Do I need him, or does he articulate my loneliness?
The night I know for sure he isn’t in love with me we are at a bar and I get into a totally useless argument with a couple of strangers about whether or not “ratchet” is a racially charged term. On the way home I text him that I never want to see him again but the next night I am sitting with him and two of our friends at a late screening of Carrie and thinking to myself maybe it is enough that I am in love with him, even if he isn’t in love with me. This is clearly a bad sign, but I am distracted by a new sympathy for Margaret White, who is obviously a supremely damaged woman with some serious and unresolved emotional trauma, which is a hard, hard way to live, so maybe a little compassion is in order? Then again, you could say the same thing about Carrie. Then I’m distracted by how long his hair has gotten, when the movie is over and we’re all smoking cigarettes outside.
I’m the sort of person who makes proclamations like, “I think I feel things more deeply than most people.” Is it pretentious if you really think it’s true? I think I’m different because I think everyone is different. I don’t believe in universal experience any more than I believe in universal truth. As such, I habitually entertain thoughts along the lines of, “No one has ever felt what I am feeling right now in this moment, and no one ever will.” While this habit may in certain instances make for good art, it is rarely conducive to realistic expectations in a relationship, or stable mood patterns in general. I need to soar. I need it to be like the movies. I text him one evening when the sky is pink. Another night we go out of the city to a rock quarry so we can see the moon clearly. Many nights we do nothing but smoke joints and talk for hours and it is perfect and I don’t want to ruin everything so I don’t tell him how I want to watch his whole life like a movie in real time.
I know I am in trouble when I am standing in four feet of fresh snow peeking around the warped, frost-covered woodshed in his backyard, trying to see what I can in his windows, which is nothing, wearing a coat that does nothing to warm me against the bitter gasp of deep Indiana winter, my dumb canvas low-tops soaked through, ditto my socks, and my feet so cold they burn. My teeth are knocking together like a set of wind-up dentures prattling across a wood surface and I say to myself, I do, in one of those quick moments when you get a flash of yourself as you are from the outside, I say, “Boy, are you in trouble.”
The first time I tell him I love him is in anger, which is unfair to both of us, and I regret it immediately. But when I get to the place where the regret is nothing compared to the loss, I can’t stop telling him. By then it doesn’t matter and for seven months I am basically Jennifer Hudson singing “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” at the end of the first act of Dreamgirls. While he is not talking to me I smoke more than ever and quit my job and get another job and spend money on foolish stuff like furniture, a bicycle, the same style of Levi’s in eight different colors. I use all my dishes and don’t wash them for so long I have to throw them out. In this frame of mind I file things like not driving by his house late at night or not texting him for an entire day or not checking his Tumblr under “accomplishments.”
A friend who thinks she is good with adages warns me, “Don’t waste time trying to open a door that God has closed.” Another one says, more plainly, “If he wanted to be with you, he would be with you.” At some point, deep in my feelings, I tweet, “He fits himself to me perfectly yet insists we are not a perfect match,” because I spent a few nights with him and it made me feel like I’d never spent a night with anyone before. Two re-tweets. Six favorites. Over the crappy sound system at a Bed Bath & Beyond where I am spending too much money on new dishes Jewel is singing “Hearts get broken every day,” but her voice is tiny and sad when she sings it, the guitar is strumming lethargically, then pausing, which conveys that it doesn’t matter, the fact isn’t any solace, so what.
In terms of cinematic romances, it is more The Talented Mr. Ripley than, say, When Harry Met Sally, except without the grisly murders and the midcentury Italian mise-en-scène. I am Tom Ripley, obviously, though I am not as talented at being someone else, and I’ve never been to Mongibello.
Indiana Jones lives in South Bend, Indiana. He studied at Columbia College Chicago and, currently, Indiana University South Bend. He blogs inconsistently and without focus at andindianajones.com.