I say I want to live in a small town.
No, he says, you don’t. You’re such a wonderful person and you’re so beautiful.
I can be wonderful somewhere less crowded.
He says, You don’t want to isolate, you’re so gregarious.
I’m a yappy little shelter dog who has learned enough tricks to keep the world at bay. That’s what I think.
I say: I like my own company.
I mean: I don’t think I like yours.
I think: How soon can I get off the phone?
I think: I want to be somewhere I can hear my own thoughts.
I think: I want to be somewhere I can walk down a sidewalk, a road, a dirt path and not have a man who doesn’t know me tell me who I am.
I know perfectly well who I am.
I have known me all my life.
He is still talking. Now, about how much I will love Fiji.
I have deliberately moved places people would not want to visit.
I’m training to be a cranky old woman, I say.
No, he says, you’re not. You’re not old. Or cranky.
Looking at my watch, I think: I am older and crankier than I was before the phone rang.
You would have loved Belize in the 90s. You will love (insert hot tropical place).
I like Vermont. And I can like more than one place. But if the world crumbles until there is only Fiji and Vermont I will be the Queen of Vermont and you can be the King of Fiji, I think.
He’s written a script for his life and in his movie we live on a desert island, we backpack through Europe. A Rom-Com with no Com, I imagine that sounds to him like him and me against the world. Or him and me discovering the world. Or sharing. Or something tender and sweet.
I think: Who wrote this Hallmark Lifetime Mr. Rogers script for you, bub? Quentin Tarantino wishes he could option the scripts in my head. Chuck Palahniuk steals my dreams. Damon Runyon named a cheesecake after me. Nora Ephron wished upon a star for me. Patricia Highsmith wanted to be me. Hank Bukowski was my hero. These are my script writers. My collaborators.
I have intimacy issues I say, I’m a runner.
No, he says, you’re not.