It was over.
In fact, it was so over that when I went back--just to make sure, mind you--and I came face-to-face with the person I had spent the last eighteen months of my life with ... I felt absolutely nothing towards her.
It was a strange feeling. An emotional void that filled, surprisingly, with thoughts of cheeseburgers and seasoned fries. And a milkshake. Strawberry. With whipped cream and a cherry.
It seemed so impossible to comprehend, the lies I had convinced myself of during those eighteen months. But it was unmistakable, the depths to which my stupidity sank.
So I ran. Metaphorically. Symbolically. Literally.
The rhythm of my feet hitting the pavement was the only sound, aside from the light rush of air past my ears. It was late at night and the air was cool--a welcome relief from the heat of the Florida day.
I ran at a slow but steady pace. I intentionally left my iPod at the house. I had no need for it tonight.
I didn't want the distraction of music. I wanted silence. I wanted to give my mind free-reign to sort through all that had gone wrong over the past eighteen months.
But above all, I wanted to run. I wanted to feel my legs burn from exhaustion. I wanted to push myself beyond all physical means until I would no longer be able to function--until I collapsed. I wanted to exert some form of control ... if not on my marriage, then on my physical self.
I had met her on a cool night like this one. Cool nights are easy to remember because there are so few of them in south Florida. I often joke that our winter is a weekend in January and the rest of the time is our defacto rainy season. Hot and wet. That's south Florida.
Admittedly, it was an unusual cool night. Again, I had been out running. I do that when I feel like my life is spinning out of control. Surely, if I cannot manage any aspect of my personal and professional life, than I can at least get out and run, right?
Eighteen months ago, I had just broken up with my long-time girlfriend. We had lived together for three years and had been together for almost five. That night, we both came to the unpleasant realization that we simply didn't love each other anymore. We were little more than roommates who fucked every now and then. And the sex was passionless and sterile, for that matter.
We had come to the realization that we were, in fact, keeping each other from living our respective lives.
When you reach that moment ... and when it is truly mutual ... no words need to be exchange. There is no fighting, no pleading, no begging for a second or third chance.
It was over.
Initially, I was angry at her. But I was younger then. I was angry that I had wasted so much of my life on what ultimately ended with ... nothing. To have invested so much time in a person and to walk away with absolutely nothing in return is nothing short of depressing.
So I ran. That night, my run was fueled by anger, but at the core were the same reasons as today. To get away. To sort through the shit that had become my life.
I literally ran into her. It was unfortunate and she had fallen on her ass, bruising it pretty badly. From that moment on, as callous as it may sound, she was convenient.
It's surprisingly easy to get close to someone when you have a mountain of emotional shit in your life. Call it a shoulder to cry on or a sounding board ... but as she learned more about me, the more she began to like me.
I think I might have been incapable of liking her, much less loving her. I think whatever appreciation I showed towards her was simply a remnant of the failed five-year relationship.
We started spending more and more time together and I became more aware of this idea of a rebound. Our first kiss was electric, but looking back I realize that the electricity came from a different place.
It was wrong.
The electricity did not spark from chemistry that I shared with this new girl, but from my own twisted mind, knowing that this was a rebound.
And yet ... part of me was desperate for the touch of another. Even now I wonder if that original spark of electricity was wholly manufactured out of a desperate desire to not be alone.
For her, things progressed quickly. She was young and stupid--even moreso than myself--and driven wholly by a desire for marriage and kids.
At the time, I thought that was what I wanted as well.
You can imagine how things seemed to fall into place. In two months, we were engaged. In another month, we were married by a judge. Two months after that, I began emerging from the fog of my last relationship.
Realization dawned on me far too late and I got scared. I got angry--at myself and at her--for being so stupid.
Veils had begun to peel back.
She was adamant. Even now, I can't understand where her love for me came from. To have looked at her earlier and felt absolutely nothing inside and to know that she would have taken me back in an instant ... she was stupid, yes. But I was infinitely stupider.
I let her convince me that we could work it out. I let her convince me that what we had wasn't the product of a rebound. I let her convince me that everything would be okay.
It shouldn't have been such a surprise when she started insisting on a baby. I realize now that it was her idea of a fix-all--a band aid for a relationship that should have never been.
But like I said, I was stupid.
Six months into our relationship and she was pregnant.
Nine weeks later, she had a miscarriage.
The first time it happened, we thought it was a fluke ... an unfortunate act of nature.
By the third time, I knew that God Himself would not let a child be born into this truly unholy matrimony.
I became more and more self-aware. My perceptive abilities developed inasmuch as that I began to read people to uncanny specificity.
And with each passing day, I realized how wrong my life was.
It wasn't about her. It wasn't even about the girl before her. It was about me. My mistakes.
My desperation. My fear of loneliness.
These women ... they were victims. I had thought before that collectively, they had stolen years of my young life, wasting it on meaningless relationships ... but I realize now that it was I who had stolen the years from their lives.
We separated three months ago. It was an inevitable, foregone conclusion. In that time, I recalibrated. I was alone for most of that time. Literally. At work, I sought solitude underneath the headphones of my iPod. At home ... there was no one. I didn't go out. I didn't see any of my friends. I disconnected.
It's amazing the change of perspective you can have after three months of solitude. I wanted to give my wife a fair chance--I had been so wrong about the entire marriage, who was to say that I ever truly knew her? Perhaps I would like her if I were to get to know her outside my own emotional baggage and fresh from the lies we had manufactured for ourselves.
I called her and we agreed to meet. Nothing serious, just a quick encounter. She was only too eager to see me.
Even now, I remain in awe at her ability to love me so selflessly.
When I finally saw her again, after three months of being apart ... there was absolutely nothing.
An emotional void.
Now, as I rounded the last corner back to the house, I realized why I called her in the first place. Why, for that matter, I had wanted to give her a second chance.
I was a slave to my desperation. I was scared to death of being alone. So much so that I manufactured convoluted lies--convincing myself that despite the past eighteen months with this woman, she was still worth that second chance.
But there was no love there. Not ever. I felt nothing towards her. And being around her only inspired thoughts of getting away from her and going to get a bite to eat.
And so I ran. Not from her. Or from the one who came before her. And in spite of where you think this might be going, I was not even running from myself.
I ran from my desperation. I ran from my fear.
I ran because as much as I want to be with someone, to have someone at my side ... I was incapable of honestly connecting with another person.
I ran because there was nothing else to do.
I ran because it was over.