Brayden sat quietly at a coffee shop in mid-town. Her face was hot and her
emotions were raw because less than an hour ago, she and her boyfriend of
three years officially and completely dissolved their relationship. She
wasn’t sure what her feelings would be at the end of the day but right
now, she was sadly energized as her feelings subsided and the ugly facts
of a long-term breakup still loomed around her head. The whole thing
bubbled up into an emotional volcano; festooned with tears and
hyperventilation. The first brutal truth hit her hard: he had to move out
immediately for two reasons; he was the real instigator of the dissolution
and second, it originally was her apartment. As she kept the other brutal,
tactical truths away from assaulting her self-conscious, Tia needed to
dissect the perfect storm of circumstances that delivered her present
state of andrenilized loneliness.
continued to sit alone, concentrating deeply on her internal personality
traits, what initially drew her to him and what eventually drew him away.
As the concentrated analysis concluded, nothing too heinous came to mind
but she couldn’t argue with the eventual result of cataclysmic failure.
She prided herself on being above most trends; rarely watching television,
falling into habits affected only slightly by recency and tricky
relationships but this was a full-on train wreck of emotions. As a trained
observer, Tia was rarely in the factual epicenter and sitting there alone,
she tried to assess a situation for what it was worth and move on without
influencing its outcome but the novelty of dealing with personal issues
was confusing the main issue of a relationship in the toilet.
had always felt that the ability to allow things to be left alone was a
dying art. Much too often, trends and desires are categorized and analyzed
to their microscopic death and thus, any innate beauty and usefulness is
squeezed out of the original piece. The
boyfriend, not with some depth, did not advocate benign neglect for all
things but he consistently recommended that “we would all be better off
if we could let some things lie quietly.” Living in the city allowed for
significant observational opportunity as well as continuous pedestrian
traffic to keep his senses fully stoked. Always armed with a camera, he
was trying to capture the spirit of things around her, not impose her own
attitude and opinions. Tia had accused him early in their friendship of
being a professional observer; not willing to commit to anything. He
coolly agreed with the assessment but didn’t feel compelled to defend
his actions (or anyone’s action) and left her with the choice of living
with it or moving on so she lived with it until recently.
loudly separated and went in two different directions about an hour ago.
She fantasized that he was sitting in another coffee shop, desolate and
crestfallen but he was likely just looking out some window, oblivious to
the world around him or calling up some buddy to help him move his three
bags of dirty clothes from their apartment. That realization stung her and
began to write like a madman all her individual memories as well as any
less-contrived collective recollections. She wrote as fast as she could
because her passive memory was not providing any substantial clues but the
frantic nature of her writing was therapeutic. She was also afraid that
with time, these clues would fade and the lessons learned would be too
trivia to remember in the future. Like an injury, time will smooth over
the emotions and she did not wish to forget the sting she was feeling
wanted to remember these feelings not because of him and his indifferent
ways, but in spite of them. Going forward, she needed to feel her emotions
as she navigated through this tricky state of enlightened confusion. The
indifference was the first thing that needed to be lifted and disposed of
before she could continue and with each passing, adverb-saturated
sentence. There was no interest in a reconciliation and even less chance
of one happening but the perfect storm of consequences were too impressive
to ignore and quietly chalk up to a silly thing called love.
most memorable trait of her ex-boyfriend and the one Tia likely would
likely never forget, was his incredible but creepy intelligence. Crossword
puzzles are destroyed as fast as he could pen the answers, complex
arguments were dissected, organized, relegated to its base fundamentals
and rebutted as fast as he could talk with no tangible problem could
withstand his focused concentration on a solution.
When he had originally met her in
in turn, realized her detachment was a defense mechanism to not get hurt
or be viewed as stupid. This discovery disappointed him and he was bluntly
clear with his opinion and spent many wasted evenings try to re-forge her
personality. He argued just to sharpen Tia’s negotiation skills and he
took opposing sides of opinions just to see if she had the intestinal
fortitude to stand up for herself but these experiments failed miserably.
Tia didn’t argue because she was weak; she chose not to argue because
she felt that being combative was a waste of time and energy. She had seen
him many times toy with individuals; arguing in a way that a bored
predator slaps around a quarry out of sheer boredom. But as the time went
on, his style for arguing became predictable and the once nimble orator
looked more and more like a bully.
both knew however, that personal perceptions only last a few moments until
they are either validated by more tangible evidence or internally
ridiculed as the person is
assessed in a more quantifiable manner but she was in no mood to acquiesce
in order to fulfill his fantasy of ultra-cool detachment. They eventually
agreed to not dwell on each other’s shortcomings but attempt to enjoy
the mutual areas of interest that actually did occur. They both enjoyed
physical activities and travel and after a rocky start, fell into a
comfortable pattern that she felt would eventually end up with matrimony.
