When He Leaves You For Something Better

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I remember the day we met, because nothing remarkable is ever supposed to happen on a Tuesday. Tuesdays, I’ve long believed, are for going through the motions. You show up where you’re supposed to, people mill in and out, and then that’s that. You don’t have enough time to think about how dissatisfied you really are, because the peak of mundanity is too defining to overcome.

Maybe that’s why you hit me so hard.

I remember being pretty depressed, because everyone I knew was slowly settling down. This was 2009, so a lot of my friends were resorting to finding guys online — Amazon, college websites, Aeropostale, etc.. By the late 2000s the stigma of online shopping was slowly fading away, but I wasn’t yet ready to enter take that plunge. Six years later, I can confidently say that not resorting to finding someone online was either the best or worst decision of my life.

He walked into Zumiez at about 1pm. He was with Phil and Jared (he’s no longer friends with Jared, but he was never that good friends with Jared in the first place. Phil was really the glue of the trio, and everytime he was stuck in a solo conversation with Jared he would start fiddling with my zipper.) Anyway, there was a Third Eye Blind song playing — not Jumper or Semi-Charmed Life, the other one — when he locked eyes with me. A few lingering moments, and he told them he was “gonna be a minute.”

He peeled off from the duo and beelined straight for me.

***

“Hey,” he said, extending his had to brush my sleeve. “I’m Evan.” 

I was speechless. Partly because I was so overwhelmed and nervous, but mostly because I’m a gray, medium sized hooded sweatshirt.

“Crazy weather, huh?”

His attempt at small-talk was admirable, but ill-fated. I was terrified of losing him right then and there. Luckily he rebounded nicely.

“Oh that’s right, you’ve probably never been outside!” he chuckled.

Evan had THE BEST chuckle.

“Well, we need to change that. Wanna get out of here and get some Auntie Anne’s? Or maybe Panda Express if you’d rather have that?…I don’t want to be that guy who makes the food choice for you.…I mean I’m cool with being the decisive one but…OK, lets just go and we can decide when we get there.”

***

From there, it was history. We spent the next four and a half years attached at the hip, shoulders, torso, and usually wrists. Sometimes it was elbows instead of wrists — when it was warm out, he’d roll me up slightly — but the point is that we did everything together. The 12 page paper for Mr. Blatt’s History Of Video Games In Belarus. The semester in Dublin, where I get soaked with too many Carlsbergs to count. The coffee stains, that ripped stitching by his left armpit. I can still feel the parts of my drawstrings that he used to chew on. When I get lonely, I’ll sometimes rub my right sleeve against my left, like he’d sometimes do when he didn’t go to the laundromat for awhile. I know I probably shouldn’t be revealing such personal information so publicly, but this is pretty much art and I’m not gonna water down the narrative.

I don’t know the exact moment that I knew it was over, but things started taking a turn for the worse after college graduation. We moved to New York City for Evan’s entry level job, at a fast-growing digital media marketing consulting innovation firm for smallish, largish, and mid-sized startups. He had promised that the job wouldn’t come between us — that the work environment was “super chill” — but I quickly began to sense some animosity and tension.

First, he would force me to spend the entire workday cloaked over a plaid or flannel. Initially I put up with it because I love Evan (and I get that he needs to project a certain image, and slowly compromise his integrity in order to advance in workplace) but eventually it became too much. All the plaids and flannels ever did was talk about “solid” bars in Flatiron, and girls that they wanted to hook up with despite having never spoken a word to them. It just became too much to handle, and I probably acted out more than I should’ve.

Because of that I think Evan started to resent me — viewing me as a social liability and possible embarrassment (he never liked to talk about how we met at Zumeiz). Eventually, he stopped bringing me to work altogether; explaining that I wasn’t the best fit for Steve, who he was looking to impress in order to get a promotion.

I wanted to tell him that if he really wanted a promotion, he probably shouldn’t be spending 7 of his 9 working hours on Facebook and Grantland.com. But again, I’m an article of clothing made of cotton and polyester.

He’d still wear me from time to time, but it seemed to be more out of habit and routine rather than genuine lust. We’d still do our usual activities — I remember a particular moment at Trader Joe’s, when the charged hilarity of a disgruntled man bowling over shoppers with a blatant disregard for personal space and human decency gave us a zipper fiddling moment that felt straight out of 2011 — but that sort of thing became more and more fleeting.

One day, he met up with Phil for lunch. Jared was “maybe supposed to come,” but he never showed up.

“Dude,” Jared said. “You still have that hoodie?”

Yea,” Evan replied. I could tell he didn’t want to talk about me, but Jared kept pushing.

“Holy shit, I think I was still with Tina when you got that. Dude, you need a pea coat. They’re kind of expensive, but you could find good deals and they’re really worth it, man.”

That afternoon, they went to The Gap. The next day, Evan wore the pea coat for the first time. The day after that, he carefully folded me up and placed me in the bottom drawer.

I haven’t left the drawer since. Not since that Tuesday. TC mark

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