Tag Archives: love

A new beginning.

Two weeks after the beginning of a new year, and everything is already very different… and yet completely the same. I’m sitting in the bedroom, watching mosquitoes hover in front of my cat-eye frames, and blaming myself for not remembering to close the window screen after Riley opened it to make sure I heard him yell, “Mama! Mama! Mamaaaaa!!”

That was his greeting when I got home from school. 

I’d come home early because of a headache and my body’s need to relax, and there he was, happy to see me, positively radiant and beaming in his I-LOVE-my-mommy!-ness. Micah was in the bath, and when he saw me, he lit up like a firecracker and I swore I saw heaven. 

And then I remembered that Rob’s mom had passed away from lung cancer and that she’d never see my babies’ smiles, and I wanted to smoke and eat and shop and act out every other vice I have. 

It’s been a hard year so far.

I miss Rob’s mom. There are money issues plaguing me. My extended family is showing itself to be more and more bat-shit crazy. Rob and I are having a hard time being Rob and I. And in the midst of all this, I’m tentatively putting one foot in front of the other, making my way towards something better than what I’ve got, and mindful that everything could blow up in my face at any moment.

 

Love & Marriage, Filipino-Style

Cross-posted at In The Fray.

When I was 13 years old, I’d decided that if Pat Benatar was right and love really was a battlefield, then I’d be proud to fight for the grandeur of romance, show off all of my scars, and maybe lose a few emotional appendages, too.

By the time I was sixteen years old and my father revealed that he’d had two children out of wedlock, and that he and my mom were considering divorce, the idealism of happily ever afters had sunken in so deeply that it wouldn’t bleed out of me, no matter how many times my heart broke.

And so it’s been, despite  the unhealthy dysfunction of my parents’ rollercoaster marriage, and my own many strange and twisted experiments with sex, love, and fidelity: I have always held on to the ideas that love is one of the most beautiful things anyone can know, and that the hope of an enduring, loving, and fully supportive marriage is an ideal worth fighting for.

Even though my American peers and I all know about single-parent households, divorce, remarriage, and blended families, there is a legitimacy behind it all, a logic telling us that what matters is not how a family is made, but the definite love and respect between a family’s members.  We carry this knowledge like a badge of superiority, an assured and assumably accurate claiming of life experience and maturity. Sure, bad things happen; sure, marriages end and parents divorce; sure, many teenagers navigate the quicksands of dating and relationships at the same time that their parents reenter those same assailing conditions,  but that’s life. We act out, we drink too much and do drugs, we go to therapy, we become promiscuous, we cry on our friends’ shoulders, and then, eventually, we trudge on with the business of growing up and getting over it all.Throughout these battles, our reverence for love and marriage remain intact.

Apparently, it’s a different love story in the Philippines.

There is no divorce in the Philippines, no empathy for unwed mothers or their bastard children, no faith in the loyalty of men, and no hope in happily ever afters. A hard crust of distrust coats the layers of bitterness which enshroud the Filipino’s romantic experience, and try as they might to shake off the negativity, “common sense” and experience have taught their lessons well: the only  happily ever afters are the ones that exist after you’ve contorted your romantic ideals into an unrecognizable blob of compromise and resignation.

Women are expected to fulfill their supportive and nurturing role of “girlfriend” or “wife” regardless of their partner’s loyalty or lack thereof; cheating and adultery amongst men is not only accepted, but expected. When a woman cheats, she’s a slut, or a whore, or a lunatic. But when power-wielding men do it, when down-and-out men do it, when young men do it, and when old men do it, the common reaction is “But of course!”Either they do it to show off their power, or to show that they still have some kind of power, or because they have the power of youth, or because they’re losing the power of youth. One thing is clear: love in the Philippines is an epic power struggle, and women are not the only ones losing.

