The 1,763-Day Weekend
Part 4 — Post-Proposal Missed Opportunity #1

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Missed OpportunityThe first opportunity I had to back away from marrying NowEx presented itself exactly one week after I had proposed, on New Year’s 2008, just hours before I was to fly back to Halifax.

That evening we had made a few calls to Canada via Skype, namely to MexiGoth, with whom NowEx had stayed during his last days in Montréal, to my family gathered in Moncton, and to the Queen of Sheba’s annual “Eggs and Roses” party in Halifax. Afterwards and very suddenly, his mood changed. He made some very unkind remarks about my sister-in-law’s accent, among other unkind remarks about other people (except, of course, his fellow Mexican). Then, upon not only failing to find the humour but being thoroughly offended by these videos of hapless kittycats, he stormed off to bed just minutes before midnight, leaving me sitting outside by myself on the landing in front of his 5th- and top-floor apartment to watch the New Year’s fireworks from the Zócalo, exploding, from my vantage point, behind the Torre Latinoamericana.

It didn’t feel right at all. Was I making a mistake? Sitting there watching the fireworks, I was recalling the instances over the previous 10 days when that question popped into my mind until I quickly banished it on the grounds that I was probably making a big deal out of nothing.

  • Like when he’d blown his fuse over how I didn’t instinctly know how to move about in Mexico.
  • Or how frustrated he got because I couldn’t yet speak Spanish and didn’t always catch on the first time.
  • Or how his then-friend Jorge had to tell him to slow down as we moved about Mexico City, for while he knew exactly where he was taking me, I was completely reliant on him and, since I’m no mind reader and didn’t know the city, I was having trouble keeping up because I didn’t know we had to turn left here and right there to get to Place A or Place B.
  • Or how he just couldn’t let go of how I got the equivalent of $80 Canadian picked from my jean pocket as we got shoved into a crowded subway at Balderas station. I quickly laughed it off — “For eighty bucks, I wish I had at least felt the grope!” — but he was devastated over the impression this incident might have been giving me of Mexico. We’d resolved that I would let him carry my money from that point. (With hindsight, I think the reason he was so upset is that it went counter to his belief that “there’s no racism in Mexico,” but this incident proved that there’s definitely profiling among petty criminals when they spot a fair-skinned, blue-eyes, silver-haired gringo who was probably overheared speaking English.)
  • Or — worse of all — when the narco police in Oaxaca State pulled over the taxi we were in as we were leaving Zipolite and he, as always, had some mota on him which he quickly hid under the back seat, and when we were let back into the car and allowed to drive away because, by some miracle or incompetence, the cops hadn’t found his stash, he started laughing and said, “I love strong emotions like that!” (while I was still having visions of myself, the stupid and naïve Canadian gringo who couldn’t speak Spanish and who ironically never touched the stuff, rotting away in a Mexican jail cell under the presumption of guilt rather than innocence).

But in order to shake off the bad feeling, I rationalized — though deep down I didn’t believe a word — that things would get better as I would speak more Spanish and become more familiar with Mexico and its megalopolis. NowEx knew there was only one line that I, myself, would not cross, and that was mota or any other illicit drug (for me, that is, but for him I couldn’t care less). In short, to marry a Mexican, I thought, I had to make myself Mexican while in Mexico, just as I assumed (very, very, very incorrectly) that he had adapted to Canada while he was here the previous summer.

My (and Others’) Take on Mexicans in Canada
I’ve observed that among Latinos/Hispanics and especially Mexicans, Argentines are generally disliked. They’re viewed as smug, racist due to having far fewer mestizos than other countries in Latin America, and thinking of themselves as more European. I’m in no position to debate whether or not these accusations are true; however, I find it interesting how one of my Spanish instructors, who was from Argentina, pointed out that even the most recent European immigrants to that country all make a point of adopting Spanish as their primary language. In fact, my instructor, who was first-generation Argentine of Italian descent with the very Italian family name of Capri, could hardly hold a conversation in Italian.

