I was in The Lawyer’s condo, on Sunday afternoon, when I saw the text from Marcus.
Well I don’t know what I did to you for you to not want to talk to me anymore. But I won’t beg you. I see you went out to brunch with somebody today so in lieu of that and your recent other outings, it is apparent that you would rather be doing other things than seeing me. On that note, I won’t bug you anymore.
It was the single most passive-aggressive and childish text message that I had ever received.
Much to Marcus’ chagrin, I hadn’t responded to any of his text messages.
After pulling an all-nighter, taking a three hour Pharmacology exam (you guys know how Pharmacology is the bane of my existence) on Friday morning, scarfing down a 10 minute lunch on the Metro, arriving at the Holocaust Museum for what was both the most emotional and riveting ethics lecture this year, I wasn’t even able to breathe until 5 p.m. By the end of the day, those breaths were the shallow, rapid inhalations of a sleep-deprived MSII who just survived the near death experience of having Pathology and Pharmacology exams in the same week, with mandatory ethics lectures sprinkled in every day.
When two of my classmates (shout out to Rhea!) invited me to take shots after the Holocaust Museum trip, I hesitated only briefly.
I was emotionally and physically spent and having a few drinks seemed like a perfect idea. Besides, it wasn’t even sunset yet. I was taking shots before Sabbath, you Adventist people!
When Marcus texted around 6:30 p.m. on Friday to ask why I hadn’t been responding to him all day, the tequila in me may or may not have responded, “I’m drinking with my classmates! And, I think the exam went well!” a little too gleefully.
Marcus was surprised, as evidenced by his response. However, even if I was in a committed relationship with him, I should still be allowed to spontaneously decide to take a few shots with my classmates after Death Week in medical school. Besides, Marcus is a bar owner in Baltimore. When I called him after I got home at 8:30 p.m., he said that he was buying alcohol for the bar. He wasn’t even in DC, much less able to see me.
On Sabbath, I woke up with what was quite possibly my first hangover in life. I proceeded to whine via text message to Christine, while drinking water out of a straw. (I couldn’t raise my head enough to drink like an adult, OK? Stop judging me!) When Marcus texted on Sabbath afternoon, I told him as much, but didn’t offer to see him.
After all, earlier in the week, when I needed his emotional support the most, he wasn't returning my text messages or calls. When he did finally respond to me, it was the night before my Pharmacology exam and he texted to tell me that he wasn't going to the bar--an implication that I could see him if I wanted to. I found his lack of concern about my upcoming exam selfish and inconsiderate. I was still holding a grudge on Sabbath.
Besides, I could barely emerge from my bed to get water from the kitchen. I was suffering from extreme exhaustion, caffeine withdrawal, and drinking alcohol on an empty stomach. As a result, I ended up missing a party at my classmate’s house that night AND not making it out to dinner with Christine. I wasn't up for leaving my bedroom, much less driving into the city to see Marcus. Instead, I sat on my couch in pajamas watching a Redbox movie.
What happened on Sunday morning was entirely to the credit of The Lawyer.
While I was dying a rapid death via studying and sleep-deprivation last week, he was filing for divorce. As per his last communication about seeing me, the November 1st date had been hanging expectantly in the air for a while.
He didn’t need to hint, like Marcus had, about seeing me on the weekend. Instead, he had had the guts and eloquence to say, via email, that he was making himself available to me in whatever capacity I wanted to see him. Unfortunately, because I couldn’t think beyond the point of Friday at 5 p.m., I had never responded to him.
When I finally did, on Friday night, I was surprised to discover that he had taken the initiative to make reservations at both Graffiato for Saturday night and Belga Café for Sunday morning. The choice was up to me.
If I haven’t mentioned it before, internet (but I know I have), I like a man who knows how to plan a date. A man that makes reservations at two of the busiest DC restaurants at least four days in advance (I asked The Lawyer, who was playfully vague, but a reservation for Graffiato on a Saturday night would have had to been made by Monday at the latest), especially when I’ve been distracted and overwhelmed, is downright charming.
I told him that I’d love to meet him for brunch on Sunday. Dinner on Saturday night felt too date-y, and I've failed both times that I've tried to get into Belga for Sunday brunch. (In fact, I'm certain that The Lawyer remembered this when he made that reservation.)
I can’t say that I was surprised to see a text from him at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday morning. I wasn’t awake yet, but the message told me that he was at a Target in western Virginia and could pick me up on his way back into the city. I smiled to myself, thinking about the number of Targets that he had to have driven past to get out of the city and to this particular one. Maybe it was coincidence, but I think that he was trying to play the masculine card by picking me up on the way to brunch. I texted my address and told him I’d see him around 10:30.
Brunch was delicious and afterwards, he volunteered to accompany on my mundane errands. There was a brief sojourn in the Verizon store to consider upgrades and when I mentioned that I needed some 4” binders from Staples, he took me to his office instead and saved me about $40.
I was skeptical when he followed up the trip to his office with the casual mention that he wanted to show me his place. But, The Lawyer had voluntarily admitted to me that after being in a relationship for nearly a decade, he is constantly second-guessing every move that he makes, because he doesn’t remember how to date. Also, this is the same man that used to ride a yellow school bus with me in high school. Even if he was taking me to his place with romantic intent, part of me genuinely believed that the nerdy classmate of mine just wanted to show off all his new furniture and light fixtures.
I was correct about the latter.
After a tour of his place, with discussions about paint and upholstery for the sun room, we sat on his couch and talked for three hours. It didn’t seem like that long, but there were answers being offered to the questions that I have had for a while. Even after I noticed the time, I wasn’t about to rush him.
It was as I picked up my purse, on the way out, that I noticed Marcus’ text message.
He didn’t know with whom, or where, I had gone for brunch, but he had to have gotten his tip off from Facebook. Without thinking that I would have to justify my actions, I had excitedly updated my Facebook status on Sunday morning to,
“Going out to brunch! Yay! I feel like a normal person again!”
I’m shocked that Marcus would actually resort to Facebook stalking to find out what I was doing, in lieu of—I don’t know, picking up the phone and asking me—but stranger things have happened.
The rage that I felt at reading Marcus’ text message was disproportionate to what it should have been. I know that I flashed back to my relationship with Rich—and the expectation that I should be with him and his people the minute that I was done with anything medical.
As a result, I wanted to tell Marcus that he could eff off and that he was totally out of line to be whining like a child about the fact that I was spending time with someone besides him. Also, if he was so adamant about seeing me, why wasn’t he man enough to do what The Lawyer did by sending an email or text message saying, “Hey, I know your big exam week is over! Can I see you this weekend? What are you up for?” Instead, a passive-aggressive message telling me that he was done with me was the last thing that I wanted to deal with.
So, I didn’t deal with it. Until today.
I decided to call, rather than emailing. When Marcus didn’t answer, I left him a calm and rational voicemail reminding him that I’ve always been open and honest with him about my expectations in this situation. I told him that I can’t make any commitments and that right now, medical school is my priority. I said that even if he wasn’t working on Friday night, I shouldn’t have had to explain going out with my classmates after Death Week. As far as who I was with during the weekend, he knew that I still had church and non-medical school friends that I hadn't seen in a month.
When the voice message wasn’t cutting me off, I kept going—telling him that if I really was as heartless as he was intimating, I wouldn’t even be making the call. I would have let him walk away, knowing that I don’t need drama and false accusations. The fact that I took the time to call and care about his hurt feelings said something. Then, I told him that if I never heard from again, I would understand why, but I wanted him to know without question that I had done nothing wrong.
My call wasn’t returned.