I can still remember sitting on the counter in his kitchen as he put our Chinese takeout on plates (so fancy!), looking at me and saying, "For the record: beautiful eyes." I can remember him so proud of himself because he'd looked up my name on Napster and found a song called "Slut Named Rachel." I can remember sending him e-mails with subject lines like "Everything's Coming Up Morty!" More than anything, I can remember the laughter—doubled-over, can't-breathe, stomach-hurting laughter that flared up over e-mail, on the phone, and frequently in bed, though now that I think of it my occasional habit of cracking up uncontrollably may have ruined the mood a few times.
Recently I found an old e-mail, "Top Ten Reasons Why I Haven't Heard from Morty the Day Before Valentine's Day," an excuse to make fun of his near-obsessive fastidiousness ("#7—You accidentally touched the pole in the subway and are still washing your hands furiously"). That was a joke, like my Valentine's Day gift: the full "Slut Named Rachel" CD, special-ordered. At that time we were at the midpoint of the relationship, but it had all gone at warp speed: By the first few weeks we felt like we'd been together forever and by the first few months we were already acting like it. Comfortable, yes, but not exactly . . . hot.
And so . . . beanie baby. It wasn't because he'd done anything bad—he didn't cheat, he wasn't mean to me, he kept me well fed. I would almost have preferred that, to have something to blame. The truth was far worse: He just didn't feel the same way I did. (How's this for shorthand: I said something like, "You make me melt," and he got all quiet. Ouch.) Everything about us that was so great—the laughing, the goofy hijinks, the private jokes—well, it just wasn't enough. I railed at him, tearfully; didn't he know what he was letting go? He knew, that wasn't the problem. The problem was, he was still doing it.
That part I couldn't blame on my mom, though she tried her best to comfort me when I called her on the phone, hyperventilating. Every hour. On the hour. Yeah, we've all been there. That part sucks.