Just over a year ago, I found myself “at the tubs,” as Cleopatrick would say. There, I had a bit of fun with some guy originally from Guatemala who had been adopted and had come to Québec more than 20 years ago. After we had had our fun, he noticed my ring which I continue to wear and inevitably raised the topic of my marital status. When I revealed that NowEx was from Mexico, he put his hand on his head which he was shaking in a No sign and said in flawless Québecois slang, “Les Mexicains, ch’us p’us capable!” (Mexicans, I just can’t stand them anymore!).

He explained how he is surrounded by hispanophones from around the world at work. However, because they’re in Québec, they all speak French at work …except for the Mexicans who, he claims, constantly huddle among themselves and carry on in Spanish. He went on to say that, of all the Latinos, Mexicans are the least likely to make a serious effort to adapt to being in Québec — “They’re always trying to replicate Mexico here,” he said — and are the most likely to make disparaging remarks about the people of their adopted land.

“Quebecolandia…” I said.

“Oh, there’s no mistaking you were with a Mexican for having heard that one!” he replied, laughing.

No kidding! While I was listening to him, I felt he was reading a page that had a profile of NowEx, complete with the proposterous remark that “Mexico and Mexicans aren’t racist,” which I suppose excludes Argentines since they’re essentially white and racism can only be directed toward non-whites [sic].

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The 1,763-Day Weekend
Part 5 — Post-Proposal Missed Opportunity #2

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Missed OpportunityMy second and by far my best opportunity to walk away came only days before we were set to be wed on February 22, 2008.

We had met up in Montréal on the 9th because I had wanted him to be part of the apartment hunt, as I would be moving from Halifax as long planned on April 1 (“long planned” as in “before I met NowEx”).

Given that he wasn’t going to be able to work legally in Canada until he had his PR status and that I categorically refused to hear of him working under the table as it could ruin his/our application, I was going to be footing all the bills for both of us for a good long while, and I was perfectly fine with that. After all, as my reasoning went, I was making enough money for both of us not to live high off the hog, but comfortably.

Since it seemed at the time that his application to come to Canada as my spouse would be quicker if the application were made through the Canadian embassy in Mexico, he would continue to live there and be responsible for coming up with the scratch to pay his way through over there, just as he’d been doing all along, and there would be a lot of travelling back and forth until he could finally enter the country with his PR papers in hand. I knew I might have to (and did in fact) occasionally help him out, but that was part of the deal of getting married, I thought. But sorry, I’m digressing from my opportunity to walk away, so let me resume.

The apartment hunt in what was one of the harshest winters Montréal had seen in decades turned out to be difficult because of what I would come to discover to be his egregious lack of practical common sense.** Maybe because 1 Mexican peso is worth just under 10 Canadian cents, he didn’t seem to register when I said that $1,000 all inclusive was the absolute ceiling of what we could afford. While I knew he knew better, it was as if his mind’s eye still saw $100 as being worth only a bit less than $10, so somewhere in his mind he was probably wondering why I was being such a tightwad over a lousy ten bucks a month.

** His egregious lack of practical common sense
A few nights before we were to meet in Montréal, we were looking together at apartment ads on Kijiji and Craiglist, which I had been doing for several weeks already. When we ended our conversation that night so that I could go to bed, he agreed to keep looking and weed out the prospects. I had reminded him what our max was, and suggested not bothering with any ad without pictures unless it seemed unusually promising and not going back too many days since those places would probably be taken already. The next morning, I had an e-mail message from him containing at least three dozen links, none of which being good prospects and many being above our price point.

I frequently remembered this incident months after our marriage went bust because it’s only with the fullness of time that I linked it to why he never finished his honours thesis and kept putting it off. Indeed, it finally dawned on me that he seemed incapable of synthesis, which I would think is an essential intellectual exercise when writing a thesis. Adding this realization to my memories of how he fancied himself a good debater, I then remembered how he WASN’T one because of how he fell for all the basic logical fallacies students of Philosophy 101 are warned against. His preferred tactic was (and likely remains) the strawman argument.

