We decided to meet up the next day, Friday, for lunch. He drove out towards my house, which was welcome since I had driven out the day before; although it was the start of Labor Day weekend in Los Angeles. He told me he could meet from 12 – 3pm. We planned to meet at a restaurant near my house, but the traffic was so bad for him and I was running late. So we met at a local brewery and naturally grabbed a couple of beers and Jerry had some lunch. I was running too high to eat, but I fucking DRANK. Luckily, a sweet creature had driven and dropped me off. He was, again, nothing but kind to me, even offered me half his burger. It wouldn’t be a far stretch to say I hold onto things, so for this meeting, I brought some visual nostalgia. A timeline of who we were; everything leading us up to the present moment, sitting in each other’s company looking back at this timeline as spectators. Some of the pictures were torn into pieces, yet we were able to indulge in each other’s company. We were able to find likeness in one another, something I thought we’d for sure lost. We bantered, pervy dick and fart jokes (a welcome norm) and shared our interests; it was like an “on the previous episode” synopsis of the past seven years. I paid and suggested we go to another brewery. He happily accepted. However, since I didn’t have my car, he had to drive us. Talk about a time warp. Granted, I had never been in that particular car, however that small space occupied so many tells of familiarity. He opened my door, something he always ALWAYS did. Things like the now weed pen (as opposed to the joint or pipe) laying in the center console. His ability to drive well, even if his hands aren’t on the wheel. The music. He, in the driver’s seat. Me, in his passenger seat.
We landed in Burbank at another brewery and had another beer. The whole experience of hanging out together was like a dream for me. Everything that I had idealized about our encounter was met and more. I mean, in a real sense it was everything that I hoped for. And not just for this particular meeting, it was how I wished everything could’ve been, how it should’ve been. An outsider watching us would think were friends (for those of you, who knew us together, there were many occasions that you wouldn’t identify us as friends). It was satisfying and a good ending point, for me. A place of peace, closure, and resolution.
As our time came to an end, I was going to grab an Uber, but he offered to drive me home.
A piece of information I need to share with you, ya you, from what I have been told by other people, my brother, and Jerry, Jerry’s girlfriend does not like me. I do know she reads my stories and has liked one, (thank you social media, and analytics). The idea of Jerry and I getting together, not her favorite. So, Jerry didn’t tell her.
I knew she didn’t know. Having been in her position numerous times in the past some may see my knowing she didn’t know and doing nothing about it as a betrayal to what I hate; lying. What I will say is that in my home, my life, I do not lie. I can only manage my home, not anyone else’s. If I am justifying, call it that.
I am not here to say anyone is bad, good or worse. I made my choices and Jerry made his.
On the fifteen-minute car ride to my house, he took a call from his girlfriend. In the first 5 seconds of the 30-second call, there was instantly tension. She asked, “why he wasn’t answering her calls.” He said, “I didn’t hear it ring”. I am going to reach here and say, this isn’t the first conversation of theirs that has begun this way. I am basing this off the emotionally reactive tone I overheard; the fact that I had started many calls to Jerry just like this and that tone didn’t just develop overnight. It came after doubt. Fear. I sensed she was 100% on to him. With my left hand, I gripped his right forearm during the call. I could hear and sense his reactive tension rise. He told her he was “on his way to his dad’s house,” said “I love you” and that was that. Once he hung up, I said, “Don’t be so reactive, it’s a red flag.”
I knew nothing salacious was happening between Jerry and I. However, I have been her. More times than, like her, I am probably unaware of. I felt sad for her, but I know she on some level has experienced a reason to not trust him before. So, whether she acknowledges it or not, it is her choice to stay and participate. It’s the same choice I made for eight years. The choice to downplay, and more importantly, let someone else downplay my thoughts, feelings, and beliefs. I was meant to feel crazy and/or stupid. To doubt myself. Truth was, maybe in his eyes I was/am crazy? I lost/gave up my power in blind love to know what was right and best for me. My truth.
When I was dating Jerry, I came up with a saying I’d recite to myself. I’ll share it: “If I, think Jerry is such a piece of shit because he lies and I can’t trust him, but I stay with him, who is the bigger piece of shit? The one who I think is a piece of shit or the one who stays with the piece of shit?”
When you think someone else is the problem, look at yourself first. The solution you are seeking never lies within another person. Everyone is on their own path, at their own pace, if you don’t like it, remove yourself from the shared path.
Just as soon as everything was on the upswing, hanging out and enjoying each other, I bore witness to a reality that had been the down swing of our relationship. The duality of the highs and the lows, that kept me in love and in hate. I thought maybe over the years he’s changed, like character changed. Here I was in the passenger seat, Jerry driving and bearing witness to this, was a first for me. It was uncomfortably familiar.
Now, I am going out on a strong and sturdy limb. What are the chances that the girlfriend knows about this phone call? Me writing about this, with names changed, her choosing to read this, makes me a life ruiner because he until this day, has probably withheld this information from her. Although, in all honestly, I don’t know why it would or should make a difference to her?
Now, obviously I am not sharing verbatim or doing a live play by play. I am telling a story. The pieces I share are not to “out” Jerry. I share the chosen pieces because they illuminated something I needed to see. Even if it was for the millionth time. I needed to see/hear the phone call, to know, that, sadly, his character hasn’t changed. That if I were to have married him, not cheated (not justifying my shitty behavior), I would be living the same fucking life. I’d be miserable. Brokenhearted. I would be in love and in hate.
Once we exited the freeway, he put on a song he said: “was a jam”. That jam happened to be the song he wrote and used to propose to me with. He wrote a song, a great song, called “Ashley’s Song” which he recorded. When he proposed to me, he played it for me on his guitar on our brown “leather” Ikea couch while in our apartment in Monrovia. I haven’t listened to this song since he played it for me the night he proposed.
The night he proposed to me, I thought “about damn time” with glee, but felt fear; which I was not expecting. It suddenly became clear to the 24-year-old me, that being lawfully tied to this emotionally divided relationship was something that brought more fear than joy. Even after we were engaged, things didn’t get better or easier. Things just became more clear. When I moved for school, he was on board until it wasn’t fitting his goals. He sets up the dating profile (I find it by researching our computer), we both cry on the floor in our second bedroom and he tells me “I don’t think I can ever make you happy”, he gets lingerie pictures sent to his phone from the “lesbian” (I find those by checking his phone), and on a visit to our hometown, I cheat on him (for the first time ever) and he breaks up with me. Red flags and fear, baby.
In listening to that song, my song, my proposal song with my former fiancé my feelings now, weren’t of sadness of losing Jerry, to be honest, I don’t think I ever had him, it was sadbecause hearing that song, looking back at all of this, I genuinely feel sad and bad for our two characters. I know that it ends and that’s okay; it was supposed to. But we sure did beat the shit out of that relationship and that makes me feel sad. It’s sad that things couldn’t be different, that things will never be different.
When we parked, I told him that listening to the song, “made me feel sad” for which he said, “sorry.”
I would embed it or give you all a link to listen to this song, but in keeping anonymity I won’t do that. However, here is the chorus:
“Ashley, please take this ring
I’m asking for your hand in marriage
I got the blessing from your parents
Just say “yes” and spend eternity
With me and ill sing you to bed
Keep you clothed ill keep you feed
Will always keep a roof over your head
I will guard you as if your life were mine”