This is my worst memory of you.
It was raining. I’d been waiting for it all morning, a little annoyed because we were going to a friend’s show. My friend, not yours, but you were coming. We were going to get dinner, exchange Christmas presents. The rain didn’t change anything for me, not really. It was inconvenient at most, but that was all. I was waiting for the rain all morning, but you’d been out in it, driving around out past Pasadena, past LA where the storm had already started. Back home the wind was high, kicking the trees around, loosing twigs and thin branches, sending them careening through the gray sky, but no rain yet. I was at home, waiting to hear from you, waiting to know what to do. We were going to see each other; your Christmas present sat on my floor against my bookshelf, the biggest bag in the pile. We’d been planning it, this, today—finally spending time. We’d seen each other a few days before. You later asked if that wasn’t enough for me. Maybe it wasn’t. Maybe it wouldn’t have mattered if it hadn’t been so long. Maybe I wouldn’t have tried so hard to make it happen if I didn’t feel so much distance. Maybe if we hadn’t already planned it. Maybe if so many previous plans hadn’t fallen through, always falling through. Maybe if there hadn’t been so many days and nights when you were busy. Maybe if understanding didn’t also mean it was okay—I understood you were busy, always busy, but it didn’t make me feel any better. It didn’t make me miss you any less. Maybe I was selfish.
My mother asked what time I was going to see you. I said I didn’t know yet know. You said you didn’t know. We waited. We waited. You said the rain was bad. You said the rain was so bad; that we shouldn’t go far. I suggested staying close to home as the rain, finally arrived, pounded against my window. I suggested staying in. Pizza. A movie. Anything. You were only minutes away from me; I could meet you at your house. I could bring movies. We could just talk. You said you didn’t think it was a good idea. I asked what wasn’t a good idea. You said all of it, none of it. I suddenly wanted to get back in bed, go to sleep. You said you’d let me know for sure later. I said okay.
My mother asked me to come with her to run errands, so I went. You weren’t home yet, or maybe you were. I didn’t know. I hadn’t heard from you. I bundled up but the rain had calmed down to a drizzle. It was windy, still, but we didn’t need our umbrellas. While I waited for my mother, I sent you another message. What were we doing. How were you feeling. What was the plan. When you responded, all you said was that you’d drop off my gift. The rain, the rain, the rain. You didn’t want to be out in it. Frustrated, I pointed out that you had been out in it just the week before, with your boyfriend. We’d been planning to see each other today for ages. I missed you. You said you’d just stop by quickly, drop off my present. You were tired. You were short; I could feel tension growing, so I told you never mind. I told you never mind, that we could do it later when the weather was better, when you were less busy. I was thinking we’d have more time; I just wanted more time. I told my mother it wasn’t happening. She said she was sorry. I shrugged, put my phone away.
An hour later it started. The levee inside of you—the one so often sensed but never seen, the one so often felt, pulsing just beneath the surface—broke.
You said I was pushy. That I didn’t understand. That I was unfair. Passive aggressive. You said I had to make things so hard, so hard. You said I expected too much from you—demanded too much. You said, you said, you said. Was it a coincidence the rain started up again, pounding the roof, the windows, the walls? There was so much water—in my eyes, in the sky, washing over me as you spilled every drop that the levee had ever held. I tried to explain, and explain, and explain, and I should’ve stopped. But I didn’t stop. Because I wanted you to hear me. I wanted you to understand. But you didn’t hear me. Maybe you couldn’t hear anything.
After midnight, phone no longer lighting up with your words, your spilled water, I lay against my pillow, tears falling into my hair. I wondered if you were crying too. Maybe. Maybe not. I held my phone against my chest, warm. I felt my heart hammering against my ribs, felt like I had just finished running. I tried not to think of the last things you said or what you meant, or how I felt them. I thought about intention, and how mine didn’t seem to matter to you, and how yours was all that mattered to me. I thought about how it wasn’t enough.
The next morning it was dry, cold. Every part of me ached. It looked like rain.