She sent me an email from work: “I’m bringing some friends over to help me move my stuff out at 6 o’clock. It’ll take a few hours. You probably shouldn’t be there. You can if you want, but it probably wouldn’t be a good idea.”
We’d been arguing back and forth by email all morning and for several days prior. She’d been sleeping on the couch, leaving me alone in the bed.
Now it seemed it was really over. I called her at work and asked, “What was I supposed to do from six to nine?” She suggested I see a movie. I told her that whatever she did, she’d better not take the cats. “I won’t,” she promised. I said it again — the cats stay, the cats are mine, you’re not going to leave me all alone.
I walked down to Newport Avenue, going from one bar to another, pretending to read a newspaper and drinking beer and waiting for the hours to pass. At eight I called her cell. She told me they were still getting stuff out. “I’m tired of waiting,” I said.
“Go see a movie,” she said again. What was I going to see? How could I focus on a movie? Why did she keep saying that? At 8:45 I called and said that I was coming home whether they were done or not. I wasn’t going to be pushed out of my own apartment, the one that she was leaving.
I picked up a six-pack on the way. It was a warm summer evening in Ocean Beach. I was sweating; I had a headache from the beers at the three bars. I dreaded going back, having to look at the shape my home would be in, how empty it would be. It was the same feeling I’d had almost ten years ago, when another relationship ended in much the same way. That was in North Park. I was not allowed to be there one day while my ex-girlfriend and some of her friends moved all her stuff out. When I returned home to that empty apartment, my heart had never felt so hollow. Now here it was again, that same feeling.
I walked in and my heart shrunk two sizes to see the bookshelves empty, the record player gone, the closet with only my clothes. She left the bed, the couch, the metal desk — said she didn’t need them anymore. Most of the dishes were there. More of the books were gone. I wasn’t sure which books belonged to whom anyway.
I couldn’t find my cats. I called her cell and yelled at her, calling her a liar for taking them. She swore she didn’t take them and that they hadn’t run outside. I eventually found the cats huddled under the bed, scared and confused. They didn’t know what was going on; they didn’t understand. They wouldn’t come out.
Late that night, as I was trying to fall asleep, the cats came out and jumped onto the bed. They cuddled next to me.
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