“You don’t have to wait for me,” I said.
I was laying in his bed on my side. My back faced him as I looked into my relocated fish tank. Ludwig van’s silky red fins rippled in the water and calmed me. He was exploring his new surroundings. In a couple of weeks, I would be doing the same.
“I can be very patient.”
He entered the bathroom while I was in the shower. My friend, the one we were visiting for a few days, must have gone out to collect more firewood.
“Please,” he said stroking his shaft.
Ten seconds later I used the running water to kick his little Jimmies down the drain. Taken aback, yet flattered.
We listened to Hamilton on our way to Disneyland for the last time. L.A. traffic was at high tide and my emotions began to swell. I wore my sunglasses even though it was raining. I couldn’t pinpoint the emotion, but I could pinpoint the reason: it wasn’t going to work out.
Still, I held on.
Every day after work I would call. The time difference was harsh and he would wait up just to speak with me. It was sweet, but I would find myself dragging my feet on my walk home.
He asked me basic questions to imply a surface level of curiosity.
“How was your day.”
“Fine,” was an adequate enough response. I was careful not to share too much because he seemed sad when I did.
“I’m going to Vietnam in May!!”
“I’m going to get a tattoo in a couple of weeks!!”
“No, you should wait. Don’t you want to get one with me?”
I liked this one too:
“I’m going on a trip with my friend for Christmas!!”
“Oh… I thought we were going to spend Christmas together.”
We had obligatory phone sex once a month. We talked mostly about colleagues from a job that I was trying desperately to move on from. That’s how we met and had in common. He still worked there and would relay stories of shitty customers. His details made me feel like I still worked there too. But I didn’t. And I didn’t want to feel like it anymore.
Shangela and I were on the bus to Dong-gu to get some pizza. She was (still is) in a long distance relationship too. That’s how we bonded.
“When you talk to your boyfriend, do you like it?” I was trying to articulate the bitter taste in my mouth.
“Are you excited about him visiting?”
“Isn’t he staying for a whole month?”
“No. Five weeks.”
My friends watched me bang my head against the wall all summer. To have him come to Korea, or not.
He already spent the money.
I already have everything booked.
I don’t love him and I don’t know if I even like him anymore.
Rationalizing emotions is futile. These were the thoughts running through my head.
My mother raised me to believe that honesty is the best policy, but that doesn’t vibe with my non-confrontational personality. He bought the tickets and even quit his job. He called to tell me about his new backpack for travel. My head was screaming, “NO! NO! NO!”
I performed my breakup script to him over a Kakao call. This was the second time I’ve dumped some via phone call, and I must say the key to a successful breakup call is preparation. He cried a lot and told me his dreams were being crushed. I hung up and had brunch with my friends.
That was that. Haha, just kidding! I called him to tell him I changed my mind.
“Come visit me.”
And then called him again to tell him not to. I was a yo-yo for a couple of months.
He came up from behind at the airport. He came out of the wrong gate. He bent down to give me a wet kiss which made me realize two things: that I had made a big mistake and I needed to get drunk asap.
Day 2 in the Philippines I told him he had to end his trip early.
“What do you mean?” As if I threw him a curveball.
“Let’s not worry about it now, but you can’t stay with me for five weeks. And you’re not coming to Jeju.” I was proud of myself. Sure, I was being a dick. But I was an honest dick.
Vacation in the Philippines was not terrible. Beer cost a dollar, so.
We arrived back to Korea. We were tired. I had been suffering from diarrhea for four days. He changed his flight but it wasn’t for another, like, ten days.
Readers, this was a test of my character and I failed miserably. In the Philippines, he got a blistering sunburn and it started to peel. Skin flakes were coming off in sheets and floated down to my floor like winter’s first snow. But it was in my apartment and it was DEAD SKIN. I would come home after work and have diarrhea for ten minutes. Without saying anything, I would get my broom and sweep the skin while crying softly on the inside.
Time moved on. But after having diarrhea for a solid seven days, I broke down. Pooping that much does something to your soul. I yelled at him. A lot. About how he shouldn’t have come here despite my pleading. About money. About his skin.
The morning he left I took him to the bus stop. He seemed sad even though I treated him like shit. After he got on the bus, I went home and cleaned my apartment like a crime scene. For the last time, I swept up his littered skin and washed my sheets to rid his smell.
I learned a few things from this experience:
- Balance is finding the right volume to watch TV with headphones without causing ear damage while drowning out your ex-boyfriend crying.
- Your heart is a dumb asshole.
- TBH your mom is probably right.