This entry is three days past due and super, super long. If you don’t read this followers, I understand.
Your world always gets turned completely upside down all at once.
Last night, on Sal Paradise’s Facebook, I saw that he told a friend he was moving away to a town about an hour away…TONIGHT.
I was taken back to that horrible place I was in when he laid down reality for me that faithful September night with the two most horrible words in the English language: “not reciprocated”.
Since then it has been clear to everyone who knows me very well (and unfortunately, some people who do not know me very well) that my MIND has all too well accepted those words…but my heart has not, by any means.
I’ve spent these last nine months in the wake of that revelation trying to move on and grow into a better indivdual. Has it worked? Sort of, and yet not really. In many ways, I am a better woman because he said “no”. In many ways, I am not a woman at all but a more like a pathetic little girl who still stuffs impatient notes into her crush’s locker.
I tried very hard to save face when I found out for real yesterday morning and saw it again on the web tonight when I came home from work. I failed miserably in front of my mother and Bro and Sis Z, who has seen me at my most vulnerable about this man— but importantly, I never fail to save face in front of him.
We almost didn’t run into each other today. I almost didn’t leave the house. I was tired, and I woke up late for preaching. Something nudged me out of the bed, and told me to stop at a coffee house I don’t even like. Without that nudge, I would have missed my goodbye.
I couldn’t believe it when I walked into the coffee shop and found him sitting there with his cousin, his cousin’s fiancee and his mother.
I shook his hand and said the usual platitudes we exchange, then I cut right to the chase.
“So I heard you’re moving away.”
“Yes, I am. Today, in fact.” He looked at me, and then looked at his coffee, uncomfortable with the fact that I already knew.
“Oh!” I said, desperately trying to hide my disappointment. “Really? I’m glad I got a chance to say goodbye to you then! Jesus, man! “
He laughs. “Don’t worry, I’m still gonna be around.” He laughs again, this time a bit more ruefully. “You’re never gonna completely get rid of me.”
My mother plies him with questions and he tells her and I all the details— the name of the town he’s going to, the friend he’s gonna move in with and how I might know the guy. I tried to pick up where I know the name.
“He’s the brother of the guy friend I went to see a couple of weeks ago.”
“Ah, your friend that’s gettin’ married?”
“Yeah, when we went up north.”
Yesterday, I had gotten dangerously close to revealing how much I know about what he does through his Facebook page. I revealed to Bro. Z I had already known he was moving because that’s where I saw it Friday night.. I never call or text Sal, even though I have his number. I always keep up with him online.
I pray that accidental clicks, Freudian slips and lapses of judgment don’t come back to haunt me later on account of this. Out of paranoia (and more than a little good common sense), I have deactivated my Facebook account and have blocked the URL indefinitely.
Part of why it’s been so great and so hard with Sal is because we’re both trying to remain friends with each other. If I were him, I would not have attempted friendship, and would have probably stopped talking to me a long time ago. I love the silent understanding of patience between us, even though sometimes it feels like it’s a game of tug-of-war.
My immediate family,my friends and (especially) Brianna, all of whom have long since grown weary of hearing about this, have told me to take this as an opportunity to move on.
They don’t realize—- move on, to whom? To what?
I have not an iota of interest in any other man, not a one.
I have long since resigned myself to the things unsaid, unrequited, unscripted and unintentional about the way Sal and I deal with each other. In lieu of that, I try very hard to pretend that I am completely okay with whatever he does or wherever he does it, even though it used to break my heart when he would be gone for the weekend, or when he was gone to Mexico all that time.
Now he’s moving away, indefinitely, and I wish that I had a heart like ice.
Bro. Z tried to make me feel better by going with the, “aw, who needs him?” spiel, but Sis. Z and my mother, more knowing, just said that “accept he’s not for you, and heal.”
My mother pointedly asked him if he were going away to get married. I felt terribly ashamed at her asking him this, mostly because he gets asked about dating and marriage all of the time, and I know how sensitive he is to it.
He shook his head vigorously and scowled.
“No, no, that’s not what this is about. That’s not in the plans anytime soon.”
That statement helped to allay two narcissitic fears I’ve been nursing— if this was about me, and if this were about another woman.
The reasons for the second fear is obvious—- legions of single, attractive women follow this man around.
