I went to the Second Cup in the Village one night about a week ago to cool off by sitting outside and re-reading a Marge Piercynovel I’d read more than 20 years ago. When I got back home, I found the letter from Le Maître in my mailbox. That means it’s now official, so sing it for me, Tammy!
Yup! Just call me the Gay Divorcé but not Mimi, as my story has zero resemblance to hers.
This recounting represents more than four years of held-back storytelling. In the first two years I didn’t tell the stories, in part due to denial on my part and in part because it would have amounted to a tacky exercise of “washing the [marriage’s] dirty laundy in public.” In the following years, I didn’t tell the stories because I didn’t want to publish anything that might come back to bite me in the ass during the proceedings. But now, I’m the Gay Divorcé and I can do (and write) whatever I want …at least on this topic.
Because I held back the stories for so long, I have much to write. That’s why I decided to break up this blog entry into several entries. However, because I have WordPress, the software I use to manage this blog, set to present the most recent entry first, I am publishing this series in reverse choronological order — last one first — so that the entries will appear in their logical sequence on the blog’s main or monthly search page.
Also, because I refer extensively to previous blog entries and other online sources in order to place every twist and turn in its rightful context, this series is better read online. Therefore, I am providing navigational aids at the top and bottom of each entry to help you see where you are and to allow you to move around among the entries — either backward, forward, or anywhere — as some of you may choose to read in more than one sitting. What’s more, all links within the text open a new browser window (or tab, depending on your browser settings) to prevent you from losing your spot.
What you’re about to read is, of course, completely one-sided: it’s MY side of the story. But let’s be clear: this has been my blog for nearly a decade so I call the shots around here. Besides, I’m writing this for me first and foremost because it has become too much for me to carry.
That said, I don’t think that this is a simplistic or maudlin account in which I pose as The Victim and depict NowEx as The Monster. I also don’t think that I’m stooping to trying and convicting the entire nation of Mexico based on my experience with one Mexican, except perhaps for occasional comedic effect. I mean, anyone who’s ever read me must come to expect me to inject some humour every now and then, because I certainly have to laugh about some of this stuff now that it’s finally over. But, at the same time, there’s no doubt that my bias does impose its limitations.
As much as I try, Mexico is now and probably in perpetuity low on my list of favourite places, thus making it a country I’m as keen to visit as Uganda or Burkina Faso. Moreover, as much as I try, I can’t find it in myself to draw a sympathetic picture of NowEx even though at one point I did fall in love (or thought I did) enough to marry him. Yet as I’m finally putting out this narrative for anyone to read, I’m prepared to accept that, to the reader, I, too, won’t necessarily come across as a sympathetic character, for I married him for the wrong reason.
Indeed, I was either unaware of or denying it when I did it, but when I married NowEx, I did so to rescue him from himself, despite himself. In marrying him, I repeated what I had done countless times before in my life, whether at work, at play, in friendships or in love: to try to rescue. Obviously that’s the worst possible reason to marry someone.
However, by now I’ve come to view this “urge to rescue” not unlike a disease, which I think I’m finally putting in check, borne of a sense of rejection whose roots I’ve only recently uncovered through therapy. The sad result in this instance was that a whole marriage ended up resting on the faulty premise that assumed that, once the rescue would be over, the flow of reciprocal love would be boundless: I love you so much, I just had to rescue you; I love you so much because you’ve come to my rescue even though I didn’t know I needed rescuing.
So while in this narrative NowEx may end up coming across as unsympathetic, I’m bound to come across as desperate and foolish for wanting so much to have someone love me love me love ME…
Not exactly glowing character traits on either side.
Okay, I admit I selected that image for the caption, just to be a bit salacious.
I first went to Le Maître’s office late last September, while I was off work for a few weeks, to finally start the divorce proceedings. I should have started them a year before — perhaps even sooner to get the ball rolling ahead of time in preparation for the inevitable — but I was in a state of inertia in all aspects of my life. Initially, I wanted to spare my mother of the anxiety; I wanted to simply casually tell her one day that not only was it over between NowEx and me but that it was legally over, too. However, I delayed and delayed filing for divorce. My mental tailspin last year wasn’t because I had to file; rather, the delay was one of the results of my tailspin. There’s a difference.
While I didn’t want to admit it to myself that morning I drove NowEx to Trudeau International, a full four months before he absolutely had to return to Mexico due to not yet having his Canadian PR status, I knew deep down that we had crossed the point of no return. But I still reserved, in a tiny corner of my heart, a place to hold onto the desperate belief that the sudden separation might somehow be reparative rather than be marking, as it was, the official beginning of the end.
Why? Probably because, as any good recovering Catholic, I also felt a lot of guilt: guilt for being the only one among my siblings to have failed at marriage (as in, why could they succeed where I couldn’t, not as in what will they think of me when they learn the news), guilt for having ignored all the signs telling me — nay, SCREAMING at me — not to marry NowEx in the first place, guilt for unconsciously having attempted to rescue him despite himself, guilt for essentially sending him back to a country where life is hard and opportunities to fulfill his full potential are few (despite his frequent and tiresome claims until his penultimate day in Canada that everything in Mexico is superb and everything in Canada is not as good or downright contemptible).
I also felt some guilt for having had two very clear opportunities to rescind the marriage proposal itself but doggedly staying the course. Rather than recognizing the signs, I rationalized them away, converting those signs into proof to myself that I wasn’t trying hard enough, that I lacked sensitivity. Little did I know that NowEx would intuit my rationalizations and sense of guilt and come to project them back at me to accuse me of always and only thinking of myself first.
