We were on a drive in the southern part of New York State when I knew it was over. I’d mentioned that one of my colleagues had gotten a job in Canada, which led to you asking me what would happen if I were to get one. Would we have to get married, you wondered, so that you could move to Canada with me? It was a good question, even if the odds of me getting a job out of the country were minimal; I wouldn’t feel comfortable moving so far away from my family.
More than that, though: his was the last thing that I wanted to talk about. I just…didn’t want to talk about getting married to you, and I didn’t feel as if I could feign enthusiasm for the prospect. I tried to deflect, but to not avail. You kept pressing me, as if you could sense that there was something deeper in my unwillingness to commit to this conversation, as if there was some part of your brain (perhaps buried very deeply) that was warning you that there was more to my silence than first appeared.
At last, I burst out, “What do you want me to say?”
I knew, even as the words left my mouth, that it was the worst possible thing I could say to avert your suspicions about my waning feelings. And, in fact, the look you gave me was one that I will never forget: it was one that said, more powerful than any words could, that you were horrified at what I’d said. More than that, it suggested that you knew, as much as I did, that there was something fatally broken in our relationship.
The rest of that day passed agonizingly slowly. We were out for one of our traditional weekend drives, and so I knew that it was going to be a very long day. I spent the rest of the day wishing that we’d just stayed home, or that we’d decided to drive home after that awkward conversation. Neither of us had much to say to one another through the rest of the day, and it was abundantly clear that both of us knew that things could never be the same. We’d skated very close to the open secret of our relationship — that it was broken — but neither of us, apparently, had the guts to come right out and admit it.
After that day, things mostly returned to normal. However, I don’t think either of us ever really forgot that conversation. I know that I didn’t and when, a month or two later, I finally broke and ended our four-year…