Children grow out of these relationships feeling awkward and uncertain about their worthiness of love and their claim on a legitimately successful life.  They question the value of romantic relationships, and doubt their own ability at finding everlasting love. They half-believe what the culture dictates: that they are somehow less desirable as human beings because their parents do not have a storybook romance and marriage. It is in this climate of hostility that far-fetched notions of acceptable loves are brewed, and the significance of the institution of marriage is devalued.

Because there is no divorce in the Philippines, and also because women who have children out of wedlock sentence themselves and their offspring to eternal criticism and condemnation, there is a pervading sense that the solution to the mistakes of romance is not to learn from it all, grow, and move on, but to get married and stay married. And even though some teenagers are lucky to have a teacher deplore this ill-advised measure, the idea of marriage as panacea has sunken deeply into the core of Filipino culture. Shame on you for having sex before marriage. Shame on you for having children before being wed. Shame on you for being born out of wedlock. Shame on you for separating with your spouse and shacking up with someone else. In a country whose culture dictates that everyone know everything about each other, and that they all wield the power of judgment, shame is powerful. For these reasons, marriage becomes a last-chance or last-ditch-effort at keeping one’s life together, and not a lasting tribute to love.

Self Reliance

You fight for the relationship.

You fight against people who say it’s not going to work out. You fight against your own fears and doubts. You fight against all of your past relationships – all of them failed and whispering in your ear that this relationship, too, is doomed.

You fight even with your partner, and when that happens you try to keep a level voice and lay out your perspective as succinctly as possible. You tell him that you need him to be around more, that you need to feel like you’ve established a firm basis for a family, that you need support, stability and assurance. He tells you that he’ll give it to you, sure, everything you need. Just not now. Tomorrow. Next week. After his mom comes back from Florida. He swears that he wants things to work out between you two; all he needs is time to give you what you need.

You believe him and wait till tomorrow. Then till next week. Then until his mom returns from Florida. Despite your willingness to communicate and his proclivity to make promises, he doesn’t come around more, and he doesn’t make you feel as though the two of you have established a firm basis for a family, and he doesn’t provide the support, stability or assurance that you need. Yet you continue to believe his promises and deny there’s anything wrong. You offer excuses on his behalf and defend him from your parents’ and friends’ critical barbs. You deny any doubts and suspicions concerning his sincerity or lack thereof.

Tomorrow turns into next week turns into another trip his mom takes to Florida turns into four years and a baby on the way. Through the eyes of a mother-to-be, you see things you’d previously blinded yourself from seeing: his inability to pull through, to keep promises, and to be reliable. You remember all of the tears shed and frustrations mounted on the head of a failed promise, and you swear to yourself that your child will never know these things. Not from his father.

Suddenly, it’s happened, and you don’t care to know how or believe why: Where once there was a need for him to fulfill, there is now only self-reliance.

You’ve forgotten that you’d ever needed him to begin with, or that he had ever promised anything, or that there was an alternate future that did not include your break-up. He is not considered necessary, and this is what matters: Without him, you still have everything you need.

Blame It On The Hormones

I’m staring at the computer screen, clicking on my friends’ Facebook walls, and continuing conversations. All the while, I keep on thinking about my relationship status. It says “complicated”, and although I know that my relationship is complicated, I also know that it’s real and serious. And I know that labeling it as “complicated” stops most people from giving it the respect it deserves.

The thing is, I’m afraid of saying out loud that I’m in a relationship. I’m afraid of letting people know that I’m committed. It’s an irrational fear, I know. But it’s there. It’s strong. And it haunts me.

A few hours ago, I watched my mom as she scavenged through my father’s belongings, intent on finding some kind of evidence that he’s been cheating. The whole time, she’s telling me that she doesn’t care that he cheats on her, but she’s still doing it. Still rummaging through his drawers and his bags. Still opening up receipts and letters. Her face is contorted with anticipation. Of what, I don’t know. Does she want to find incriminating evidence? Does she want to find evidence that he still loves her? It’s all so confusing, but she’s searching with fervor. That much is definite. All the while, she’s still insistent that she doesn’t care.