But I would be misleading you if I dove into an exposition of my missed opportunities “post-proposal” without first coming clean about the signals that should have had me running the other way and never propose in the first place. In fact, whenever I think about the “pre-proposal” signals I chose to overlook, I can’t help but feel some shame. However, today I’m choosing to look at the whole debacle as similar to an alcoholic having to reach bottom so that the only way from there is up, except that my addiction, as I’ve established, was the urge to rescue people.
While I know that clichés are bad form in writing, there’s a reason they exist: they neatly and succinctly encapsulate common truisms. One cliché my brother from Moncton used when I was confiding to him about the collapse of my marriage a few weeks after the fact was, “Love is blind.” However, I would go further and amend that cliché to better describe my case in this instance, to “Love is willfully blind.” That adverb, in my mind, brings a significant and pertinent amendment to the cliché.
NowEx certainly did charm me off my feet during my Summer 2007 vacation in Montréal. Yet I feel a little queazy now when I re-read my blog entries from August of that year onwards. What bugs me is not what I wrote back then (although it doesn’t make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside) so much as what I omitted — stuff I brushed aside as petty trifles — as if the act of omission denies existence. In fact, with the benefit of hindsight, a part of me would be tempted to delete or drastically edit those entries. However, I don’t and never will do that, as that would be counter to how I’ve blogged in the last decade. How and what I chose to narrate is as significant as the existence of that narration itself, replete with flaws, inaccuracies, and selectiveness.
The omissions and denials amounted to my not trusting my intuitions about people. I had — I’m better now — the bad habit of not trusting them because doing so struck me as being superficial and judgemental. This mistrust of my intuitions was a by-product of that long-past sense of being rejected, whereby I never wanted to be found guilty of rejecting anybody without knowing all the facts, not to mention without cutting plenty of slack for the sake of what I perceived as fairness. So while my intuitions were telling me that NowEx could be bad news, I turned a deaf ear to them and even denied I had them by omitting them from my narratives in 2007.
Let me give you a sampling of my most glaring repressed intuitions.
NowEx had to attend a party the night after we met but he said he would call me around 11:00 so we could meet up. Being that it was the middle of a canicule, I hung out in the Village where we’d probably meet and where my B&B was, and like a fool I waited and waited for his call that didn’t come …until nearly 4:00 am. It wasn’t only the lack of couth in calling at that hour that offended me but moreso the fact he hadn’t done what he’d said he’d do.
Anyone brighter than me — there are legions — would have told him to fuck off, hung up and gone back to bed, and thus my narratives in the next five years up to today would have taken a radically different turn. I would still be in Montréal and working for the bank, and I might be in the same apartment, but very little else would be the same. I probably wouldn’t remember his name, I wouldn’t know as much Spanish as I do, I probably would have been debt-free for a few years instead of by the end of 2013, and I certainly wouldn’t be spending all these hours writing this more honest narrative!
Then there’s the conversation we had in our hotel suite when I’d come back a few weeks later for the Labour Day long weekend. An aura of melodrama surrounded him as he was preparing to leave the place where he was living without giving any notice. In other words he was stiffing his roommates, but that’s because they were moving to another place and he started seeing the impossibility of living illegally, so he didn’t want to move with them but rather head back to Mexico.
By this point, he had presented himself to me as a “journalist” back in Mexico and a student who only had his thesis to complete. (I came to find out much, much later that he was merely doing newspaper clippings for an American journalist based in Mexico City and that the thesis in question wasn’t for his master’s but his undergraduate honours degree.) So, I playfully asked him a serious question: “What do you want to do when you grow up?”
“Lots of parties and lots and lots of drugs” was his reply, very serious, not at all playful. I seem to recall that, after he said it, he even made a pout reminiscent of Paris Hilton (whom everyone knows I can’t stand) as he was nodding with dreamy eyes, as if his answer described the summit for which anyone could ever aspire, but my mind and the passage of time could be playing tricks on me and editing in that flourish. “But of course!” Cleopatrick said as I was recalling this response over lunch one day many years later and my incomprehension toward it. “He was describing to you a life of leisure, of little effort, or where any effort should go on doing ‘grown-up things,’ feeling good and being seen in what he viewed as the ‘In’ crowd.”
Alas, instead of taking NowEx’s answer as the signal to end that conversation with a dismissive “Good luck with that” and go on our day trip to Québec City, have fun playing tourist, finish the weekend and say, “It’s been nice knowin’ you,” I repressed how my intuition was telling me to react to that answer and rationalized that, being 13 years my junior, he was still a bit young and he would grow out of it.
More than that, I would help him grow out of it. He was still holding onto a teen-like idealized view of what adulthood was supposed to be like.
I would rescue him.
Mind you, I didn’t hear myself say those exact words to myself. I never did. I never would.
Meanwhile, my intuition was protesting, to no avail: “Run away from the flake!” But now you know why I chose to title this series of blog entries “The 1,763-Day Weekend.” I should have listened to my intuition and let this encounter be a simple one-weekend folly.
But no. Instead I let it run from August 10, 2007, when I met NowEx, to June 6, 2012, when some judge in Montréal pronounced our marriage dissolved. Echoes of the Queen of Sheba, whom we teased that her maternal instincts made her the Madonna of Alberta, come to mind: I seemed bent on vying to become her equivalent from New Brunswick.
Shortly after NowEx had returned to Mexico that early September, I took him up on his invitation to visit him and booked myself on a flight to Mexico for Christmas. We conversed somewhat regularly on Skype and, by late-November, I had decided I would arrive there with a ring that I would offer him under the full moon on Christmas Eve on a beach in Oaxaca State.
Which I did.
I know, I know! It’s all incomprehensible… Remember how I told you that NowEx wouldn’t be alone to come across badly in this narrative? In fact, I think that so far I’m coming across worse than him, unless you’re a particularly generous reader and are thinking we’re just about even. But that perception should change as you continue reading…
The 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].
My 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.”