I talk with Missy a lot these days, sometimes, I think, more than I did when we were sharing an apartment. We both feel like we need someone who gets us, even though it seems like we should have it. He's got Max in the next room, but I don't know what their deal is, exactly; I don't think they were the closest brothers you would find, and now Max getting what he wants and deserves means Missy had to give up a life that makes her happy. It's tense, but Max feels just guilty enough that she tries to reduce the tension, and I like her, but reducing tension isn't what Missy does best.
Meanwhile, ever since Cary and Elaine went back to Maine, I've kind of been on my own here. I'm sure there are other Inn people in the Chicago area - it's a large enough city - but I don't know any of them, and while it should help me to just be Benjamin, it mostly makes me feel alone. I know it's what a lot of people who have visited the Inn go through, and I don't envy them.
It's made me a bad boyfriend at times. More often than not, lately. When you're doing this with other people, it's not really a game, but you can blow off steam about the things in your life that aren't as they should be, and even when that just involves someone telling you that you've got to put the idea of "should be" out of your head, that's something. Now, when I get laid off from a job I don't even really like, I'm just angry, and I try not to take it out on Marybeth, but what's the point of being in a relationship if you can't share your frustrations, even if you can't fully share them?
It came to a bit of a head about a month ago when a text came in from Missy at a terrible time, and what she could see on the screen said not too be frustrated, and she wanted to know what I could tell "my ex" (the history we inherit!) that I couldn't tell her. Which is a fair question in, like, 99% of all relationships, but in mine, one I couldn't answer.
So things got uncomfortable, and I feel awful, because I do love Marybeth and I really don't want to be the selfish guy who acts like his girlfriend's career should come below his annoyance, and it feels like it's going that way. I'm trying to think of ways that I can not be that guy, that I can show her just how much she means to me, and then I'm walking past the jeweler's and an engagement ring captures my eye.
It's a nice one, especially considering it's also one I might be able to afford. It's not a diamond, because those are stupidly expensive and I actually did some research into how stupid their being expensive is as a project in high school, because the cartel keeps supply artificially limited and what diamonds are being mined are often being done under terrible conditions. But they make some nice engagement rings with colored gems now, because there are a lot of young people with that sort of mindset, and I liked the red one I found. I don't know how traditional Marybeth is with these things, but I thought about how I would have thought a guy getting me that sort of ring would be a cool combination of ethical and practical. I'd gone back to see it three times before Missy sent that email with the video of Carlotta changing into Max.
It was a punch in the gut, because I like Max, and thought him dating Missy's best friend was kind of cool, but when I saw that I was the BCC on the email, and it was primarily sent to Sandra I felt this overpowering tension, wondering how I was going to sleep until I found out how she was going to respond to this, because if she decided she wanted her life back, then mine was in play, and I texted Missy back not to get my hopes up like that without thinking.
And that was it, wasn't it? I wanted my old life back. I could try to deny it, try to convince myself that I wasn't dealing with some really deep-seated lack of satisfaction with the life I had by proposing to Marybeth, and maybe she'd say yes and maybe we'd be happy. That's the thing about our relationship, at least from my point of view - as much as I genuinely like her, I know that part of what initially attracted me to her was that she was like me, or at least the me that I wanted to be, and I'll probably never know how much is me wanting her and how much is me wanting a proxy.
I probably was more annoying than usual over the next few days, and then Sandra responded, saying that as much as being Annette was great and she maybe had a great future, the idea that her husband had been targeted by Carlotta, and had been living with someone like this for a couple of years, changed a lot. She somehow managed to get that room reserved for the next week, and then reached out to me...
I don't want to write about the breakup. It was hard and it sucked and I was so tempted to not do it at all, figuring that maybe the next Benny could use someone like Marybeth in her life, but then I thought about how I'd feel if a boyfriend was just going to hand me off to a stranger, and I felt sick. So I said like a dozen variations on how it wasn't her, but it was me, and the move without me having my own thing was making me crazy, and I felt like it was time to head back home to, like, recharge my batteries or some ridiculous thing. I was really determined that she not feel like any sort of loser, but I also didn't want any room for being talked out of it, because I probably could be. I was giving up on two challenges by dumping her when it got hard, and I don't want to be the sort of person who does that.
But I got through it, and now I'm in Maine, feeling like a failure rather than excited like I should be. I haven't worked up the nerve to visit Cary and Elaine yet, although I probably will when Missy and Max come up tomorrow, to help give this version of me a good send-off. It's going to be tough to face Missy, but I think I owe it to her, as its her misfortune that is giving me this chance, and she is not being any sort of jerk about it, which she probably has every right to be.
But, hey, I could already be myself again by the time I see her. There's no tingle now, but who knows if that always happens?