I wish I could tell you that maybe it was only a cultural thing, but as you’ll read a bit later, I eventually came to realize that even organizing a wet dream in his own bedroom would prove to be too organizationally challenging for him. I even fooled myself into believing he was smarter than me, although that could be a function of how good he was at making me feel stupid — something he denied doing but most definitely did — and my shockingly persistent stubbornness at overlooking anything that sent off a warning bell.

One of first apartments we got to view was on Édouard-Montpetit at Westbury, which was being sublet by a couple originally from Guadeloupe. It could have worked despite being at the top end of our budget, but my mistake was to reveal this fact — the “being at the top end of our budget” part, that is — because that’s all it took for the lady of the couple to start yapping about how, in Québec, tenants have the right to refuse a rent increase yet not have to vacate the dwelling. (I thought that was baloney but it turns out to be true, although I suspect refusing an increase and getting the Régie du logement involved could result in an judgement unfavorable to the tenant, but I’m not sure.) Her musings, which played right into what I would come to find to be NowEx’s quasi-genetic Mexican habit of pulling financial fast ones, coupled with the bizarre Mexican devotion to anything with the word “Guadeloupe” because of this broad (a.k.a. the Queen of Mexico), practically made him want to sign the lease right then and there. Call me weird, but I didn’t think it was a good idea to sign before looking at what else was available, as this was only the second apartment we’d seen — well okay, third since we’d looked at two in the first building we visited, but the second wasn’t worth considering since it was $1,000 and on the main floor and right on the Décarie Expressway.

Later I found an ad that suddenly appeared on Craigslist. Until that point, I had refused to look at any ad that didn’t have at least one picture. But while the ad for this sublet had no picture, it had the address (which I recognized from other ads in the same neighbourhood, including for one place that would have been perfect if it hadn’t been available two months too early), it listed the price as well below budget at $825, and it stated that the place was available for April 1 (unlike most other ads which were for March 1). We got to see it almost instantly.

While it’s true the dark hallways didn’t leave the best first impression — the building’s old but the hallways were clean, and besides, we wouldn’t be living in the hallways — I was immediately sucked in by the massive (for an apartment) foyer, the art deco opening looking into the kitchen, and the crisp white walls. Plus, unlike the place on Édouard-Montpetit, the rooms were massive and the bedrooms were at the opposite end of the living room, which would be a perfect setup given that I work from home and two people could be in the apartment during the daytime without getting in each other’s hair (and don’t forget that NowEx had A LOT of hair). But of course there were also problems, the very worst being the mould and crumbling ceiling over the bathtub. However, I knew that I could demand that the landlord fix those things as a condition for moving in. I was right: it turned out the super wasn’t aware of the problem and was very cross with the vacating tenant for not telling her about it.

So, perhaps the accusation NowEx later levelled against me is true: I insisted that THIS was the place. What wasn’t true in his accusation, however, is that I ignored his input and just went ahead and took the place that *I* wanted. He didn’t see and wouldn’t even hear why it made the most sense: that extra $100 per month not spent on rent would go some way to keeping us fed, not to mention that this place was closer to shops and a métro station that would allow us to go either east or south.

As the sole breadearner for a good long while and many months ahead of us still living between Montréal and Mexico City, I WASN’T exercising my veto right to hold anything back from him; rather, I WAS trying to ensure that we wouldn’t languish with empty tummies and tattered clothes …but in a nice apartment. During the short time he had lived in Montréal, he’d stayed in a dump on Saint-Urbain crammed with too many untidy (and possibly illegal) Mexicans, but oh, the place was in the oh-so-hip Plateau, don’t you know, and I guessed that he’d never ventured northwest of Atwater and DeMaisonneuve. On our budget, we never could have afforded a decent apartment in the Plateau, whereas we could in Snowdon which was established in the ’20s and ’30s and is just as quintessentially Montréal.

All that tension, though, was far from being the coup de grâce — the so-called second opportunity to back out of the wedding. No, everything seemed to explode at the airport, after we had dropped off Cleopatrick with his sister, for whom NowEx had taken an instant dislike because she opined that she disliked Mexican cigarettes because she found them too strong. Again, at this point, I didn’t know he would end up taking a dislike for just about everybody to whom I introduced him, nor did I know how often and how virulently he was given to cutting off from friends and relatives.

