My boyfriend lived five minutes away from me and we never saw each other. His apartment was in a complex two minutes away from where I’d gone to college, and although it wasn’t de facto student housing, everyone that lived there was under the age of 22 except for him. He had a dog, a roommate, a laundry pile that moved around his room and never made it to either the washer to get clean or his closet to be worn. When his roommate was gone, he smoked cigarettes inside while watching TV.
This particular night, it was Thursday, and I was trying to convince him to hang out with me.
You could come over for dinner, I said. I bought ribeye last night, and I’m really in the mood for like, a steak salad or something.
There a was a long pause on the telephone line, during which I could hear the inhale off a cigarette.
I don’t know babe. I’m kind of watching TV right now.
But don’t you need to eat? I said.
I was sitting on the floor looking at the bookcase I’d built from cinder blocks and wooden planks for all my books, which fit perfectly beneath the double window. My most recent purchase was laying horizontally on top of the other books. It was called Assholes: A Philosophy, by Aaron James, but I hadn’t started reading it yet.
I’m not hungry. And I really don’t want to spend my night eating salad and listening to The Smiths with you.
What if we don’t listen to The Smiths.
Still, he said.
I thought you liked The Smiths.
And that was that.
I decided to go to a yoga class instead. I hated yoga. The physical experience itself wasn’t offensive. In fact, sometimes I actually enjoyed it. It was walking into the studio that I really hated. I only went to a yoga class when I felt like my life was falling apart but I was too embarrassed to talk to my friends or write in my diary about. Just passing the threshold was enough to induce a deep existential despondency in me.
In the studio, I spread my mat and laid down on my back.
Allow yourself to arrive in the space, the yoga teacher purred from her perch between two large pink crystal lamps that glowed orange in the darkened studio.
I closed my eyes and tried to relax, but the conversation I’d just had clattered around in my head like metallic balls inside a pinball arcade game. Inviting someone that I regularly slept with over for dinner seemed innocuous enough, but I still felt like I had overstepped some invisible boundary. I was careful never to place undue emotional burdens onto him, to never ask for more than he was able to give. If I felt sad, I cried, and then moved on. Calling him so I’d feel less sad or lonely did not factor into the equation of managing my own emotions, and I considered this mature. He wasn’t the best with feelings; he’d told me so himself, so instead of making my problems his, I dealt with it alone, and congratulated myself for my progressive attitudes towards relationships.
The yoga teacher talked us through a series of breathwork techniques that were supposed to connect our mind with our body. I tried to be a good yoga student, and send my breath to different places like she told us to. I imagined my body as a superhighway, with my ligaments as the road and my breath as a blur of cars.
This is good. This feels good. I am so, so good.