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The Birthday Dance - Friday, Dec. 20, 2019
Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019 @ 11:34 pm
Tonight, I slipped from the beam.
Earlier in the day, I go out to ski. The sun poking through broken clouds, clumps of snow falling from the trees, earthy smells coming from the forest, and creeklets gurgling down the hillside. False spring. I ski out to the furthest point of the trail system, to the overlook. I do this without poles, feeling slightly masochistic but moreso wanting my arms free to move.
Skiing without poles down the steeper runs. Endorphins flooding my body. There's nobody else out here, and I'm soaring through the melting forest. I'm so happy that I realize that I'm singing and laughing at the same time. I wonder if this is what cocaine feels like.
By the time I'm back at the car, I'm blissfully exhausted.
Drive home, have snack.
D comes home from work. We are sitting around by the fire, and he pulls out the wedding invitation. We are invited to a wedding in February at the ski resort in the next town. He starts looking at hotels. They're expensive; we left this too late. He's asking me if I want to stay one night or two. The queen bed or the king suite. Maybe tack on another night at the next town over.
I'm panicking inside. My stomach is falling out the bottom. He can tell that something's wrong.
"What's going on?" he asks.
I stare vacantly into the woodstove. Then, my mind sharpens quickly, and I realize that I'm standing on the beam. Either I say, "Oh, nothing. Book the queen bed. It's cheaper and we won't be in the room much anyhow." Or I tell the truth.
I pause before answering. I think about how I did all those kilometers of skiing without poles. How it took more effort but allowed my skill to improve. And then I realized that if I go with my avoidant answer, that nothing would ever change. Drop the poles, Shannon. Drop the goddamn poles.
"I'm... I'm... having a hard time... feeling emotionally vacant... exhausted..." I say. Or something like that.
"What are you saying?" I can see him start to panic.
"It's not a fully formed thought... I'm tired of trying and I don't know what to do and I feel like I've shut down emotionally"
I sit detached and numb inside. I watch him throw his phone across the room. He rages around like a branded calf. He starts to say ugly things, and I tense up and brace myself.
"The last three weeks have been great. Have you been lying to me?" he asks.
"The last three weeks, I've been shut down emotionally. I stopped trying."
"But it's been great. We go skiing and...."
"You leave me behind on the trail, and I ski alone in the forest."
"Why didn't you say something? I ski faster than you. I can't know that it bothers you if you don't tell me. You're always withholding information from me. You have to tell me these things. You need to get over yourself and just talk. This is why I wanted you to go to counselling. You're always making assumptions. Do you know what intimacy is? I don't think you even know what you want."
"I can't do this anymore."
"You need to leave. Pack your bag and take the car and GO. I can't believe you're doing this."
I stand up in a trance and start to pile things near the door. Jackets, boots, work stuff. I pack clothes and a book. I am numb. I am not crying. Not anywhere near crying. Methodically packing my stuff, working out in my head where the heck I'm going. I look at the house with fresh eyes, wondering if this was my last day here. I think about the friends that I was making here, the yoga class that I was looking forward to on Sunday night, the ski date booked with a friend for Tuesday.
I start the car. I consider calling my mother but decide to save her the worry. I need the night to myself to think. I'll drive until I'm tired and find a hotel.
I'm three blocks away, and my phone rings.
I pull over, turn off the car and answer it. (Is this me grabbing my poles?)
We talk for an hour. It's more of the same circular conversation. He's telling me that I haven't given him a chance. He's begging me to not do this to us. Throughout this whole thing, I am careful to never be mean. I only talk about my own problems, my own emptiness, and how the relationship isn't working for me.
"I'm cold and too tired to drive. I'm coming home."
"What does that mean. What does coming home mean?"
"It means that it's late, and I'm cold, and I need to come home to sleep."
I enter the house. I am unable to say anything. I curl up into a fetal ball in front of the woodstove.
He makes himself a pizza.
He goes to bed.
I unfurl myself and climb up into the attic. I'm under the duvet writing and trying to work out what I'm feeling and what I'm going to do tomorrow. I don't know if I'm on the beam or off. Is this the abyss? When is the reality of what I have just done going to hit me?