Since the morning, I’d been worried that another unexpected snowfall over Montréal would delay or cancel our flight to Halifax that evening, so I called ExFriend to discuss this since he was supposed to drive my car to the airport so that NowEx and I could drive ourselves home. But finally here we were at Trudeau International, as everything was a go for our flight to Halifax, albeit with some delay. I was carrying his/our laptop with the strap of the carrying case over my shoulder when he started getting at me to carry it another way but definitely not as I was carrying it. “I’ll carry it like I’m carrying it, it’s just fine,” I said testily, the anxiety over our flight leaving or not and his rantings against Cleopatrick’s sister having worn my patience thin. And that’s when I saw that look on his face for just a second as he pulled his hand off the carrying case, and then he started storming away ahead of me.

Thus started the worst plane ride of my life.

We had some time to kill before getting to the gate for our (further delayed) flight, so we found our way to the food court outside the security perimeter since we hadn’t eaten supper yet. He hardly spoke to me — just enough so that I would know what to order for him from the St. Hubert counter. Later we got to our gate but our plane kept being delayed; he sat across from me, far away, sulking and listening to his iPod-wannabe (for he never could have afforded a real iPod).

He still never said anything once we’d boarded the plane, which turned out to be one of those tiny jets with two seats on one side of the aisle and one seat on the other. Just as a storm was raging inside his head, the entire flight to Halifax was continuous turbulence, and the landing in driving sheets of rain and winds of 80 km/h had me believing we would crash for sure. (The next day as the strong winds continued, planes had to be rerouted because they couldn’t safely land in Halifax.) The only words he uttered after hours of his silent treatment toward me came when the plane was pulling to the gate: “Worst fucking plane ride ever.” But underlying his remark was that it was all my fault — because I was taking him to this backwater called Halifax, because I shouldn’t have booked us on this tiny plane that seemed barely capable of staying airbourne, …I don’t know!

Our luggage arrived on the conveyor belt, soaked: not just our bags, but everyone’s, which ought to give an idea of how awful the weather was that night since even the fastest baggage carriers could not have prevented them from getting wet. I then ventured off to the parking lot on my own in the pouring rain and the inches of slush on the ground to find my car, drove up to the Arrivals terminal to pick up the baggage — that would include NowEx — and drove home, NowEx still not saying a word. As I was driving in the night on Highway 102, rain still pounding down, I simply couldn’t believe that all of this could be happening over how to carry or not an effin’ computer case. I may have been short back there at Trudeau, but man! You ain’t seen nothing compared to if I had really lost it, which thankfully I rarely ever do.

Finally at my apartment, wet and tired, I finally forced him to talk. He started talking about how maybe we shouldn’t go through with the wedding, about how he wondered what had been the point of his coming to Montréal to look for an apartment if I was simply going to take whichever one I wanted, even about if we were really sexually attracted to one another (because, I assume, he certainly wasn’t toward me at that moment). Yet, while I felt no pride invested into this wedding going ahead, especially at that moment — I really didn’t care about having to tell the Queen of Sheba and everybody else that the whole thing had been called off — I. Stayed. The. Course. I pointed out that we could even call it off an hour before, but we still had almost two weeks to call it one way or the other. And that I loved him. Was he telling me that he didn’t love me?

There was my opportunity to call everything off and walk away, served on a silver platter, and I didn’t just turn it down: I argued AGAINST taking the offering. To this day, I still don’t know why I didn’t. Trust me when I tell you that I’ve thought back many, MANY times to that hellish trip, both before and after August 22, 2009 when I drove him to Trudeau International for the last time, and I still don’t understand why I wasn’t whipped back to my senses at that very moment.

The only thing I can say for sure, without flinching, is that it wasn’t because I feared what my friends would think of me, for I knew they were my friends and they would always support me. The best explanation I’ve ever been able to come up with is that I believed (or made myself believe) that the root of the whole debacle was a goddamn computer carrying case after what had been a frantic and stressful three-day search for an apartment, so that was not a good reason to call off the wedding. And worse, somewhere in the deepest recesses of my mind was the profound belief that if we could only let all the dust settle and get through the stress, everything would fall into place and we would both, in our own way, have a better life.

