Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Dance, in the Meantime

Ronny Bruno sat on the stairs in my apartment building wearing my dress. His cheeks were streaked with mascara, whereas mine were covered with salty rivulets which had washed the white paint off them. It was Halloween, and he was breaking up with me. He had come back into my life after a two year absence.

I had sat there, two years prior, with my head propped up on my chin, gazing at the side of his head. I was staring at him two rows over in class with, I'm sure, stars, hearts, and bluebirds swirling around my head. He was dreamy. His accent made me melt. I wanted him, even more than I wanted to make the girl's floor hockey team. I wanted him more than I wanted those rad purple satin roller-skate covers. And I didn't even really know what I wanted from him except to be near him and hear him talk to me and maybe lay his rosy Italian lips on mine.

It had only been a couple years earlier that I'd convinced Chad Nichole to lift up his shirt and press his nipples against mine in a ceremony that meant we were going to be 2gether4ever. So, what the hell did I know? But, looking at the mole on Ronny's neck, I had an urge to lick it. Or mash my nipple up against it.

Then he was gone. Transferred to another school with his younger sister when his parents moved. I was so sad, and spent weeks in a funk.

Two years later, and suddenly there he was again. Still shorter than I, but taller than he had been, my stomach lurched realizing he probably thought I was a maxed out dweeb with my mouth hanging open and my eyes popping out. I couldn't help myself; there he was!

And then he was my brother's bud, and soon he was my bud and soon enough he asked me to "go around with him," and of course I said yes, and then there we were, Jenn and Ronny. Lying in the grass and kissing the gum out of each other's mouths and passing notes in class and making each other laugh looking up at the stars. We were a couple. Happy!

Which is why him breaking up with me, dressed like a gypsy with lopsided balloon boobs caught me totally off guard. He was staging a preemptive strike. His mom had told him a couple days earlier he'd be moving back to Italy. "But," I sputtered, "That's not for a couple more months!" My clown makeup was running off my face.
"I know," he said, "But by then, it's going to hurt so much."
And I knew he was right. Regardless, I smoothed it over, "It's ok. In the meantime, let's have fun?"

I had another preemptive strike this past weekend, and I didn't know what else to say than what I'd suggested so many years ago. He's right, in many ways, why prolong the almost impossible? But on the other hand, I say while we can still hear the music, why not bloody well dance? Life goes by so quickly. It seems like Ronny and I were just a couple years ago instead of over twenty. Crazy, that. But our goodbye was bittersweet and the stuff that quality chick flicks are made of.

He had to leave school early to catch his flight. The teacher prompted us all to stand up and wish Ronny well, and we did. I couldn't hold his gaze, but about three minutes after he'd left I asked to be excused to go to the washroom, and I raced outside, up the hill to the hydrofield where I could see Ronny retreating. I called across the field and he came running back. Hugs, tears, promises. Oscars and Emmys, except it was real.

I worried about him when his city had a huge earthquake some time later. His younger sister told me he was okay, and then turned and snottily informed me, "Oh, and he's forgotten how to speak English too."

I haven't figured out how to insulate a heart from the trauma that inevitably ensues when you open it up to other people. There's no way to do one once you've done the other. I'd say, though, that as long as you can hear the music, why not dance? It's worthwhile in the meantime.

Don't you think?


John McCrarey said...

dance, they said
life is only for the moment
the light is brief,
don't waste it
the taste is sweet,
so taste it
so I said I understand
I'm dancing as fast as I can...

--Juice Newton (well she sang it, I don't know who wrote it)

Charles said...

Hi Jelly. It's Charles, from the Big Ho's peanut gallery.

Your post today hit a buried nerve. During my fourth year at university, I was seeing a girl named Erica. As the year drew to a close, it became apparent that our time was limited. I actually stayed on for the summer semester to pick up some credits I had missed along the way, but Erica was graduating and heading off to Japan. I knew by that point that I was going to be coming to Korea, but that's still a long-term relationship.

Looking back on it now, I'm not sure why I did what I did. I don't think I knew at the time, either. But when finals crunch time came around, I launched a preemptive strike. Or maybe it was a "scheduled breakup." Whatever it was, it was particularly heartless. I told her that we should call it quits when the semester ended, but that we could stay together until then. I was very logical and very cold about it. Erica was not. But she didn't know what to do, so we decided to "keep up appearances."

Later that week, I spent the night at a mutual (female) friend's house (we'll call her Z). The three of us (Erica, Z, and myself) were all taking the same class, and I was writing my term paper for it and helping Z with hers. When we showed up together for the class the next morning, Erica somehow figured out that I had spent the night at her apartment (I still don't know how women do it).

Nothing had happened, of course, but Erica was furious. In fact, she had originally suspected that I wanted to break up with her because of Z. It ended right there in front of the lecture hall. She never spoke to me again.

That summer I got a postcard from Japan. She said that she regretted parting on such bad terms, and she said she was OK with things now. I didn't reply.

To this day I regret the way I treated Erica, even though all of this happened over ten years ago. I was an insensitive, selfish bastard, and I treated her like crap. And Z? Yeah, I was in love with her. And my friends insisted that she was in love with me, even though we were both "attached" at the time. I can only imagine how much I made Erica suffer because of my infatuation with Z. She must have been boiling with jealousy.

I was an evil evil evil person. I never got the chance to tell Erica how sorry I was. Not at the time, but later. It still haunts me. I don't have many regrets in life, but this is one of them. It's not like I lose sleep at night or anything, but I do wish I had been less of a prick.

So, I don't know what the point of all this is. Public purging? I don't know. Sorry for the blabbering.

Sandy said...

"insulate a heart"

That line got to me.