It was a Tuesday morning, I know this because this was back when I was able to keep track of my days.
My fiancé and I had just gotten home from mailing out our wedding invites and I couldn’t have been more excited about the future. In a few short weeks I would be marrying a woman I was madly in love with. She was charismatic, funny, artistic and covered in tattoos. It seemed there couldn’t have been a more perfect match for me.
Before I’d met her I’d spent my life under the belief that weddings were ridiculous. The notion that anyone would pay thousands of dollars so their free-loading friends and family could spend an afternoon eating and drinking on their dime was beyond me.
But as with any belief, all it takes is meeting that one person you have all the feels for to throw it out the window and let it get run over by a parade of monster trucks.
This girl was that one person.
With her charm, beauty and humor people couldn’t help but be captivated by her presence, especially when she smiled because it was this big, warm smile that made you feel like the sun was shining on you.
“Oh my god your smile’s so big I see nothing but gums!” Jay yelled when meeting her for the first time.
I didn’t know if she’d take his words as an observation or an insult as is always the case with Jay but…
“I know! My family calls me Gums because of it!” she said laughing.
“And so shall I.”
It worked out fine.
And from that day on Jay and Gums were besties, spending countless hours shopping, brunching, gossiping and just being two magnificent Queens with one another.
So when Gums and I decided to get married and told Jay about it he insisted that the wedding be held in his backyard and that he would get ordained online so he could officiate the ceremony…while wearing a dress of his own.
And as our date drew closer we checked off our task list. She picked out her dress, we hired the photographer and the caterer, we made hotel arrangements for out of town guests and we booked our honeymoon.
The only thing left was to mail out the invites which had a song verse printed on the back of each envelope…and we had just done that this morning.
We were on our way to being married and our life was going to be full of adventures, growing old together and as she had said one night, dying together so we could share the same coffin (a little dark I know but let’s face it, death and romance have always been mutual partners).
Since Gums was a make-up artist her boss Lia was coming over later to help her figure out wedding looks so I decided to clean the place. Normally she liked to clean with me but today she kept herself on the couch texting non-stop like she’d been doing since we left the post office.
“Is everything ok?” I asked
She looked at me with a blank expression instead of the big, warm smile she usually gave.
“No. We need to talk.”
“Ok.” I said, taking a seat.
She sat there for a few minutes as her phone kept BUZZING with text alerts. Then she spoke.
“I can’t do this.”
“That’s ok, I don’t mind cleaning on my own. It’s in my Mexican DNA anyway.”
“No. The wedding. I can’t do it.”
“Like there’s something wrong with the date?”
“No…like…I don’t wanna get married.”
The air became harder to breathe and my heart started thumping.
She didn’t wanna get married? Where was this coming from?
Up until now she’d been just as excited about it as me, had even taken to using my last name with everything so what had changed all the sudden?
I tried to stave off my rising panic by running to the land of WHAT IFS.
Like WHAT IF she was feeling anxiety from all the planning? WHAT IF something was wrong with her health? WHAT IF someone in her family was against the marriage now?
I was sure that whatever it was it was something that two people who were in love with one another could talk about and resolve.
“Is the wedding stressing you out? Is everything ok with your health? Is there anything you need to tell me?” I asked, trying to keep a grip on my emotions that were trembling just beneath the surface.
“There is something I need to tell you.”
She took a deep breath and…
“I’ve been fucking someone else.”
Ever been hit in the nose without warning?
It’s called a sucker punch and it leaves you stunned, hurt and pissed the fuck off which is exactly how I felt.
It had seemed in all the WHAT IFS I’d gone over not once did I think to ask WHAT IF she’s been cheating on me because the usual signs of infidelity weren’t there. Plus, our relationship wasn’t volatile, she never said she was unhappy in or out of the bedroom and barring the normal arguments couples have we never had a problem forgiving and moving on.
As I tried to wrap my head around it all a million questions were racing to get out of my mouth. The first one to escape was of course…
“Who is he?”
“It doesn’t matter.” she said, getting off the couch and going to the kitchen, taking her BUZZING phone with her.
“Is that him texting you?” I screamed, following her and allowing my anger to take control because…duh.
“No. It’s not.” she said as she opened the fridge, grabbed an egg and began cooking it.
I wondered how she could eat at a time like this and it reminded me of the serial killer Richard Ramirez who would murder people in their home and then make something to eat in their kitchen after he’d decimated their lives, hopes and plans.
And the plans. Jesus Christ the plans that were in motion, the invites that were on their way out.
“Who is this guy?”
“You really wanna know?”
“That’s why I keep asking.”
“Fine.” she said, sliding the egg onto a plate we’d painted at one of those stupid pottery studios.
“His name is Rob.”
“How long have you been fucking Rob?”
“Are we really gonna go down this road?”
“You’re the one that steered us on it. How long?”
“Ugh. A month and a half.”
“Before or after work.” she sighed.
“How’d you meet?”
“My work.” she said, stabbing the egg with a fork and shoving it in her mouth.
“At the make-up counter? Does he do drag or something?”
“No, I was helping him pick out a gift for his sister.”
“How accommodating of you.”
“That’s my job!”
“Since when did your job include fucking the customers?”
“This is so dumb.”
“Why? Because he’s someone that has a future.” she said, taking another bite of food.
“What does that even mean?”
She stood there chewing, looking at me like a defiant child in a power struggle with the parent.
“He’s in the banking industry.”
“So you’re into people who can count and talk dividends?”
“No, I’m into people who have a job, Stuke.”
