Monday, December 06, 2010


{This is the third (and final!) part of the story. It’s the story of how I grew up and came to be. Writing Part 2, the story of 343, was not good for me. I didn’t realize how crappy I was going to feel after I wrote it. I thought it might be cathartic. It wasn’t. It made me crazy. For days afterward, my eyes felt puffy like I had been crying, I was not sleeping, which is a shame since the kids both were, and then on Thursday night, I woke up in cold sweats, and went to the bathroom and threw up. I was a train wreck for a couple of days here. So, I quickly had to write Part 3 – The Palate Cleansing Story of Fling.}

Since Minnow and 343 each got their own entries, I feel like Fling should get one too, but he’s so inconsequential to my life. He was important at the time, but in the grand scheme…notsomuch, except maybe as a placeholder. This part isn’t so much about Fling as it is about me.

When 343 and I broke up, Fling swooped in to pick up the pieces. It’s like he had been waiting for such a thing to happen…to have his chance. It was less than a week before he wanted to come visit, ostensibly to help me through this difficult time. Fling had been engaged once too, and it ended, so I figured he must know some tricks for getting through it. Fling was in grad school, and I was 4 hours away in Chicago.

I cried for months over 343, but when Fling would visit or I would go visit him, I would just bury all my baggage way down deep and pretend to be happily dating. I knew what happily dating was supposed to look like, so I could fake it. I didn’t particularly like Fling, though I didn’t dislike him either. There was nothing wrong with him, mind you, but there was no spark. I felt nothing for him. He was a nice guy, and he treated me like royalty. I needed that.

Blah blah blah, I don’t know what happened or why I was dating him. We were so poorly suited for one another. He was nice. I am SarcastiCarrie. He was nice. As an example, one day we were sitting in a window booth at a diner and a man who was not out exercising walked by wearing bright orange lycra spandex biker shorts. And Fling would not participate in mocking the stranger. I knew then that the relationship was doomed. However, I didn’t end it. I was not yet secure enough to be single.

I only saw Fling once or twice a month on the weekends. During the week, I had all of my freedom to come and go, study, work on my thesis, interview for jobs, cry, write a million emails to 343 and save them as drafts never to be sent. On the weekends I saw him, it was nice to have companionship. I was still defining myself somewhat in terms of a relationship, but this long-distance thing gave me a chance and the mental space to become myself.

He graduated in December and so did I. We both looked for jobs. I had multiple offers on the table. I took a job in Ohio and started in at the factory February 16th (my 22nd birthday). Fling eventually got an offer that also took him to Ohio (though we weren’t really trying to move to the same state). I was near Cleveland; Fling was in Columbus. Those two places are not exactly close. We continued dating on the occasional weekend for another few months. I still spent my weekdays trying to figure out what the hell had gone wrong with 343 (and crying and trying not to call him). I spent my weekdays doing my Al-Anon program, reading, sleeping, crying, working out, petting my awesome cat, and going to work. Working was great for me. No one at work knew anything about 343 or Fling or the disaster I had made of my thesis. I got to prove myself from scratch. I was living in a working class town. I fit in there with my work ethic, K-Mart clothes, and pick up truck.

One night, I came home after a night of significant boozing with my coworkers. It was St. Patrick’s Day 1998. There was a message on my machine from 343 asking me to call him. I hesitated, but my resolve was not very strong. Behold, the power of the drunk dial. So, I called and apologized for calling while drunk, but I didn’t want to leave 343 waiting since I don’t think he had ever called me before that (though somehow he had my new number). He said it was fine. I don’t remember why he called.

After my spectacularly bad timing with the drunk dial and the person I drunk dialed, I swore off the sauce for about a year. I was just so inconsiderate calling someone who was in recovery while drunk. I needed to stop and think about how my actions affected other people. I needed to grow up.

The relationship with Fling just sort of petered out that spring. It was at least a two-hour drive to see him, and to be honest, I didn’t care that much. Minnow was dating someone (and it turned out he married her a month or two later). 343 was dating a sorority girl back at school whose name rhymed with mine. I was single and actually loving it. I still cried occasionally over how I had squandered my entire college career. I could have studied more, I could have dated more, I could’ve been better to my friends. Could’ve, should’ve. I was filled with regret, but the self-loathing was finally starting to end (thanks be to Al-Anon, again). I blossomed into a capable, independent, self-confident woman.

My lab partner from my entire college career was about to graduate in June. He was one of the few people I didn’t alienate during college thanks to my excellent analytical skills and ability to carry him through classes. He got a job at the same factory where I worked. He moved to Ohio and started in at the factory on June 29th. Mr. Long-Suffering also started in at the factory that day. They were orientation group buddies.

Lab Partner and Mr. Long-Suffering joined my softball team (since I had already been in Ohio 4 or 5 months and had a network of friends and social activities). They joined our Friday night happy hour groups, our ski trips, our bowling parties. It turns out that Mr. Long-Suffering grew up in Northwest Indiana. I grew up in the south suburbs. We grew up less than 5 miles from each other. Lab Partner suggested that Mr. Long-Suffering and I car-pool back and forth to Chicago for holidays and whatnot to save on gas, save on tolls, reduce boredom, etc.

We did this carpooling thing for months and months until finally on one trip back to Chicago, I realized I wanted to spend my time in Chicago with him. That was twelve years and two weeks ago. We’ve been married for more than 9 years now. I often tell Mr. Long-Suffering that I don’t need him around. I want him in my life. (And I mean that as a compliment to him. And to me. I’ve earned it.)

{Oh, and you know how I gave you an update as to where Minnow and 343 wound up today? Well, I’m not even curious what Fling is doing these days. But Mr. Long-Suffering is trying to fix our dishwasher right now...something about the circuit board and ribbon cable being more expensive to repair than to replace the whole thing. I think I know what supremely romantic appliance I am getting for Christmas.}

1 comment:

  1. Well... I am sort of in love with my dishawasher, so maybe it IS a romantic gift! Honestly, it is quiet, water and electricity efficient, and gets dishes clean the first time. What's not to love?