To quote little Alex in A Clockwork Orange:
Um… My mind is a blank… and… uhh… and I’ll smash your face!
Okay, maybe face-smashing isn’t called for, but I do have that same sense of, geez, I have to think of something really fast and, well, um…very immediately say whatever comes to mind.
Before I launch into this week’s subject—and I’ll impress myself if I can pull it off coherently and with a minimum of typos—I would like to report that my Subscribe button is working intuitively again. I accidentally disconnected it from Feedburner and it took me a while to figure out how I might have done that.
I’d also like to point out the weirdness that, last Wednesday, I wrote a piece called The Hanging Party, and this Wednesday I wrote about the death of David Foster Wallace, who hung himself. I very much wanted to write about Wallace, but a part of me was thinking I should retitle The Hanging Party, which was already posted. Artistically, it doesn’t really make sense to retitle a piece because of something unrelated that happens to reflect strangely on the title, but I do feel a little uncomfortable about it. I ain’t changing it, though. Just know that it was not intentional, and I do not mean show any disrespect for the tragedy, or to be clever about it. It’s just how it worked out.
I will offer you the dilemma I had started to write about last week, though my brain (not my body) is fatigued and not in any condition for writing. Editing other people’s stuff all week turns out to be intellectually exhausting, because you have to understand someone else’s work and fix it, both at the same time.
In any case, I had been dealing with a dilemma for the past several months, which I like to think is resolved. As regular readers of this blog know, I was dating a guy named Mike, and he broke up with me to go back to his ex-wife, simultaneous to my asking him to modify his drinking habits.
For his birthday, on March 9, I gave him a framed photo (the aptly titled Pulling Free) taken by my friend Chris (of The Hanging Party fame). Mike had been renting a furnished house in which nothing was his. It was a short-term situation; he would need an apartment soon, and I wanted him to have something for his eventual new place, something that was his alone, something to help get his new life off to a positive start. Art was the perfect gift, and I knew that any of Chris’s abstracts would be hard to argue with. I selected one of the cooler ones, the one I thought would appeal to the broadest range of tastes.
My friend B practically beat me with a rake when she found out I paid $350 for it. “Keep the picture. Take him out to dinner and [give him some loving],” she said, and you can bet her wording wasn’t as delicate as all that. “That’s the right birthday present for someone you’ve been seeing for two and a half months.”
She was so right. He broke up with me on my birthday about a week later, though it did drag on a bit after. We last had an e-mail exchange in mid-April, but by the end of that month, it was truly over.
Creepy though I knew it was, I asked for the photo back. Of course, if I had never known about the wife thing and I had broken up with him because of his drinking, it would never have occurred to me to take back my gift. But his wife asked him back either the same day or possibly the day before I gave him it to him. I’m willing to wager it was the day before, because he sounded weird on the phone on his birthday, and he majorly modified our plans, cutting them very short so he could spend the evening with his friends in the neighborhood of his marital home. I could sense something strange was afoot.
Creepy or not on my part, he did break up with me to return to his marital home a week after I gave him an expensive gift meant to hang specifically in his unmarried home. Some say he should have offered to give it back without my even asking, though I do not subscribe to that school of thought. But when I asked for it back, he definitely should have returned it. Immediately. He didn’t, even after I gave him a series of dates to bring it by when I would not be home. He didn’t even respond to my e-mails.
I find it disgusting that he would bring it into his marital home and apparently not tell his wife where it came from. Call me naive (it wouldn’t be the first time) but I have a hard time believing people do things like that.
I figured that I had to give up. But my mother, of all people, told me to call his wife and say, “I believe you have something of mine.” Someone had the idea to have my friend who’s a cop go to his house in uniform to collect it. Others, more sensibly, urged me to call him (as if I’d want to actually talk to this guy again), write another e-mail, text him, or use some other method to tell him again to return it.
Last week, my friend Julie (not that Julie, the other Julie) suggested I tell him that if he likes the picture so much, he can send me a check for it, explaining that I want another one of Chris’s photos, and he would have taken Mike’s back in exchange for it (which is true). Perhaps his wife likes it so much he can’t just dump it without arousing her suspicion, since surely he lied about its origins. So giving me—or even Chris—the money would solve that problem.
What do you think I should do? It’s continued to nag at me since the end of April. The last time I contacted him about it was end of May, before he had to move out of the rental.
As of last Thursday, I was still thinking I ought to do something about it. That’s the day Julie came up with the idea about the check. By Monday, I had made up my mind.
I’m letting it go.
Sure he’s a liar and a creep. I gave him a gift that was too expensive for where we were, basing my selection on where I thought we were going, and that sure wasn’t back to his marital home. He should give it back, and I should make him if he won’t do it on his own.
But the fact is, I don’t want to have any contact with him. Plus, it’s been six months since I gave him the thing; contacting him after all this time seems pretty creepy on my part.
I’ve felt all that for a while, though, and the thought’s still dogged me. Why did I finally let it go?
In thinking about it today while walking my doggy (who has Lyme Disease, btw, and is limping horribly, poor thing), I realized—after a particularly nice weekend with Mr. S—that I am so happy in the present relationship that there is no reason to expend energy dwelling on what happened in a past one. My feelings for Mike have been long erased, but perhaps the feeling that I had been screwed over lingered. I was past him but not the aftershocks of the relationship.
He should have brought me back the picture, or at least written a note saying he wasn’t going to. And I would have been within my rights to send his wife an e-mail (I found her on Facebook), or to send him a text or write an e-mail telling him I would come get it if he wouldn’t bring it to me. That’s what everyone’s been saying.
But I guess I’ve moved on in a way where doing any of that just feels silly to me. I’m someplace else now, a happy place where shitheads like Mike are a hazy memory.
Thanks for reading,