Not fifteen minutes after I arrived at my office for work on Monday morning did Lonnie, the human resources assistant at my company, come marching in with a vase of a dozen red roses. She seemed excited and eager to deliver them to me and hung around my desk while I rearranged the bouquet.
“Anything to see your smile xoxo,” I read out loud from the little card that came with the flowers. How about “I’m sorry for Friday night” or “Please forgive me. I know what I did wrong”? Those messages, I thought, would have been more fitting.
“Wow that is so sweet!” Lonnie gushed. “It’s from Patrick, right?” Even though Lonnie had just started working at our company less than a month ago, she was already fully keen on my relationship with Patrick since our romance was, you know, the secret that never was, the perpetually aired dirty laundry, the extra chapter in the HR manual right next to health benefits and floating holidays Oh help me, God.
I had to focus on keeping my eyes snug in their sockets and not on the brink of rolling to the back of my head but Missy, don’t say anything. Just smile and agree that Patrick is so soo sweet—
“Well, actually,” I, of course, felt compelled to straighten the story up, “Patrick and I had a bad fight on Friday night, like REALLY bad, and now he is scrambling to make things up to me.”
“What do you mean? Is everything okay?” Lonnie needs to know.
“Not really. I don’t think we'll be together anymore. We just have to cut our losses and move on. I mean, we created such a bad scene that night and I can’t afford for us to do that ever again,” I explained with hardly a breath in between sentences and true to my usual tell-all, bar-none nature, I continued to say more than I should have, if anything should have been said to others at all. “I’m at the point where I don’t care to protect his image anymore or us or anything. If people ask, you are more than welcome to be a trusted source to confirm the breakup.”
* * *
Patrick: Good morning lover. Did you get your flowers? ☺
I instant messaged him back, “yes i did. they came sort of wilted. must mean something.”
Patrick: I can get you another bouquet if you would like.
Missy: don’t worry about it. i don’t want anything from you anymore.
Missy: on second thought, a breakfast burrito from downstairs sounds good.
Patrick: Ok you got it ☺ ☺
Patrick, true to his word, fetched me a breakfast wrap from the café in our office building just the way I liked for it to come: with eggs, bacon, processed cheese, and a side of three salsas. I said a quick “thank you” when he dropped off my food and he mouthed an “I love you” as he walked out the door. Mmmn finally! I thought as I unwrapped the soggy paper from the burrito. I was still recovering from my long weekend of “breaking up” with Patrick while having had photographed a full-day wedding on Sunday and was in dire need of a hearty breakfast.
The first few bites went down like butter and it was just as good as it always has been but then, as if a switch had been abruptly switched, it all just felt too heavy. I looked down at my half-eaten burrito and it seemed almost repulsive with the fake cheese oozing out through the oily eggs and varnished bacon. I can’t eat anymore of this stuff, I thought while trying to remember what it was about the burrito that I used to like so much. I threw the rest of the food out without even pawning it off to someone else at the office because I was sure there was no way anyone in their right mind would find this burrito the least bit appealing. Too greasy—yuck!
I looked at the clock and it was ten thirty already when
Patrick: Can I come see you for a break?
Missy: i thought you were just here.
Patrick: did you like your burrito?
Missy: too greasy.
Missy: couldn’t finish it.
Patrick: Aw I’m so sorry lover.
And with that, I felt bad for Patrick all of a sudden. That I was making him do all of the chasing and apologizing again like I am so good at doing. I mean, we were both wrong that night—more him than me—but still.
Missy: it’s ok. you can come swing by now if you want. my boss is on a break.
I figured Patrick deserved to know about our breakup through a face-to-face conversation like normal people have before finding out on Facebook or by the water cooler that he is no longer in a relationship. Even though we have had our ups and downs, this time around I promised myself that there would be no turning back, that with our fight he had hurt me too much and we both brought out sides in each other that I hope to never see again. I was certain this time around that I would hold my ground and not be the 17-year-old schoolgirl that likes to keep things in the realm of maybes. No, Patrick, it is really over this time and I have to move on.
Patrick walked in my office and I took a good look at him. He had on his signature blue polo shirt, a pair of dark blue jeans, and white basketball shoes. His hair, gelled into a curly mass, appeared to be wet and he smelled faintly of cigarettes. He said a "Hey" and I wanted so badly to put on my snooty face, be all high and mighty, but I just couldn’t. We’ve come a long way since we first started dating a year ago and have had to overcome more than just the typical relationship issues that accompany the angsty 20-something demographic. And now, seeing Patrick stand by my door brought back feelings from the early days when I was just starting to get to know him. Just starting to get to know him when he came by my office to see me and I noticed something very honest, almost naive, about him and realized that his bad-boy reputation may simply be based on others' ignorance and inability to see past some of Patrick's rougher exterior layers, a revelation that made me very sad. So today, when Patrick asked to see me tonight for dinner, I said "Sorry. I can’t because I already have plans."
“But what about tomorrow night?” I suggested. “You can pick me up from my place at 7. Let’s just go somewhere mutual and really hash things out. Maybe we can get coffee. I think it will be good for us to get closure. I don't want any more drama, especially at the office. So tomorrow night. At 7. And please let me work for the rest of the day.”
“Okay, at 7. Tomorrow night,” Patrick said while placing his right hand over his heart, almost cradling it and almost in denial that anything had been said about closure.
“Okay?” I asked, not sure if he meant it or maybe I just wanted to hear him say okay again. But there he was, hand still over his heart, with a huge smile stretched from cheek to cheek interrupted only by an "I love you" that he mouthed to me once more. There he was, this typical sweet-as-molasses sales guy, always charming his way into the part of me that is too soft but the door that I had struggled so hard over the weekend to close and patch up was truly sealed. Even if Patrick thought he had found a crack in the door, a hairline of a crack, and will wedge his foot in with determination to hold it open for as long as he humanly can, I was also fixed on the other side with my hammer and nails to keep things boarded up because deep down in my heart, I knew that they had to be.
“…okay,” I finally answered for him. "At 7."
To be continued.