My girlfriend was staring back at me in her bedroom, I’m fairly certain her eyes are lying to me but her mouth is saying something completely different. After two years of faithful dating you tend to pick up quirks of someone you see everyday, apparently she doesn’t know this yet. I think she has to know it, she’s caught me in lies but nothing like this. I keep asking her about a mystery man I think she’s seeing but every moment she makes me feel insane denying it. I don’t know how I can crack her code, I feel as though I have no choice but to accept her truth. Maybe, I’m just being extra sensitive.
“Jill, please, is there something going on I should know about?”
“NO, NO, NO! Stop this! You’re being insane!”
“Why are you yelling and being so defensive ?”
“I’m Not! You’re just….It’s frustrating because you’re asking me this.”
I know this is the point I should stop asking questions and just go with the flow of things. I know me prying isn’t getting anywhere but me stopping isn’t possible, pushing a little more is the only way I’ll feel any personal resolve. I wish I was rational enough to tell myself to stop asking questions, I’m too in the moment, I just don’t feel right.
“I just don’t feel right about something.”
“It’s obviously about those pictures.”
“Well yeah, I don’t see why some guy had his arm around you.”
“We were out, he’s a friend of mine. What else can I say!?”
Jill had a point, what else can she say? And I’m certainly a man with my faults, I’ve definitely done some flirting in my relationship but it’s always been harmless. Something seemed a little strange about this set up, this picture I saw, once again I resort back to my girlfriend’s eyes, they just looked so much livelier. Now I’m examining her eyes in a picture, what’s worse is that I’m examining them in my head, so maybe they didn’t look the way I thought.
Either way I can’t deny what’s going on here. I’m at a strange point in my relationship we’re both extremely comfortable in this, there hasn’t been much of a shake up. Our rotations in life have begun to repeat themselves, I feel like I’m married but I’m only 23, and certainly not married.
I take a few more moments looking at my girlfriend, maybe I should do what I do best. Yes, that’s a great plan, I am going to flee and run out of this room. However, if I go then that’s just predictable me, it’s something I always do, it’s starting to become like our fighting. It’s routine, I wonder if I even know how to argue anymore, I argue with the same person over and over again. Why do I do this to myself? I’m aware that self analysis is for a later moment, I am too hung up on the fact that I think my girlfriend is lying to me.
“I’m just gonna go.”
“Of course you are.”
“Well, we’re getting nowhere, and, I just can’t take this shit. Something is not right.”
“A lot more than something isn’t right with us.”
Wow, what the hell did that mean?
On my drive back home I couldn’t stop thinking about why I’m with this girl. I love her so much, or do I love the idea of being with her. I’ve come so far with her, she truly knows me. I think we can work anything out. I just know she’s not giving me the answer I’m looking for, she’s not reassuring me, she’s just igniting my insecurities in my system. I always looked at Jill as someone who needs me, I never thought I’d need her to tell me something like this. I keep driving, wondering when she’d call me and we’ll try to resolve things, or she’ll reassure me like the woman I know.
As I park my car and walk back into my California apartment I’m relieved that I still live alone. Our living situation has been a topic of contention for the two of us, I never committed to moving in together. I plan on doing it, but just not yet. This was a perfect example of why I shouldn’t. I don’t even know where I’d run to in a fight like this if we lived together.
Walking up the stairs to my apartment I feel like it’s a walk of shame. I’m coming back with a sour taste in my mouth not entirely sure what just happened. Now I’m in and I enter the dim lit hallway that consistently smells like woodchips for some reason.
I’ve been living here for four years now. I love it. I’m like the foreman of the first floor. I’m well aware of all the people who come and go which I like because it keeps me knowledgeable of what’s happening. On the way down the ten-room hallway I stop off at Alex’s. He’s not here, where the hell is Alex? Do I really need to talk to him? No, I should be alone anyway, probably better he’s not home. I need to think for a second, really evaluate if my girlfriend has some hidden lover or if I’m just being insane. I wonder if this would happen if we move in together? Shit, I’ll just go think about it.
As I turn I see someone coming towards me, someone I haven’t seen before. Who is this guy? A mid twenty year old dressed in black with a few eccentric tattoos is approaching me. Maybe he just moved in, I have no desire to find out right now, I just want to be alone now.
As the guy get’s closer I notice his earrings, his messy hair, his carefree bounce in his walk. Who the hell is this? I put my head down. Hopefully I can just get away with a nod of my head as a formal hello. I nod my head towards him. He’s not taking just a nod.
“Hey, I just moved in on the second floor, you live here for a while?”
“Yeah, a little bit, it’s a good place.”
