We met in a dark, dingy bar. I was wasting away my days in Oklahoma as I wait for my golden ticket to live abroad. My Visa to move to Spain would be in the mail any day. I had been arguing and exchanging snail mail with the Spanish consul for going on three months now.
He was boyishly handsome. Boyish to the point where I snuck a peak at his driver’s license to make sure he was of age. He insisted his soft skin and rosy cheeks were due to all of the raw, organic sprouted grains his ‘mum’ fed him. He was awkwardly mature in his persona and he tried to offset this fact by wearing a ridiculous red backwards hat at all times. I hated this hat. One time he left the hat in my house. I “accidentally misplaced it."
His character wasn’t the only factor that portrayed a maturity. He was only twenty six years old and was the founder of a very successful startup oil company with two partners in London. His partners came into town often. He took them to extravagant dinners followed by drinks and women-ogling at Hooters. He walked around the apartment shirtless, leading conference calls in parts of South America, Africa, the Middle East, and Europe (all of the oil-rich countries). He had his lawyer on speed dial to make sure he was abiding by the book.
We dated for only two months before I set off to Catalonia. I was ecstatic, albeit a bit confused that I may be making a mistake by leaving behind my man-boy. Sitting at a bar in the Dallas airport, waiting for my flight to Barcelona, I began crying while explaining to a new friend that I was fleeing the country just as a new relationship was beginning to bloom. However hard it was to leave, I knew I had to pursue my original dream of living in Spain or else there was the possibility of resentment.
Three months after I set foot on Spanish grounds, I heard the quirky auditory noises of a Skype call. It was a surprise as I hadn’t heard his voice since leaving American soil. He had Skyped to tell me he was going to Africa on a business trip and that he wanted to take me to Turkey afterward. Istanbul to be exact. I couldn’t say yes fast enough.
I jetted off the plane and into the Istanbul airport to find him standing there with multiple dollies full of tools and equipment for fixing pipelines. The following three days were spent in an exuberant hotel costing $1,000 per night. I sat in our bay window overlooking the Sea of Marmara sipping a glass of $500 bottle of Champagne. Our short time together was spent frolicking through ancient mosques and stuffing our faces with baklava.
I thought I was in love. We made plans to move to the same city after the summer ended. We chose Chicago. I put in my notice with my Spanish flat. Summer ended and I found myself in the excessively freezing, windy city, living with a boy I had really only dated for two months.
He was the same, but different. His conference calls, business trips, and wining and dining dwindled. There was an insidious atmosphere in the apartment. Then, everything came to a halt. He lost his job. He lost his partners. They had supposedly cheated him out of a deal and out of his very own company.
The next six months I was the head of household. I took care of everything. I paid for rent and utilities. I went apartment hunting (alone) when our short-term lease expired. I even expressed my fear of going alone to look at an apartment I had found off Craigslist due to the landlord’s off-putting creepy factor, yet he insisted it was fine and pranced off to his yoga class. I packed and moved all of his belongings during our move when he was out of town visiting his “mum." He conveniently arrived back in town the day I moved all of our things into the new apartment.
He insisted on building another company from scratch, which would take months, possibly years. There was no talk of finding a part-time or temporary job to help alleviate the financial burden. He replaced his work duties with naps and yoga. The only thing that stayed constant was his lack of shirt. I tried to stay positive and optimistic. “At least his red hat is gone,” I would murmur to myself.
He attempted to make up for his lack of income with his cooking skills. He would roll beef and cheese into huge wheat tortillas for breakfast while a huge pan of pasta slowly cook in the oven for dinner. He knew I was gluten-free, lactose intolerant, and pescetarian.
I could only take so much. I cracked. I cracked in a big and unexpected way. To say the least, I ended things. There was yelling. I was angry I let it go on as long as it did without adequate communication. He didn’t retaliate. He was calm, emotionless. He said he understood.
A whole month went by. He impeded his packing. He made excuses and gave me reasons why he wasn’t able to move out. Yet, after coming home to see him in bed day after day, I couldn’t empathize any longer. I told him he needed to leave by the weekend. He could leave his belongings if he had nowhere to put them, but he had to go. He left his belongings for me to pack and move once more with no help.
As I watched him leave the front door, a rush of cool air came over me. I thought it was a vivid feeling of relief, but I had left the front window open. Nonetheless, my anxiety was completely assuaged.