“That’s it, when we’re done here we’re going to get you a Roomba,” Anna said, scraping up the last of the pan-fried potatoes from her plate. We were at Joe’s on Davie, having our traditional Saturday morning brunch. Her boyfriend, also named Kevin, was there, too.
“What? You mean now?” I asked.
“Yes, now. There’s no better time. You’re always saying you want one, so we’re going to get you one,” said Anna.
It was true. I’d been talking about getting a Roomba – one of those cool robotic vacuum cleaners that mosey about sucking up dirt before retiring to a docking station – for a long time. The Roomba, to me, was the definition of perfection: a cool new gadget that also carried out a much-hated chore without my having to lift a finger.
But I really wasn’t up to a game of retail scavenger hunt that morning.
“You want to go find a Roomba, today, after what I’ve just been through?” I asked.
“Yes, especially after that,” said Anna.
“That” had happened the night before, on the corner of Seymour and Davie in downtown Vancouver, outside the new Blenz coffee shop, in full view of all of its many patrons. There, in a tirade of invective, recriminations and general maligning of my character, my girlfriend of five months had broken up with me.
Now, this breakup wasn’t exactly unforeseen. In fact, I’d been pondering whether or not this relationship was entirely healthy. It was the little things, really. Take the fact that I had never been allowed to see her apartment. Ever. OK, there was that quick tour that lasted about 10 minutes during which she got so anxious at having me in her space I had to leave. There was also the fun quirk where I wasn’t allowed to start sentences with phrases such as “I was thinking…” or “Hey, I was wondering…” to preface, say, a suggestion about where we should go for dinner, because she thought each time that I was breaking up with her, and freaked out. Did I mention she refused to get voicemail because the woman who talks to you when you check messages irritated her?
So, it had been dawning on me that she had a few issues. I also realized the panic attacks that had been plaguing me for, oh, the past five months had started, gee, well, what do you know, just after our first date.
But, even up to that fateful night, I had written all of these things off as just cute quirks. And, well, everyone has baggage, don’t they? I mean, I had my issues too. I started work early in the morning, and that meant I couldn’t do a lot of late nights out. She liked to go to late shows at the movies. See, she was making compromises as well. This is what relationships were all about. Give and take.
So, that Friday night, we were to meet for coffee at Blenz, but we never actually made it inside. Right there, on the sidewalk, after saying “We need to talk,” she let loose. The details are hazy because it all rushed by like so much escaped brimstone fumes, but the basics were I was a lousy boyfriend and, quite frankly, a lousy human being, because I had stopped caring. But she also didn’t like my calling her on the phone. She said that we really didn’t need to talk everyday. Or see each other. Oh, and when I called her parents to wish them an amazing time on their trip to Europe, that was just uncalled for. There was other stuff, but, essentially it all amounted to the same thing: I was awful.
Stunned, I muttered a shocked “I loved you.” To which she replied, “Yeah, sure make me out to be the monster,” and stormed off.
“I sent you flowers today,” I called to her retreating form. There was a slight hitch in her step, but she didn’t look back. We never spoke again.
And, even though what had happened was probably – no, was definitely – a good thing, I was still devastated. I had been in love, or at least I thought I had been.
I walked home, fighting back tears. I made it as far as my building’s lobby before they started seeping out. When the elevator door opened, the car was full of people. They fell into an uncomfortable silence on seeing me. I got in, turned my back to them, and pulled together what dignity I had left for the duration of the ride.
The rest of that night was a bit of a blur. I called my mom and my two sisters. I called Anna and Kevin, who insisted on brunch the next day.
And, after brunch, we went looking for a Roomba. They must have dragged me through every Canadian Tire, Wal-Mart, Zellers, and Linens & Things in Vancouver, to no avail. We couldn’t find a Roomba in the entire city.
But it didn’t really matter. The point was not to find a Roomba, and Anna and Kevin knew this. The point was to get me back on my feet, caring about something, and on the way to healing my broken heart.
“Moving in for the Kill” Eirik Newth @ Flickr. Creative Commons. Some rights reserved.