Previously on Nayrotica…
“– I am not pretending. I… am married. At least I think I’m married. I don’t know what I am. I got married… last month. And it went to shit. Quickly. And I have no idea what’s happening– I just officiated my best friend’s wedding and it was amazing. It made me think of what amazing people can do together. They’re so amazing! They are great people! And they should have each other… but I am not amazing! And according to you, I am an asshole. I think I met– no, I THOUGHT I met someone amazing, but I don’t even know what the fuck happened! So, I am sorry. I shouldn’t be here… I am sorry!” I got teary-eyed again.
He looked at me. Was it shock on his face? Or was it disbelief of everything I just said… or was it simply disinterest? I wanted him to console me. I wanted someone to hold me, but I knew if he touched me, I would lose it altogether. He continued looking at me and finally uttered, “You should go.”
I looked at him one more time, deciding whether or not to make a big deal of the fact that he thinks I’m a bigger asshole than I thought myself to be… but then giving in to the idea that maybe I AM not the best person, I turned and walked away.
On the stroll back to my sleeping quarters, the darkness of Folsom Street in the Mission District consumed me. I was hit with a wave of shadows that spoke to the hollow chamber that had formed inside of me. Deep inside, I knew that cracks were forming and soon water would gush in, releasing every dammed up emotion that I had been stowing for the drought that I was in the midst of, and that would soon become far more arid.
Soon after that night, I headed back to New York where my betrothed was set to arrive. While we were in Berlin picking at the poorly sewn seems of our relationship, he booked a flight to come to New York… for a month! It was make or break time, and I was hoping for a miracle. I was in classic form, spiraling emotionally out of control with anxiety and doubt. Why would anyone possibly want to be with me? How could anyone put up with my brand of second-guessing? These were strategies that I historically employed in order to keep everyone at arm’s length– or preferably much, much further away. The hope was that I would have secured housing for the two of us while he was staying in New York… but do you think I could get my shit together enough to make that happen? Hell no. I couldn’t even secure housing for myself, therefore I failed that mission.
The fella and I communicated about his arrival and about where he was planning to stay (since I couldn’t accommodate him). Yes, I was back at my friend’s apartment, sleeping in a child-sized bed with busses-and-trains sheets. Once he landed stateside, I felt a renewed sense of hope that all was going to work out and that the man I fell in love with would show up; we would have an amazing month in New York.
A day passed and I didn’t hear from him. He’s just getting settled; I should reach out to him. I texted him– he replied that he was having a great time and was busy seeing friends and spending time at the beach, AND having a really nice time. Great! He’s having a good time! I then asked when he would like to hang out and was surprised when he told me it couldn’t be for another week or so… He is SOOOOO busy. So, I laughed to myself in that I’m-losing-my-mind sort of way, and replied, “GREAT! Where and when?” He suggested a café he knew and a time that worked well for him. I added it to my calendar and wished him well with his escapades and beach time.
Putting down my phone, I was upset. I was confused. I was annoyed. I decided that perhaps this was good– we had a plan on the books, and I had some time to collect myself. But I didn’t need time to collect myself (or so I thought) until time was introduced as a barrier between that moment and the next time I was able to see the man I married in a forest in Poland (I like to say it over and over to make sure I take in the absurdity of it all). So, the man I married in a forest in Poland didn’t want to see me just yet. FINE! I AM FINE WITH THAT! But really, I wasn’t.
The week passed, glacially, and the day of reckoning was soon upon us. A text from the fella was received, something along the lines of, Are we still meeting today?
I thought to myself, OF COURSE WE ARE MEETING! WHY WOULD I CANCEL THE ONE OPPORTUNITY I HAVE HAD TO SEE YOU IN THE TWO WEEKS YOU HAVE BEEN HERE!?? and then I typed, “Yessir. Looking forward to it! See you soon. x”
The dissonance between my thoughts and actions wasn’t at all glaring; so promising for the upcoming meeting.
