It would appear that The Neighbor has some interesting ideas about how life is done.
On a Wednesday evening in January of 2015 – after 3 tumultuous, passionate, empty years together – my boyfriend came over to spend the night as usual and instead asked for a break. Two weeks later he ended things with me with no explanation other than he didn’t want to be in a relationship.
We attempted a friendship for several months, but I was devastated, angry, and confused and yet so tidy to the world that no one knew of the mess that festered and ate away at me like maggots. Once the fog of abandonment had cleared I was filled with contempt for myself: I should have left our relationship before it ever started.
He’d never wanted to date me; he’d never wanted to be involved with my child.
In September I ended our friendship and he cried and stormed off, but I had to save myself. I had to do something.
I hadn’t believed a word he said to me during our little “friendship experiment” as I watched him do things he swore he’d never do with me and as I accidentally uncovered hidden deceits.
Nor did i believe him when he swore he wasn’t interested in anyone, and a mere few weeks after the end of the friendship he brought a woman to my gym class. It crushed me all over again. A month after that I saw her plastered all over his Facebook saying how awesome her man was.
About that time I expected him to move out as it would have been the end of his lease, but his fancy black car remained as did our occasional run-ins. In the end he would renew his lease twice after he ended things, which meant he remained here for 2 years and 9 months before he finally left.
I mean, what did he care? He lived at the bottom of the hill, after all. He didn’t have to see me or think of me. It wasn’t a big deal.
The summer before he moved out I wrote him a long overdue letter to say how I felt about him, our relationship, his stalking of me on AFF, and most importantly my anxiety and upset that he remained so close.
His finances were more than adequate to live anywhere in the city, I reasoned. Why stay so close when he didn’t have to??
He took offense to what I shared and told me in clipped words to never contact him again. He also revealed that he would be leaving in October so I could at least have that to look forward to.
I kept watch in the coming weeks until one day while walking the dog I decided to check and see if his patio furniture was still there. It was gone. And his apartment was gutted.
I bawled as years of torment I had kept at bay roiled out of me like vomit. I was finally free.
This past year with him away I have grown and lightened a million shades and in a million ways. I have settled into myself, explored my heart a little even, attempted connections, and have felt safe in my home again, unburdened to roam freely about the property like a normal person.
I no longer had to concentrate on not noticing (and subsequently looking at) his black car, I no longer had to worry about running into him going about my daily life, I no longer had to fucking think about him, period.
This weekend was a lazy one, too hot for fucking fall. Peter came and fucked me and I came and clawed and kissed on him before I went on an ill-fated, yet semi-entertaining date with a 22 yo. I puttered around my apartment, watched scary movies and decided to treat the dog to as many romps in the dog park behind my building as he needed.
I absent mindedly surveyed the 3 closest balconies stacked like blocks nearest the park as I always did and looked at the residents’ belongings and design choices while the animal sniffed and shit to his heart’s content. Last August the middle apartment had gone up in flames and the 3 stood empty for months while repairs were completed. There were now new tenants.
Someone with children on the second floor – according to the plastic toys strewn about outside – and some patio furniture that looked familiar on the third floor. It held my attention, but I didn’t let it stick.
The following day, my eye was drawn again to that familiar furniture. It was on the patio of an identical floor plan to what he had before. It suddenly occurred to me that there had been a new third fancy black car in the parking lot the last few days – just like his – but I hadn’t bothered to look at the license plate because I’m free of that, remember?? I’m not a slave to that pain anymore.
No, no, no. It was just a coincidence.
The next night Peyton and I watched another CSI. “Baby,” I said. “We need to check on something when we walk the dog tonight.” I shared what I knew and being the junior detective in the house I had a willing partner in my offspring.
I flashed my camera light into a familiar car window. I couldn’t make out anything substantial like the battery acid burn in the back seat, but Pey caught something on a folded receipt in the passenger seat. “Mom! It says, ‘T-N’!” I looked closer and sure enough TN’s name was faintly written on a line on the yellow sheet of a carbon receipt.
I didn’t believe it. It couldn’t be. My eyes are bad! But Peyton’s?? No…
Finally tonight, 100 feet from my front door while on our nightly walk, I was able to check again. This time his name was obscured by a new receipt, but it didn’t matter.
My eyes were bright and sharp and I could easily make out what the receipt said. It was for a therapy session, the same cost as his were many years ago, and at the bottom – in clean Times New Roman bold – was TN’s therapist’s name and address.
Apparently, The Neighbor is once again my neighbor.