There was a used condom in the trash can. How my eye managed to suddenly catch it still remains a mystery. Maybe it was because it was on the very top of the other things he had thrown away in the three days I was away on a visit to my mother. It was, after all, placed at the very top of the pile. "Bad product placement," he remarked, in the metal-upon-bone tone that only certain kind of people use when they have given up on believing.
For the millisecond of time that it took for my mind to register what I was looking at, I stood there wondering if it was possible to sift through the rest of the contents in his bathroom refuse to find my friendship, trust, respect, and maybe even my sense of humor wadded up in a various assortment of other used condoms that he used to protect himself from loving me, feeling me, or being infected by my ability to comprehend it all, and yet still go on loving him regardless. The irony, of course, was that this particular condom in question was not used as a barrier in our love making. In fact, there was no question that the gray-wrapper "Lifestyles"-inspired plastic wrap was for some other woman. A random woman. A woman with or without a name. She had just been a body without a spirit, a story, a dream, a past, or a future. "It was completely random," he said in his own defense as I hastily focused my attention on gathering up what I had been comfortable enough to scatter of myself in that interim of days between the worst jet lag of my life and the hanging realization that I had come home, only to curl myself into the uncertain embrace of a complete stranger. It was then that he felt compelled to say that none of this had anything to do with me. Apparently, I was actually really "sweet, awesome and...wonderful".
In the revealing awesomeness of this moment, I noticed that my purple summer night dress had somehow found its way to the floor. The obscenely expensive pillow from Israel, with its dark red pillow case that I toted across the world to comfort me through 17 hours of travel had landed on top of it. Everything was in disarray, which is probably how I knew without knowing. (Randomly, of course.) Yes...it was completely random how the few possessions I had in this world had disabused their way to the floor. I looked around for a plastic bag in which to throw them, so that I could expedite my escape from the scene of a crime that had not raped me physically, but violated me nonetheless. Inwardly, I thought about asking if he wouldn't mind taking a few minutes to ejaculate into those plastic bags, too? Just for good measure...
With all of it happening so quickly, I still remember how we found the time to stand very still at full second intervals, as if to allow the meat of our minds to process the fact that we had both entered a room without a door. There was no screaming, as I made a deliberate effort to contain the shrill, screeching sounds of pain and disillusionment that were erupting in layers, somewhere between my skin and blood vessels. It dawned on me that this was how domestic violence took place. It struck me that this was precisely how and why his last girlfriend had been "a complete psycho". It was because of this that I suddenly laughed at myself for always worrying more for him than for me. He was the one who came with a history of dark, volatile love relationships. I was just some quirky, bubbly-headed graduate student, who thought herself to be an activist by playing with babies in Palestine. He told me that he didn't know where Palestine is. He told me that I intimidated him. I sent him a map on a postcard. I struggled to show him, to share my world with him, to include him, rather than make him feel like something to be used and thrown away at will. The crime that I committed is that I never once encouraged him to consider that he was sleeping next to a figment of his imagination, too. Seriously. He never asked, so I never told him how and why I have come to do the bubbly-headed things that I do. Hmmm. Goldilocks could eat him for breakfast, but instead, she chose to serve his morning omelette with a smile. Isn't it funny, the lengths we go for love?
It probably still confounds him how I always knew when he chose to lie. Simply: it didn't take my Las Vegas-style training in the art of poker playing to realize that he was full of antics and tricks, even though he genuinely longed to be of more substance and passion. I saw the facade, of course, but there was more to this. There was depth to his generosity, strength and potential. Life was just beginning for him, for both of us, really. It is a shame that this happened the way it did. Even with better product placement, it was more than this. In the end, which was only the beginning, it was over before it began.
And yet in the end, I suppose this is the story of how, without exception, life always goes on.