I’ve watched my mom cry more times than I’d care to admit. And what’s harder to admit is that it’s really shaped my idea of relationships. I always have to be in control. I always have to feel dominant. I can never feel like I’m giving myself away. Not all of me, anyway. I have to keep the real me intact and hidden; anything less, I believed, would lead only to a fate similar to my mom’s.

Recently, I’ve felt these fears and doubts and insecurities creep up. I ask Rob if he’s cheating. I draw conclusions from things that don’t even make sense. I make unfounded accusations and throw around my meanness. It’s safe to do because I’m pregnant and hormonal, and I know that he won’t hold it against me. But I can’t help but wonder: How much of my insecurity really can be attributed to hormones? And how much is just insecurity?

The One Where I Anger, Confuse & Alienate Friends and Readers

A woman I knew in high school sat down next to me on the train. She asked if I remembered her, and immediately memories flooded into my mind. In my sophomore year of high school, I dated her best friend because everyone wanted me to stay away. Her best friend was attractive and muscular and could hang onto a stripper pole so that his body was perpendicular to the ground. He’d been voted prom king and was MVP of the basketball team. I never did more than kiss him because I wanted to prove a point: I could get the golden boy if that’s what I wanted, and I didn’t even have to let him feel me up.

Needless to say, in high school, this woman on the train had hated my guts.

We sat there on the Manhattan-bound A, this woman and I, no doubt thinking of our own high school memories, and talking about our current situations. She told me about her last boyfriend, who’d broken up with her because she hadn’t met his expectations. I told her that I’m pregnant, and she congratulated me. Then she said that she loves to hear how happy couples got together, and I offered a half-smile. “We’ve had our ups and downs”, I said about Rob and I, thinking about my last post.

“Sure you have”, she said, nodding. “All couples do… So how did you two meet?”

Rob and I met in October 2005, at the suggestion of our mutual friend, Shais. According to Shais, I was the female version of his Brooklyn-born Filipino friend who had sex in the most unusual places with the most unusual women, had crazy stories, and drank so much that it was surprising his liver still worked. With a description like that, I had to laugh. Okay, I conceded. Maybe I had a little in common with Rob.

It was a crisp autumn evening in New York, and a bunch of my college friends were going bowling. Our motley crew of political activists were rolling ten or twelve deep, and my former best friend, Yvonne, was there with her then-boyfriend, Roosevelt. We met up in Grand Central Station, hoping to secure a bowling lane at the alley, and it was there that I was introduced to a lithe, scrappy Mexican-looking man who claimed to be 27 but looked 12. He wore a beenie over his long, greasy hair; a loose white T-shirt showed from beneath his black sweater; new black Timb boots were on his feet; baggy blue jeans gave way to tears around the ankles; and a heavy black leather jacket completed his look of Kurt Cobain-rose-from-the-dead-and-now-lives-in-the-ghetto. I took one look at him and thought, Seriously?! Shais thought I’d go for him?!

Not only was Rob not as attractive as the men I usually fucked, but he was also nervous and inarticulate. I noticed immediately that his nervous tics gave him away: scratching the back of his head, stuttering before pulling out his ghetto twang, exaggerating his strangeness for comedic relief, etc. He was uncomfortable in this large group of strangers, and he was trying really, really hard to fit in.

His actions gave him away as a man I could control, a man that I could use and throw away like so many one night stands and flings. What’s more, his actions gave him away as a man who wouldn’t mind being used and thrown away.

In that instant, when I sized up Rob and figured him out, my defenses were lowered. I hadn’t yet decided what I wanted to do with him, but I was pretty sure that I wanted to see where he & I could go.

__________

There’s something you should know about me, a confession of sorts. You tell me that I could and should and would do better than Rob if only I let him go. And, honestly, I know that. I do. I know that he doesn’t understand me the way I want to be understood. I know that he doesn’t act the way I want him to act.

