Unless, of course, you come home with one less person than when you left.
Everything about our condo was the same as we left it. Jack, my orange fuzzball, greeted me as soon as I walked in the door. He rubbed up against my legs with his loud motor running. I scooped him up into my arms and instantly started nuzzling him with my face. His soft fur was the comfort that I needed in that moment.
“Hiya baby....did you miss mommy?”
His loud, precocious meow was the only answer I needed. Of course he did. Whoever said that animals can’t love really doesn’t know what it’s like to own a pet. They are so full of unconditional love. Their motives are pure and simple, unlike that of humans.
Animals aren’t deceitful or greedy. They don’t lie simply to fool you. Especially with cats, they are honest. Their emotions are written in their body language. They are who they are and they love you just as you are. They might bite or scratch, but they will never hurt the ones they love as deeply as a human. Not intentionally at least. They simple don’t have a need to hurt the feelings of others to make themselves feel better. They are who they are and don’t have to hide anything.
I have Jack. That’s all I needed in this world. He is the most loyal man in my life and always will be. Maybe that sounds bitter, but when you have been hurt as much as I have, it’s only natural to want to protect yourself, to protect your heart from the heart ache of loving another human being and having it crushed into a million little pieces. Sure, it will be put back together one day...but just as with anything that’s been broken and fixed again, it will never be the same again.
I had a daunting task ahead of me and I knew it. Since the condo was mine before we got together, it would remain mine now. I needed to simply remove anything of his from my place so that perhaps, slowly, he would remove himself from my mind.
Stuff. It’s all just stuff. It should be easy to throw a few things in trash bags and take them to Goodwill. I needed him out of my life right then and now, I wasn’t worried about the consequences of throwing out his things. He needed to be gone.
I took my bags into the bedroom and sat them down on the bed. Our bed. Since my bedding was purple and green, he decided it was too girly. We shopped for the new bedding together. It wasn’t an easy task since I like bright colors a lot, and he prefers to stick with the basics of black and white. We settled on the nice, crisp white down comforter with accent shades of light blue and brown. I loved the colors. They were serene, relaxing....but they had him written all over it.
One more thing to add to my mental checklist. Buy new bedding and paint the bedroom. I think I might go back to purple just because I can.
There, on the dresser was the teddy bear he got me for our first Valentines Day together. It would have to go, though the idea of parting with it tore my insides to bits. Not yet....but soon.
My attention focused on the closet. Being a small downtown condo, we had very little space. He liked to hog up what little closet space we had, and for a man, he had way too many fucking shirts. Designer dress shirts which he liked to tuck in and look pretentious when he went out on the town. T-shirts from his old frat days in college that he never wore again, but simply refused to get rid of or even store because he just might decided to wear them one day. I believe, if you looked hard enough, you might even find a Hawaiin shirt or two mixed in the bunch.
That’s one thing I had to look forward to at least. I would finally get my closet space back.
I went on a mission of clearing it all out. Button-up shirts, under shirts, clean shirts, dirty shirts....you name it, I threw it in a trash bag with Goodwill written all over it (figuratively speaking that is.)
I was in a trashing frenzy, throwing everything of his out. One piece of clothing after the next he was vanishing from my life. Until I came across one, lonely shirt tucked away in my corner of the closet. It stopped me in my tracks.
“Val, it’s just a stupid shirt...”
I know I must have looked silly talking to myself like that, but I had to say the words out loud to hopefully convince myself that what my brain was trying to say was really true.
But I knew that it wasn’t. It’s just a grey men’s shirt with a small hole in the armpit and the name of some college on the front. But it was oh so soft, no matter how many times I washed it. It was one of the softest cottons I have ever felt. And it always smelled like him since I’d make him wear it just long enough to pick up his scent. I’d sleep in it every single night while he was away on his “business” trips to lull me to sleep without him beside me. It was, essentially, our shirt. I stole it from him every chance I got. I loved that thing more than a person should love an inanimate object, especially a stupid shirt!
While I’d like to say I threw it out with the rest of his clothes, I couldn’t. I pulled it out, held it to my nose and breathed in his scent. I was still there. I can’t explain it, it’s a natural manly scent you simply can’t buy in a cologne. It was him
I put the shirt on, for old times sake, curled up with my teddy bear and my Jack and cried for the first time since I found out he was cheating. I cried myself to sleep, surrounded in his things, in his very scent and realized while I’d like to think that getting rid of all this stuff would magically erase him from my life....I know that it simply doesn’t work that way.
As the weeks go by though, his scent is slowly wearing off the old shirt and pretty soon, it won’t smell like him at all. It’ll be what it always was, what it’s meant to be: a simple, men’s shirt. And in time, I will be back to what I am meant to be me: me.
Some things just take longer than others.