My text was soon met with another that said something like Great! I have a present for you. See you there. A PRESENT!? Yes. He said a present. I was suddenly squealing with delight, but attempting to remain cool and collected. Who was I kidding? I was NOT cool, nor was I collected. So, I basically danced and shimmied on that hot summer day to the café in Tribeca that we designated as our meeting location. I arrived early, of course, not wanting to risk showing up late and appearing unthoughtful or disrespectful of his time. I ordered a coffee and then baked in the sun for 10 minutes on a bench on the sidewalk out front of the café. The minutes passed and then I saw him strolling towards me in his signature look: dark chino shorts; short sleeved button down plaid shirt, unbuttoned, over a little tank top; cute newsboy hat; aviator sunglasses. “Hey!” I stood and shouted too loudly, as if he didn’t see me sitting there as he approached. Discretion isn’t really my strong suit.
I continued after hugging him, “SO…”
“Yes?” he asked.
“You know. What’s the present!?” I excitedly inquired looking at the canvas bag he had slung over his shoulder.
“Oh! Right,” he reached into the bag and pulled out something inside a plastic bag, rolled up indicating that is was about one foot long and able to be held with one hand. WHAT COULD IT BE?! I thought to myself. He handed the gift to me and I unrolled it, eagerly. And then the realization of what it was slowly sank in and I became less excited and started to feel the pit in my stomach again. It was back with a vengeance.
“My flip-flops?” I said smiling, as if to indicate, Of course the present is my flip-flops. Why wouldn’t the presents be my flip-flops??
He nodded and smiled.
“Did I leave them in Berlin? I didn’t realize. Oh. Well, thank you. That’s very sweet of you to bring them to me. I just hope it didn’t take up too much of your luggage space. I mean, I know packing for a month can be challenging, so… thank you. I. Really. Appreciate. It…” I sort of trailed off.
“Were you expecting something else?” He asked.
“No! No. Not at all. I just heard present and I thought… PRESENT! And then to find that the present is just something that I forgot I had, or who knows, maybe I left them at your place on purpose, unconsciously, you know… because I knew I would be back. But now I don’t have to go back…” My gut twisted. “… Back to get them. At all. So. Thank you. How kind. Really.”
There was a thick, humid silence.
“Want a coffee?”
“Yes!” He was thankful for the change of subject.
As he stood in a line that was far too long for any café to ever have, but appropriately long for an annoying hipster café (which he selected!), I found a space for us to sit outside in the shade, in the alley and designated patio for the pretentious coffee house. As I sat there waiting with my flip-flops in hand, I was nearly decapitated and run over by children playing and throwing things over those sipping coffee. It was beyond annoying, but the grungy parents didn’t care, nor seem to mind that their hell-spawn were bothering the other patrons. I told the ruffians to Cool it! a few times, but they just looked at me like I was crazy. And maybe they were right.
The Fella soon joined me again, and there we sat, on a cement ledge, dodging flailing children and whatever items they chose to throw at and to each other. We started our talk innocently enough, small talk really. It soon led into my more direct line of questioning:
- So what the hell happened?
- Who is the real you?
- Did that person change from our initial meeting in Berlin to our honeymoon?
- Or was I just losing my mind?
He started answering my questions with sentences that didn’t match my experience at all. I began to think that I seriously had a lapse in judgment when I decided to marry this guy (YOU THINK!?). I listened as openly as I could… until I couldn’t anymore. And I have to say, I did better than I thought I would. I let him talk for about 20 minutes before I started to boil. Once I couldn’t hear him anymore and once I was done listening to what I maintained were lies, I started interrupting him and telling him that what he said was NOT TRUE. (Flash forward to the Trump/Clinton debates and I was basically The Don, “Wrong.” “No.” “Liar.” “No.” “Wrong.”) It was not my finest moment, but in retrospect, I didn’t have many fine moments in that relationship… the entire 216 hours (or so) that we had actually been in the same room or in close proximity to each other. The weeks of FaceTime courting didn’t add up to this moment. I felt as if my head was literally about to explode. The pressure inside my cranium was unbearable and headache-inducing. I felt like I was actually seeing red. He interrupted my interruptive outbursts and said something that I clearly remember, “Is this what you want? You want us to fight?” And I stopped. I looked at the perfect stranger seated across from me, taking in his visage: pained face; incredulous.
