I just found my ex-boyfriend's obituary.
He died from "heart-related illness," at the age of 41. We were together years ago, and he certainly didn't have any problems back then, or at least that I knew about. So I don't know what happened. Maybe he really did have a problem. Maybe he did drugs. Who knows...
I found the obituary because I was searching for him online, as I have so many times at night, when I have a chance to sit down and wonder how I could have made things better for us when we were together. It is a stupid topic to ponder. Neither of us "did" anything "wrong," other than perhaps fall in love too young.
Ugh. "Fall in love" is so trite.
But love him, I did. I do. Can I say "I do?" He's no longer alive, but I'll say I do, still. About him, I feel exactly the same.
The way we met was nothing special. No big romantic moment, just... in Las Vegas, at a bar, he starts stammering, I just stand there like a dope because I am so insecure I can't BELIEVE he is speaking to me, and the next night we are at Cirque du Soleil, getting our photo taken in the audience by the house photographer, as we sit close enough for our arms to touch. In public. This was a big deal, back then.
He was gruff, clumsy, lumpy, and could be a little bit of a grouch. He was perfect. Just standing next to him, the knot of chaos in my brain seemed to unravel, and I calmed down. My heart beat a little slower, and it felt good. I am so high-strung. But with him, I was calm. Things were always fine. Fun. Happy.
People thought he was a little scary. His face seemed to usually be in a frown and his eyes were so dark brown, they were almost black. He was quiet, but that was because he was just a little shy. He was unintentionally funny, and when he did talk it was concise and worthwhile. He paid attention to the world around him. He usually didn't laugh at my jokes. To be fair, they're usually not funny, so that's fine. And later, he'd find a reason to repeat them. He didn't laugh, but he listened. Much, much better.
We didn't live in the same city, so over a few years we flew to see each other a lot. As I traveled the country with work in my post-MTV days, he sometimes came along so I could rest my head on his arm in bed. When we didn't see each other, we talked on the phone, every night. Every night. We'd share the most insignificant details of our day, and the minutiae made it feel like we were together. And it was fine.
Until, it wasn't. Someone who looks like him, with tree trunks for legs and eyelashes that tickle his eyebrows, catches the attention of others. Oftentimes, it was from women. He had a Pamela Anderson poster on his wall in his laundry room, where he thought he could keep it without me questioning why he liked her so much. He'd had a girlfriend before me. But I loved that part of him. I wore that bit of information like a badge of honor and told everyone I knew. He liked women, but he loved me.
Loved. Past tense, now.
He eventually moved much further away, to a new city for a new job and got new friends, and the phone calls slowed. Weeks went by and neither of us suggested one of us take a trip and see the other. I, like an idiot, met someone and went on a few dates. He, and I suspected he was also dating someone else, called and yelled at me because I wasn't in his life anymore. We were young, and passion burns bright.
We said, let's get together again. But he couldn't leave his new job, and I also had to work, and so it goes, and by the time I showed up, when I looked at him those dark brown eyes weren't deep and shiny like they usually were when he looked at me, and instead they were just hazy and a little gray. I couldn't find what I was looking for in there anymore. Instead, I found a photo on his TV, with him standing with his arm around a tall, skinny, brown-haired guy with a huge smile who looked like he couldn't believe he was so lucky. From first glance, it could have been me, but it definitely was not. And I wasn't angry about it. I was mad only at myself, for letting him get away. Maybe he forgot to hide that photo from me. Or maybe, he left it out to purposely let me know that life goes on.
Not living closer was a huge mistake. I wish I had not traveled around so much with work. I wish I had picked one place to live, and invited him to come live with me. He never asked me to stay with him, mostly because he knew I was having too much fun being my glamorous self and chasing fame and fortune. But I wish I had plopped myself down close to him anyway and found a way to make a life for myself there. I didn't need to be married. I just wanted him to remember I was there, hello, it's me. I didn't go after him, and then he went away.
So after that disastrous trip, we never spoke again. Over time, I tried. I called, but he had a new number. I emailed, although I had only an AOL address and most people had ditched those long ago. I asked mutual friends, but no one knew much after he'd moved away from them. Then with Facebook, I tried every combination of searches I could think of. Nothing. I thought, he's hiding, because he's back with a woman again. There has to be a reason why he's not trying to talk to me. There was that one important fact, that he was not emailing me or asking anyone about me or trying to track me down. Easy to find, I definitely am. So he was staying under the radar on purpose. Perhaps he was hiding from that whole interlude in his life, and was back to having a girlfriend. Yes.
That made me feel better.
A few days ago, I did a Google search for him, and when I didn't find him, I jokingly thought Maybe he's dead. Why would anyone be so hard to find? Is he really trying to stay away?
Boom. Nope, not a joke. Searched him again today, with a new combination of words. Found him. Yep. He's dead.
In a way, thinking about him is like thinking about my love for Hugh Jackman, or his favorite was Matt Damon, or someone else unreachable, who exists to me only as a concept. I would never actually speak to him or see him again, I knew it. I didn't think we'd get back together. The photo on the TV, which didn't have me in it, that photo pretty much ended that chapter of life in The Story Of Me. But still I have spent many a day, and a night when alone but not lonely, when I simply imagined what it would be like if he were there. What it would be like if he were taking up half of the bed, snoring or watching ESPN or eating his nightly bowl of Capt'n Crunch. It was so loud. Crunch, crunch, crunch. We'd be older, we'd be settled, it would just be normal. Good, bad, whatever. Life.
What would it have been like? All those years, gone by.
It didn't make me sad. I just thought, maybe if he were around now, things would be better.
And then I'd think, tomorrow I'll try to find him again. I just want to know, if he is he with a woman, or simply with a man who is not me. I'll try something new, again. And then I'd go to sleep.
His obituary didn't list any spouse, man or woman. It just listed individual members of family, and then just "friends." That could mean anything. But at least he wasn't married, for better or for worse.
Oh, man. He's dead.
When we would sleep, we wouldn't move. I would hang on to him, and he would to me, and we would just lay there. Sometimes, after hours of being crushed, I'd have to wake up and push him over to make him change position, maybe roll over to his own side of the bed. Then he was out again. And I would lay there for a few minutes, listening to him breathe. In...pause...out...pause. Repeat.
I haven't been sleeping well lately. That's mostly why I've thought of him at night. I wish he were there to help calm me down, help me sleep.