The 1,763-Day Weekend
Part 8 — The Bruising Walk on Eggshells
As 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…”