Seems Like Everybody Is Breaking Up, And Throwing Their Love Away, But I Know I Got A Good Thing Right Here
a response to No Matter Where You Are, I Can Still Hear You When You Drown, You've Traveled Very Far, Just To See You I'll Come Around, When I'm Down...
"I'll be back," I said, closing the motel room door behind me
I don't know if you said anything in reply. You might have, but I wouldn't have stopped anyway. My mind was as set as a cinnamon stick in molasses. I had to leave. Right then. Right there.
My desire to make a picnic for the next day's outing offered a perfect pretense for me to exit the premises. I told you that it would be better if I shopped alone--partly because we did need to cool down separately and partly because I did want it to be a surprise what I was making. I still possessed a modicum of hope, you know? I still clung to the belief that an outing entirely taken care of by little 'ole me would be a grand enough gesture to demonstrate to you that deep down I cared. If I had let you come along, if I had let you help me plan it out, well, that would be just like you were doing the work again. It would be exactly what you were complaining about--that you had to do all the heavy driving, all the heavy planning, all the heavy everything, &c... and I was doing didley. I needed you to see that I wanted to help. I wanted to contribute. Anything to get you to believe that I wanted to be there and not somewhere else.
Hell's bells, with most everyone I can take or leave their words. I've heard every criticism from my mother growing up that hearing it from someone never usually phases me. I hear it, but I don't listen to it all that much. I take it under consideration, but I don't let it affect my day. Advice, good or bad, isn't enough to change the flow of my river, you know? Friends and family can say what they want to me because they know most of the time I won't get upset. I'll hear what they have to say honestly and fairly because most of the time I suspect I have a good head on my shoulders. I don't need other people's advice to know I'm a decent gal. With you, though, I get that urge to make you happy because I know what you're like when you're not. I get that urge to change what I wanted to do anyway because I'd rather deal with you when you're not so glum. Only you have that affect of guilting me into modifying my behavior like that, Eeyore, without ever saying a word.
I walked in the general direction you had told me the nearest supermarket was, the one we had seen from PCH on the way. I had no idea how far I would be walking or how long I'd be. I only knew that outside of our motel room was the best place for me to be at the time.
"Do you want to go back? Is that what you're trying to tell me?"
"No, not at all."
"Then what do you want? Tell me what you want to do, Breanne."
"Nothing. All I said that Monterrey was nice. Hell's bells, I didn't mean anything by it, Patrick."
"Well, I'm sorry if you're disappointed by the rest of the trip. Maybe next time you'll help me plan it out if you're so unhappy."
For a social butterfly, I tend to appreciate the finer points of being alone... at least when I'm as hot as a bonfire in the Devil's own kitchen. There's some cathartic about walking up and down the streets by your lonesome when it comes time to clear your heads. Some of my best and brightest thoughts have come when I've been jogging somewhere. It's like my mind clears of everything else but those things that are important to me. I start to hear the music I can't hear while my brain is fired up about all the other unimportant details of my day. That music starts to play and then suddenly it starts to sound truly beautiful. I experience that rare sense of bliss that can only come from discovering what you truly are all about. Walking with somebody else is nice. And it's nice to have someone to talk to when you're travelling anywhere far. But there's something to be said about adventuring with one's own imagination as your only company. We were all born alone under the eyes of God and we will be raised up in his presence alone. It only makes sense that some of our time on his Earth will need to be spent alone.
That's how I looked at my walk, a necessary distraction. I didn't know what I was going to do when I got back. I didn't even know if I was going to walk back straight back from the market. All of that was mainly why I wanted to go by myself. I wanted my decisions to be made without the duress of having you staring at me expectantly for answers.
I reckon I should have been more nervous walking some strange city all by little 'ole lonesome. That's what happens to you when you get used to running away at a young age, you forget that there are worse things than fighting with your best friend in this world. But I wasn't scared. My daddy didn't exactly raise a helpless victim when it came to avoiding trouble. If anything, years of running has provided me with the speed to outdistance almost anyone I've ever met even if I do happen to have the stubbornness God gave bulls. If there had been trouble I probably would have stood my ground for as long as possible, but it'd be an easy bet I would have bolted like a jackrabbit if things had gotten ugly.
