How do people do it? He wondered.
How do they get it right to live in confined space with the same person and the same stories, and the same life, day after day after day?
He’d tried marriage once.
It lasted 18 months.
It ended with her throwing a hiking boot at him, and him holding her down on the bed with his hands on her neck.
He’d been scared to try again, but in the end he had given in and dated again and learned that he was not an evil man. Sometimes dumb, but not malicious.
The closest thing he had had to a best friend was Jonathan Liddel. They spent many summers working together as brothers in arms. But then Jonathan packed up his family and moved far away. And after that they became too busy to talk.
He wondered if there was something wrong with him.
Not some flaw or fault that made him undesirable or unwanted or unwelcome, but rather, that he was lacking in training. Like code missing from an algorithm.
For all his OCD, he wondered, surely he could figure it out…
It struck him.
I can’t control people. He thought.
With that he realised what it was that terrified him. There are things in life beyond control, and first and foremost is people. He knew he didn’t mean to be mean or dominating, or that everything should always go his way. But it terrified him that people would want to do boring shit he had no interest in, and that he would be “stuck” in unpleasant, long and drawn out situations he had no control over.
How do you pretend? He wondered.
It’s easy enough to pretend in front of strangers but how do you pretend in front of co-habitors?
He had to get out of bed then. It was time for work.
He went through his routine, but the question vexed him all day.
Particularly in light of the fact that he had met his one, and that they were essentially for-all-intents-and-purposes married and very much in love, but very much living apart.
She shared his creative interests, sci-fi taste and dark humour and even – miracle of miracles – shared his taste in music. But he wasn’t physically attracted to her and he didn’t know what to do about that.
And she’s fucking messy and a hoarder. He thought.
At lunch he pondered how to convince her to rent storage to store her shit so they could have room to live in. Then he wondered how to broach the subject of changing their living space completely.
Besides being cluttered, her house felt claustrophobic, dark, and morbid to him. It was a thoroughly depressing place.
He pondered how he liked open, light, exposed and airy places, like the holiday houses on the west coast she loved to vacation at so much. Perhaps she doesn’t get it. He thought. Perhaps she doesn’t see that where she loves to vacation is how she should be living.
It would do her colon wonders, he thought.
He considered the dynamic woman she was, in senior management of a global corporate with dynamic energy and drive. Her. And the corporate. But then he shuddered again at the thought of living in that space.
As he drove home from work, cars behind him hooted while it struck him that he couldn’t bring himself to love her in a physical way anymore, and that once upon a time he had begun a mental process in which he allow himself to stop doing it, because of how it made him feel afraid to live in her house.
But the light was green now.
In everything else he realised, they were a perfect match.
Over supper it dawned on him how he had put up walls to distance himself from her, and how over time those walls had became permanent. There were new rules in an algorithm that were once questioned, with him knowing that he was rejecting her advances and him seeing the little pains that it caused her with each poisoned, distanced dart. He had felt it hurt him too as he had wounded her, and he considered how now these rules were no longer questioned but simply obeyed.
That’s the real truth of why he couldn’t even hold her hand softly with real affection anymore. Why after less than a year he had stopped being amorous entirely and had not so much as properly kissed her again since then.
And why even now, for nearly 2 years he was living one thousand miles away from her.
So, what now?