“A job? Are you kidding me? I’m not some loser who won’t work, I just got laid-off, remember?”
“I certainly do.” she said with the roll of her eyes.
“Well do you also remember I got a fat severance and two years unemployment which means I’m still making more than you in my current situation?”
“It’s not about that. It’s about you not having a vison for the future, any career aspirations.”
“Oh I’m sorry, I didn’t know I was expected to be J.P. fucking Morgan. Besides, YOU told me to take my time deciding what I wanna do next.”
“Yeah, well, it’s taken you too long and it’s become unattractive.” she said, finishing the last of her food.
“it’s only been a few–You know what? You’re just trying to justify your shitty actions. If this bothered you so much you could’ve told me some-THING instead of fucking some-ONE.”
She threw her fork and plate into the sink, busting that plate into pieces.
“HEY! It’s not my job to tell you what to do. I’m not your fucking mom and I’m sure as hell not ending up like mine, working in some flea-bag hotel because my dad never got it together. Unlike my mom I plan on getting what I deserve.”
“And what’s that?”
“Being taken care of.”
“Are you saying I don’t take care of you?”
“I mean financially.”
“Oh…which is why you’re fucking Rob the Banker. Makes perfect sense. No pun.”
“You know, I don’t have to take this. If you don’t like the answers don’t ask the questions.”
She brushed past me and over to the closet, stopping to check the text messages that’d been piling up.
“Who keeps texting you!?”
She stood there pecking away at her phone, ignoring me.
“I’ve been texting people I invited to the wedding to tell them it’s off and they’ve been responding. Is that ok with you?”
“THAT’S what you’ve been doing since we left the post office? You let OTHERS know before me?”
“What difference does it make?”
“The difference is you could’ve told me BEFORE we sent the invites out! WHO THE FUCK ARE YOU AND WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU?”
She stared at me and the hard exterior she’d been fronting started to crack under the pressure of the fight. Her lips started to quiver and tears trickled down her face.
“Who the fuck am I? WHO THE FUCK AM I? I’m someone who doesn’t know how the fuck they feel anymore, ok? I’m someone who isn’t sure about you, about us, about what I was doing, had been doing or how to tell you!” she screamed then broke into a fit of crying.
“The wedding, it seemed so far away, like it wasn’t real and I kept thinking there was time to figure all of this out, figure out how I felt about our future together. Time to fix it in some way. But once the invites went out something clicked. All that time disappeared making all the doubts I had about us solidify. Those invites were the nail in the coffin.”
“Mine or yours?” I said in a low, panting voice, trying to quell my temper.
“Ours.” she said softly.
When she said she wanted to share the same coffin I never imagined it’d be this way.
“So what are we supposed to do now? What do we do about all the wedding plans? What do we tell people calling to RSVP? What do we tell Jay?”
She regained her composure, wiped her mascara smeared eyes and looked at me like I was an injured animal she couldn’t save.
“I’m sorry, Stuke, there is no more “WE”. I’ve told everyone on my end, the rest is up to you.”
“Don’t you wanna at least talk to Jay?”
“He’s the last person I wanna talk to for fear of what he’ll say.” she said, opening the closet and grabbing a box we kept the Christmas decorations in.
“So I’m supposed to clean this mess up all on my own?”
“Do what you want, say what you want. Tell people I’m the asshole, its fine.”
She began dumping all the decorations on the floor.
“What are you doing?”
“Lia said I could stay with her until I figure out my next move so I’m grabbing some things.”
“That’s it? You’re leaving just like that?”
“Yeah. This is what happens when people break up.”
“I don’t understand how any of this is happening.” I said, the anger burning off as the grief started to creep in from all sides.
“I know, but you’re gonna have to accept it.”
I stood there helpless as she packed so many of her things I’d become accustomed to living with.
Her flat iron that would always burn me because she’d forget to turn it off. Her makeup that I’d watch her apply every day. Her clothes that made her look both stylish and stunning, and her bras and underwear, all of which I’d peeled off of her body countless times but would no more.
When she was finished she went over to a mirror and did her best to look presentable then she grabbed her box, car keys and purse and opened the door, her silhouette outlined by the bright, cheerful light of the day.
She was going to start her life over without me, leaving in her wake a trail of broken promises, broken dreams and a broken heart.
“I’m so sorry.” she said, turning to look back at me.
And then closed the door behind her, making me feel like I was being buried alive in a tomb and left to die.
I stood there shell-shocked from all that had just happened. In less than an hour everything I had loved about my life had been destroyed by the person I loved the most.
And then it came.
All the confusion, all the betrayal, all the rejection, all the sadness and all the darkness. All of it crashing down on top of me like a building crumbling in an earthquake.
I fell to the floor amongst the Christmas decorations and sobbed.
Not one of those quaint, graceful sobs you see in the movies but a violent, heaving, convulsing sob that contorted my face, pushed the snot out of my nose and made me moan sounds I didn’t think were humanly possible.
The wedding was over, my relationship was over, and anything that had meaning to me was over.
I was over.
After a while I pushed myself up off the floor and got a Xanax and beer to try to numb all the pain. A pain that was stinging me from the inside out. A pain that’d be shackled to me for months to come.
And as I washed the pill down with a beer, and another beer, and another beer I noticed something. Laying on the counter was an invite that had somehow gotten left behind.
One solitary nail left out of our coffin.
I flipped it over to read the words from the song we’d had printed on the back of it.
The Only Hope for Me is You
And then I drank until I could forget who I was, something that would become the new normal for me.