I decided within minutes of meeting him that I would spend the rest of my life chasing him. He was a lawyer. And a damn good one at that. I just knew. It didn’t take sitting in a court room with him to see his gleaming, maybe even fearless ambition. But, for some reason he was unhappy. He worked for almost a decade to get to where he was, but one day decided that this wasn’t where he wanted to be. This was the point he was at when I met him. He took two steps towards me in the dim candlelight of the bar and he really never really stopped walking.
“Can I buy you a drink?” he asked. I saw that coming. I politely declined, and he insisted, which I also saw coming. I can buy my own drink, thanks. But then, in prose, he spoke to me like he saw right into me. I didn’t see that coming.
We would spend the next couple years of our life playing house. When his drawer in my apartment began to become a whole side of the bedroom, we eventually decided to take the plunge and we found a place together, a stones throw from the blue line. We split the rent 50/50. Fair was fair and we were happy. We only ever fought over food, during Jeopardy, or when he was wrong. But, we were symmetrical like a simile, and most importantly we helped each other grow. He put in his two weeks at his office and worked part time at a non-profit until he figured things out. I put in overtime at work to limit the amount of nights we had to eat grilled cheese. Together we taught each other how to survive.
I remember the night we first got the keys. They shined like gold in my fist. We borrowed a friend’s sleeping bag and set it up in the living room. It was the middle of summer and neither of us could afford an A/C, but, neither of us really wanted one anyways, I remember being told there are two types of people in the world; A/C people and windows people. We were windows open people. The campsite we forged smelled like kings and like we were, finally, stepping out of the winter of our lives. We shared a bottle of malbec and slept, slept, slept like children. After we settled in, we found peace in our routine. He would cook breakfast and I would do the dishes. He always knew to get the sausage links, because I hate the patties and I would stop by three delis on the way home just to find orange juice with pulp. Holding a cigarette between his lips he would squint and pour two mugs of coffee. The steam would tangle with his smoke when he made his way over to the couch where we spent Sunday mornings reading the Times.
“Scoot, honey!” he’d spout.
I’d comply, feigning resistance and stealing the cigarette from his mouth.
But still, on some days when he’d come home, he’d kick off his shoes and sit on the edge of the bed. I’d take off his suit jacket because sometimes it felt like it was all I could do to remove the weight of the world from his shoulders. He’d light up a cigarette without shifting his gaze and he would sit. Sit like all the desks in the world had trained him to. They had defeated him. As hard as I tried I couldn’t fix that. He sat on the edge of that bed and he just kept walking like he did the first night I met him.