I’ve thought a lot about Florida over the past couple of weeks. This might sound like an unfair generalization, because it is one, but I’m of the opinion that it’s the worst state in the union, by far. Worse than Alaska. Worse than Texas. Because Florida contains three types of people: elderly retirees who can’t drive, criminals hiding from outstanding warrants and/or child support payments who can’t drive, and rednecks more likely to form a sex cult or private militia than do anything useful with their lives who can’t drive. I wouldn’t want to live there. I wouldn’t want to raise a child there. I don’t even want to visit as a tourist.
But there’s that little, nattering voice in my head that can’t stop thinking about it. My special lady feels she needs to move there for her career. I happen to disagree with this opinion, but it’s not my choice to make, and I have no right to talk her out of it. So what would happen, this voice wonders, if I went with her?
Before you longtime readers ring the dispiriting matin chime of codependency, hear me out for a second. It’s not about clinging like a barnacle to her rusty hull (that’s a pretty neat sex move, by the way). I might be crazy, but I see a future for this relationship, and it sucks to give it up before it really has a chance to flourish, solely because she’s moving. The fact is, I have nothing keeping me here but a dead-end job. While I have no desire to move to Florida, I could conceivably make the move and find another dead-end job.
The problem with this is twofold. First, there’s really no way, after ten short weeks of dating, to approach this idea without sounding like a crazy person. My therapist made the perhaps destructive suggestion that I have nothing to lose: either we break up now, or we break up when she leaves in January. What’s the problem with going big?
That brings me to the second problem: my special lady has zero desire to discuss the impending move as it pertains to the relationship. I planned to talk to her about this in person a week ago, but she bailed on our choir rehearsal because she fell ill. It’s been on my mind for a few weeks, but I’ve had a hard time broaching the subject, mainly because until last week I hadn’t made up my mind about whether or not I was willing to move a thousand miles to a terrible place just to see if this relationship would work. I knew any discussion we had would end in disaster, and maybe this is selfish, but I’d rather prolong the inevitable. I know that sounds totally contrary to what I wrote last week, mainly because it is, but fuck you. I’m human. I’m allowed to vacillate, to be comically inconsistent and hypocritical. It’s not like I’m running for office.
I finally talked to her on Wednesday, over the phone, which was not my favorite choice of communication, but beggars can’t be choosers, and I was driving myself nuts thinking about the future of the relationship. We needed to have an open, honest discussion about the possibilities, because anything other than breaking up requires thought and planning. We can’t just wait until New Year’s Eve to discuss it. Plus, it was good timing, because she had an interview with some people in Florida that morning, so I could easily segue into the conversation about what happens to us when she leaves.
“What’s going to happen?” I asked.
After a long pause, she replied, “Well, if I get this job, I have to take that.”
“Of course,” I said. “Obviously. But what’s going to happen, you know, to…us? This…relationship?” Yeah, I started stammering like an idiot. So much for an adult discussion.
She didn’t answer, so I added: “What should I be doing — ?” I planned to finish that thought by asking if I should start looking for work in Florida so I can join her down there, but she cut me off:
“You shouldn’t be doing anything.”
That was discouraging. She continued to not say anything, so I acknowledged that this conversation was clearly making her uncomfortable and agreed to change the subject.
And that was it. We had dinner on Saturday night, but she didn’t seem to be having a terribly good time. She talked a lot, but I think she only talked so I couldn’t seize a silent moment and bring up this topic again. It felt to me like she was fulfilling an obligation; we’d made this plan for dinner, and she had to see it through. But, weirdly, I left feeling slightly better about it. She seemed to get very down thinking of the ramifications of leaving the state, what she’d have to leave behind — friends, family, pets, furniture — and I started thinking maybe she’d reconsider this harebrained scheme.
I got over that feeling by Sunday morning. Instead of reading it optimistically, I realized that — whether she consciously intended it or not — maybe this was a not-entirely-subtle introduction to the scaling back of the relationship.
So, what does it all mean? Did I ruin everything by trying to communicate about the state of the relationship and the possibility for its continued existence? Am I just being paranoid? I spoke with my brain trust of female friends, who all independently agreed that I shouldn’t “push” her. Not to sound like an asshole, but I didn’t really push her when I brought it up. I got out two and a half sentences before it became clear that this discussion would not happen, and much as I wanted to talk about it, I knew it wouldn’t happen until she wanted to discuss it — if she ever did.
Does that mean I’ll spend the next six weeks on pins and needles, overthinking every word, every gesture, every moment we spend together? Should I stop fooling myself into thinking I’ll derive any pleasure from a relationship whose inevitable end hangs over us like a little black cloud? I can’t figure out if I’m too stubborn to just end it, or if I really want to wait it out on the off-chance I’m being my usual paranoid self. What if I’m misreading everything? But then, what’s the point of continuing if I’m not?