He called while I was packing.
“Hey Babe. I just wanted to let you know I got here safely.”
I contemplated the clothes in the closet. I was sick of them. Every item reminded me of somewhere we’d been or something we’d done. Could I give it all to the Salvation Army? What would I wear to work?
“I’m glad, Derek.”
“Hotel is five star. London is cold.”
I finally started pulling out what I would need for work next week. The movers could bring the rest to my house. I’d do my triage in the new apartment.
“I wanted to apologize.”
I stopped packing to look at the phone. Two days after the fight and eight thousand miles away…and he thought now was a good time to apologize?
“For what,” I asked.
“Look, I know you’re ready for the next step and maybe I am too. I don’t know. You sprung it on me kind of sudden and I just…reacted. I have this high pressure job, we just got the new apartment, I can’t have a high pressure relationship too.”
“I totally get that,” I said.
I folded up a sweater and put it my suitcase.
“And I know its been three years…and I know that was kind of a make or break deadline for you.”
“Because I want children and I’m thirty-four. Whether we like it or not a clock is ticking.”
“People have kids at every age.”
“That’s not true. You don’t know the first thing about the biology involved. I do. And furthermore its not the issue. I’ve had two other relationships where I loved the guy so much I waited and it was a mistake.”
“I’m not those guys.”
“No, you’re a new guy doing the same thing.”
“I don’t want to be punished for mistakes other guys have made made.”
I looked at the phone.
“This is some apology.”
“I’m saying you can’t really blame me for what happened with them.”
“So our conversation is about the sadness and unfairness of being blamed, not the joy of building a family and a future after three great years of living together.” I shook my head as I added a pair of knit dresses to the bag.
“They were great years.”
“Remember the Taj Mahal?” I asked. I knew he’d recall the sex the evening after. I remembered it. I thought, at the time, we had a timeless romance.
“And New York,” I said. His father had died. Six months into our relationship I was arranging his father’s funeral. Another time when I felt we had something enduring. How stupid.
“What are you doing?”
“I can hear you moving around.”
I stopped, stared at the phone.
“I remember all the good times and all the hard ones. Its not about that. It’s not about our relationship. Its about you demanding that we take the next step.”
I said nothing. I didn’t think I could get through this call without packing. I needed to keep busy.
“I just wanted to say we could talk about it when I get home,” he said.
I shook my head.
“Okay?” He asked.
I walked to the phone and picked it up. Sat on the bed.
“Not okay,” I said.
“Man…I’m packing. I have a new place already and I’m moving my things. I’ll be gone before you get back. I’m not going to beg you to marry me or let me have your kids any more than I’d expect you to do me the same favor. That’s…crazy. Its no way to begin something good. I’ve been an excellent girlfriend-”
“I…I can’t believe you’d do this. Just…out of the blue…”
“I hadn’t planned to tell you like this but I don’t want to lie. I never lied to you. I don’t want to begin now. You were a good guy. A little immature. A little backward socially. Callous I should say. But a very good guy. And I should have realized that you weren’t ready. Boys will be boys forever if they haven’t grown up by 30 and you’re 35. I’ll remember that next time.”
“Jesus. You…you’re a gold digger! All you wanted was my money…what I could give you!”
I smiled. I wouldn’t miss that. He cared about money a lot without every really understanding that it was worth only what it could buy.
“I wanted to be part of your family.”
“You don’t give a crap about me!”
“At the moment, no. I’m numb. I’m cold to the bone. I’m living in a Neverland I never expected to see. And I’m saying goodbye to someone I know, distantly, I still love…because he loves me not.”
I looked at my phone, noticed the time. “It’s one in the morning there. I’m going to let you go. I have to finish this up and go get some boxes for the movers. And I don’t know why I’m saying this…but I’m sorry.”
“I don’t owe you an apology…but I am sorry.”
I terminated the call and went through the mechanical motions of blocking all future calls from his number.
The end, I thought, to another love story.