His smile always caught me off guard, though there was a cold smirk to it. That part of him didn’t come out often; he said it would never come out around me. He wasn’t always right. There’d be nights I wanted to hop in my car and drive away, never to return. Other nights made me feel so alive that I’d always stay longer than I planned. Longer, really, then I thought I should.
It never crossed my mind that maybe someone else in the world who was more of a “gold” person than his tarnished bronze could have any interest in me. I always assumed I didn’t have feelings for anyone else but him. How young I was! I met countless kind, honest, thoughtful, intelligent guys while being with him, yet I didn’t try to form anything more than a few words in brief conversation, instead of possibly a relationship that went deeper than a friend.
I was just destined to be with this beautiful, dangerous person. At least, that was my train of thought at the time. Endless nights out, drunk in the ally-ways, curled up in each other. Endless mornings of hangovers or migraines, kept stable with a strong mug of coffee. Endless, (and here was where it really felt endless), afternoons of boring desk work to make some sort of mythical money that would stretch for days, even if it ran out in one night.
The life I lived was rickety, uncertain, and bleak, (not to mention boring, repetitive, and wasteful, though it seemed like “living on the edge” to me). Nothing I did was meaningful in any manner, and I didn’t care. I didn’t care about much, really. Just in little moments when I’d look at my bills, turn to my latest paycheck, and have a second of a mental breakdown. He’d ease my worrying, tell me I was cute when I was frustrated, and dump the heaping stack of bills in my garbage basket. And I was surprised the day I received an eviction notice!
He offered for me to move in, and I graciously accepted. Reality still hadn’t made its way to my head; I looked forward to moving in with him and acted like it was a treat (!). When I entered his apartment, (how he was able to pay his rent I’ll never know), there were so many magazines, papers, bottles, dishes, take-out bags, and clothing articles littered around that it was nearly impossible to walk anywhere. Expecting a slightly neater place, (forgive my stubborn belief in him; it is disturbing), there were tiny flashing lights in my head. I mean, come on! The sides of the highway were more sterile than his place.
Nevertheless, I stifled a sigh and set my stuff in his disgusting room, (I’m talking fast food from days past rotting on the floor). I rarely saw him during the day. I didn’t know whether he had a job, stayed at home, he could have been part of a mariachi band and I wouldn’t’ve be surprised. The next morning, a Saturday, I convinced him to go out for a few hours while I “settled in”. During my “settling in” time, I cleaned.
I had to run down to the nearest grocery store, returning armed with sponges, rags, window cleaner, carpet cleaner, kitchen/bathroom bleach, and a fetching pair of neon-yellow rubber gloves. My system was simple but effective: organize his stuff into piles, (trash, clothes, books, dishes, and miscellaneous), scoop it all into various trash bags (which he had, surprisingly), and scrub everything on the floor or walls. It was awful. There was molding food everywhere, and the mountains of crap on the floor made me want to throw myself out the closest window. However, I persisted, and reached the point where all the floors were clean, and everything was in trash bags. I then vacuumed, and started the looming task: going through the odious bags.
If I thought the first part was bad, it was nothing compared to what I did next. Thank the actual effing god I bought gloves, otherwise I may have contracted a vicious disease. Any clothes went straight into his washing machine, and soon the dish washer was filled and brimming over. Food or trash headed into the garbage shoot, (it was so easy for him to throw stuff out, so HOW’D it get this bad??) The bag filled with books and miscellaneous was set in his room; we’d go through it later.
Last, I cleaned every inch of his bathroom and kitchen, making sure to get each to a level of sterilization that was acceptable, before arranging my things in the bathroom and bedroom.
Exhaustion set in. I hadn’t had to do any hard work for a while, so this drained me. I thought he’d come in, and be so thankful that I cleaned his entire apartment for him, but all I got was a, “What did you do to my house?” It was extremely disappointing. This was where my idolization of him began to drop slightly. It was during this period that I realized I’d have to do all the cleaning, which I wasn’t excited about. He stayed the same, so every afternoon I’d get home, wipe the most recent stains, and throw containers away.
I got desperate about a month in. Talking to him didn’t work, begging didn’t work, attempting at making a plan for who-cleaned-what-day didn’t work. I started slowly saving money, dollar by dollar, and looked at different apartments in the area. Leaving the apartment would be like breaking up, I knew. Even after cleaning up after him daily for months and being hungover and broke half the time, I wasn’t ready to leave. I still thought he was gorgeous and talented and better than me in every way imaginable,(meaning I was still an idiot).
Finally, after nine months of constant back-and-forth, I called a landlord. Within the hour, I had packed and secured my first month’s payment. I didn’t have any inkling of how he’d act, so I had picked a night to move that he usually got drunk stupid: Friday. After he left, I stashed everything in my car, and took off, prepared for the hour-long drive to my new home. I was forced to sleep in my car until the landlord would greet me at 9:00 sharp.
Walking into my apartment felt like Christmas. Anything inside was mine, and it was all clean. The space was lovingly decorated; my landlord said his young daughter of eight helped pick out the throw pillows and such. I thanked him profusely, and the second he walked out I flopped on the couch and breathed a deep sigh of relief. I fell asleep watching Disney movies on my TV, a bowl where Kraft mac ’n’ cheese had once been sitting beside me.
The next day was a Saturday. I leisurely unpacked, and savored putting my little knick-knacks everywhere, something I couldn’t do when I lived with him. I opened the blinds, rearranged some of the furniture, and went on a trip to the local nursery, loaded with small, tasteful succulents and hanging plants when I went home.
He called that night. I thought he would, and part of me wanted to fly back to that squalid dump he called a home and run out into the dark, a wine bottle in hand. That came from the girl who didn’t care, though. I did care. I cared about my clean, spotless rooms, the little plants that shared my place, and my photos hanging on the walls. I cared about the new job I wanted to apply for, and the cities I wanted to travel to someday once I saved the money, which wouldn’t be hard if I didn’t spend it on alcohol. Now that I had my own life that seemed so possible and interesting and exciting, you can bet you ass I wasn’t going to give it back.
It was hard, but I ignored the phone. It rang four times, then went silent. It buzzed a few moments later, and I listened to the new voicemail that popped up. “Hey, hope you find a “new life” or whatever bullshit I’m s’posed to say. If I’m honest, I know you’ll miss me. I’ll see you tonight, asshole.” I sent a text with five words in response, “Thanks, babe. P.S., Fuck. You.” I then blocked his number, and deleted his contact. Done, and done!
These days, I’m still in that cozy apartment, but it’s a little smaller now. My boyfriend takes up a bit of room, but it’s worth it. We own a small, tuxedo cat named Coffee, a nod to our flourishing addictions with the drink. My mornings are filled with endless breakfasts with my friends, a smart-ass group of girls who know what the best monarchy dramas are. My afternoons are filled with endless emails, as my boss in New York needs to check up on how our clothing line’s doing in Chicago. My evenings are filled with endless romantic dinners, whether home or out. My nights are filled with endless hours of peaceful sleep, a large hand in mine, cuddled up surrounded by throw pillows chosen by an eight year-old. My life is filled with a guy who actually cares, and who tells me every day I’m the most special thing he’s ever known, (isn’t that sweet?). And he’s a golden one.
Author Notes: This was written on a day where I was bored and in the middle of driving home for six hours, so it's a bit rough and interesting. Nevertheless, I enjoyed writing it, and I hope you enjoy reading it.