“I just moved from San Diego, I’m here with my girlfriend”
Great, maybe one day we can all double date. I know how these greetings go, if I’m not careful I can be here for much longer than I would like, this is already too long in my book. His eye’s seem a little bloodshot and due to his demeanor I think he’s a little stoned, and knowing someone who’s stoned I know this guy could talk for days. I just need to keep moving.
“Yeah, San Diego’s great. Well man, I’m over in apartment 105 if you need anything, I hope you enjoy it here.”
As I walk he catches me.
“Well, what’s really going on?”
“Oh, uh nothing, just going to head to my room, I have some stuff to do.”
“Yeah but what’s really going on man?”
“Well… I just checked if my friend Alex was home, he’s not, so now I’m going back to my room.”
“Okay. But, what’s really going on man?”
Okay, what the hell IS going on? Did this guy just ask me the same question three times in a row? I don’t even know his name and by this point we’ve passed introductions so I can’t ask. I feel cornered.
“What’s going on?”
“No man, What’s really going on?
I stared back at my potentially stoned encounter in our hallway. Alex wasn’t home, my room was waiting for me and this guy is just asking me the same damn question. I took a deep breath, to myself I was thinking that this guy should just screw off. Yes, fuck this guy. I’m not going to take this same questioning from some random. I’m going back to my room. But, why is he asking me this? Do I look a certain way? Can he sense something? Should I ask him?
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, what’s really going on?”
After staring a few more seconds, I opened up to this guy. I think my girlfriend’s cheating on me…she wants me to move in…I’m uncertain in my job… I’m confused about my future… My car payments… School loans…Parents….
After fifteen minutes I finished. I opened up. After telling him this I thought he would run back to San Diego. Instead he looked at me with his smile and steady stance.
“And that’s what’s really going on.”
“Hey man, I’ll see you around.”
He walks away. I didn’t even get his name. What the hell just happened to me?
Studio apartments seem to become smaller and smaller when you have a problem. It’s peculiar my girlfriend didn’t call me yet, she usually does at this point, so I decide to give her a call.
Our conversation was dry, a lot of pauses, a lot of answers are not there, I hope answers and relief appears out of nowhere. They don’t. Jill and I hang up the phone and I continue to think by myself, one topic on my mind was the floodgate of emotion from “Mr. What’s really going on.” What a strange question, who is this guy? Why didn’t I ask for his name?
Eventually Alex knocks at my door, which is a relief, I mentally say I want to be alone but secretly I want company so I can bounce my problems off of someone else.
In strolls Alex, my long time friend who wasn’t home. He wasn’t around to see my hallway encounter, he has a lot of listening to do. I wonder if he’s seen “What’s really going on” before. As Alex strolls he sits on his spot on my couch.
“What’s up man?”
After grabbing him a beer I feel it necessary to grab his opinion on my relationship situation but instead I ask if he’s seen the kind of stoner looking guy who just moved in. He has no idea what I’m talking about. What Alex doesn’t know is that I was just bamboozled by some question that changed my night, he doesn’t know I just confided in some random guy who now knows more about me than I do. I mentally find myself at a crossroad. I ask myself three things.
1. Do I tell Alex about what happened to me with “What’s really going on?”
2. Do I ask Alex, “what’s really going on?” and see if he’s as susceptible to the question as I was.
3. Do I get to the situation at hand and tell him about my girlfriend and my suspicions.
After quick deliberation, I take a deep breath.
“Alex, what’s really going on?”
“What do you mean?”
“What’s really going on?”
“I don’t know”
“No man, What’s really going on?”
Alex looks confused. He sips his beer and answers the question. Slowly he talks to me about his job, he moves onto telling me that his sister is having problems in her relationship, then about his parents thinking about moving but he doesn’t want them to. Time passes, Alex has told me what’s really going on. When he’s done he asks why.
I can’t answer Alex why I just asked this just yet. I’m too shocked Alex and I just covered everything in his life so quickly. I don’t follow up to anything he just told me, instead I have to tell him about my hallway encounter.
I told Alex everything, I told him about Jill, coming home, and then seeing this guy. I told him how he pressured me and asked me a few times, I told him he wasn’t abrasive yet I felt it necessary to tell him everything, I told him he may have been stoned, I told him I don’t know why he asked, I told him it was his fault cause he wasn’t home in the first place, I told him I couldn’t stop thinking about this guy’s question when I have a bigger situation on my hands, and I then asked him why he opened up too me when I asked him this simple question.
Alex justified his answer saying it was because we were so close, which was true. He and I were friends who were relatively open with each other, shit, maybe I made a mistake and this Alex question was a fluke. How can I know? I can’t.
Aside from all of this, Alex reassured me why he and I were such good friends, he asked me the million-dollar question. He asked the same thing I thought.
