When she got home that night, her husband had cleaned up the living room, talked to people about jobs, and came to her like a dog with a ball. She had seen this before. It only lasted a few months, tops. She just couldn't do it anymore. Goldie had convinced her she needed to get out now, and said there was a studio open in her building. She would be near Goldie and Super Director, with a doorman and living next to all the theatres. It was a year lease and 435 square feet. She texted her husband that she might take it.
"That was quick." Was his response. When she got home he talked about his friend who had died, and how he didn't want to waste his life. She thought it seemed positive, like he was going to take action.
The next night she went out for a walk by the river with PJ. They hadn't had a chance to be alone and talk in months, and she desperately needed her friend. After going over all the specifics, he said "Have you told him this with as much clarity as you've told me?"
"I'm so afraid of hurting him further. He asked for three weeks, I figure then he'll have his shit together and he can get his own place. He'll be able to make it on his own."
"Then you are still enabling him. You need to go home now and be very clear, very specific. Although I don't understand how a man can be okay with not having a job this long."
"He's always had everything taken care of, handed to him. He just doesn't know any better. That's part of the problem. I just can't take care of everything anymore. I'm so emotionally drained."
"You need to tell him this. He deserves the kind of clarity you have right now. And whatever you do, please don't fill the holes of your soul with anything other than your feelings right now. Don't do anything with KSL, don't drink, don't do drugs--not that you do anyway." PJ was saying the right thing, but she also knew she wouldn't be doing it. She had plans to go up and drink with Goldie right afterwards, and she wasn't going to turn it down. She thanked him, they hugged, and he went home to AB.
PJ had said all the right things, the things she needed to hear but didn't want to hear. She knew she had to take his advise, and shortly afterwards she went home.
He had baked, and talked about things he had done. He saw her face and said "Am I trying too hard?"
She opened her mouth, closed it. It was so hard to say mean things to someone she cared about. "Just say it." He said dejectedly.
She opened her mouth again. "You are trying too late. Years and years too late. You trying is not who you are, and that's fine. It's just not for me anymore. I don't want to change who you are just to suit me."
The words hung in the air, echoed in her brain painfully. He said "That's fair. Excuse me." and walked out of the room. He had never been this sad, and she was unsure what to do. She gave him space as she set her stuff for the next work day in the bathroom (she did this so she didn't have to turn on the bedroom light and wake him up early in the morning), then went downstairs to check on him.
"I'm sorry, crying isn't very manly of me." He said, as if he had been aware of the conversation she and Goldie had. "I don't mean to emasculate you with this" she said, her throat catching. She had never seen him this sad before. The guilt washed over her like a wave, but she dug her heels into the sand to also stand her ground. She looked up at his computer screen and saw "Apartments for rent in [old city]" and said "Do you want to move back there?"
"No, but I don't think I have a choice, if I can't find work here. Maybe they'll take me back at my old job. Then it would be easier for you to be here."
"You are going to leave me alone to explain this to everyone? You think that's fair to me?"
"...just tell me what to do."
"I'm not doing all this just for selfish reasons. I'm not good for you right now either. I think it will be good for you as well as me if we can stand on our own for awhile."
"...just tell me what to do."
She was sick of having to tell him what to do. He was never going to see what she saw, regardless of all the clarity PJ told her to give him. He was not capable of change. She didn't fault him for that, but it did make her feel like she was doing the right thing.
The right thing had never been so hard in her life. She felt like she was leaving a puppy by the side of a highway.
She would never leave behind high school life. Her feelings felt heightened the way they would in high school when your emotions are all out of wack regardless of the circumstances. In high school, if the boy didn't like you, it was the end of your world. The only difference is now, it kind of is.
After leaving him to gather his thoughts, he came up to bed. He wordlessly looked at her bare hands, then down at his own. She thought she saw him realize how long it had been since she had worn her ring. He slowly removed his old wedding ring and set it on his bedside table, turning out the light. She had a feeling that was the last time it would be on his finger.