At 12:30 AM on the dot she collapses onto her bed. It’s been a long day of cooking, preparing for the Thanksgiving feast that is to take place tomorrow. She smells like oats, sugar, and margarine, and her hands are sticky despite having washed them a couple of times. Inhaling deeply, she checks her iPhone. Swiping into the iMessage app, the screen becomes greasy and shiny. Four texts from E-man:
3:37 PM: “Hey baby, I miss you!”
5:01 PM: “How’s the cooking going??? lolollool. By the way, can you make that sweet potato pie that I like even though it gave me diarrhea last time?”
7:03 PM: “I’m getting the sense the feast you’re preparing for us is going to be sick. Or else you’d answer me, meanieee. JKJK- your so nice.”
11:17 PM: It’s your boyfriend, Emmanuel. You call me E-man. In case you’ve forgotten about me, I’m at Wharton now studying to be the future CEO of the fucking world. Call me if you want to be my wife when that happens! LOL! But seriously, call me. (But seriously, call me). I hate you, I love you.”
She sighs and writes to him: “Hey future CEO of the world, you spelled ‘you’re’ wrong. And no, I’m making an apple cranberry crisp. Miss you.”
It’s been three months since they’ve seen one another. The last time they had been together was in August. She helped move him into his apartment in Philly. It was a nice weekend. They went to Vedge, the sexy vegan restaurant; they visited the art museum because you can’t not visit it if you’re in Philadelphia, even though it’s not that great; they cooked salmon, asparagus, and mashed potatoes one night; and they discussed the state of their relationship. Back then, things were clear and the discussion was crisp. We are staying together. We love each other. Nothing will tear us apart. We’re getting engaged this year.
The plan was for them to have a romantic Thanksgiving dinner together in her New York apartment, but when it took her more than one minute to come to the door, E-man knew something wasn’t quite right; she used to stand at the door, staring through the peep hole when she knew he was coming over.
“Hi!” she says, flinging open the door, wearing oven mitts and an apron. “I’m sorry that took a few seconds. I’m going to set this apartment on fire. Everything’s almost ready.”
Ignoring her words, he drops his bags, walks to her, grabs her and hugs her tightly. Her hair smells and feels like the shampoo she always uses—Quidad for curly hair—fresh, minty, soft, and warm,
She knew right then that he knew something was off. She could feel the fear and sadness in his hug. Her heart sinks.
“What’s wrong, baby?” he asks. And she wasn’t expecting it to be so soon.
“Nothing’s wrong.” Fake smiles.
They shower together and hold each other and it’s sad like the rain. Saying nothing, they do shampoo, conditioner, and body wash. Saying nothing they take towels and dry off. Saying nothing they reclothe. Saying nothing they set the table. Saying nothing they sit down. Saying nothing she brings out all the food.
“I have to say something,” she said.
“Finally, something, baby I don’t know what’s going on. Most guys and girls at Wharton go home and break up with their partners over Thanksgiving, but all I do is think about you. All I want is for this to work.”
So they broke up, clearly. I mean, did you think they were going anywhere else? And if you didn’t predict that, then you suck, man!
She told him there was no one specific reason, and that there weren’t many reasons either. It was just something she couldn’t put a name to. And I guess that’s what I’ve been trying to say with this story. Reading it over a hundred times, I realize my creative writing teacher might say, “Your piece is literally made of shit.” On the contrary, I’d say that some things, even in writing, can’t be explained. He might argue that the good writers can get anything across. But heartbreak? I don’t know, man, that shit could take years to describe, and today I’m not up for the challenge.
On a personal level, I take Thanksgiving break to reflect. The weather finally starts to turn, my birthday approaches, and I think back to whatever it is I’ve done this past year. There are a whole bunch of things I accomplished this year, some that I never ever expected to even be on my to-do list, but for some reason, one I can’t point my finger on, I always feel a little cloud of heartbreak storming around my chest, even when things couldn’t be better. My goal for next year is the same goal I set every year, not to feel this morbid sensation even when life is as good as it can get. Realistically, though, my friends, that’s a goal I’ll likely not meet and I have a feeling that if I did, I wouldn’t strive to accomplish the greatness that I always manage to. See? There’s always an upside, even to the unexplainable. And I hope this can mean something to all of you reading this.
Happy holidays, everybody.