Not long after the initial excitement of a new journey wore off, I started to feel heavier with every day that passed. I would sit alone on the bed out back and scour the internet for jobs. The weight of my bills became unbearable, and we’d fight almost daily about sacrifices and broken promises. When no one called Anthony for baseball opportunities and he refused to look for work, I knew I had to start looking for positions back in Maine. I never admitted it out loud, or suggested it, but I knew it was only a matter of time before he told me he wanted to go “home.”
Even though I expected it, the shock of him telling me he wanted to drive back home was enough to knock the wind out of me. No matter how hard I tried to convey the sacrifices I’d made, they just wouldn’t resonate with a kid who’d only ever lived with his parents. I wasn’t going back to Maine with a job lined up, or a place to call home. I hadn’t lived with my parents for almost ten years at that point, and the proposed idea of living at Anthony’s was preposterous. Still, Anthony wanted to go home and I was forced to figure out a new plan. My mother lived too far from Portland, and my father had cats at his house that just wouldn’t mix well with my dog – so my most viable options for this sort of dilemma were really out of the question. Amazingly, and with barely an ounce of hesitation, my oldest sister offered to let me stay at her house when I got back to Maine. With that, Anthony and I repacked my car and we headed back across the country.
Anthony had already arranged to play on a flag football team with his friends, and was racing to make it back home in time for their first game. I couldn’t even comprehend how to put my life back together, let alone join an organized sports club, and his eagerness chipped away at my already withering heart. He drove for nearly eighteen hours straight on our last stretch and we pulled into the D’Alfonso driveway around 5:00AM – just early enough for a three hour nap before the game. I took the opportunity of being awake to head to my sister’s to “move in.” My temporary home was a blue race car bed in a shared bedroom directly next to my nine year old nephew’s, but what room did I have to complain? I was eternally grateful and completely exhausted, so I laid down and slept the day away hoping I’d wake up to all of this just being a nightmare. Unfortunately, the worst wasn’t over, and admittedly part of me already knew it.
I called Anthony that night and wanted to get together for some dinner, or just to see each other and regroup. I was exhausted and overwhelmed with life and wanted to be with the person who understood that the most. I thought that person was Anthony. But after gallivanting with his friends all day, Anthony was not interested in getting together and said he’d talk with me the next day sometime. I said I understood, but I truthfully didn’t. The coldness and lack of concern for me emptied a pit in my stomach so big that I felt nauseous so I tucked myself back into my race car for the night. When morning came, the pit in my stomach had yet to subside so I called Anthony to confirm what I was fearing the most. It took all of five minutes for him to end the relationship. He gave some lame excuses that I tried to listen to through bursts of sobbing, but none of them made any sense to me. In the middle of me trying to reason with him, and asking what more a person could do for him, he disconnected the call. Without any pride left at all, I called him back maybe ten times with no answer before slinking to the kitchen floor in a ball of humility and defeat. I think I laid there for at least a couple of hours clutching onto my chest, unaware that heartbreak was capable of being so physically debilitating.
I want to say that I dusted myself off and within a few days was back to my normal self, but it just wasn’t the case. I couldn’t even recognize who I was anymore, and when I tried to fool people into believing I was okay, they called me out on it. I spent my days wishing for night so I could try to sleep away the pain, but the chaos of misunderstanding in my head kept me awake more hours than I slept. Eating became an unwanted task every day, and I consumed just enough food to keep me alive. As pathetic as I was, I was determined not to die of excessive heart break. Some days though, I thought I just might.
Before I found myself another job and a new house, I would sit at my sister’s and dwell on how I had let this all happen to me. I would call anyone who would talk me off the ledge and beg for them to provide some insight. One of my best friends had recently gone through an excruciating breakup and I called her crying almost everyday asking when the pain would stop. She told me that every day it got a little bit easier and to give it time, but to me it felt like everyday was harder than the last. Between haunting posts on Facebook and running into each other in a small town, I swore I’d never see a day of genuine relief.
Reflecting on this time in my life, and putting it down in words, is almost as hard as it was to live it. I might even be ashamed to share it if I didn’t accept how completely human it is to experience this in life. All it means to me though, is that I loved more than most people ever dare to, and I put forth my every effort for someone I cared about. I would do it again in a heartbeat simply because it is who I am, and I can’t argue with my heart. I have followed it in every instance that I’ve lived, and I don’t intend to stop now.