Saturday, October 7, 2017

My Ex Boyfriend and the Chamber of Secrets

There is a bangin' sandwhich shop in my old neighborhood near Northwestern University called Soulwich. This one time I didn't have that much cash on me, so I lied to the restaurant owner about being a college student to get the discount meal. Whenever I would come in, either him or his wife would always ask me how my classes were going. If friends came with me, the owners wanted to know what their majors were too. It took a lot of thinking on my feet and nudging in the ribs to keep up those discounted meal lies. I eventually told the owner I graduated, but then he wanted to know where I was working. To this day I still feel bad about it because if I had just told him I was low on cash the first day, I'm sure he would have let me pay him back on the next visit. So below is a story about why honesty is the best policy...

I decided I wanted to live in Chicago after watching the movie, What Women Want. I planned a trip to the city for my 21st birthday, had my first (legal) alcoholic beverage at Navy Pier, and then saved up the funds to move by the time I was 24. About a year later my boyfriend who was still living in North Carolina joined me. Girlfriend Achievement Level 10 Unlocked!

The plan was for him to stay with me until he got a job and his own place, mostly because his parents didn’t want us living together without being married.

Spoiler alert, he never got his own place

I had lived alone for a few years already, so living with a boyfriend was a new frontier. I liked inviting friends over to sit at the lakefront, having someone to kill spiders and turn off the lights after I had already crawled into bed. Our living situation was pretty great until his family wanted to come visit.  He sheepishly confessed to me that he hadn’t told his parents we were still living together.

During the time they were going to be visiting I had to go out of town for work and felt like this was the perfect time for him to come clean.

Unbeknownst to me, he didn’t think it was the perfect time

While I was gone, I get a call from my best friend. The BF had begged to borrow her apartment like an episode of TLC’s Wife Swap! He offered to thoroughly clean her apartment and buy her beer in exchange for living at her place while his family was in town. 

“And you just told him yes?” I asked in disbelief.

Basically
A lot of apartments in Chicago require you to schedule a time to use the service elevator so that you don’t hold up the regular elevator from tenants. So the BF hired a guy from Craigslist to transport his queen sized bed and whatever other belongings wouldn’t fit into his car up the stairs and into my best friend’s high-rise studio apartment for a week. He was doing the most, but his family was none the wiser when they came to stay.

Over the next few years, his family would forward magazine subscriptions of Eastbay, send birthday cards, and Christmas gifts to my best friends apartment in his name.

In my mind it was only a slight inconvenince that he’d ask me to go pick up his new driver’s license from my bestie’s place. I was headed over there to eat loaded baked potatoes and binge watch Korean dramas anyway.

I didn’t spend a lot of time with his family, because his mom didn’t like me, but the few times we were in the same vicinity, I never felt like it was my place to tell them the truth. It really tugged at my insides though because I felt like I was being hidden. Plus all of my friends and family knew the truth and it pissed them off.

“Does he think you're not good enough for his parents and that’s why he won’t tell them?”

“If he can cultivate that type of lie and keep it going for years, what else is he capable of?”

“He could have a wife and kids on the South side of a Chicago that you don’t know about.”

Honestly I wasn’t worried about him cheating on me. It would be very easy to stalk and kill him if I wanted to. I’m an excellent snooper, and he’s a creature of habit. He wakes up around the same time everyday, works out every Monday and Tuesday morning but only in the evening on Friday, and he farts at approximately 11:45pm every night before turning off Battleground 3 on the Xbox.  If he was creeping, let alone had a whole other family on the Southside of Chicago, I would know about it.

Fast forward 4 years later… I’m 28, he is 32 and we are living in a new 2 bedroom apartment, not far from the old one. He still hasn’t told his family we are living together, and they are coming to visit the next day.

With his cell phone in my left hand and my right hand on my hip, I force him to call them the night before they are scheduled to fly out. “You can not let your family get off that plane at O’hare airport, without telling the truth.”

He dials their number, closes our bedroom door and doesn’t let me hear their conversation.

And trust me, I tried listening at the door but in our apartment you can hear the slightest creak of the hardwood floors. Even ghosts can’t creep up on you, so I retreat to the couch.

When he emerges from the room, I pause Real Housewives of Atlanta on the tv and ask, “How did it go?”

“They were not happy about it, but they were glad I told them the truth.”

The next day I can tell a huge weight has been lifted off his chest. He actually added butter AND jelly to his English muffin and let me watch Scandal from DVR instead of hogging the tv and watching The Rundown on ESPN. I’m so happy we’ve had this emotional break through. Girlfriend Achievement Level 25 Unlocked! Things could only get better from here!

But things only went down hill from here

The BF picks up the parentals from the airport and they do some touristy ish like take pictures at “the bean” and eat deep-dish pizza together. For the record, real Chicagoans only
The Bean, or "Cloud Gate"
eat deep dish when their out of town family and friends come to visit.

