This is your final eviction notice. When you decided to move into my house nearly 11 years ago, the first thing you did was destroy my favorite comfy couch, spilling Pepsi and smearing Cheetos powder all over the well-warn and intricate flower patterned seat. You said it was because it was simply “too ugly and tacky to be around”. You gave all my furniture and knick-knacks away while I was at work, replacing them with your own. There was nothing left that belonged to me, nothing that I could call my own. Pieces of you were scattered all over the house, from one room to the other – nothing resembled the way it did before. This was just the first of many changes you made to the house we shared. I have found that sharing accommodations can create quite an odd dynamic, and when you replaced my things with yours, it was made distinctly clear who dictated this dynamic, and it certainly wasn’t me. Every day, I would put the key in the door to my own house, and feel like I was breaking in to a stranger’s home.
When I first entered my house and found all my belongings missing, I was utterly shocked and a bit taken a back. I walked towards the living room and discovered that where my funky old and worn couch used to be, there was now a sleek, perfectly white leather sofa; it honestly looked like something directly from the set of Sex and the City, all demure and perfectly perfect. What had happened to my beloved comfy couch? The one I sat countless hours in, reading and playing games, snuggling up to my dog in and watching endless episodes of Seinfeld? The one I had known for all of my life? The one that was unique and funny and so loved? How does a person sit on this pearly white seat without looking as though they are trying to balance a book on their head? What sort of person actually feels comfortable curling up on this sterile slab? And it wasn’t just my living room that you had changed. Oh no, everything felt cold, devoid of personality and warmth. It was empty.
I sat down, very carefully on your white sofa, all the while being mindful not to put my somewhat dirty and sticky hands on the leather. I sat there for a long time convincing myself that your things were better than mine. Everything had that new car smell – that feeling of being brand spanking new and totally modern. Somehow, you sneakily came to have everything in our house, my house. I didn’t even have a say in which brand of toilet paper we stocked. I reasoned that a person needed their own things to feel comfortable and since these were your things, I should try to love them. I hated your silly white sofa.
In the beginning, I let you move all of your stupid things in. I convinced myself that you needed your own things, everyone does. Plus, if I let you have the upper hand in our our house was run, my house, I could count on you to always be there, as much as I wanted you to leave. This was the first of the many justifications I made for your awful behavior in the long time we lived together.
On the day I placed the ad on Craig’s List for a roommate, I was indeed a tad lonely and in somewhat in need of a friend. When you called, you sounded eager to see the room right away but made it clear that you were only available to meet me and see the room that very second. I was at work at the time and didn’t really have time to go all the way back home to meet you, but I was desperate for someone to move in as soon as possible. I lied to my boss about feeling unwell and left work. This was my first lesson in the art of deception, something you came to teach me very well over the years that we have known each other.
I met you outside of a Starbucks. I could tell by the way you spoke on the phone that you would be beautiful. The tone of your voice was self-assured, strong and had a no-holds bar attitude in it. As I walked towards our meeting place, I spotted you standing by the entrance of the shop, clutching a coffee cup, designer hand bag in the other, looking like the world was at your feet. You had an aura of confidence that only comes from the knowledge that you were the most beautiful woman on the street. I approached you, feeling insanely unattractive and embarrassed and introduced myself.
“You must be…?” Suddenly I realized that you didn’t mention your name when we spoke on the phone. I bowed my head, looking for a spot on the footpath to focus on. To not have asked for your name seemed very silly and I cursed myself for being so stupid. “Wendi.” You replied and extended your hand towards me. My immediate thought was that you had picked up on my embarrassment for not knowing your name and by saying your name was the same as mine was your idea of a cruel joke. “Really?” was the only response I could fathom. “Yes, isn’t that hilarious?” You chimed. You were so full of life when we first met. Your enthusiasm was relentless. “Oh, I thought you must be kidding. Of course, you know that my name is Wendi too!” You smiled and fixed your eyes on mine. “It must be fate.” You said. “Fate” – of course, that was why you moved in with me, to seal my fate.
