Andi Epilogue

09 Mar

Not all rejection comes from the internet.

A lot of it does, though. Despite Andi’s particular style of blunt criticism and penchant for wading ballistically drunk through life, she wanted to go out with me again. I’d spent the four days since our date hibernating. The basement of my parents’ house sheltered the futon (as futons go, it was a classy affair, expensively upholstered in plaid fabric and attached to a hardwood frame) that had become my residence. The atmosphere stayed a coolly subterranean sixty degrees, winter and summer. My parents had last refinished it sometime in the early 80s, and the décor consisted mostly of wood paneling, earth tones and a macramé owl. And spiders, who for some reason habitually drowned themselves in my water whenever I left a glass on the floor for any length of time. I piled blankets on myself and burrowed in with my laptop, sending out resume after futile resume.

“So, why I haven’t I heard from you lately?” Andi’s voice on the phone was jovial. It had been four days since our date. I shifted beneath the blanket. It would have been easy to ignore the call. Catholic guilt, however, demanded that I have this conversation. (I don’t go to Mass, but I remain Catholic in the same way that people twelve years sober remain alcoholics).

“Well, mostly because I haven’t called you.”

She laughed. “Obviously. So when are we going out again?”

“We aren’t.”

The silence that followed sounded confused. “You were pretty mean to me. I don’t want to go out with you again.”

When she responded, her voice sounded forlorn, quiet. It oozed pathos. I felt like a child explaining to another why his parents wouldn’t let him play with her anymore.

As breakup conversations go, it took longer than it should have, never mind that one-date relationships shouldn’t even have to have breakup conversations. At ten minutes, I gave myself permission to begin ending the conversation. Forty five minutes later, I lay in an exhausted heap next to my phone, now dark except for the nagging flash of its battery light.

For days, I kept only the company of my numbered boxes, thinking about abstractly and conceptually about rejection. It felt weird to have refused Andi, her unconscious cruelties notwithstanding. A few months earlier and I wouldn’t have. I thought about the jobs that weren’t calling me back.

Between the time I’d last lived in Cincinnati and now, I’d managed to lose all my friends, much in the same way that you lose things in a move. It’d just sort of happened. My friends tend to have an average shelf life of about ten years, which, incidentally, is also about as long as my clothes last, and ten years had passed since I’d met most of them. I manufactured a social life out of my brother’s friends and showed up at events wearing things that had been passably fashionable two years ago. All this was fine for loud music and drinking myself stupid, but for genuine conversation, I had to put in more effort.

Amanda and I had become friends in Columbus around the same time that my bad decisions had all decided to go critical at once, melting the fragile existence I’d constructed there for myself. She happened to be going through something similar at the same time, and we bonded over our bad breakups and bad finances. For every story I had, she had a worse one. Except, of course, for when I had one worse than that.

I needed to hear a worse story than mine, so I called her.



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