When you came together all those months or years ago, how could you possibly have ever predicted the messy end of love? What began with flirtation led into infatuation and there you were, pining away for this person, this stranger, you barely knew. That first blush, of sex and romance, can't ever be undone - those are your memories, for better or worse - and you should cherish them as such. They are what will get you through the rocky aftermath, when you divide up your CDs and books, when you call your divorce lawyer and she calls her parents to tell them it's over. Yes, this time it's really done.
Not everything begins smoothly, nor should it. We are complicated creatures and our lives are full of mixed-up emotion and confusing sentiment. She loves him, but also loves her ex. He loves her, but also loves his work. But when two people connect, really connect, on deep and personal levels, what's wrong with speeding the plough and fantasizing about the next few years of your life with this other person? You met and all those pieces inside of you fused, finally, into one. It might've been instant or it might've taken a few hours, days or weeks, but a switch was flipped and you'll never be the same again. Until, of course, it's over and all those life-affirming and happy moments shatter and you're left to sift through the rubble of what was and might've been.
But why should a breakup be as fraught and unbearable as some are? Why should the beauty and light of the beginning turn into the ugly and dark of the end?
A good friend of mine was with a woman for many months. They met and fell in love immediately. Scott's feelings for Lauara were instantaneous and aroused in him an unparalleled desire to care for and protect her. He loved being around her, hadn't ever felt this way about another woman before. Having similar socioeconomic and educational backgrounds, it seemed to him they were on the same page. Every woman he'd ever been with paled in comparison to her. The conversations, according to Scott, were the most exciting part about being with her, since they showed off her well-rounded intellect.
"I've finally met my equal," he said. "It's strange. For years, I got with women with whom I'd never even consider a friendship. With her, it's like a package deal. All in one. I talk to her like a good friend and we fuck like animals."
The danger, as I warned him, was that he knew her only as far as she let him in, only as far as their budding romance allowed. "You don't understand. She's my best friend. I can tell her anything and she can tell me anything."
But of course if he'd been really aware of what was going on, he'd have seen that tenuous line between friendship and lover for what it was. Because when all was said and done, when she'd broken it off with him in an email and he called me up, confused and fuming, I said, "She was never your friend, Scott. Which is why Laura could end it the way she did. The stakes were too high for friendship and too low for longevity. At least in her eyes."
In her cold and callous email, she told him they couldn't speak for a year. "I really don't get her at all," he said. "There was momentum and fusion. There was the best sex of my life and hers, if what she told me was true. Now, I'm not sure I believe anything she said."
And how could he? In the wake of his breakup, Scott experienced what many of us do - a severe blow to the ego, the loss of hope and happiness, the eclipse of love. Was Laura a bad person for what she did and how she did it? Yes and no.
Many people believe that having a romantic and sexual relationship with someone else precludes the very thing that brought them together in the first place - simpatico. How often have you heard of two friends suddenly coming together as lovers? But Laura, like so many other fractured people, could not fuse her disparate pieces in the way Scott did. She couldn't see that in losing Scott as a lover, she also lost him as a friend. Perhaps that was her intention all along. But it has left Scott fairly broken and angry, wondering how it was that he'd let such a good friend of his take advantage of him like that.
If Scott had known what kind of person she was really was, if Laura had shown him the baser parts of her personality, Scott might've had a fighting chance. Instead, she did what so many people do - she obfuscated, she hid, and, ultimately, she lied. Scott is a good guy and he deserved a good woman, someone who wouldn't let him go in an email, someone who could've appreciated all that he had to offer, which was a lot. But it's not Scott's fault for falling in love. It's Laura's fault for not.
"David Levinson is a young writer who has mastered all the elements that make up a classically structured short story: drama, suspense, humor, empathy. There are no fancy pyrotechnics or meta-fictional devices here. He's a neo-traditionalist so the stories are direct, emotional and compulsively readable, plus there's enough mystery and action in them to propel at least a dozen novels."<br>Bret Easton Ellis