Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Throwing back the ones you don't want...

The idea behind this My Side is that, when you fish, sometimes you toss back ones that are too small or (in this day and age) covered in tumors - throwing back the ones you don't want...

And, so, Vicky and I went house hunting on Sunday. It was my idea to have Vicky come along. After all, she's my fiancée now and she'll be sharing my life. Who better to come along? I didn't realize the problems that would create.

Oh, they were problems I had to get through. Sometimes problems don't go away until you square off face to face... you know... like cleaning the toilet. You NEED to do it!

The first place Vicky and I went to was in Anaheim, near Magnolia and Katella. Set off from the street, where the houses look... serviceable, this complex looked like a breeding ground. For what? Bugs. Rats. Drug dealers. Gang members. Basically, vermin. I didn't like it. But we'd come all this way and Cathy, my realtor, was on her way to meet us. So, we stayed.

We stood out there in the sun, arm in arm. As we stood out there, though, this thought - more a compulsion than a thought, actually - tried to work its way into the back of my head. Rosa's gonna come by. Rosa's gonna come by and catch you. You should be buying this with her and you're cheating on her and she's gonna come by and she's gonna catch you!

No, I kept reminding myself. Rosa and I are divorced. She's long gone. I don't even love her any more. This home will be for Vicky and me. This is my new life and I am happy in it. Leave me alone!

Finally, Cathy showed up. We looked at the home and, just as we'd assumed from outside, it was a junker. It wasn't just a fixer-upper; it was a thrower-upper! But another home was available in the same complex - and that one was... it was one rung lower than "has potential". The owners/occupants/whatever had put up fake walls (what could only be described as drywall braced together) to create a third bedroom. They'd also laid this ceramic tile that, while on first look was decent, became very annoying due it its high gloss and gaudy etching. Still, it was a place I could live in if I needed to - and I'd been looking for months - I was getting to the point where I'd take almost anything. (Not the first place, mind you!) I even said, as we stood outside afterwards, "Well, maybe we should put in an offer if they'll..." Drop the price? Fix it up? Fire bomb it????

Cathy and Vicky, though, thought we should move on. They could probably hear my lack of enthusiasm, anyway.

The next condo complex was off the 57 freeway, between La Palma and Lincoln. As we drove up La Palma, I remembered the last time I'd been house hunting and had driven up La Palma. I was with Rosa, of course. We went from house to house, plotting our future, fitting it into the structure or, at least, seeing if it would fit. Trying on our possible futures like pants.

We could move in here and have kids.

We could move in here and have pets and a pool room.

We could move in here and I could make you work your ass off until I was through with you and pushed you away until you felt it necessary to be unfaithful and then you'd be haunted by that for the rest of your life.

Can you guess which one we picked?

My chest was tight driving up that road. I almost told Vicky, "Let's not look any more today," afraid of what possible futures I might find this time. After all, that's what Vicky is - that's what every day of our life is - a possible future. She could be wonderful. She could be mean. She could be unfaithful. She could be kind. I've taken every fear I have about relationships that Rosa was kind enough to put a bow on and dressed Vicky in them.

I was talking to Steve the other day, who'd been so disinterested in my life this past year that he never knew I had a girlfriend, let alone a fiancée. When he finally asked and I finally told him (I only force the details of my life upon my readers), he said, "I don't want to open old wounds, but you're finally over... that?" "What," I asked him. "That person?" "Do you mean... Rosa?" He paused. "Yes," he replied. "I don't want to be with her, if that's what you mean."

I've only begun to realize that even the love of someone like Vicky isn't enough to heal those wounds entirely. I've been asked by so many if I would be tempted to get back together with Rosa and the answer is easily summed up with "No". (Sometimes, I throw in the prefix "Hell".) But I never say what does hold its temptation. What is tempting to me is to remain alone, be miserable, and embrace the torture that I feel I so richly deserve.

And it continues to follow me. I awoke from a nightmare the other night, one I thankfully cannot remember, and didn't sleep for much of the night after that. I was laying on Vicky's bed the other day, taking a nap as she worked on her PC, when I heard a voice. It said, Kenneth?, and I sat up. It was Rosa's voice. She used to always call me Kenneth. I asked Vicky, "Did you just say my name?" Of course, her reply was, "No." I went out and had a cigarette.

The next complex was a petite slice of heaven. Three condos, all beautiful, were also all priced just a bit out of my range. But after looking at them, Vicky and I decided we wanted to put in an offer on one we felt was just wonderful. We really liked it. It was like home.

We talked about it later that day and told Cathy.

On Monday morning, I received a call from the bank. The woman who had pre-approved my loan had left the bank. I'm guessing the circumstances weren't ideal because she deleted all her computer files and took her paper files with her. Nothing of my loan was left and I had to apply again. So, for 15 minutes, the loan guy, Gary, and I played 20 questions - mortgage style! He got back to me later and said, "Well, we might be able to swing this with an adjustable rate and a second..." and your first born male child and your eternal soul... I didn't want to have an adjustable rate, and certainly not a second!

That night, Vicky and I talked. We talked about the wedding and how much that would cost. We talked about our bills. We didn't talk about the honeymoon but I thought about how much that would cost. We also talked about the state of the market and how it's beginning to soften. Prices are dropping. There are more houses out there, more competition. Things are changing.

And, so, we threw it back. We didn't make the offer. We're waiting.

It was a taste of what will be... just not now. Still, it was a big enough taste to make me realize that all is not settled inside of me. Under the surface, things are still stirred up. Rosa and I have only two things that still tie us together. The first is our life insurance policy, which is still joint and which I still let her pay because, after all, she owes me $10,000. The second is our joint membership to 24-hour Fitness Center, which I pay because I feel guilty about Rosa paying for the life insurance. (You may now laugh.) I've started the paperwork to split the life insurance and, once that is done, I'll remove Rosa from my 24-hour membership. The fun part will be bringing Rosa the life insurance papers to sign. I'll probably need to get drunk shortly after seeing her... Tim.

Then, we'll finally be split... after over four years...

And I'll move out of my apartment soon, so I'll have a place to start new memories with Vicky.

Slowly, I'm settling things.

Slowly, I'm throwing back the ones I don't want...

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