Chris Wiewiora doesn’t want closure. He wants a new beginning.
Our story is the story of how I went back for her. Here’s how it happened:
The first time we went out, it wasn’t really a date—she was an intern at the place I was working at the time, and it was just a hang-out-after-work thing. Afterward, I took her home and let my car idle in her apartment complex’s parking lot, while I told her how I used to run the nearby trail. I told her about racing another runner who I thought of as my nemesis, and she laughed. I loved that she would just listen to me and laugh like that. The car quieted. She said, “Well…” and then got out, closed the passenger door, and walked away.
Shit, I thought, That was it! I was supposed to ask her out in that pause. As I drove away, something in my mind stirred up.
You’re just going to regret it.
But there’ll be other chances.
No. You’ll be sort-of-something, but not; then ‘just friends’; and finally nothing.
I don’t want that.
I got out of my car and stood in her apartment complex’s parking lot, not knowing where to go or what to do. I was about to leave when a window on the building’s top floor lit up. And in the corner, in wooden blocked letters, were her initials. With my arms up and my face to the sky, I mouthed the words “Thank you” to God or whatever. I figured there’d be stairs on the other side of the building. When I got there, there were no stairs and there was no intercom and no doorbell, only a locked door. I walked back to my car.
If you leave now, it’ll be worse.
Come on, there’s no way up to her.
She’ll see your car right in front of her window.
What am I supposed to do?
Get her attention.
Before I knew what I was doing, I bent down and picked up a piece of mulch and threw it at her window. It was a perfect shot, a direct hit. But nothing happened.
Again! I promised myself that I would throw as much mulch as it took.
So I bent over to get another piece of mulch and heard a quick sliding and then, “Hey!” I looked up and there she was, leaning out her opened window. “Hey,” I said back and dropped the mulch. I said, “I know this is crazy.”
“I’ll come down,” she said, and closed her window.
I stayed, even though I wanted to run, because I repeated to myself Wait, wait, wait.
And when she appeared around the corner I said, “I’d like to go out with you.”
She paused, considering it all, and then said, “As long as it’s not too intense.”
When I drove down to St. Pete to see her, she said she was going to see her grandma, even though I had suggested that we walk on the beach. Instead of leaving town to avoid rush hour, I sat down at a bookstore to read Jonathan Franzen’s essay collection How to Be Alone. I couldn’t really get into it. So I filled up at a gas station just before the interstate. As I put my key in the ignition, my girl texted me. She said she was going to the beach. It was as if she knew I was still close.
Now, I want an apology, but I also want to thank her for standing on the shore with me, our toes pointed toward St. Pete Beach while looking down at the ice-cube-cold waves rushing over our feet, sinking us deeper into the smooth white sand.
After St. Pete Beach, I could’ve just dropped her off at her parents’ house and left. But I wanted to meet her folks. So I followed her inside.
Her mom was in the kitchen wearing tights and a polyester shirt. I liked talking to her mom about my love of running. I knew I could always talk about that. Her mom told me she had run a few races and I said I didn’t pay to play. That made her laugh. I already planned the next time that I was there I would ask her mom how she was doing with her mileage.
As her dad walked to the garage to ride his motorcycle off to his nightshift at the post office, I said to him, “Shiny side up,” the way I used to salute my friends when I rode. When I shook her dad’s hand I wanted to say, I will respect your daughter. I think he got it, because he gave me that acknowledging fatherly nod.
Before I left my girl’s house I turned to her mom and said, “I hope to see you again.” I guess I wasn’t sure.
In her driveway, my girl pushed me against my car. Have a safe ride home, she said. She kissed me between each word like it needed punctuation. I drove 100+mph to get to her. But then and there I lingered in my driver’s seat, wanting to stay. I watched as she walked back inside her parents’ house and shut the door.
After spring break, my girl broke up with me via email.
I texted her: Would u please meet up to talk to me about all this face-to-face?
She didn’t respond.
So, I drove over to her apartment, because I thought I deserved more than an email. When I knocked on her door, her roommate let me in. The roommate turned around and led me to their living room. I didn’t know if the roommate knew about my girl’s email. Regardless, she pointed me to my girl who was sleeping on a couch.
I considered waking her up with a kiss, but her roommate rocked her shoulders. My girl kept her eyes closed. I wondered if she was faking it, knowing I was there, not knowing what to do. Her roommate tried again, harder. And finally, my girl got up and faced me.
We went to her room to talk. I asked her what this was all about. That was her chance. I don’t do three strikes. I don’t like boomeranging a breakup. I don’t like to beg. When I have something, I hold it tight. I was there for her. That could’ve been her one crazy thing. Her one forgiven, forgotten, move-on mulligan. And she had the audacity to say her email pretty much said it; and added that it was about time. I had no idea if she meant I was a “time suck” or if our relationship had run its course. I asked, Why? And she said she didn’t want to fight about it. I wanted to debate, draw a pro versus con chart, show her that we had something special. But I could see she wasn’t going to have it. So, I said, “Fine, I’m leaving.”
This was my girl’s end to her breakup e-mail: But I really hope you don’t hate me. I feel like we can be grownups about it.
I wonder if now—after—she thinks I won’t be intense. I mean, I threw mulch at her window. Mulch!
And that story—our story—could’ve been in a toast at our wedding. It could’ve been told on our anniversaries. And because of that, despite everything, I still want her attention. That’s why I’m feeling the weight of a brick and thinking I can make a perfect shot to her window again. I want a new beginning—not closure, an opening. And barring that, an apology for making me do this.
I don’t believe I’m the only person who would do something like this. Doesn’t everyone have a window to stand by—and a piece of mulch, or if that doesn’t work, a brick to throw?
This is an edited excerpt of a piece that originally appeared on SwinkMag.com.
—Photo Dreamscape Photographs/Flickr