The picture, in hindsight, is perfectly clear. Once again I ignored my intuition and once again I didn’t let myself hear what I was saying so clearly. I only said it aloud three years too late while sitting in Lucy’s chair.

Instead of seizing the opportunity to walk away from it all that night, I repeated, “But please let me save you.”
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The 1,763-Day Weekend
Part 6 — The Denial Deepens

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Sucker for PunishmentYou might think that things calmed down after that dreadful flight to Halifax and we merrily coasted to February 22, 2008 and our wedding. But much to my shame, as I think back, that was far from the case. In some ways things got worse, but perhaps because I’d survived the plane incident, I’d already begun to “man up” to it.

We had much to do once back in Halifax even though I still had to work during the daytime, albeit from home as always. We had to get our marriage license. We had to get our tuxedos. We had to meet the Justice of the Peace whose name I thankfully forget who was to officiate over of nuptial vows, a guy who was graciously referred to us through the office of my member of the Nova Scotia Legislative Assembly. (I say “thankfully forget” not only because he presided over what I now consider a huge mistake which, I think, he even sensed was in the making when he met us, but because not once during the ceremony did he pronounce NowEx’s full name correctly.) And we had to get NowEx some decent clothes to face the Haligonian winter weather, which, as you’re about to find out, didn’t go too well.

Fortunately, the Queen of Sheba was taking care of the ceremony itself, which was held in her well-appointed home off the Halifax Commons, while her partner, the Grand Poobah of Culimary Delights, was taking care of the wedding banquet. I only had to supply the booze for us all.

Strangely, for what I think was the first time in his life as a chef, the GP fucked up the rice on our wedding night. I never said it to anyone except the Queen a while afterwards, for I knew she would take it as a mere observation rather than a reproach. Indeed, she had noticed the bungle, too, and offered the explanation that perhaps he was a little nervous, putting together a meal for a dear friend’s wedding, and I readily accepted that explanation and never really thought about it again …until now as I’m dredging up all of these memories.

For his part, NowEx had the Reproach Department covered for both of us and then some. About the tuxedos, because we had very little time before the ceremony, we had to go with whatever that shop had to offer, which brought the reproach of us (read “me”) being too rushed and last minute. About the meeting with the JP, he seemed too odd (which I admit he was a little bit but would serve his purpose), which drew me the same reproach as for the tuxedos. About selecting our vows …I don’t remember all the hoopla except I do seem to recall complaints about that, too — something about an excerpt from The Little Prince being a nice idea one minute but too cutesy the next minute. But one of NowEx’s greatest complaint — more like wrath — came when we went shopping for winter clothes for him.

It’s a well-known fact that I don’t go shopping very much. As a result, I had not thought that it’s next to impossible to buy winter clothes in Canada in February. (I mean, come on! I can’t be the only one who [a] didn’t know and [b] thinks it ridiculous!) What winter boots and coats were left were remainders no one deigned to buy or that would only fit a dwarf or a giant, while most of the stuff on display was summer stuff. So the reproach was, how could I, who’d live in Canada all my life, not know that this would be the case (as if going on a wild goose chase is my idea of a joke or a “teaching moment” about life in Canada)?

NowEx was fuming — I would need about sixteen adverbs to go with “fuming” to do justice to the pent-up violence and fury he harboured — as we walked through the mall empty-handed with stores filled with summer clothes and sandals, insisting that I not speak to him as I desperately tried to think of a place where winter clothes could be bought in February in Canada. I mean, sure: I was fucking up, but how was not knowing about consumerist marketers’ tactics my fault, exactly? Finally, I thought of Mountain Equipement Co-op, where finding winter boots wasn’t a problem.