I guess that was partly your fault. Ever since I met you I feel like I have a person in my corner even when you're not. I feel like I have somebody watching out for me even when you're not. I got used to the idea that I had an advocate for me in all things when before I really didn't. I don't know if you know what that's like, but growing up I did feel all sorts powerless. I didn't dare stand up to my mother. I didn't dare contradict what Shelly told me was gospel. And I didn't dare show indecisiveness in front of my other friends. It was only when I met you that I could show that I didn't have all the answers and it was only then that I realized that there are going to be people in my life who are going to back me up no matter what my play is simply because they wanted to and not because they wanted something else from me. You watched over me like it was your duty, even though it wasn't. You explained me to the other people in my life better than I ever could have explained myself. You took what you knew about me and decided to protect it as if it were your responsibility. That's why at least that day I didn't feel vulnerable. How I could feel vulnerable when you were still only a phone call away? Even though we were in the midst of a fight and saying truly hateful things to one another, I knew all it would take was one phone call saying that I needed you and that fight would be put on hold.
I walked the streets unafraid because of that.
"That's just great. Yell at me some more, darling. See if that fixes any thing."
"It makes me feel better."
"I bet it does. You go and yell your pretty little 'ole head off. I'm going to take a hot shower right now. I'll be out in a few minutes. I sincerely hope you're ready to talk then."
"Don't count on it."
"I never do. With you I know better to count on you doing anything because I asked you to, Patrick."
When I got to the supermarket I realized I hadn't planned anything out. I didn't know what I would be making. The one thing I hadn't thought of on my walk over was what I wanted to do for this picnic tomorrow. Compared to the other dishes on my plate it seemed the least important. But pretext is the better part of any excuse so I couldn't just return empty-handed. That would provide you all the ammunition you would need to state that I had left to get away from you rather than to accomplish a secondary task. Somehow I knew that at least if I had the foodstuffs with me you could rationalize it away as not being entirely about you and I.
As for me, coming up with a menu was a good enough diversion to keep my mind busy. I decided I would make a recipe that Fanny had showed me the year prior. It consisted of making the rudimentary beginnings of a tunafish sandwich--mayo, a little dill, and finely chopped celery--but replacing the tuna with salmon. Technically, it's a salmon sandwich, but I had adopted the convention of calling it a salmonfish sandwich as well. I would pair this with some pre-bought potato salad for me and a good-sized bag of chips for you. Lastly, I would buy some Mountain Dew for you and what passes for sweet tea in California for me. I've never had any dreams of being a chef, but even I enjoy the chance to create something for somebody else once in a while, even if it's only sandwiches and chips, you know?
That kind of describes the dynamic between you and I, Eeyore. Even then it wasn't always ever about what you could do for me, protecting me from my parents' overzealous dreams for me, advising me on the best way to proceed regarding a lake's full of different dilemmas, &c... There existed an exchange between the both of us that was as equitable as it was unspoken. For every time you went out of you way to shield me from the worst the world had to offer I, more often than not, clued you in to just how much goodness and light the world had to offer. Again, equitable, you know?
I liked doing favors for you. I still do.
Part of the reason we ran into such a huge problem on that trip was the fact you had it in for me from the middle of the trip. You had it in your head that you were doing all the work and I was doing none of it. It no longer had that equitable feel to it. It no longer felt fair. And that wasn't the impression I was trying to give you. Quite frankly, it just felt nice to be pampered for once in my life.
I liked you taking control of all the arrangements.
I liked the fact you had picked out all these places that you thought I might like.
I liked the fact I didn't have to offer an opinion about anything.
It really was bliss just being able to soak it all in without having to move my little finger.
It was all these things until it started feeling like I was taking advantage of you. Isn't that how you phrased it?
Part of the reason I took to you like a duck takes to water was the fact that you always game a damn about my opinion without sacrificing your own. In my world I was either having my opinion ignored in whole (by my parents, by Shelly) or having them taken as gospel (by the "Gummi" bears, by Katie). I never felt like I stood on equal footing with anybody. I never felt like I had somebody who could give as good as he got. Then you happened along and instantly you let me have my say without everything completely being my say. You let me speak and you let me listen. You filled that perfect niche.
