Begining with deweyintoronto's response to my penultimate post, and followed by similar, validating missives from both razorlicious and trippygrvr I found myself reassessing myself.
Last night I arrived home from work to an empty apartment. Again. Dishes still in the sink, table still uncleared of Laura's computer, various books and papers and pens and other small items. More of her things were strewn over the couch.
The cats mewled as they wound about my legs, but otherwise nothing greeted me. No note, no voice-message, no email. No Laura.
Well, I thought as I turned off the light that shone for no one in the bedroom, it's still pretty early.
And it was. I'd arrived home at about 5:30. Still, I found it a little odd that she was out, seeing as how she'd skipped school (a) on account of this cold she's fighting and (b) in order to catch up on a huge backlog of homework.
I'll give her 'till six, I told myself. I fired up the computer and scanned my friends' list, then actually managed to write a couple of emails.
No call came. I dialed her cell. Got answering machine. Waited another 15 minutes or so. Called again. Answering machine. Starting to burn. Decided distraction was the better part of anger. Called vernski. We chatted briefly - his bookstore has been open three days now and he's optimistic this is going to work (more on that anon, once I've visited it and know it's actual address) - and I suggested he join me for a beer.
He hesitated, then told me he'd be able to meet me around 9:30. Thank god, I told myself, Ireally need to vent.
Shortly after that, she did call.
"I'm at Peter's. We're going to play poker. Do you want to join us? Maria-Claire is here ..."
I hemmed and hawed but decided, no, I really didn't want to. I was irritated that despite the recent dramatics, she was out yet again. I forgot to ask whether she was calling of her own volition or in response to my messages. "All right," I said, trying to keep the disappointment and the irritation from my voice, "I guess I'll see you when you get in."
I hit the Caddy at around 8:00, pulled out the laptop and found myself composing a letter to Laura, in which I attempted to enumerate my grievances - text: calm, cool and collected, rather than voice, angry frustrated and hurt.
Got a page and half or so done by the time Vernski showed not much passed his appointed half-hour (he's good that way).
We fairly quickly dealt with the standard catching up since last we'd seen one another, and I did begin to vent.
Somewhat to my surprise, rather than telling me I was being over-sensitive, he agreed with much of what I was complaining about. "I fucking hated it when H didn't call," he said. "It made me crazy to lie awake worrying about whether she was okay."
Long story short, when we parted a little after 1:00 I was feeling quite a bit better. More to the point, I was determined that Laura and I were going to have to have a serious talk about respect. She was going to have to start attending to my needs as well as to hers. No more nagging, I was going to start demanding - and if those went unmet, the relationship itself would be at risk.
Did I mention that I was feeling much better?
That didn't last.
The apartment was still empty when I returned home.
I checked all the rooms, even - like a lunatic - glanced in the closet.
Checked the phone. No message. Checked my email. Nothing.
Something inside me snapped.
I hopped on my bike and peddaled madly along Queen until I turned up Brock, then found my way to Peter's warehouse space. I locked the bike, then threw open the door and entered that spacious, high-ceilinged abode.
Through fogging glasses, I stood in the doorway and sized up the situation. There were probably 10 or 15 people there, some standing around in the main section, others in the kitchen and a few up in the loft that covers that rear quarter or so of the space. A couple of people called out my name in greeting, but I ignored them until I heard Laura's.
She was among those in the loft.
I strode toward, a short, furious man wearing a hideous (but warm!) down jacket and a bike helmet from which flowed my unkempt locks.
"You!" I shouted, pointing up to the top of the ladder. "Get the fuckdown here and get out. NOW!"
And with that, I turned and stormed out, returning to my bike.
I watched the door with some trepidation, not entirely sure it would actually open. I knew that publicly ordering her around like a parent might a truant child would enfuriate her.
But I didn't regret doing it; the calm, but firm conversation I had foreseen was now gone beyond recapturing. I wasn't going to wander around angry and resentful any more. She would come out and we would deal with things from there, or she wouldn't - in which case I would know that I had almost certainly lost the woman I love as I've never loved a woman before. But it was a chance I had to take; my self-respect demanded it.
She came out.
"Start walking," I barked, and pointed down the alley. "I'll catch up with you." Amazingly, she turned and did as she was told. I bent to my machine and unlocked it, then hopped on and rode after her.
Needless to say, she was furious. Needless to say, so was I.
I don't think I yelled that much as we walked through the falling snow along Queen, but I wasn't quiet. The unfinished letter in mind, I enumerated my complaints, explained how it seemed to me she hadn't been treating me with much respect and how that had to change.
"It sounds like your giving me an ultimatum," she said.
"I guess I am. I'm not willing to put up with it any more."
And we walked, and talked, on towards home.
And we continued talking till far too late into the night. Laura was furious. "You'd better sleep with one eye open tonight, boy," she said.
And I laughed at that, happy that - as I thought - I had finally gotten through to her how important this was, to me - and therefore, to us.
Towards 4:00 AM we were spent. Physically exhausted, emotionally drained, the both of us. "I hope you know the fact that I'm here means that I love you and I'm going to make this work with you," she told me, just before she took a swat at my head.
"All right," I said, "good." And, laughing, we went into our room and had that passionate, intense, almost violent sex that really does seem to come after a fight.
Despite her threats I slept with both eyes closed, waking briefly around 8:30 to send an email to the office telling them I wouldn't be making it in. I wasn't feeling well, I said, and that was true enough. My head throbbed and I needed more sleep.
And so, the drama continues. But my perspective on it has shifted dramatically - and much for the better, I think. After all, how can a person expect to be respected, if he isn't willing and able to stand up himself and insist upon it?