In true Mexican form, NowEx was terrified of freezing in the Canadian winter and insisted on getting the longest down-filled winter coat we could find. He got his wish …when the very diplomatic salesclerk, whom I’m sure rolled on the floor laughing with her colleagues after we left, assured him that no one would know that the coat he’d picked — the only one that met his criteria and fitted him — was a woman’s coat. Personally I went along with her ploy just to get the whole ordeal over with even though even I could tell by the way the coat flared outwards that it was never meant for a dude. Plus, I knew he feared the cold more than being taunted for wearing a woman’s coat. (By the way, the coat’s for sale. I should post it on Kijiji. Worn only 4 or 5 times, and not for very long at that.)

But my worst mistake before the wedding, which stirred up the fiercest storm of all, was when I tried to coordinate a surprise for NowEx. I felt bad that none of his friends nor family would be there, yet he and I were forever talking and seeing each other via Skype. So, I tried to arrange with his then-friend Jorge back in Mexico to have some people gather, including NowEx’s mother, so they could videocall into the wedding. Except that one of NowEx’s friends let the proverbial cat out of the bag while chatting with him on Skype two nights before the ceremony, complaining about how hard it was to coordinate this stunt because the two-hour time difference between Halifax and Mexico City meant they had to gather shortly before 5:00 pm over there.

Thus I got busted, and worse, NowEx accused me of “once again” going over his head. But do tell: while my execution may have been flawed, isn’t it clear that I was motivated by the very best intentions? It seemed so unfair that only my friends were able to attend our wedding, so how the hell is that about thinking only about myself?

So the wedding went ahead …sans Skype call from Mexico, of course.

I guess it can be said, unlike what I wrote previously, that I let slip by more than two opportunities to back away from marrying NowEx. It could also be said that if no “Sucker for Punishment” award exists out there, it ought to be invented. And I insist that I ought to get the first one.
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The 1,763-Day Weekend
Part 7 — It’s Too Late, Baby, It’s Too Late

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HeartbreakerNow I would love to tell you that, the stress of the wedding behind us, the last eight days before NowEx had to return to Mexico went well. But while they were generally better than the previous two-and-a-half weeks, there were some major zingers. One in particular was so unspeakable that I’m only revealing it now that the divorce is finalized, and quite frankly it negates my previous sentence that the last eight days were better!

Our wedding night wasn’t consummated; he had had too much wine at the wedding. But that’s not the unspeakable zinger. No, it’s that, at one point as we were back home and in bed, he muttered with a great sigh and with what sounded like infinite regret, “I hope we didn’t make a terrible mistake.”

I found out the next day that he’d been bothered by my smoking in bed as he slept unrestfully in drunkness while I, still too excited to sleep, watched TV. But instead of saying just that — “Please don’t smoke in bed, it bothers my sinuses” — he made that most unimaginably vile statement. And in a fit of total denial and just as dysfunctionally, rationalizing that it must be either the booze or indisgestion talking, I replied after a good two or three minutes of stunned silence, “Well I know that *I* didn’t make a mistake!” Then I got up, went to my computer, and wrote what now stands, at least for me and probably for you as well from now on, as my most surreal posting ever at aMMusing.

Anybody else in his right mind — anybody else but me — would have called the Justice of the Peace first thing the following Monday and asked him to rip up all the paperwork and pretend that nothing had happened in the home of the Queen of Sheba on the night of February 22, 2008.

Except I didn’t call the JP the following Monday. The thought didn’t even cross my mind. In fact, I only thought of it as I was writing this long, long set of blog entries, more than four years after the fact and less than one week after receiving the papers signaling that the divorce is finalized. Even though only five hours had passed between exchanging our vows and his reprehensible comment, I figured it was too late. Indeed, the knot had been tied, I thought, and it’s too late now to untie it.

Instead, for the next 18 months, I chose to walk on eggshells.
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The 1,763-Day Weekend
Part 8 — The Bruising Walk on Eggshells

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Walking on EggshellsAs I mentioned earlier, I had decided to move to Montréal about two months before meeting NowEx, and today as I think back to my first 18 months in this city, I remember feeling as though my head was in some kind of fog. Sadly, it wasn’t because I was overwhelmed with joy for finally bringing to fruition what I’d started dreaming of doing nearly a decade earlier.

