Matt and I had dated for almost three years before breaking up and spending a summer apart, during which he concluded that maybe ecstasy paint raves weren't the best place to be when you had a girlfriend, and that it was time to grow up if he wanted to hold on to what we had.
I got the call a few weeks after we had gone to dinner and caught each other up on our summers. I told him about my best friend's wedding and the way her husband had looked at her as she walked down the aisle. He smiled and said he couldn't help but picture me in that white dress. He was committed to working on us, he said, although he was working on more than I realized at the time.
I answered the call on the third ring. “Is Matt there?” He wasn't. He had left his things at my apartment before heading downtown for an interview. Getting a job that would allow him to live and work near me, he had said, was the first step in building our future together.
I had straightened his tie and wished him luck only minutes before my friend called. She had seen him making out at a bar with a dark-haired girl wearing pink UGGs and a mesh crop top. We spoke for a few more minutes before hanging up, although I can't recall anything I said after asking, “What do you mean, mesh?”
That's when I noticed his laptop blinking from the corner of my room. Call it women's intuition, call it a fully charged battery, but either way I found myself staring down his iChat.
First, I came across a thread between Matt and a friend who had recently broken up with his longtime girlfriend. Matt had asked what happened between them. “Same reason you and Beth broke up,” his friend answered. Matt had quickly responded, “Because she gave more hand jobs than blow jobs?”
I continued to scroll. A couple of lines down, I saw a message between Matt and someone named Lauren. They had met at a music festival a couple weeks back, the same one I told him I couldn't make because of work. His opening line was something about her French tattoo. Turns out she couldn't speak French, but he still found her “down to earth” and “refreshing,” and could he come up to get tangled in the Toy Story 3 shower curtain she had told him hung in her bathroom? He was never any good with segues.
Finally, there was a message from last weekend that not only gave a name to Pink UGGs, but also a punch line. In a vivid retelling to his college roommate, he described how he had left the bar with his friend's younger sister's “smokin'” roommate, Santa, and had convinced her that, even though she had a boyfriend, he'd make it worth her while. The next morning he had sauntered into his buddy's kitchen with whatever bedhead his receding hairline could boast, and proudly told the room, “Welp, Christmas came early!”
He text me after his interview to let me know he was on his way back and that I should change for dinner. The week before he had surprised me with tickets to see one of my favorite bands and wanted to take me somewhere I had never been before where, I knew, he'd ask me to split the check. I showered and applied a second coat of mascara, wanting to dress up for letting him down.
The doorbell rang and I let him into my apartment for the last time. He told me that I looked nice, said a few words about how his next interview would surely go better and began to change for the concert. I noticed the easy way he took off his belt, how his fingers mechanically worked their way over the buttons of his shirt, which he left crumpled on my floor and, I assumed, countless others.
That was all I needed. I picked up his shirt and handed it to him, thinking, you make it with an underage girl named Santa, and you have the audacity to leave your J. Crew OUTLET shirt in the middle of my clean floor?
“This isn't working for me anymore,” I said, and in the same breath, my New Year came early.
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