Today is your day.
You're off to Great Places!
You're off and away!
You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You're on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who'll decide where to go
- Dr Seuss
Mike stared blankly into the pages of the book. While the gesture seemed to be from a place of love he still could not wrap his hands around how a woman could love him and still want to leave. Mike had liked many girls in the past and chosen to walk away from them mostly in pursuit of someone he found more attractive; he had never chosen to walk away from anyone he actually loved. So, while it was written right there on the jacket cover of the book, "My love always, R", he believed it was a lie and that realization hurt much more than simply being left.
Mike hated pain, physical and emotional, which only exacerbated the gnawing emptiness that was making its way from his mind to his gut. How can I still be sitting here and listening to this shit, Mike thought as he thumbed his cell phone as she began to read the words of the book as if consoling a second grader. What the fuck, we have talked about intention, the origins of the universe, Taoism, Buddhism, orgasms, marriage, God, Polyamory, and now she is reading Dr. Seuss to me. Is this just how simple it is for her that a children's book can deliver the appropriate message at this pivotal moment in life?
Every part of Mike wanted to run, but for one of the few times in his life he could absolutely see no place to go. This girl, this Dr Seuss reading girl had become his entire existence. 4+ years of top-notch beverage service, Sommelier of the year,Food and Wine up and coming professional, and 2 prestigious and high-paying positions pissed down the drain for a drug wrapped in a woman's skin. Mike thought to himself, what would she do if I just took out my cock and pissed all over this fucking book, her, and the dash of this piece of shit Ford? I mean, what could she do? I ought to whip it out and piss out this misery right now.
Instead, Mike reached into his backpack and pulled three mixed CDs he had made her the night before. You see, she had broken up with Mike almost 4 months prior to this day, yet they remained living together, working at odd jobs, cooking for friends, and even keeping up an estate while the owners were away. No, Mike knew all too well he was not going to give up without a proper ending and the postponement of misery was something he had mastered in his youth avoiding football practices, homework, punishment, and especially apologies.
Mike knew he wasn't wrong and even though the night before she moved in, Mike had confronted her about sleeping with a drifter, he knew he was the guy to tame her. You see, she was no ordinary girl; her love meant something that all of Mike's education could have never prepared him to face. Mike had already been married when she came into his life and he was certain marriage had prepared him to understand the nuances of femininity and this "scheduled" breakup was proof positive she could not live without him. Mike still knew that no matter what she said or did, he could play to her guilt and compassion and keep her around a bit longer. Mike hoped that he would find work again and perhaps meet someone else at a new job to replace this disingenuous caretaker he had allowed to control his every waking thought for the past 11 months.
It was 3 days now before she was leaving for Burning Man. Mike thought the whole thing a playground for the abjectly miserable and phony artists who claim acceptance but adhere to rules that Mormons would find suffocating if the shoe was on the other foot. She was off to that great burn to find something inside her that had been missing since she met Mike. Months before and just after a 35 minute fuck session on the living room sofa she told Mike that she was afraid his personality was a little big for her and that it did not allow her to shine through. Years later Mike would discover it was actually something that was not big enough for her that was in fact a deal breaker.
The words continued out of her mouth and Mike could not ever remember a Dr Seuss work actually being this wordy. Get to the goddamn point he thought so I can cry and cry, ask her not to go and she will magically cancel on Burning Man and hippie love while we reset our break-up date to sometime closer to Christmas. As fate would have it, Mike had run out of severance, run out of work, and now was out of a home, nearly out of a car and had to return to family to bail him out of at least his financial meltdown.
This was now 2 major relationships that had crumbled since the divorce. This time he actually went so far as to get engaged once again. Right there in line at the post office waiting to obtain her passport Mike fired off the idea of marriage while images of her and the drifter 69'ing at some shitty swimming hole ricocheted through his mind. He smiled at her and said, why don't we get married? We can move to Europe and travel for the next 3 years (on absolutely 0 money). She thought, I really want to start my Church for deadbeat artists and Hipsters, but what the hell, I will say yes. Just like that, they were engaged and this was going to be paradise.
6 months later she came to Mike with a big smile and told him that she was so proud of him and all that he had accomplished. It was true, Mike had curbed his natural temper, shifted from his conservative political ethos learned at his very expensive college, grown a beard, openly smoked pot, read Rilke, and burned incense while drinking Yerba Matte with rice milk. Mike had indeed become a model bum, and even more, a docile one. Now, she was so proud of him on this day 6 months from their engagement at the post office she decided to tell him that she needed space and it was time for her to shine, just like he was shining. After all his hard work to adapt and shrink his personality, bury his confidence, and eviscerate his self-esteem Mike's fiance' told him it was over.
Now, 4 months had passed since that day and Mike had managed to use every ounce of cunning, patience, and his last red cent to try to hold on to this prize and former bride to be. Mike had nothing on earth but the moments when she would invite him into the shower or smile as they cooked Tempeh and rice. Of course the showers were few and far between, even for the purpose of cleanliness, and the tempeh had given way to sneak-away moments of Meximelts and Filets-O-Fish. Mike was starving for nourishment of a comforting kind and starving for something that he had lost that morning on his balcony four months ago; hope.
"Oh the places you will go" echoed the words of the little white bound book she was reading to him as if she was trying to coax him to take his medicine before bedtime. Mike wanted sleep, he wanted the kind that comes with driving this donated shit truck right over the edge of the highest overpass in town. What if I just rip out the pages of this book and stuff them into her mouth, nose, ass, and all of it, duct tape it in and let's just see the places she will go, he thought, as his eyes welled with tears and he told her he loved her while thanking her for the amazing gift.
Mike dried his tears and went with her shopping for burning man costumes. She modeled the items for Mike each more revealing and absurd than the one before. Mike smiled and thought how he would drive onto the Burning Man site and race through the hordes till he found her no doubt in some Kool-Aid and meth sponsored "camp" calling out for Mona Lisa while juggling crystals and wearing an anal plug. He pictured how he would turn a flame thrower on every man, woman, and child in the tent and whisk his misguided but innocent girlfriend away to safety knowing she would finally acknowledge that Mike had won her and she would cancel the breakup and apologize for fucking a drifter and going to Burning Man, and breaking his heart, and ruining his career.
That night Mike slept alone at his friend's house and she stayed on the estate with the family. At 1am Mike's friends beat on his door and begged him to join. The fog of the Ambien, the empty space beside him in the unfamiliar bed forced Mike to cover his moans with his pillow as he hoped his friends would surely give up soon and pass out from copious quantities of ostentatious wine, grappa, and hydroponic weed. Mike never envied his lonely friends before this night, but as he glanced over to the magazine-bright cover of Dr Seuss he knew it would have been better to have been on the other side of that door. Because that was the only place he wanted to go.