Please enjoy this post where I tell you a story about an event from my life. Nothing more, nothing less. Today’s story: A treat.
A Frownie Brownie. That’s what you tell me you need.
The Frownie Brownie is a specialty of the restaurant chain Kings. It’s a frosted brownie with a sad face on it – just what it says on the tin. If you order a dozen of them, they have the good mind to call it a pity party. It’s so clever that I think it must be the most apt food ever invented. Or at least a living embodiment of my insides.
It’s 8pm and we’ve both had a bad day. Well, a few bad days in a row. A row so long I’m starting to forget what good days are. But you’re shrugging on your jacket and telling me you’d like to eat your sadness in the form of a dejected anthropomorphic dessert so I try to bottle it up. I know that’s not what you really need and I know it won’t cure you of bad days. A melancholy themed food product is hardly even a placebo for the ills you’re chock full of now, the demons under your skin that you let me see but you won’t let me fight. I hesitate for only a second, but I love you so I give in. In no time I’m putting on my jacket and getting my keys and heading to my car, impishly wishing it were that easy. That you could be fixed with something I could give you.
And it’s rain. It’s always rain in Pittsburgh. Driving down a long straight road in the rain with you impossibly still in the passengers seat. Watching from the corner of my eyes as you try to make your giant frame compact down into the nothingness you feel. It’s been a hard two years but we’re still here. You’re still here, sitting just next to me but like always, you’re actually a whole universe away. You’re not even saying anything but it’s speaking to me loud and clear. It’s something about the way you’re singularly but mindlessly focused on the water droplets on the windshield or how the light from the overhead street lamps is echoing across your exhausted and pitted face or the painfully audible exhales you keep making that comes through loud and clear.
You’re a fading radio signal I am always tuned to, you’re solidly there though the static, but I can’t have all of you. You’re always just out of reach.
Last year we were huddled together in your bed, curled up and starring at each other. So close that I could feel the warmth of your skin but even then you were not there – eyes starring just over my shoulder, into the depths of a foreign universe, while I was all alone in your bed with your shell. And when I wasn’t, when your eyes snapped up to meet mine, you pushed me away – in every sense. So what you’re doing still here, sitting inches away from me, trapped inside this car and our shared pain, is beyond me.
Instead I try to tell myself that you’ll always be there. That you’re not so clearly and so carefully slipping away from me second by second. You’re right here! So close I could reach out and touch you. I could hold you and hold the weight of your pain if only you’d let me. Instead I feel you pulling away even while you try to stay with me. It’s why I lie to myself that there aren’t any endings, only future moments in the quiet comfort of a greasy spoon style diner. I already know you won’t be there with me either.
This isn’t the first time I admit to myself that you and I are slipping. It’s been a slow motion glide away from each other since that moment in the bed or maybe even before that. Maybe it started the second we met. You saw something wild and on fire inside of me and you started a push and pull with me, wanting to be warmed but never burned by my flames. I can’t really blame you for that.
And then the music changes.
so leave me to die in the comfort of my own home.
of my own home.
of my own. home.
We both start laughing. Dark, thick howls filling up the whole space, making its own cacophony over the saddest song I have ever heard in my life (despite having heard this one a thousand times before). The sounds caught in our throats are loud and wild and unyielding to the point of madness. The rain slaps on the pavement around us and the headlights from the other cars flash past us like lightning. We are so close.
The feeling runs up my spine as our chuckles cool back to silence. It’s the itch to end things on my own terms. The desire to take full control of a situation slowly careening out of control. You are going to leave and now I know it. You are going to leave like everyone leaves. I want to leave first, run into the night screaming and never have to return to you. I want to turn the wheel of the car and let us hit the divider so that we flip and become crushed together with our souls staying in the same configuration for the rest of eternity. Together but still so far apart. An accident, they’ll say as they separate our flesh. A simple miscalculation.
I don’t know if you hear my thoughts, understand my intention, or just see my hands twitch over the top edge of the wheel but you look at me for the first time the entire car ride. Your hand reaches out to touch mine, steadying it. My breathing is wild and sharp in my chest as I desperately gasp for air. Working my lungs so hard that it feels as if I am sucking every molecule of air out of the car but it just isn’t enough. There isn’t enough in the entire world to fill me up.
We pass a large building with an even larger parking lot and I wheel the car around in a frantic U-turn, slamming hard on the brakes the second the car is fully inside the lot. Parking it across three lined spots, hopelessly askew. Then I turn the keys until the rumble of the engine and the music cut out with the same shuddering finality as my breath.
That’s how I find myself having a panic attack in a parking lot in Pittsburgh.
He doesn’t say anything and he doesn’t reach for me again, we sit in silence and I don’t explain that I almost killed him. I don’t apologize for it either. He looks at me once again and his hand hesitates near me. It passes and I simply start the car back up, letting the music fill up the space between us.
By the time we reach the restaurant, the rain has cleared but he’s gone again.