After we decided that sharing a name was fate, I went home, slumped into my beloved sofa and began to fantasize about all the things we would do together once you moved in. We would become the best of friends over endless glasses of wine and slices of pizza, talking about boys and having endless discussions on who was the better team, the Cubs or the Brewers (she of course was a die-hard Cubs fan, having grown up in Chicago and me, well, I was anything but. This would be the only thing we would ever really disagree on. Or so I thought). I soon realized that fantasies rarely cross over into reality.
After physically morphing my once comfy and cozy house into a set for a glossy, lifestyle magazine, you began to dictate what could and could not take place on set.
When we had been living together and sitting on your perfect furniture for a month, I noticed that you had been reading my planner. I came home late on a Tuesday night, to find the contents of my handbag strewn across the glass dining table that you never sat at. “What happened?” I said. I could feel the tension in the room. Had my phone rung? Was it my Mom? Was she ok? I couldn’t justify you rummaging through my hand bag for any other reason. I stepped towards the living room, where I found you, sitting up very straight on the edge of the seat. You didn’t look at me; your head was facing the television even though the only thing that was on was a black screen.
Without warning, your head spun towards me so violently it looked like she was trying out for the sequel to the Exorcist. “Where have you been?” The words came out of your mouth so fast that I couldn’t understand what you had said. “I told you that I had met a friend for dinner after work.” I said, while trying to understand where this conversation was headed. “You should have said something, I had dinner ready.” You replied. I looked over to the kitchen where I saw two plates of broccoli staring towards me. “Oh. I’ve already had dinner.” I said. “I can see that.” You emphasized “that”, sat up, strutted towards me and pinched my hip. “I can see “that”, right there.” I pushed you away and tears welled behind my eyes. “You shouldn’t go out for dinner when you have hips like that. Tomorrow, I will show you how to steam vegetables and we can eat together. What do you think?” Your reaction to my not being home on time scared me – I didn’t want to make you angry. You might move out and leave me on my own again. “Sure. Let’s do that.” I said. “Excellent” she said.
Your words spun through my head a thousand times over in the following days until they morphed into a simple, three letter word – “fat”. That word was the only one that occupied my brain from then on and those three letters dominated my thoughts for the next 11 years.
Now a year is a long time for any two people to share the same house, let alone 11. After a while things, became strained. You became increasingly angry with me over my lack of motivation and doubted if I had the strength of character to keep striving for perfection. The truth is, by the second year, all I wanted to do was take to your gleaming furniture a bottle of royally red grape juice and hope that it left a stain.
Our relationship was so in sync that one couldn’t do anything without the other finding out about it. Eventually, we turned on one another and began to verbally tear each other to shreds, day in day out. You would stand in the kitchen, hissing through clenched teeth that I would never be worthy enough. The argument was always the same; we would play ping pong with each other’s words over the kitchen table, aggressively hitting a tiny white ball back and forth until someone missed. You always won.
Despite you constantly humiliating me, you would lure me back in with a simple sentence; ““In **** weeks time, if you follow me, you’ll be perfect – exactly who you want to be.” You knew that the idea of being who I wanted to be was too difficult to resist. I’d follow you down the darkest of alleys, losing anything and everything in the process…but one day – I looked back. Today is that day.
Without you whispering in my ear, I came to realize that instead of obsessing over living my life in a certain way, pressuring myself to conform to an idea that I never believed in, my life is complete without you. It will be complete in every way – I will have my friends back, my family back, and my piece of mind. I will have my confidence back, my fun-lovingness and humor and out-goingness back. I will have my health and my strength back. I will have my voice back. My voice,not yours. I am discovering that once you leave, letting go of an obsession for the unobtainable is the only way I will ever come to fully appreciate life without any hidden agendas.
Sometimes, when I’m lying on my comfy sofa, the ground moves in the wrong direction and I get thrown to one side and it’s in these moments that I realize that I had every I had ever wanted without you.
January 5, 2012