Musings from the Laundromat: Daisy Chains and Broken Engagements edition
I gingerly opened the packet she’d thoughtfully brought back for me from England. Inside, a circle adorned with daisies.
“Do you like it?”
“I love it.” And I did. Do.
My glance shifted down as I stroked one of the flowers.
“Try it on!” She was smiling – and for good reason. She had brought me something special. I was cringing inside.
I placed the ring atop my head and braced myself. The daisy chain I was to wear when I wed ironically perched as I looked for words.
I looked over to my love – asking for help with no words.
“We’re not getting married.” He said for me. Sparing me the bitter taste of that sentence.
When I arrived this morning at the laundromat, it was still closed. Then the laundry lady spotted me and opened up the doors.
“How are you?” She asked.
I grabbed my baskets and met her inside.
There has got to be a polite response for ‘How are you?’ when you don’t want to say ‘Good’ or sound too maudlin saying anything other than that.
‘Fine’ is a cop out.
But I am OK.
Is ‘OK’ sufficient?
I stuffed my machines and now sit listening to rain beating down on the laundromat roof.
Sounds like every washing machine is on and angry – beating the clothes in a deluge of water.
And apropos as I wipe a tear from my cheek.
“Why?” My mom asked? With genuine love in her eyes.
I was terrified she’d be angry.
That I would have let her down one more time.
The girl incapable of lasting relationships.
“We care enough to want the best for each other.” Was all I could get out. And we sat in silence for a while. A horror movie flickering in all of our peripheral line of sight. No one really watching it.
The thing about fantasies, you have a certain image or memory in your head and over time – it becomes truth.
My truth was that a young man was in love with me approximately 25 years ago, and in my stupidity, didn’t see it. He was one of my dearest friends. We spent many hours together experiencing life. He was there for me in my darkest hours.
When I lost touch with him – I missed him terribly.
The years went on and I somehow convinced myself I was ‘the one who got away’, and wouldn’t he be surprised if I could find him and profess my stupidity and tell him I’d always loved him!
“Do you see this happening?”
We both knew the answer.
It was a kind and loving conversation about ending a relationship. We sat out on the porch and spoke our truths into the early hours of Saturday morning.
The spell was broken when I heard for the second time, “Because I don’t love you as much as you love me.” It had not come from my mouth.
Oh how I adore his honesty – as much as it stung. I love authenticity.
And oh how I had flattered myself all those years! Selfish and egotistical.
He does love me.
And I him.
But are we meant to be married?
When he first visited it was a grand reunion!
We’d both been alone for years. We were attracted to each other. We had a past. We had so much in common it was ridiculous. We rushed to build upon those things. Already caring for one another. We had a foundation of what was and that is nothing but sand. Never build upon sand.
I’m reminded of the Johnny Cash song Jackson. “We got married in a fever, hotter than a pepper sprout …”
We did everything in a fever. Fell in love … made quick plans to be together. I wanted to give him the world. I wanted to give him opportunities he’d never had with his art. I wanted to give him a home.
And he’d been needing one. Traditions – a family. To be loved and needed and to feel like a man.
I needed to give.
I needed to love.
And I do love him. We are comfortable together. He is my best friend.
But what we want to give and what we’re capable of giving in reality are two very different things.
Here is a man who thrived in the hum and wonderful chaos of Chicago and found himself in a quiet one road town.
Here is a man needing surgeries – and I, without insurance – can’t give him that.
I found myself falling short – financially and emotionally.
So much I couldn’t be or do.
And then came the resentment. I resented myself for failing – then I resented him.
I was swallowing words that landed hard in my belly. And when those words made me ache I spat them out cruelly.
He didn’t deserve that.
I pulled away.
Disappointed in myself.
For so many reasons.
I had learned long ago how to be alone without being lonely, and this sudden addition took some getting used to – I’m not going to lie.
Yet, I sat with him outside yesterday and couldn’t imagine the chair across from me empty.
I lay curled into his arm last night, not being able to imagine feeling the weight of him beside me.
I feel like a shell. An empty shell right this moment.
Knowing we’ve made the right decision and already mourning what could have been and the loss of what is.
I have new wants today.
I want the man I love to be happy.
I want the man I love to find his ever after.
I want the man I love to remember me years from now, and smile.
I want this for myself too – but I want it for him more.
I spent too many years indulging myself in false memories – and now it is the truth that has given me selflessness.
And I will always love him.
Now to find the strength I know I possess to gracefully let go.