Certainly I recall how frustrated I was by how long it took for me to get Internet service at home (until I gave up on Bell and went with Vidéotron and got connected within 12 hours of calling). However, although I was annoyed to have to go work for nearly two weeks in an office that was little more than a glorified broom closet at the nearest branch, I was more significantly scared — yes, scared — of NowEx’s mounting frustration over not being able to easily call via Skype.

“Scared” is a key word here. I haven’t the writing skills to convey to you the intensity of NowEx’s moods, let alone how it felt to be on the receiving end. What I can say is that I felt like I was in a low-grade but constant state of negotiation to avoid his temper which could be stirred at the slightest “provocation,” such as when the tiniest thing didn’t go exactly according to his wish or when something was said that provoked offense in some way — hence the feeling of my head being in some kind of fog.

I had to be sure to be available whenever he wanted me to be, but go with the flow if he wasn’t in the mood or had better things to do, like some “fabulous” night on the town at Living where he felt certain he could score some cheap drugs from someone. In those times I’d be here, sick with worry that he’d go too far and OD on what he’d be told is E but might be rat poison, not to mention the far from reassuring climate provided by the mounting death toll resulting from Calderón’s war on drugs. However, I wouldn’t (or couldn’t) dare express such concerns as bluntly, for I feared he would accuse me of a sin far worse than not trusting his judgement: it would be the sin of making him feel as though he were forced to ask for permission to do whatever he pleased. And huh, by the way: Damned be my job at every opportunity if ever it encroached on “our” time!

Damn Skype! Did you know that I can barely bring myself to turn it on today? Back then I even had SkypeOut — still do, in fact — that allows its users to call regular landlines from a computer, and a Mexico City VoIP number — I’ve long lost that albatross — so that NowEx could just pick up his regular phone to call me.

He really called the shots as far as when to call and how often. Come to think of it, he always did, even when we were courting! Back then he could go nearly a week without calling me but suddenly he would, out of the blue when HE felt like it. On the other hand, there was never any point in my trying to call him because he’d never be connected when I’d look.

To my shame, I would get all excited upon hearing this ringtone. Today, however, whenever I hear it, I get a knot in my stomach and feel my neck stiffening. That’s not a word of a lie.

After my proposal and our marriage, if I managed to call him but he didn’t feel like it, he’d have no qualm in cutting the call short, whereas I had to be totally present whenever he’d call. What’s more, if I was already on the phone with someone else, he’d get terribly impatient and would text incessantly — even once when a call to my own mother was taking longer than expected. I mean really! We’d talk once or twice a day since I’d proposed to him, whereas I would speak with my mom maybe once every week or two!

By March 2009, however, after I’d come back from ten days in Mexico, I semi-revolted. The Skype ringtone had started to have the effect it has on me today, so I didn’t always answer his calls even though I was home. Or I would go out just before I thought he might be calling, except I felt guilty (or scared?) the whole time I was out on such naughty excursions of avoidance. But I was never capable of a full-out revolt — not against anybody and certainly not against him. That was just not “nice,” and we all know by now why I’m patently incapable of doing things that aren’t nice.

* * * * * * * * * * *

I went twice to Mexico after moving to Montréal: once in July 2008 and once to celebrate our first anniversary in Puerto Vallerta in late February 2009. We’d skipped Christmas, as I’d argued our anniversary would be a more significant occasion and we/I couldn’t afford both. Much later I found out he’d resented that decision, much like a child wanting all the candy in the store, even though this papi truly didn’t have the means to buy out the whole store.

While not perfect, the July 2008 trip was probably the best of all my trips to Mexico. I ignored the numerous moments of tension because, I would say to myself, no marriage is perfect and it’s not all doves flying above us as we wake in a bed of flowers in the soft early-morning sunshine. In truth, though, the effect of all this ignoring is that every little blow was adding another scar — on my memory, on my soul — scars that would never heal. But I had simply come to make myself believe (accept?) that this was marriage, and that’s what I’d signed up for.

Plus, after seeing him viciously argue with his own mother in a taxi cab over directions to give the driver to get to the restaurant where we were going, I thought to myself, albeit with great discomfort, “At least he’s like that with everybody, not just me…”

Sorry for being such a coward, NowExMotherInLaw.
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