(If he can say no to THEM, why did I expect ‘yes’ for me? )
The first fear arose because of something that happened on Tuesday night.
Tuesday night, I had stopped to talk to him for a while. After this, right before I went home, I found him outside the Hall talking to my youngest sisters. I had piled them into the car and went back inside to make sure I hadn’t left anything. The girls rolled down the window and were shouting out to Sal when I came back to the car. I had left The Flamingos’ version of I Only Have Eyes for You playing. Our eyes met and he turned his attention to me and the girls.
“Say g’nite to Bro. Paradise.” I told them. My voice was strained from earlier in the day and it sounded a bit sterner than I intended.
“Bye!!!” they chroused, waving to him and sticking their hands out of the window to touch his.
He waved back at them and took one of their hands into his briefly. I smiled at this—my baby sister’s small, brown hand enveloped in Sal’s big, pale one. He told them to “put your seat belts on and be good for Diane”.
Then he turned to me and told me “good night” in a quiet voice.
I said “Good night, Sal. I’ll see you Tuesday.”
He had started walking away at this point but turned back around and stopped at the mention of Tuesday.
“I won’t be here Sunday.” I explained.
“Okay.” he said, in a soft, strange, terse voice. He then left. I got in my car and drove home, slightly anxious. Something inside me bristled, but I couldn’t put my finger on what.
Now I know.
“Why didn’t he tell me?” gnawed at me this morning. It seemed to gnaw at him too, because of the way he acted once he realized I knew. He told me what was going on and the details after I asked him about it, almost in apology. He promised to be at Iris’ graduation party “if I’m not in Florida that weekend.”
” I got your lovely invitation in the mail. Thank you for inviting me.” he told us.
Then, just as suddenly as he was there, he and his family had left. They left their trays on the table. Sal had hardly touched his drink. I know because our party ended up taking their seats.
The entire exchange lasted only five minutes. I watched him walk out of the coffee shop, and I could feel my heart breaking all over again.
Today, while doing rounds at my job (I’m a custodian now; I’ll write about that next), I had an opportunity to do some thinking about the matter, and I’ve decided to be okay with this.
1. When my paranoia wears off and I feel like I can go back on Facebook again, I will, and he will likely still be there, on my friend’s list.
2. With the “I have to see you every week” situaton no longer in affect, it’ll be a lot easier to speak to him without fear of awkwardness. Without fear, I am a much better friend and a much sexier girl.
3. He’s only about 45 minutes away. It’s not like he moved upstate (8 hours away) or to Mexico (although something tells me he thought about it). He reassured me, “I’ll be in town all the time.”
And I can still hear what he else he said too:
You’re never gonna completely get rid of me.
Bro. Z corroborated this and joked, “You’ll hardly know he’s gone because he’ll be here to visit all the time. He’s got feets that move, let me tells you. That boy travels so much…”
You’re never gonna completely get rid of me.
Every positive memory of us together came rushing back to mind— the first day we met, the cannoli he bought me while I rode around in his car, every twist of words and pun and joke we have bounced off of each other, the way he smiles at all of my siblings and hugs them and then smiles at me, him sitting in my living room watching me clean my kitchen, the softness of his hands, a blue suit he liked on me, how he insisted I park in his driveway because I’m ‘way too far from to the curb and I don’t want you to get hit’, teasing him about his beat-up shoes, the soft way he says ‘it’s good to see you’, the jealous way he eyeballs my male friends, sitting near him and hearing for myself the way I halt his breath….
You’re never gonna completely get rid of me.
In any case, moving on (an out, and away) sounds like such a distinct possibility now that yesterday—-which was hideous in other ways as well— is over. Yesterday was spent at work, worrying about how my checking account is going to overdraw next week and there’s nothing I can do about it. I left work to find my car needed a jump because I left my lights on.
A small consolation: Brianna and I are supposed to get out of town together on my day off, simply because both of us are fed up with our lives…. and because no one else is available. We’re planning to drive all the way upstate, park near the water and sleep in her car. She needs it; I need it.
I don’t know what I’m doing or where I’m going after that, but moving forward is better than spinning my wheels like mad, which what I have been doing.
Diamond told me today that she is confident I’ll be fine. “You’ll have the strength you need. Don’t worry. It’s all gonna be fine.”
I hope she’s right. I hope to God that today is going to be better. I hope to God that today won’t beat me up as much as yesterday did.