“No. Of course I don’t want to fight,” I monotonously stated, “But I also can’t listen to you talk anymore.”
He seemed shocked by my willingness to end this unresolved Tête-à-Tête. I slowly stood from the low cement ledge, picking up my present, the fucking flip-flops. I looked at him with tears in the corner of my eyes. Keep it together, Nay! Do not lose it here. And then suddenly steely, all emotion was gone from my body. As if someone flipped a switch and said, No. There will be no more of this, I looked at him, almost icily, and said, “Good luck with your life.” I bent down to kiss him on the cheek. He sat there without saying anything. Without moving. Perhaps he was hurt; perhaps he wanted more. There really is no way of knowing. I stood back up after my lips lingered on his cheek perhaps a moment too long, then turned and walked away. Without missing a stride, I strutted off the patio and tossed the flip-flops in the garbage bin.
As I rounded corner after corner and found my way back to the subway and to my life in Brooklyn, everything in my memory came crumbling down. Every utterance of romance and affection no longer sounded sweet and syrupy. My life from the past couple of months was suddenly #nofilter and I was seeing more clearly than I had for the entire duration of my marriage.
My marriage. Ha! I started to think that was funny… MY MARRIAGE?! What. The. Fuck.
Sure there was a ceremony in the woods. In Poland. And that must mean something, right? Ceremoniously, I guess I was married. Legally? No. Not even close– and that brings me great relief. However, I was still faced with the fact that I cared enough to post about my wedding on Facebook and to email my friends and family in order to alert them of my nuptial update. So… what makes something real? I guess the buy-in made it real for me. While I look back now and think how absurd it all sounds, I can’t help but feel a slight sense of embarrassment when it comes to the entire Polish forest wedding saga. In classic, hopeful (and delusional) Nay fashion, I convinced myself, RED FLAGS BE DAMNED! I was going to move forward, disregarding any small voice on my shoulder, in my head, or in my gut. I was, in a very grand way, not living a sober life, albeit a dry one. My thoughts were jumbled and I was lost, unconvinced that the world was mine to take on, but instead thinking that I WAS the world.
I spent the next week or so reeling a bit, focusing on school as much as I could, meanwhile avoiding conversations with the cult leader– yeah, remember her?! I spoke with the Wizard from time to time regarding business, and she managed to keep her tone neutral and only discuss work with me– it was almost as if she denied any and all recruitment efforts that had taken place. I, however, did not forget so easily and I remained cautious so as not to awaken the Wizard within the beast. So that carried on, I was beginning to feel bogged down from school, work, and ongoing presence of my EX-husband somewhere in the city. Unlike the ceremonious marriage, there was no ritualistic divorce. Perhaps throwing the flip-flops in the rubbish bin was enough. Perhaps wishing him well was all I needed to do to end the marriage. Perhaps waking up from the horrible foggy nightmare of cults and husbands would soon occur and I would find myself pleasantly amid loved ones.
Instead, on one rainy day after class, I made my way across the city to see my friend’s art exhibit that he had been working on for the past year. The rain poured and I speed walked through puddles, getting pelted in the face by drops and umbrellas– being tall in a congested city of umbrella-carriers is a health hazard. I finally arrived at the gallery, soaking wet but ready to take in some subversive queer art. The space was crowded, I made my way through the people looking for the host, my friend. Finally spotting him, I continued zigging and zagging until I was standing directly next to him. We warmly (and wetly) embraced and greeted each other as gal pals do.
We spoke for less than a minute and as I said, “This is quite the turn out!” I turned to indicate the masses, and as I did so, I locked eyes on one man in particular. There, standing mere inches away from me, was my ex-husband. Mouth agape, finally I said,
To be continued.