The smoke detector was in the hallway just outside the kitchen, a few feet from the stove, and it frequently went off when we cooked. A. made dinner most nights, cooked with the kitchen window wide open to let in the cold night air. Poached halibut and braised greens or almond encrusted trout, carefully arranged in the center of square white plates. He brought these to me like an offering. Some nights I couldn’t breath.
When I cooked the window stayed closed and the smoke alarm went off with great frequency. One night A. came home to find me standing on a chair in the hallway, dismantling it. He looked perturbed. “What if there’s a fire?” he asked. And then, “You know that’s coming out of our deposit.” He was the one who had put down the deposit, is what he meant. I ignored him. I felt I had effectively solved the problem. He would have just tiptoed around it indefinitely. Conflict avoidant: it was high on my growing list of his faults.
He’d moved to San Francisco from New York to be with me. He was a pursuer and I was a distancer—“a classic distancer,” our couple’s therapist said. When the geographical distance closed, the emotional distancing began. By the time we started couple’s therapy, it was the beginning of the end.We lived there together for just short of a year and we never had a fire, but one night there was a fire in the apartment right behind ours. The firefighters came in their oversized yellow suits, spilling through the side gate and onto the little patio that separated our apartments, then squeezing up the narrow stairs and into the tiny apartment like clowns into a car. A. and I watched from our bedroom window, front row seats. We were spectators by nature, ineffectual in the face of crisis. Ashes floated through the air. No flames were visible, but afterwards there was a great deal of damage.
This is probably more honest than I need to be on an internet date.
But lately I’ve been having an averse reaction to tandem bicycles. They seem a clear sign of codependence, or just a rude assertion of coupledom.
I want to learn how to be alone forever or fall in love tomorrow. I’ll make you feel like I’m waiting around for you to call, even when I’m out of town.