That didn't mean I agreed with what you did in that motel room, yelling at me like I was some petulant child. You didn't treat me very cordially at all. I've never been one to take criticism like a lady from anyone not of my blood. It's never been easy to hear my faults from somebody empowered by relations to tell me them. That's why I tend to get defensive in those types of scrapes. That's why I tend to lash out as well. And that's why, finally, I tend to flee when I see that ship is sinking. Fight, then run. Sometimes just run. That's my usual process. I'm not good with fighting anyone I can't bully right away. Deep inside, I'm a coward who only acts tough. I get by by being louder, more forward, and generally more in-your-face than most people. The fact that I do it generally more with a smile than a scowl doesn't make a difference. I'm still weak in that regard. I'm trying to get better. I have been trying to get better.
That day I was trying to be the bigger woman. I was trying not to antagonize you in the least. Believe it or not, I was trying to stay and work things out with you like two friends should. But just because I wasn't yelling back at you or getting in your face doesn't give you the right to see it as a sign of weakness. I was doing it to preserve what little sanity the both of us had that day.
It took going to the supermarket for me to see why you were acting the way you were.
"You're not going to even stop and talk to me about this?
"What's there to talk about, darling? Besides, I need to get some supplies if you want me to do that picnic tomorrow."
"Fuck that. You don't have to. You need to stay here."
"I want to. I need to do something besides this. I need to get out of this room."
"What if I blocked the door and made you talk to me."
"Try me and see what happens. I guarantee you're not going to like the result, sugar."
"Fuck it. Go."
"I'll be back."
You did it because I wasn't giving you any input. I was letting you make all the decisions. I was letting you spoil me. In any normal relationship, that would have be all well and good. In ours that's always been, as my daddy would say, "like riding a blind horse backwards." It ain't what we're all about.
As I carried the small paper bag of foodstuffs back to the motel room, I started thinking about all the times I complained to you of my mother not listening to what I had to say. I remembered all the nights you would tell me that you heard me and that you would always listen to what I had to say regardless of you agreed with it or not. I told you that I appreciated that and I always would. I just didn't realize that you meant every word. You're not the type of person who wants to fill in all the empty silences. You're not a fella who can allow nothing to happen. You need to fill things. You need to respond to things. You're as impatient as you are stubborn.
That's good, though, you know? Because it fills in my deficiencies handily. You've said it a million times, darling. I'm a gal who needs the spotlight shone upon her as often as possible. I'm vain, prideful, and more than a little bit presumptuous.
That's how we mesh. I let you listen to me and give me advice, which is what you like, and you let me pretend that we're all living in my world.
If I don't contribute to the process, the focus shifts back to you and you'd much rather be the one shining the light on someone else than be the person who the light is focused on. I took away what made us special. I took away the dynamic of your need to assist people and my need to feel acknowledged.
Don't ask me how I came up with all this theory from some little 'ole forty-five minute walk to the store and back. I blame the walking alone. It tends to make me think I'm far more intelligent than I actually am. It also tends to me forget why I ever get ornery with you in the first place. I can't stay mad at anybody for long when I'm running or walking by myself. It's as impossible as getting me to go outside during a thunderstorm. It's in my nature to like most everyone and it's also in my nature to want everyone to like me.
Outside, I'm strong and stubborn. But inside, a coward, you know?
I came back with the groceries with a better understanding what I had to do. I didn't know how I was going to accomplish it, but I knew the one bad fight or even one bad trip wasn't going to ruin what we had. No matter how long I try to get away from you I always come back... sometimes with food.
"I'm back. Miss me?"
"Hell's bells did I miss you. I wished you had come with me."
"I wasn't asked. I didn't think you wanted me there."
"We could be in the middle of stabbing each other with every knife in the drawer, but if I had to go to the hospital afterwards I couldn't think of anyone else I'd want to take me."
"If you stabbed me, I'd definitely want to get away from you, Breannie."
"Face it, Mr. Patrick., you're stuck with me like a fly on the windscreen."