Their respective families thought they were a good coupling but neither
side pushed for a hard date for tying any knots. Tia and the boyfriend
never felt compelled to bring the relationship to the eventual conclusion
but passively assumed that some miracle would eventually result in their
the most part, the strategy was successful but when fact-infused
conversation vectors returned and insisted on imposing themselves within
the relationship, Tia learned quickly something was going to have to give.
She could win or lose with a minimum of thought as issues were never
considered for their intrinsic value; facts ruled and inexactitude drooled
but sooner or later a decision would have to be made. That
decision came to a head recently and she was still shaking from their
public display of irritation.
she looked ahead, she kept focusing on the beginning on their partnership.
Initially, the relationship was vibrant (or so it seemed at the time) but
never too far away from his reality that was based on what was the best
plan for the moment. He would make decisions on social plans just as if he
was buying a sauté pan: the scenario or plan that would give him the best
value would be his decision and the rest of the day would be convincing
her that those decisions were the best and most obvious choice. He never
implied anything different than that, even during their initial friendship
phase and he was upfront about his rules of life. If Tia decided to
accommodate her lifestyle and her decision-making nomenclature, she knew
they could be friends. If she felt that it would compromise her own
self-esteem, she never said anything because she would have almost
certainly understood and parted ways immediately. This always bothered her
but it wasn’t until recently she decided to plant the seed for her
she wrote, she realized that she had placed too much stock in the fragile
aspect of relationship building and was upfront that “if it was going to
work, it would work. The success was already engineered within the
dynamic.” Faced with that relatively blunt assessment of the
relationship process, Tia safely declared her an acquaintance and built
further affection into the template going forward as he had no real
self-esteem or an internal social blueprint for guidance, so he just
smiled and told her that it sounded good. Up until seventy minutes ago,
their plan worked to her satisfaction until he finally scuttled it under
the guise of their mutual decision. Tia was a wreck but not from surprise;
her unseen manipulation of the boyfriend finally brought the whole
maelstrom to a head. An issue was introduced, opinions were blended wildly
and after a pointed discussion, the pressure valve popped and everything
came out. They were both tired of the whole trying episode.
Tia was completely spent but not because of unrequited love or a
broken heart; she experienced the power of imploding relationship and was
still a bit jumpy. It wasn’t love but it had its powerful moments.
ordered another cup of coffee because her caffeine-addled revelations were
coming fast and her copious notes, once considered open-ended were now
appearing immature and troubling. She had seen several people, obviously
deranged, writing frantically into their journals and she always wondered
what could be so important to result in manic scribbling but as she paused
to take a fresh sip of coffee, her own prolific writing caught her off
guard. Within the span of an hour or so, she had written over twenty pages
of something and she felt like the journalist equivalent of a bag lady
that would wander pointlessly with a shopping cart full of discarded
items. She didn’t dare read it yet as the exorcism seemed to be helping
but she couldn’t remember anything specific but he did realized that it
would not be the tightest writing of her life. There was a lot of
scribbling there and she had no interest in editing: it was serving a
purpose of an exorcism.
she surveyed the pages, a man walked by and looked down into the journal.
Tia always had solid, elegant handwriting and the man smiled when he saw
the layout and care in her efforts. The man was not concerned or privy to
the purpose; he was just impressed with her penmanship and smiled an
impressed smile of passive interest. A page of intelligent-looking
handwriting, irregardless of content, is always an impressive
demonstration of assumed competence. People have always assumed the neater
the handwriting, the more legitimate the message; if you make it neat, at
least the passers-by think you are smart.
whole issue started, in Tia’s opinion, when the alarm clocks introduced
the snooze alarm. This epiphany hit her on the way to an obligatory
morning coffee get-together and by the time they sat down, the cause and
effect was unable to remain within.
“There was the downfall of western civilization,” she thought, “by introducing a new choice to the sleeper, we have damaged our resiliency.”
she walked it became clear: instead of turning off an alarm clock and
greeting the day, the snooze alarm offered a pseudo-choice by notifying
the owner that they should begin entertaining the concept of waking up
versus just getting up and doing what needs to be done.
morning, over coffee, she decided to introduce the concept and stick to
her observational guns. The boyfriend, always looking for an argument,
could be easily pulled into the debate and for once, she was going to lock
horns for the pure hell of it.
think snooze alarms are for the weak,” said Tia without looking over her
newspaper. They always read the newspaper facing each other at the table,
and for the most part, kept the paper shields in front of their faces and
talked through the newsprint walls.
said the old boyfriend. He had heard lame attempts at instigation before
so he was in no mood to get engaged unless she was looking for a fight.
