Part VII

 We won’t change

Depression is a bottomless pit. I didn’t experience it for the first time until I was in Virginia in February, 2009, but the feeling has never escaped me. The summer I lost my ex and Trey it was a constant struggle. The following summer, in 2010 — when I finally felt like I was “over” it — it became more of a monthly thing. In 2016, as I write this, I’m stricken by it maybe once every three or four months, on average. It comes, it lasts a week or two, and suddenly I’m fine again.

If I have learned anything from depression, it’s that there isn’t much I can do about it. My mind is one of my assets, just as it always was, but there are still times that I’m reminded of how little control I have over my own thoughts and emotions. All the planning in the world could prepare me for various situations. But I am still a slave to the involuntary thoughts that sporadically pour through my brain, and I can’t prepare for that. All I can do is react.

When Trey and my ex came back, at the end of November in 2010, I started anew with big plans for the future — which they were obviously both included in. I was going to show them how much I had learned in the time they were away. They were going to be satisfied with the job they’d done on me.

* * * * *

Hanging out with John turned into a grind, especially with Trey coming around again. When Trey began driving over on Wednesdays to record music at my parent’s house, John was understandably miffed. For over a year John had essentially assumed the role as my “best friend,” and making songs was originally “our” idea. But I was convinced to make the juggling act work.

To his credit, John never challenged me on the fact that he was getting a raw deal. The three of us even made a couple songs together, including a remake to Tyler The Creator’s Yonkers. That was the dynamic for a large portion of the next year, 2011: John and I were hanging out more, but I was significantly closer to Trey. As the year progressed, and as Wednesday nights turned into three or four nights a week, there was never a question who my loyalty was with.

* * * * *

In July, Trey and I played our first hip-hop show. Our set was three songs long and at a bar/deli. There may have been 40 or 50 people in attendance.

My ex was one of those people.

She was home from Texas visiting on her summer vacation. I met up with her at Trey and his girlfriend’s apartment the night of the show; when I walked in she was sitting on the kitchen counter with her legs crossed at the ankles. She wore a short, tight dress, and white heels. I gave her a hug, told her she looked really good. Later she would give me shit for not kissing her when I first saw her. She was playful.

So Trey and I went up, played the damn show. There’s a minute-long clip of it that still exists. It was the first time I had performed anything like that in front of any audience, but the two of us would play a few more venues before it was all said and done.

After the show, I went back with my ex to her dad’s house. We sat outside with her sister’s boyfriend and we talked for a little while. Since it was apparently impossible not to, her and I got into a verbal spar over who the fuck knows. It would pass. Her sister’s boyfriend left and went home, and her and I wound up in her bed. It had been over two years since we’d been with each other.

The following morning, after drinking the evening before and staying up all night having sex, I got dressed without showering and headed off for work. She was leaving that day to go on a road trip with her sister and sister’s boyfriend, up north to see Washington and Oregon. She walked me to the front door, we hugged and kissed, and I left for work. I listened to a lot of Grieves that day at my work station.

She came home from her road trip a week later; it was a typical California summer day — hot and sticky. The first thing she did was send me a text asking what I was doing. I don’t remember what that was, exactly, I just knew my schedule was unquestionably open for her. So I dropped whatever was happening and went to her dad’s house.

When I got there it was just the two of us. She talked about her trip, told me how much fun she had, and then we started making out on the couch. She played Explosions In The Sky on vinyl. When we finished, the two of us went out back and smoked.

Her best friend called shortly thereafter. Her best friend was with Trey at the time. I could only hear from my ex’s end of the call, like when she said yeah I just got home like an hour ago, and yeah Eric is here, too.

I wouldn’t know until months later, from Trey, that her best friend thought it was pretty fucked up how I, the author, was the first person to hear from and see my ex once she made it home.

From my perspective, it only reinforced one thing: Whatever the two of us had together, or whatever it had morphed into over the two years since we broke up, it wasn’t dead. The story wasn’t yet finished. I convinced this to myself.

Her and I got to spend more time together before she headed back to Texas. We went to the Mexican food place Trey worked at, ate burritos while for a moment it seemed like everything was again right with the world. Even though this was all temporary. That night I brought her to my parents house and she drank wine with my mom in the backyard, and we all caught up on what life was like. I had a whiskey and coke. When my mom went inside, we sat together on the swing, talked about what went right and wrong between us. How it ended up this way.

She was a borderline drunk and I was, at best, tipsy, but in the moment it felt again like this is where I belonged. Since the end of our relationship her and I fought more and more. We were living in a constant state of on-again-off-again, even when she was half of a country away. It was as if the only thing on the same level as the love we shared as kids was how large we built our walls to keep the other out.

Only in tiny doses, like this particular summer evening on the swing in the backyard at my parents house, did the animosity between us totally evaporate. In that moment, we were together. And that was the only thing that mattered. Then we went inside and did that thing again.

She fell asleep on the couch in the living room. I went back outside and smoked a few cigarettes while I finished some work I needed to do, then went in to turn off the lights. I laid down on the couch that was next to her, and somewhere in that process she woke up. Almost instinctively she came over and laid her body on top of mine, wrapped her arms under my torso. We just laid there in the dark. That would be the last time.

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