Wednesday, June 15, 2005

In My Place

The last time I heard the song was on a CD he made for me two years ago. After a dramatic breakup, we were wading through a slow reconciliation, full of discussions about our past, talk of our future, and promises of "We will make it work this time." It was a period of soul-searching, figuring out our mistakes, and the first and only time I had seen tears fall from his eyes over me.

The process of our reunion is documented on six CDs I have in my room: Three that I created, three created by him. The songs spoke for each one of us, illustrating our past issues, announcing the feelings we were too afraid to tell each other outright. Each time I was presented with a new musical account of what he'd been feeling, I listened to it with tears rolling down my face, taking to heart each word sung by the various artists chosen. I wept through verses and choruses, accepting each syllable of each lyric as proof that he loved me, and that we really could make it work.

After giving me the first disc, Tom took me to my friend Austin's house. Austin was selling the home, and I knew Tom was interested in buying it. Austin told me as much at a bar earlier in the week.

"You know Tom's interested in my house," he said, his body leaning over his vodka gimlet.

"I know," I replied, staring into my own vodka concoction.

"But there's just one thing standing in his way of buying it," he said, forcing me to look him in the face. "You."


"He'll only buy it if he knows he's going to have you back. He really loves you, Laurie. You should give it a chance."

"I just don't know, Austin," my voice came out helpless and pleading. I was hoping he'd give me some irrefutable answer. Something that guaranteed me a lifetime with Tom.

"He wants to settle down. He does. He loves you. He misses you. He'll do anything you want. He is miserable without you. He wants you in his life."

And so, when Tom took me to Austin's house, I knew he was hoping to purchase it. He led me through the front door, revealing the high ceilings, the wood floors, the solid staircase. He showed me each nook and cranny of the home, while I tried my best to portray indifference.

As I took in the glorious home, he led me to the final spot: The master bedroom. He showed me closets, "perfect for shoes," he noted. He showed me the adjoining bathroom. And then he took me through the sliding glass doors that led out onto a porch overlooking an autumn-hued backyard.

"So. What do you think?" He asked, taking my hands in his, his voice full of hope.

"I think it's great. It's really great, Tom."

"It's mine."

My jaw dropped.

"Yeah, we're closing on Friday," he continued. "I bought it. For us."

For us. I dropped his hands, pushed the door open and sat on the bed in the Master Bedroom. Our master bedroom, according to him.

"For us?" I could feel the anger in my throat, the tears in my eyes. "For us? This house was on the market a year ago, and you said no. You said you didn't want to buy a house here. You said you wanted to move. You said you couldn't live here."

"But I want it now. I want this. Us."

"You choose to do this now? You put me through all that..." I couldn't stop the tears now. They rolled down my flushed cheeks as I spoke. "You could've done this a year ago, and spared me so much. But I break up with you and you miss me, and now you want an 'us?'"

"I know. I was stupid," he cradled my face in his hands. "But I see now how much I want it. You. Everything we talked about. You want to get married? Let's go. Right now. We can get on a plane, go to Vegas and be married in eight hours."

I shook my head. "Oh, I don't think so," I said, already suspicious of the validity of his statement. "Let's just take this one step at a time."

He nodded, his features soft and understanding. "Okay. I understand. But I want you to know how serious I am about this. I love you."

On the way home, I listened to the CD he'd made for me, ingesting each word, savoring it like a delicious meal after starving for months. I cried.

And I gave in.

On that drive home, I knew that Tom and I would wind up back together. I knew I wanted to try, that I didn't want to lose him, even if I knew I was setting myself up for potential heartbreak.

The song that hit me hardest, Coldplay's In My Place, came on today at the bank. And I was tossed back into that moment. Driving down Route 209, avoiding potholes, staring at the road through wet eyes, and deciding, right there, that he really did love me. That this could work out after all. He let the song speak for him:

In my place,
in my place
Were lines that I couldn't change
I was lost, oh yeah
I was lost, I was lost
Crossed lines I shouldn't have crossed
I was lost, oh yeah

And Yeah
How long must you wait for it?
How long must you pay for it?
How long must you wait for it?
For it

I was scared, I was scared
Tired and underprepared
But I wait for it
And if you go, if you go
And leave me down here on my own
Then I'll wait for you

And Yeah
How long must you wait for it?
How long must you pay for it?
How long must you wait for it?

