up” I replied, then got back in the car and drove off.
I suppose I could have dealt with the situation better, and in retrospect I do feel somewhat bad about how it all ended, but I just didn’t have it in me to wish her all the best, good luck, or anything like that.
So, that’s it then, I suppose. Five years of relationship down the Swannee. All those vacations, presents, nights out, nights in, dinner parties, movies, concerts, all now just so much electricity zipping around the neurons of my memory. I suppose I should have seen this coming. She’d been pulling away for a few months, our sex life had pretty much come to a halt as she’d been sick for a while and as a result of going through “The Change” she’d issued a Diktat about how sex would be in the future, which is not exactly the most romantic text I’ve ever received, to put it lightly.
We were never actually going to live together, as she won’t live anywhere except in a city, and I’m not going to move away from the kids. The time we did spend together was almost entirely on her terms: my home had to be adjusted to meet her needs, and my needs had to be adjusted to meet her home. I’m pondering all this as I type, and I do have to wonder if I’m actually capable of being in a long term relationship. I mean, my interpersonal skills are far from the highest order, I’m neither the tidiest nor the most thoughtful person in the world, and even after all these years, I can’t seem to break myself of the habit of keeping secret things that don’t really need to be kept secret.
It really makes me wonder if I’m just wasting my time on dating websites and if I should just give up. My recent form doesn’t really give me much cause for hope, but I simply can’t bear the thought of being on my own for the rest of my life. I realise what an apocalyptic statement that is, but let’s be honest, my performance in the relationship field has been less than stellar.
Once again, I don’t have a snappy ending for this post as it’s not really that kind of post, but if you have any single female friends, bear me in mind the next time any of them mention that they’re looking for a date. A boy can dream, right?