It was raining when we left the airport. Hailing, almost. We were quiet in the car, down through the city in the rain. We didn’t speak. It rained and rained and rained and it was very cold. There was no traffic and we got where we were going with no delay.
We had reservations at a place we like very much, somewhere we tried to go before Christmas. We hadn’t been able to then because the water main in the kitchen had burst and so everything was closed. The owner of the restaurant was thrilled we’d come back. We sat down and small-talked for a while, decided what to order. Like a first date almost but without any of the trying to impress each other nonsense, just the awkwardness and the what-the-hell-am-I-doing-here feeling. But also the I-missed-you feeling, the you-look-good-in-those-pants feeling, the being-with-you-is-right feeling. The room–beautiful red walls, candlelight, smoky luscious food and adorable servers– didn’t seem large enough to contain all that.
We started talking over dinner. Quietly and like grown-ups, at first, not talking with our mouths full. I can’t do this, we said. This is hurting us both, we said. What do we do, we said. We explicated and historified, we inferred and assumed. We looked at the evidence. We interrupted and admitted and hedged our bets. We got a free dessert from the owner of the beautiful restaurant who was so happy to have had us come back, and we talked about how delicious vanilla can be. We split the check.
Later it was not so quiet and grown up. I hate you even though I love you, we said. How could you, we said. You don’t understand, you’ve never understood, you have no idea, we said. How could you do this to me, we said. We cried and screamed and gasped in pain. We were viciously silent and we turned away from each other, staring at the floor.
The next day and the next we were repentant. We looked at each other with full eyes and full hearts. We sighed and went to the movies and for a walk and to lunch. I am sorry, we said. Clearly we can’t do this anymore, we said. But what can we do? How can we love each other and still treat each other like this? What can we do, we said. What can we do?
Separate, we said. It’s obvious.
Forever? we said.
Maybe not, we said.
I need time, we said. I am not ready to go forward and I don’t want to lose you but I can’t do this anymore, not the way we’re doing it. I need to figure all this out and I can’t see you for a while, we said. I have to keep my self-respect. Even though I love you, we said. I love you very much. But I still have to be away from you for a little while. I have to, we said.
This is the right thing to do, we said. I’m not mad at you anymore, but I am very frustrated and upset. Well maybe I am really mad, after all. Maybe this is the best thing we’ll ever do for us, we said. But maybe this really is the end.
We looked at each other and made an okay-well-I-guess-that’s-it face. We hugged. We cried a little more. We smiled even though we didn’t really feel all that happy. We talked about how long it’s going to be and what we’re going to do during it and we said no phone, no email, no nothing. We made a plan. We sniffled some more and looked at the floor again.
Okay, we said. Take care, good luck. Let’s get this right because I will die if we don’t, we said. It’s not for very long, in the grand scheme of life, we’re going to be fine, we said. Then how come I feel so bad, we said. It’s just because we’ve been feeling bad for so long, we said. We’re doing this to feel better.
I’m sorry, we said. I love you, we said.