It was May and it was hot in our cave of an apartment. I wanted to make sure I had food for Raymond’s family who would be visiting us from New York for Nia’s fourth birthday so I headed out to the grocery store for snacks. They’d stopped at the new outlets for shoes and gifts, so I knew I had some time.
Grocery store visits were my attempt to fleeing the crowded and unkempt apartment; much unprepared for company and to also escape the confusion and fear in my mind. I wasn’t ready to be a single mother.
The brown boxes that crowded were from The Gap.
He worked there and actually got them for me.
They were all the same size and perfect for moving.
It was over.
Before his family came, I wanted to be sure so I asked him, “Do you think there’s any chance for us? Is it really over?” We were right there in the living room that we’d shared for three years and on the couch that we’d picked out together. We agreed that a brown couch wouldn’t show stains if Nia spilled something.
I typically knew when he was lying –“No, it’s over, Ashley,” he said with a smirk as if he were talking about yesterday’s trash.
He nervously laughed whenever we talked about serious matters.
I couldn’t be sure whether or not he was lying today.
The grocery store was packed and it was not only hot but also humid. In the orange smoggy sunset on the west side of Cincinnati, I managed to find a spot at the very end of the parking lot where the cart wheels locked up. Something told me it would be a long night and an even longer weekend of entertaining.
I got the call that they’d arrived before I could finish shopping for distractions. There were already meatballs on the stove, but I had the girl everyone wanted to see so I hurried home.
As usual there was a warm welcome for me and Nia and a lot of gifts and hugs and love. Jodi, Raymond’s mom brought her husband, Dave and her three teenagers to Cincinnati from the Bronx. My daughter Nia, is Jodi’s only grandchild and a real shot at redemption with her son, Raymond. I was very happy to see them but I knew that this might be one of the last visits like this.
“Are you in distribution or something, do you do catalog sales?? What in the world are all these boxes for,” Dave boomed in his Bronx accent loud enough to stop all eight of us from moving in the tiny apartment.
“No.” I paused and looked at Jodi, then Raymond. “They didn’t tell you?” He looked puzzled. Everyone looked puzzled.
“I’m moving.” I said.
Denial is a strong coping mechanism. If you are creative you can craft stories in your mind and they will come true for you. The actors do not know they are playing in your show but it doesn’t matter. You only hear what you choose to hear and only if it fits into your script. The serious music only comes when you’ve planned it and the climax is all your own. I’ve not known denial. I am more intrigued by reality and the unbelievable nature of things that actually do happen, like watching a man move to Ohio for you and then breaking up with him. I thank God that I was never a good liar or fib-teller. Something tells me that the ability to replay real stories is a gift I was rightfully given.