In the year I came back from China I allowed you to break my heart three more times. By that point I just didn’t know of any other way to BE aside from heartbroken. My mother-in-law met us at the airport, and separately my brother, as it had been made clear to both families that we would not be cohabitating. I started crying as soon as I saw her. The stress of the long confusing flight (where we took a break from hating each other to hold hands and pass flirtatious notes) loosed an ocean of suppressed tears from my tiny human eyes. I still loved you. Even though I had already been crying everyday for a year, it seemed there were still 7 oceans more to come. I had become and still continue to be a person who cries unapologetically in public, another fun revelation. She told me, through her own ocean, that no matter what, I would always be her daughter. I have often wondered how on earth you could stand there, and see that, and not tear your own eyes out of your own head with your own hands. You must be a very strong person.
In the year I came back from China I slept on an air mattress in the living room. The dog would bark and snarl at every noise throughout the night for months and months. It didn’t matter, I couldn’t sleep, and when I could it was like a cold disgusting coma that I couldn’t wait to get away from. I started slipping the loop handle of his leash around my ankle, so that when he startled at the sound of a car door closing down the street, I wouldn’t have to get up to quiet him. It was just easier to tie his rage, confusion and fear to my own. I didn’t leave the house for weeks, and when I did, I needed a sister to escort me. I was so fragile that even trips to beloved Target were too overwhelming and had to be scheduled, planned, rehearsed.
In the year I came back from China the thin perfect blue of our California sky kept me company and I spent hours marveling at how un-Chinese it was. I avoided all people who would inevitably ask, how’s your husband? Sometimes I would lie, “he’s fine”, and sometimes I would tell the truth, “I have not a single fucking clue”. The answer that worked the best was “we’re not really getting along right now” (accompanied by a small nervous smile). That one worked well because it put an end to the innocent yet highly personal line of questioning and still would illicit a small show of delicious pity from the other party. A pity that I soon learned to expect, demand and then became addicted to. Not like heroin addicted, or cigarette addicted, more like just a little teeny tiny weed habit. An addiction that could be reasoned with. The first person to call me out on my pity habit was David, in his bathtub, whilst rubbing my feet. But that’s really more of a second year story.