The other day one of my most favorite people in the world called to wish me a happy birthday. I was a stress ball, and I say "ball" as affectionately as possible. My manuscript for Moose was due today (Woo hoo! Finished it!), and I didn’t really have time to chat. But I did anyway. And there we’re gabbing away, and she’s expressing her current angst about an ex who she’d thought, somehow, would miss her more. And then we were onto another subject, and I kept saying, "Wait, there’s something I wanted to say," but I couldn’t remember. I just remembered.
Life isn’t fair. In the movies with John Cusack it is, but not in ours. And while this isn’t exactly news–I’ve intellectually known life isn’t fair since kindergarten, when those very words were recited to me almost daily as I stomped around, fuming it simply wasn’t fair that I couldn’t live in Toys R’ Us–it still feels like news. It’s something we inherently know but never really feel until we’re so compelled, and so surprised by it, that we say it aloud. "Life just isn’t fair." It’s not neat. And we’re still sometimes shocked by it.
I had quite a few romantic relationships, and sometimes, I’d end one thinking, "Oh, he’ll be back." I wouldn’t necessarily end it so he’d come running back. It wasn’t always a tactic (though sometimes it was). And when he had the opportunity to possibly express that he did want to work things out, the opportunity to stand outside my window blaring a boom box of Peter Gabriel’s "In Your Eyes," and he didn’t, I’d mourn the loss and almost feel like we were breaking up again. Because it was a realization that I’d still been waiting, hoping, and now I couldn’t anymore. This was real now. And it wasn’t fair.
I always somewhere deep down believed Gabe would wake up one day and realize he’d made the biggest mistake of his life. And when I stopped believing this fantasy, I sold myself another one. That someone would treat him just as he’d treated me. That’s all I wanted. I wanted his own behavior to be served up to him. And in these fantasies, he’d say to himself, "I never should have done that to her." Sometimes he’d even admit it. Aloud. Maybe not to me, but to someone. Or he’d be John Willoughby, all alone on a hilltop, left to live a shallow existence. But that’s a fairytale. Life isn’t that just, I don’t think.
Instead, I think people convince themselves that their own actions really were okay. I’m willing to bet Gabe never told any subsequent girlfriends the truth about his life. Not just how I saw them, or how he wanted to see them. I’m willing to wager he wouldn’t even mention the facts of any of it. Just the facts. I wonder how he’d go about explaining it to a fiance, when one day they go for their marriage license and she learns he was once married. "Just something I did when I was young." He might go as far as explaining I’d written a book about it. Perhaps using the words, "totally deluded," or "psycho." Perhaps he’d glob on the word "whore." No–his mother would do that for him, all throughout the country club (I’ve actually heard that this happened). Who knows. My point is, I’m sure he, and his entire family, justified it in their own minds. Maybe even thinking I’d get mine. That one day someone would write about me. Which actually doesn’t frighten me because I believe I’m very candid about all of me, the good and bad. But like I said, it never comes out even or fair. The guy you think will one day wake up and realize what a mistake he made, usually never does. It’s just not the way it works.