The Last Chance
I should write a book on how to get through life as an asshole. It wouldn’t be a best seller but I’m sure it will be a hit at the book club that every one of my ex girlfriends will form together in the future, if I’m lucky. This would be because my entire life I’ve never been satisfied with even the finest of women. I always found something wrong with them or found a way to traumatize what may have otherwise been a healthy relationship. It had always been that way. I was never the boyfriend type. In high school I saw a few catfights over my attention and I even managed to stay single throughout college with the exception of a few false alarms that lasted no longer than three months. I’ve never been bitter. As a man, I’ve enjoyed only being obligated to one human being: me.
With all of that being said, here I am stuck in this 5 by 6 feet space with what feels like a sea sitting under each armpit. My thoughts had calmed me to a point where I was no longer in panic but in a defeated anxiety. There’s nothing I can do about the situation I’ve gotten myself into so I might as well sit here and sulk. I stuck my sweat absorbed hands in the pockets of my Armani pants and remembered the reason for my anxiety and the main reason I’m trapped in this damn elevator.
She’d bought me these pants when I got my job as the photo editor at The Daily Sun. She wouldn’t let me wear them until she could afford to go back and get me the matching blazer. It never crossed her mind to tell me that I needed to go buy the blazer myself since I was now a big time newspaper editor. That always stayed with me because I know she wasn’t trying to be nice, she really did see her gift as incomplete. I should have told her then that the best gift was her just being there for me when no one else was.
I guess that’s why I’m here now; sitting on the floor of the old elevator in my girlfriend’s building. She insisted on living downtown but didn’t see herself as worthy of living in the sky-high buildings with doormen and working elevators. That’s another thing I love about her. She actually enjoyed living a humble life. She was the perfect opposite of my loud and flashy lifestyle and it kept me balanced. Her spirit reminded me of my mother’s.
I pulled out the ring box that I held tightly inside my pocket while lost in my thoughts.
Why did it take me so long to want to do this? I thought to myself.
We’ve been together for three years and I can’t say I’ve done all I can to make her happy. I’d say she’s gone through stages of me, and judging from the conversation we had two weeks ago, she doesn’t want to stick around to see how awful I end up.
Since the beginning of our relationship I’ve done just enough to keep her around. See my woman’s no pushover, so I’ve always known that eventually she would get fed up with me bar hopping four nights a week with my college buddies and buzzing her apartment at 4am.
I figured she was finished with me after that time my ex from college was in town for a weekend and I disappeared. She took me back eventually. I may sound cocky now but I’m man enough to say that every time she told me she was done with me, I broke down inside. There’s never been a time when I truly wasn’t afraid of losing her.
Two weeks ago she caught me flirting with my assistant. That may sound like no big deal to some people but I’ve been through a few assistants because most women don’t like working for the guy that never called them after a one-night stand. She didn’t even give me time to explain like she usually did.
All she said was, “Every day I love you and hope that you’ll see the power in all of this and grow up. Every day you disappoint me, and I’m so sick of being disappointed.”
That was it. She left without a goodbye. I’ve called her every day since. I sent flowers to her apartment and to her office. I wrote her a few emails telling her how sorry I am and how much I want to be with her and only her. Of course, I assume, at this point she’s heard it all from me so I’ve decided to let my actions speak for themselves.
I bought this engagement ring almost five months ago. I haven’t been afraid to ask her it’s just that every time I think the time is right I start to think that maybe she could do better. Why does she stay with me? She’s beautiful, smart, and funny. She could have any man in Illinois. How did I get so lucky? Most importantly, why have I treated her so badly?
Our time apart made me realize exactly how blessed I am to have her and I made the decision, while sitting alone at my kitchen table, that without her I wouldn’t be half the man I boast to be so I need to do what I need to do to keep her happy because she keeps me happy. I wish I’d realized this five months ago when I bought this ring because right now it looks like I’ll have to take it back to the jewelry store. She said I could meet her at her place for lunch and I’m thirty minutes late, stuck in this damn elevator. I can’t seem to find my phone anywhere. I think my assistant hid it from me. My assistant knows I plan to propose today. Either way, I’m screwed. She’s probably already packed her things to head back to her office for the day. Even if I went to her office later, I know she wouldn’t hear me out. Not after all I’ve put her through.
I guess if I’d appreciated her from the beginning I wouldn’t be in the situation I’m in now. I take my defeat like a man as I sunk back against the elevator wall and put the ring box back into my pocket. I closed my eyes and reminisced on the wonderful times I had with her. I can only hope to find someone a little like her in the future, but I know that I won’t blow it like I did with this one.
I sat in the broken elevator for another forty-five minutes before I heard the super’s voice as he forced the door open to pull me up from the box that held my dreams hostage and me for almost two hours. I’d only gotten up to the third floor so I decided just to go back to work and try to forget about today, the love of my life. I put my headphones in my ears when I reached the bottom of the stairs and left the old apartment building somewhat relieved that I’d never have to come back be subject to that elevator from hell again.
As I made my way down the busy street and the guitar solo from “Smells Like Teen Spirit” began to play, I could almost hear her voice saying my name behind me. This reminded me of those times I’d walked out on her despite her crying out to me. I turned my Ipod volume up and decided it would hurt too much to look back.