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Worldwide Ace » Have a Nice Life

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Have a Nice Life

22 August, 2013 (16:08) | Women

heavy rain

Her words haunt me.

“Have a nice life.” The oncoming rain and distant thunder punctuated the pause. “Yeah,” she called as I crossed the parking lot, “have a nice life.”

I furrowed my brow and walked quickly to my bike, each heavy raindrop pelting me more gently than her closing remarks. Between the cold I had been fighting for two hazy days and the torrential downpour threatening to drown me during my ride home, I needed to go. I needed to leave, right then and there. And because of the finality of her farewell, I needed to stay.

I fumbled in my pocket for my keys. I fiddled with my lock, not watching what I was doing, but watching for her car. I wanted to see her drive by. I wanted to see her not look at me, her brown eyes focused on a world invisible to me, one that didn’t include me ever again. I ignored the wet sponge-pads on my helmet knowing that the water they drizzled in my hair was inconsequential. I flipped my bag back and forth on my shoulder, the rain growing ever stronger as I delayed.

“Perhaps our paths will cross again,” I muttered with a sad certainty that they probably wouldn’t.

But that was the problem from the start. She was never a character in my story. If anything, I was scenery in hers, a footnote to whatever plot was being played out.

Sometimes I like to think about my life like a visit to the zoo. I wander through the exhibits and there are all these different animals. I pause at each display for some time, spotting the animals, watching them, seeing them interact with each other. It’s background for the conversations, the meandering, and the various things I’m doing. The animals are there, but we’re hardly interacting, hardly making any impact on one another. Occasionally, I’ll visit the zoo with other people and we’ll wander together. I have my favorite animals and they have theirs, and though we’re walking together and seeing the same exhibits, I start to wonder if we’re really seeing the same exhibits. We’ll stop at an exhibit and there will be half a dozen other people there watching with us, yet all of us watching on our own.

As I started pedaling away, her car still nowhere in sight, I began to wonder what role I had played. Had I been a fellow zoo-goer who happened to stop at the same exhibit as her, our joint commentary abanoned as she moved on to another exhibit? Maybe I had been someone with whom she traveled the zoo, spending most of a visit walking along? Or had I merely been another one of the animals, categorized along with the other silverback gorillas or Siberian tigers as a short fun stop during this year’s visit, interesting to look at but ultimately offering no substance?

Pools of water had already formed deep enough that my toes sloshed through them on the downstroke as I pedaled. Her voice had sounded harried, almost angry and annoyed. The slow-moving traffic passing me on the street sent white-capped waves toward the bike lane. I pushed harder, the rain now tumbling so hard that dry seemed a distant memory.

I tried to think about other things: what route home I should take; which streets would have flooding; what phone calls I needed to make; whether a hot shower was in order; what I should eat for dinner. In each, her voice echoed.

The social queues that come from tone of voice are often subtle. Add on top that I ‘mabout as adept at social nuance as Wikileaks is at keeping secrets and it becomes obvious why I started parsing and reparsing her words, her tone, and the poorly timed delivery of it all. She wasn’t angry, was she? She had nothing to be angry about. Her pause seemed uncertain, as if those might not have been the words she wanted to choose. She could’ve been disappointed, or maybe she simply wanted to be abundantly clear. In less than a week, she’d be a world away. What could be more matter of fact than that?

A man cheered me on from the protection of a doorway as I pedaled past. My legs and back ached from the chill, from the wet, and from the intense pace I was trying to put forward. I skidded to a halt in my driveway, my shirt heavy on my shoulders. The garage door felt like a thousand pounds when I flung it upwards.

Inside the garage, I could hear my breathing, the rain outside, and the soft squish of my shoes as I stepped forward. Over them all, I could hear her words.

“Have a nice life.”

It’s such a trite line. I would hate myself just for saying it. It’s up there with, “it’s not you; it’s me,” and “I think we’re moving too fast.” Only, it wasn’t a break-up. She said it and I’m not sure I could even consider us friends, let alone more than that.

In that moment, with sodden shoes and a dripping visage, I began to wonder what had been going in her head: all the knowing glances, the shared giggles, the clever retorts, and the way in which she tried to insert herself into conversations and stories over the last few months; the times I looked away, brushed it off, ignored her, and turned my attention to the task at hand.

In a way, it all started to add up. In my mind, there were plenty of reasons to keep things casual, professional, and distant. And despite the many indications that she might want even a little more, even if it were just a little honesty, I successfully stayed aloof. Now, with her exodus imminent and our interactions likely forever over, I came to her and offered the friendship and connection she had tried to cultivate prior.

Maybe she did have a right to be angry. Maybe it was my fault. And maybe, just maybe, the nice life she hoped I would have would be a little less nice without her.

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  • Mitch

    Don’t let the bastards get you down.

  • Wait, what? But I’m the bastard…

  • Mitch

    Think what you want, but it was clear to me in reading this that she is.

  • Everyone’s a bastard on some level. Besides, I can only control what I do, not what others do. If something gets me down, I need to take responsibility for letting it do so.

  • Jess Newman

    In any given situation, Ben is usually the bastard. Unless I’m involved. My bastardy is like a trump suit.

  • Which is weird given how you operate like a blunt instrument. Clubs are rarely trump.