One minute you have to stop yourself from jumping in the car and driving to see her and the next you’re calling a sucia and saying, You’re the one I always wanted. The ex, as you’re now calling her, always cooked: a turkey, a chicken, a pernil. That night, you drink yourself into a stupor, then spend two days recovering. It feels like you’re being slowly pincered apart, atom by atom. Elvis sits shivah with you in the apartment; he pats you on the shoulder, tells you to take it easy. You keep writing letters to her, waiting for the day that you can hand them to her. Thanksgiving you end up having to spend alone in your apartment because you can’t face your mom and the idea of accepting other people’s charity makes you furious. During finals a depression rolls over you, so profound that you doubt there is a name for it.
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You cry every time you hear Monchy y Alexandra, her favorite. Your friends begin to worry about you, and they are not exactly worrying types. K., you tell them, but with each passing week the depression deepens. He was pinned under the burning wreckage for what felt like a week, so he knows a little about pain. You breathe non-stop, like a marathon runner, but it doesn’t help. But (a) you ain’t the killing-yourself type; (b) your boy Elvis is over all the time, stands by the window as if he knows what you’re thinking; and (c) you have this ridiculous hope that maybe one day she will forgive you. It’s like waking up from the worst fever of your life. ), but you can stand near windows without being overcome by strange urges, and that’s a start. You put away all the old pictures of her, say goodbye to her Wonder Woman features.
You start losing your temper with friends, with students, with colleagues. You stop hitting the gym or going out for drinks; you stop shaving or washing your clothes; in fact, you stop doing almost everything. Four years earlier, Elvis had a Humvee blow up on him on a highway outside Baghdad. You have dreams where she’s talking to you like in the old days—in that sweet Spanish of the Cibao, no sign of rage, of disappointment. You stop sleeping, and some nights when you’re drunk you have a wacky impulse to open the window of your fifth-floor apartment and leap down to the street. It really is a long stretch of shit, and then, finally, the madness begins to recede. Only one pair of your jeans fits, and none of your suits. A white grandma screams at you at a traffic light, and you close your eyes until she goes away.
You give her the passwords to all your e-mail accounts. For a while you haunt the city, like a two-bit ballplayer dreaming of a call-up. White people pull up alongside you at traffic lights and scream at you with a hideous rage, like you nearly ran over their mother. Before you can figure out what the hell is going on, they flip you the bird and peel out. Security guards follow you in stores, and every time you step onto Harvard property you’re asked for I. Three times, drunk white dudes in different parts of the city try to pick fights with you. I hope someone drops a fucking bomb on this city, you rant. Why all my black and Latino students leave as soon as they can. He was born and raised in Jamaica Plain, knows that trying to defend Boston from uncool is like blocking a bullet with a slice of bread.
Almost on cue, a lot of racist shit starts happening.
You wait, what, a week for the bad energy to dissipate and then you start dating. Minuses: she’s always working, and she has a four-year-old named Justin. One of those hot moms, and you’re excited for the first time in more than a year. She’s probably had a lot of bad experiences with the hit-and-run types. But it galls you that she gave it up to some thug with no job, no education, no nothing, and now she’s making you jump through hoops of fire. she asks when she next calls, and you almost say yes, but then your idiocy gets the better of you. Where was that guard when she let the banilejo fuck her without a condom? Besides, it only happens when you’re not looking for it. When winter rolls in, a part of you fears that you’ll fold—Boston winters are on some terrorism shit—but you need the activity more than anything, so you keep at it even as the trees are stripped of their foliage and the paths empty out and the frost reaches into your bones. Every time you think about the ex, every time the loneliness rears up in you like a seething, burning continent, you tie on your shoes and hit the paths and that helps; it really does.