Another lifetime, a different version of me...
The sun splayed through the sliding door, saying good morning, get your ass up!
Stretching feline stretches out of bed, I stumbled onto the deck and smiled. The topaz blue Pacific Ocean stretched its body. The cacophony of Venice Beach already alert and bright.
House sitting was always a special time when I could escape my own life for just a few days.
The cats, Bilbo and Baggins, stretched out on the deck, brooding and lazy, barely even looking my way as I greeted them.
No matter. Today was a great day, a glorious day where words full of sunlight and starshine waited to leave my mouth.
It was our one year anniversary. And it signified something, right? The fact that I could stay in a relationship for this long was significant.
Serial monogamist, friends called me. And so what? What was so bad about that? At least I wasn't sleeping my way through Los Angeles like some people I knew.
My day was already planned out: a two hour long breakfast of spinach omelet, freshly squeezed orange juice, berries with a hint of lime juice from the local farmers market, all while catching up one some reading; a long and winding bicycle ride north along the beach; a late lunch at a dive that made the best pad thai; and a surprise dinner at a quaint sushi bar after he got out of work.
But the sun's rays and the fingers of the ocean breeze had other thoughts and after stuffing my belly and barely reading a few pages, I fell asleep on the chaise, Bilbo and Baggins asleep at my feet.
When I awoke, the clouds had made their mark over my little slice of paradise. It was already late afternoon. Time to get ready for my drive to Hollywood to surprise him.
The sky seemlessly changed to a navy blue while I criss-crossed on the back roads. I was daydreaming of a future life that, unbeknownst to me, was never going to happen.
I got my phone out and called him.
Me: Hey! [excited and smiling]
Him: Oh, hi. [reserved, tired]
Me: How was work? [ignoring his mood]
Him: Work. What are you doing right now? [distracted]
Me: [unable to keep my excitement in] Happy anniversary! I love you! [I giggled, beaming]
Him: Wha? Oh, yeah. Um, happy anniversary.
Me: Go into your closet right now.
Him: Why? [suspicious]
Me: Just go in there, will ya?
HIm: What is this? [I heard him fumbling with something]
Me: It's your anniversary presents.
Him: It looks like a deck of cards and a box.
Me: Open up the deck of cards first.
He sighed and I felt my mood shift just a little, but I kept smiling.
Him: What is this?
Why did he keep asking that?
Me: [stammering] I, uh, I made my own paper and made them into the shape of playing cards and wrote 52 things I remembered about us from this past year. [The words came out too fast, chain-linked together, like I was trying to beat a clock]
Him: [Unhappy] What's in this other box?
Me: Well, open it, silly.
Paper tore and rustled, but over the phone, it sounded like sadness coming for me.
Him: Seriously, why did you even get me anything?
Me: [shocked] I don't, I don't understand. What do you mean?
Him: I can't do this with you right now.
Me: Do what? [I sounded like a child who didn't know what I was getting in trouble for]
Him: THIS! You're always doing stuff for me. Buying stuff, giving me stuff. I don't give you stuff. Why do you have to do this all the time?
I felt my lips quiver. Why was he so mad?
Me: Why are you being like this? I'm coming over. I'm not that far away.
Him: It's just a regular day and you're making it out to be something bigger than it really is. And why do you need to come over? Where are you anyway?
Me: I... I just wanted to let you know how happy this past year has been for me. [The words came out in a whisper, a defeated and meek whisper] I'm already on Sunset. I can be there in five minutes.
Him: Are you crying? Why are you crying? Listen, I don't have time for this right now. I'm tired and all I want to do is take a shower and hang out with my dog in front of the T.V.
I didn't think I heard him right.
Me: Your dog? You'd rather be with your dog right now than with me?
HIm: He doesn't have anybody. I'm the only person he's got. My dog is MY priority right now.
I feared saying what I was going to say, but I had to. I just had to.
Me: So where does that leave me?
He didn't say anything. He didn't need to.
Him: Well, if that's all, I've gotta go now. I'll probably see you later this week, right?
I swallowed, it felt like golf balls in my throat. I nodded my head, as if he could see me, as if he even cared. I hung up without saying another word and threw my phone against the dashboard.
His words stabbed me. It was something worse than heartbreak. The void in my body filled with darkness and I felt myself start to disappear under the weight of his intent.
In my City of Angels, I was the loneliest soul, waiting to sink into the earth and be forgotten. With my eyes wide open now, the city looked ugly, the sounds clawed at my ears.
There had to be something better than this, than this life I found myself in.