I meet up with him and his fam after work and the plan is to go back to our apartment so they can check out where we live.

But things did not go according to plan

The BF and his dad go to the bathroom, leaving his mother and I sitting together in front of Panera Bread on Michigan Avenue. *Sidebar, people that go to new cities and eat at chain restaurants... Ya’ll are trash.

As I’ve explained to you guys in the past, the BF’s mother has never been warm and fuzzy towards me, but I thought I'd try to make the best out of this situation by starting up a friendly conversation with her. Girlfriend Achievement Level 50 Unlocked!!

“I’m so happy that you guys are coming to see the apartment”

“We’re not coming” 

I thought I must be mistaken. “Excuse me? 
What did you say?

“You heard me. We are not going to THE apartment”

Maybe it was in my head, but I swear his mom snarled at me, like a saber tooth tiger ready to tear apart its prey after an intense hunt.

“Why not?”

“We don’t support you living together. So my husband and I decided that we’re not going.”

I notice a vein in her neck twitch. I keep my composure the best I can, not making any sudden moves and talk slowly, as not to aggravate my predator any further.

“It was really hard for the BF to tell you the truth, especially after all this time. I know it would really mean a lot to him if you came to the apartment” Girlfriend Achievement Level 100 Unlocked!

Then she loses the last bit of chill she had left.




“I don’t know how you were raised, but my son was not raised to live in sin...”

I realize the couple at the table next to us has stopped talking and is looking over at us in eavesdropping delight. I’m almost certain this convo is being live tweeted. 

She continues through clenched teeth, “He never wanted to live with you. He wanted to get his own place and he should have. Its just wrong and I won’t discuss it further with you.”

Although I'm aggravated, I remember the couple sitting next to us and don't want to become a twitter meme. I still remain as respectful as I possibly can.

"I never forced him to stay with me. I always encouraged him to tell you the truth, and even suggested he move out if it made him uncomfortable to live together without being married."

She was acting as though I held her son hostage for 5 years, making him rub my feet and pay the rent against his will. He came to live with ME! Its not like I cocked a gun at his head anytime he mentioned moving out.

At this moment the BF and his dad come back from the bathroom. You can feel the tension in the air like an ice cold seat at the Bears stadium in January.

“What are you guys talking about” the BF's dad asks

The BF looks worried. 

“Oh nothing," his mother says. "Are you guys ready to leave?”

By this time the sun has gone down and it's a warm summer night. As we start walking away from Panera Bread down Michigan Avenue, my sandal's strap is digging into my foot. I'm walking next to the BF's Dad while him and his mom walk in front of us. I suggest we take a cab to where ever they want to go next.

The BF's mother whips her head around and says, "Why don't YOU take a cab home and we'll keep walking."

The BF is stunned into silence, standing there with a look of shock on his face. The BF's Dad however,  apologizes for my hurting foot, raises his hand and hails a cab. We all go back to their hotel to drop them off and after the BF says his goodbyes for the evening (I stayed in the cab), we make our way back home to our apartment.

“I’m so sorry they wouldn’t come see the apartment. I know you really wanted them to.  And after all this time, you’re finally honest with them and they don’t even support you. I’m so, so sorry.” Girlfriend Achievement Level 1000 Unlocked!!

I can tell the BF is trying to keep his composure too. Like he is fighting back tears, trying to remain masculine and strong.

As we make a left turn onto Lakeshore Drive, he quietly says, “My mom told me what you said when I left their hotel. None of this would have happened if it weren’t for you [making me tell them we live together]. Why’d you have to bring any of this up?

Girlfriend, GAME OVER!


Today I turn 33 and I share this story because I want my friends and any lovely strangers reading this to do what makes them happy and have no apologies. What we not gon do is pretend to be someone we aren't. When do you get to be the real you? When your parents die? When you reach a certain age or pay grade? 

*Whispers I'm not not a virgin* There I did it. I'm free. I’m not making fun of the Ex BF in this story for his actions. After all he was a young man of 33 when this happened, who am I to judge? Jay-Z didn’t get it together til he was in his 40’s. We live and we learn and it takes some of us longer than others to get there.

I have never been the type of person to lie about who I am or what I want. Ever since I was a child, if I’m tired I’m going to sleep. If I don’t like you, I’m not going to pretend that we’re friends. Its just never appealed to me to be anything other than who I am. It's exhausting to have to keep up the facade. 

I'm living my life for me and my numerology said this year gonna be lit. I’m ready

2 comments:

  1. I went through a whole range of emotions reading this! I'm angry for you although I know its long passed. Here's to 33 being the littiest year ever and to man-children becoming adults. Happy birthday!Sendja

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    1. It was easy for me to write this story because I'm so far removed from it that it doesn't even bother me anymore. I can look back and think, damn that was crazy! Thanks for the birthday wishes and thanks for reading my story! xoxo

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