Singing please, please, please
Come back and sing to me
To me, me
Come on and sing it out, now, now
Come on and sing it out, to me, me
Come back and sing

In my place, in my place
Were lines that I couldn't change
And I was lost, oh yeah,
oh yeah

And I believed it. Every goddamn word.

He wanted to change, he told me when we were getting back together. Not for me, but for him. He wanted to be a better man. And he wanted to be a better boyfriend. And although he was never a bad man, he would never be able to fill the role he was trying on. He's a gypsy, a wanderer. And I knew that all along. But I let him try, devoured his attempts to be the boyfriend I wanted. But a bachelor is a bachelor, and there's no changing that. Whether he wants to or not.

He changed, followed through on the promises he made. The first few months of our "new" relationship were filled with happiness and beauty. We talked about where we'd get married, how long before we'd be engaged. He asked for my help on the house. "Do you like this picture? Do you like these glasses? Do you want these sheets?"

I started to plan on moving in with him; timed the drive from his house to my work to figure out my daily commute. I thought of the home as my own, and he encouraged it.

But little by little, I saw the gradual shift back to normal. He tried so hard, he wanted so badly to be what I wanted. But he couldn't. It just wasn't him. He's not cut out for marriage, for a shared life. Not with me, anyway. And, slowly, I was left out of decisions about the house. He no longer asked me what I thought of the art on the walls, the rugs on the floor, the color of the couch. He filled all the closets, even the one he had referred to as mine, with his clothes. They were packed so tightly, he had to fight to get clothes out of them. And I saw it: There's still no room in his closets for me. He was starting to squeeze me out of his life.

Driving home from Atlantic City one day with his Aunt and Uncle, he said it; the sentence I'd been dreading since the moment he purchased the house:

"Yeah, I think I'm gonna put my house up on the market." It was so casual, it burned.

In the darkness of the backseat next to him, my face fell. I knew right then that it was over. That we were right back where he started from.

It wasn't until months later that he finally told me he just didn't want to get married. Ever. Period. End of story. And up until the moment that those words fell from his lips, I believed that somewhere deep inside of him, he wanted me just like I wanted him.

I was wrong.

Listening to that song today, I remembered how much hope I had. How much hope we both had. We tried so hard to do it right, to be what the other wanted. But it never works out if you're trying that hard. It's just too much. It's impossible to force yourself into someone else's mold.

It made me sad to hear Chris Martin belt out the words "How long must you wait for it." I wanted to cry at my desk. I waited for four years. And I would've never given up if he had never told me unequivocally that he didn't want it, too.

So much for not looking back.


kate said...

You really should write a book. This post had me enthralled. I wanted to cry with you. I feel like I just got my heart broken...

Anonymous said...

just goes to show you that SOME men lie, or will say anything to get their way.....surprise!

Anonymous said...

oops! almost forgot! You are ONE HELL of a writer.........

Shawn said...

Wow... It's kind of strange to be someone outside of the story. As I was reading it, I had one of those 'uh-oh' moments right at the part where he said he was buying the house. It seems like such a romantic and wonderful statement of love on the surface, and yet underlined with an odd selfishness.

Sometimes there's a really thin line between something being a selfless act of love and it being a selfish act of love.

I don't think it's intentional, but it sort of seems that there were a lot of grand gestures in your relationship and not enough of the small ones.

Hope your week is going good... here comes the weekend!

Miss_Vicki said...

We grow and learn from all the experiences we had. Don't look back too much, and don't forget as you move forward. It's part of your growing, and it'll make you a stronger person. I'm still waiting for the love of my life, too. Until that happens, be happy with yourself, with who YOU are, and don't compromise yourself.

Great post, thanks for sharing all that.

Jason said...

His buying the house before marrying you was the proverbial horse before the cart. You dodged a bullet.

Kristi said...

Isn't she though??
a great writer!

freewriter said...

you look back for just a s long as you need to…

Charlie Mc said...

great post! Had me choked up....I agree with the others, a great writer you are indeed.

Notta Wallflower said...

I think that a person needs to look back occasionally to remind themselves of why things are better this way. Otherwise, how do we avoid making the same mistakes again?