Tia had attempted dozens of trial balloons but always lacked the guts to
lock horns. The boyfriend had no respect for dilettantes; if you had an
opinion, stick to it and see where it brings you. If you couldn’t keep
your part of the argument alive for a reasonable duration, don’t waste
really,” said Tia. “The purpose of an alarm is to get you out of bed
and onto your next task. There is no sense using a snooze alarm if you
aren’t getting out. You should either not turn it on or get up when you
are supposed to get up.”
people like going back to bed,” countered the boyfriend. “Sometimes it
is nice to wake up and discover you can sleep longer.”
don’t need a snooze alarm for that. Just set your alarm for the actual
time and get up then. You would get more sleep that hitting the snooze
button five times.”
like a lot of things,” responded Tia. “This is a solution in search of
a problem or just another ploy by the alarm clock manufacturers to sell
am not arguing the fact that they sold more clocks,” rebutted the
boyfriend, “but you haven’t convinced me that the snooze alarm is the
hinge pin on the deterioration of society.”
you haven’t been listening,” bristled Tia. “The snooze alarm causes
a state that yet again in placed in the middle of circumstance. Why do we
need a transitional state of sleeping?
If you like to lie in bed, set your alarm ten minutes early but the
snooze alarm just pushes one of the simplest, most straightforward acts
into the mushy world of the in between.”
I stated, people like it.”
are pussies,” said Tia.
game was really on and Tia found herself way outside her comfort zone and
for the first time in a long time, she didn’t care. She had hit a nerve
and was being pulled in a direction towards an unknown conclusion. Up
until a few moments ago, she always transcended situational assessments by
not allowing herself to become pulled into the minutia of personal
discourse; but this time she was fully engaged and fascinated with her
invented argument so she continued.
thing that chaps my ass is when people blindly follow posted instructions
said the boyfriend. “So, are you saying that all posted instructions are
I am saying that people don’t question these signs. Of course, a traffic
sign or a wet paint sign have to be respected but the stupid hand-lettered
sign making some temporary declarative solution is lame.”
always fell back on the “elaborate please” phrase when he was buying
time or being condescending. Most of time the arguments were motivated by
him but since she was the instigator behind this one, the “elaborate
please” phrase seemed amateurish. Tia realized that she was seeing yet
another side of the boyfriend and this one was less flattering than all of
the known perceptions.
is not an argument on whether or not it is sometimes cruel to try to
protect the stupid. But the scribbled sign is placed there by the lazy to
make some half-ass attempt at solving a problem with some
alliteration pleased here and as she waiting for his response, she
realized it didn’t matter what he said, she was over him, the
relationship and all crap that gets created when two people have
overstayed their respective welcomes.
opened his mouth but before he formed a word, she interrupted and said,
“I am sorry. This has gone on long enough; I am sick of it.”
of what? It is me, the relationship or this stupid argument?”
to his credit, he got up quietly from the table and said, “Give me a few
hours to pack my things. I will leave the key on the table. Goodbye.”
was neither lame attempt at reconciliation nor some interest in continuing
the debate. He had had enough of the relationship as well and was likely
partially packed already. There was no hug or longing looks, he just
gathered his keys, phone and sunglasses and walked out. She knew that this
was the very last time she was going to see him and decided to remain
still and just wait for him to leave. Any noise or non-verbal message
might delay their breakup so she remained quiet and left well enough
emotions would come; they always do but she knew these would not be
heart-tugging torments but rather a rush of emotional traffic that would
be flying in and out of her sometime later that day. She took a sip of
coffee and stayed purposefully in concentration. He was gone and she was
feeling free for the first time in a long time. The issues were personal
and Tia harbored no ill will on the old boyfriend; it was never really
personal and for that, she was grateful.
in the afternoon and
she needed a change in scenery. She wanted more coffee but since she had
spent several hours already in this coffee shop, she decided to pack up
her stuff and head down the street. It was getting cold and she slipped on
her hat; she liked hats and she had always got compliments but it was not
time for vanity. Nevertheless, she walked down a few blocks and wandered
into a new coffee shop, there was a good-looking guy near the window so
that was as good as reason as any to land there.
She walked in and
headed for the counter. She looked at him and he involuntarily winked.
It didn't matter if she would sit down next to him, as that wasn't the point. The point was that she was back.
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