“Who the hell does this guy think he is?”
Suddenly we were badmouthing, “Mr. What’s really going on?” How does this guy have the balls to come to strangers and ask this question, who does he REALLY think he is? We were pissed. But, were we pissed because of the life confession or because of the gull this guy possessed? Who knows, we didn’t care, we were complaining.
Alex wanted to meet this guy, but in my mind he was elusive. He was a guy that you didn’t seek out, he was just there, I’ve been around people to know when they don’t follow schedules, they just do, and he was one of them. Not to mention he was new to the apartment, what the hell would we say to him? What would we ask him? Maybe we were just looking into things.
We concluded there was really only one way to find out if this question held meaning, we had to ask some other people “What’s really going on?” We need to see what they say? We need to know if they’re as vulnerable as we are to the question. Maybe Alex wasn’t even vulnerable, maybe it was just me.
After more discussion we decided we needed to get out, we need to grab a beer elsewhere. If either one of us have the testicular fortitude we think we have we’ll be able to pose this question to people.
Who am I kidding? We won’t ask this to anyone, but it’s a good excuse to get out. I decide that I’ll be able to tell Alex about my girlfriend situation in a different environment. We’ll get out of the apartment and we can head to a local bar, forget all this about “What’s really going on” and just talk about the important things.
As we head to Alex’s car two major things are going through my head. First of all I’m secretly hoping to see “Mr. What’s really going on” but we don’t. And the other is wondering what happened to my wallet.
Suddenly it dawns on me….I left my wallet at Jill’s. SHIT.
Did I purposely do this? No I couldn’t have, I need my wallet. When I tell Alex I left it and we need to pick it up he also get’s skeptical to the fact that I may have left it there just to go back over. Maybe my subconscious did it but either way I get carded everywhere and have no money.
I call Jill three times. Eventually she answers.
“Um, hey babe. Hey Alex and I are going to have a beer and I think I left my wallet there.”
“You’re having a beer with Alex?”
“Just you two?”
“You guys are going to the Dime?”
“Yeah…Ah….Is that cool?”
Great, all I can think is that it was a great conversation with my girlfriend. This is where a boyfriend needs to be a man. I know she doesn’t want me to go out with Alex, I know she wants me with her, but I made plans with him. He is extending himself to me as a friend and I need to follow up. I have to tell myself time and time again that I am not going to feel bad about this.
As I suspected Alex is convinced that if I run to her house for my wallet I will stay there, I tell him I won’t, but he’s no fool, he knows how relationships are. However, this time is different, this time I am going to stick to my man guns and go out and have a beer. It’s been a rough night.
We head over to Jill’s house. As we approach, Alex stops and parks for a second. By now, I told him Jill and I were having problems but I wasn’t specific. He doesn’t know how much this is affecting me, it’s killing me, however I know I will get to it, over a beer.
I assure Alex I will be right back.
As I walk to the door of my girlfriend’s, a sudden feeling comes over me. In my mind I am telling myself that things can be alright, I believe that maybe I am just a little neurotic. Maybe I am working myself into a fuss over absolutely nothing. I saw a picture of her with some guy, this really isn’t all that nuts. I was about to grab a beer and stand in an environment with ladies who are single. Maybe I should give her the benefit of the doubt for now. Maybe I need to evaluate my issues and myself.
I look back at Alex sitting in the car, I approach the door and knock. Jill lets me in and we head back to the scene of the crime where I was arguing with her earlier. Sure enough my grey wallet was sitting on the side table where I always put it, and always forget it.
I grab my wallet and our exchange is short and sweet. We both don’t want to argue but we both know our talk isn’t over. I let Jill know that I’m not going to have many beers and I just want to talk with Alex for a bit. Of course Jill assumes the conversation will be about her, although she’s correct, I don’t tell her. I just need to get out and talk, I tell her.
As I grab my wallet and look Jill in the eyes I smile. I’m telling myself everything will be okay. I give her a hug and I place my wallet in my pocket, get ready to head to the door.
As she walks me out I stop for a second. I look to Jill.
“What’s really going on?”
“What’s really going on?”
“What do you mean?”
“….I mean….What’s really going on?”
Jill stares back at me with a slightly confused look. Like before I examine her eyes, I can tell she’s not sure what I’m asking.
“I’m just going to stay home tonight,” she says.
“Well, yeah. But, What’s really going on?”
Jill says nothing. Then, suddenly, the eyes that I look at so often begin to swell with tears.
Jill begins to tell me that my gut feeling about her and that guy were true, she’s been sleeping with him for two weeks. She opens the floodgates. I stand speechless yet not surprised. I knew something was going on, I knew my instincts were correct. Most importantly, I knew that’s what was really going on.