This post has little significance in the literary world, so feel free to skip it if you’re not interested in me. Otherwise hit the jump.
Yesterday, June 5, would have been the eleven-year anniversary for Robin and me.
We broke up the day before.
Eleven years is a long time; it’s very easy to get used to having someone to love close by whenever you need them. I had become more than accustomed to her presence– her disappearance was as jarring as the loss of a limb.
For the last two months, I’ve been struggling to find a reason to continue. Without the one person to love and be loved by, I had lost everything. Even this blog, labor of love for its subject that it is, was born of the desperate hope that I might prove to Robin that I too was making a change in my life.
Change is the key issue here, as it almost always is. Robin had changed over the past few months, but it was all very subtle. Then, on a day in early April, I returned home from work to find that Robin was dead. Not literally, there was still a person walking around with her name and body, but the Robin I had known and loved was dead. She had become someone new, someone with different dreams and ideals; someone who had no place in her life for a loser like me. I came home from work to find her side of the room stripped and almost all signs of her ever living there removed.
After a grueling day of waiting for a response, we met for the announcement of a ’separation’. It was only on June 4th that all pretense of reuniting was dropped. Though there was laughter and agreement on both sides, it was the final crush of realization that my idyllic life for the last eleven years was over.
Over the course of our actual “anniversary,” this knowledge weighed heavy on me, depressing me further and further through my work day until I was pausing every second or two to drop my head to my chest and sigh. There’s nothing left for me, I thought. With no one to love, what am I doing anything for? Why would I do anything for myself? When this happens to other people, they become alcoholics and start destroying themselves; was that the right choice for me? What would I have to give, if not to her?
Just as I was about to collapse, I felt something begin to crystallize.
Why does she think I’m a loser?, I thought. Could it be… because I am?
The crystal took root and began to fractalize.
What makes a loser? Is it someone who can’t win? Or is it someone who accepts losses as happily as wins? Could it be as simple as raising my expectations for myself? Looking toward something beyond empty daily pleasures? Finishing races rather than bowing out?
The pressure reached an unsurmountable level; but I flexed my muscles and destroyed the press. I had gone from carbon to diamond.
“Ethan,” I said aloud, “Fuck you. You’re a loser and you don’t even care. I don’t need you anymore.”
For the first time that day, feeling like for the first time in years, I straightened up, quickening my pace as the day drew to a close. “Ever since you left City College, you’ve been spineless,” I chided myself as I worked “You duck away from a challenge rather than rising to it. You pay more attention to hiding your laziness than curing it. You abandon projects in midsentence– you were actually considering QUITTING The Hungry Reader because you couldn’t win your girlfriend back with it?”
I was getting madder and madder at myself. “You’ll never get Robin back– she doesn’t exist anymore, not on your level. You want the Robin who’s a loser herself, who will enable you to continue losing without penalty; as long as the two of you had each other, it never felt like a loss, did it? Well, now you’ve got all your losses over the last decade at once. What are you going to do? Are you going to lose to them again, or are you going to rise to them and win them this time?”
I felt the cuticle of Loser Ethan crack over my new, powerful crystalline muscles. He was a shell, a chrysalis I’d hidden in for so long, nurtured by the comforting love of my fellow loser. But I no longer had need of him.
“I’m going to WIN,” I answered myself. “There will be no more tears for Robin; the one I loved, and the one who loved her, are side by side in a losers’ graveyard. I have a life of my own to put back together.”
And that’s exactly what I’m doing now. The Hungry Reader did not need a foolish romantic-comedy scheme as its impetus; it is worth continuing on its own merits. But that’s not my whole day, not anymore. No more wasting time, even if it’s time I enjoy wasting. There is a whole world of things to do in a single day; find an improved job, write and draw in my own projects, eat healthy and exercise, learn to cook and fix autos and balance a budget.
Unlike Robin, I have no intention of dropping any of my old friends now that I’m no longer a loser. I’m better than her, in that respect and many others. All the same, though, I’m not going to slow down if you can’t keep up. I’ve been moving too slowly for too long now.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I absolutely must try out this flying moth suit I won in an auction.