So, where did we leave off before last week’s sharting tangent? I think at the end of Part 1 of this throwback saga we were somewhere around the distance between me and the shart-inducing poet growing to the point where I no longer wanted to be his friend. I wouldn’t accept rides in his truck, because it’d mean sitting in that little pop-out bitch seat behind the passenger seat – my old seat, which would now be filled with his notably nothing-like-me new girlfriend. I had no car at the time, and more than once they drove past me riding my bike – always uphill. His truck haunted me. Honolulu is crawling with hunter green pickups. I became paranoid that I’d see the stupid happy couple wherever I went. Then my friends reminded me, it wasn’t paranoia – that was actually happening. They were everywhere.
One day, I was in charge of leading the weekly writing workshop for the teenagers the ex and I worked with through a nonprofit – one of three non-profits I worked for at the time. I’d prepared handouts which I planned to print at one of my other nonprofit gigs (for shame). But lo and behold, the copier broke that day, so I was forced to drum up a lesson plan on the fly. I often preached a concept I learned from Frank Stewart, a wonderful poetry teacher at University of Hawaii: a poem’s value is directly related to how much the writer makes herself vulnerable to her audience – how much is at stake. In this vein, I scrambled home and threw ALL my journals into my box o’ vulnerability, which contained old writing assignments, original versions, free-writes, scribbled-on receipts and envelopes, etc. I told the kids (and the ex) to take whatever they wanted from the box and find some sort of inspiration for our initial free-write, be it a word, phrase, theme, whatever.
He snatched the journal spanning the bulk of our relationship. My face didn’t reflect my inner throbbing as he riffled through pages of my obsessing – whether positive or negative – all about his favorite subject; himself. We went around the room and shared our free-writes. I started. Who cares what I wrote. After a few kids, the ex read. Riddled with his usual tortured wordplay, his free-write detailed how weird it was to read about himself through the eyes of someone he’d deceived and cheated on.
How weird, indeed?
He’d never before admitted cheating. I’d begged him to just tell me the truth on multiple occasions. I insisted he should at least show me that much respect. He swore he never hooked up with my replacement till after we’d officially broken up. So, naturally, the best time for him to free his conscience was in a room full of teenagers, for whom we were supposed to be role models. I played it off like it wa’n’t no thing. Like I didn’t want to call him out for being a monumental asshole, urging the boys to NEVER turn out like him.
The next day when I told my colleague at the Domestic Violence non-profit job about his latest assholery, she pointed out that his bullying technically qualified as emotional abuse. In an attempt to stick up for myself and prevent the kids from observing any more of our messiness, I called him, yet again, asking for him to cut the bullshit.
It was my fault, he said. What did I expect – for him to leave the journal for one of them to read?! I’ll admit, he had a point – one I hadn’t considered in my emergency lesson planning. Still, he had control of his words, he could’ve opted out of sharing.
His confession also meant that he was already with her, however unofficially, when he hit it one last time with me shortly after our breakup. Did I forget to mention that – when he asked me to handcuff him, then later said he did it so he couldn’t be held accountable for anything that happened? Yeah, that happened. I mean, what. the fuck. is that? WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT?
Anyway, after further negation of my emotions, he informed me that he and his girlfriend would be moving down the street from me. So we’d be neighbors.
I had no words.
But next week, in the final installment of the throwback saga, I will.
To read part four, click here!