But I also know a secret about myself, a secret that I’ve kept well-guarded for fear of retribution, anger, misunderstanding, and snide remarks. You see, until recently, I didn’t really have an identity of my own.

What I mean is, I’m a former pathological liar. Seriously. If you’ve known me for more than a decade, odds are that a lot of what you think you know about me is false information. Or at least, the stuff that you know about me is correct in a vast, general kind of way, but not exactly in the way that you think. Let’s take this statement as an example, “M has slept with a lot of people.” It’s true, but odds are, I told you false stories about being a slut before I made my actual descent into slutdom. So, yes, I was a slut. But not necessarily because of the stories you think you know. And not necessarily at the time you think I was a slut. (Don’t feel too badly. You know the general gist of me. You know the general gist of something I’ve gone through. And really, who can say that much?)

I’ve partied with rich kids in the Hamptons and searched for the sisters of friends in crack dens. I’ve had strange jobs and done strange things. I’ve tried on so many different personalities and gone through so many phases and spent so much time and money and attention to different wardrobes and vernaculars and ways of being. All so that I could know what it’s like to be different people, all so that I could say with certainty that I’ve been there and done that.

I didn’t somehow miraculously land in these strange situations. I coaxed these realities into being. I figured out what kind of situation I wanted to experience, and thought about what kinds of people would make them happen, and tried on the reality by telling people that it was mine. Then, when I decided that I liked what the situation entailed, I looked for people who could make these situations happen, and I made them trust me and include me into their inner circle.

I’m good at making myself indispensable. I’m good at reading people and making them like me and trust me. I’m good at doing whatever it takes to fulfill the role I need to actualize…

I’m telling you this, I guess, because I want you to fully understand me. And for you to fully understand me, you have to know that I’ve had a God complex, that I’ve been two steps away from being a tried and true sociopath, and that for a long time, I thought life was a story that I was writing. I’ve willed lies into actuality. Only the past five years or so were really real.

__________

Shais and I were in a writer’s circle that met every three or four weeks. After our meetings, he and I would usually go out for a drink. He invited Rob along, and the three of us drank, talked about nothing of substance, got into arguments with strangers, and stumbled back to my car.

In those days, I worked as a college assistant at the campus Women’s Center, a cocktail waitress in Long Island City, and I took a full course load of classes. Maybe that’s why I was tired by the time I was driving Shais and Rob home, even though it was only 9 or 10 PM. We’d piled into my car and I was making the familiar turns, and Rob suggested that I come up for coffee.

“Right”, Shais scoffed when he heard the offer. “Coffee.”

“What?” Rob asked, innocently. “It’s late, and M’s had a long day.”

I dropped off Shais and he tipped his hat to us, all the while squinting to show that he knew what we were up to. I laughed and waved, and drove to Rob’s house. To my oversexed mind, coming up for coffee was not-so-code for I want to see you naked. And I figured, what the hell?

But Rob had other plans. He actually wanted to give me a cup of coffee and make sure that I was ok to drive back to Queens. We talked about our families, and he showed me pictures of his parents, and he told me tales that seemed so ridiculous and far-fetched that I thought I’d found my soulmate. If, that is, pathological liars could somehow see past all of the smoke and mirrors to find each other.

I didn’t realize that it was possible for someone to speak my language so fluently.

__________

For a lot of our three years together, I’ve been trying to figure out what’s real and what’s not real. The problem is, I’m so used to playing games and controlling situations, that I see a lot of the world through those untrusting-colored glasses. It’s a struggle to balance my lighthearted side and my sinister tendencies. It’s hard to know what I know – all of those experiences, all of that ugliness and beauty, all of that knowledge about what life is like, all of those ways to manipulate – and lead a happy, benign, and good life.  

I’m at an advantage because of the manipulative skills I’ve picked up; you can’t lie to me without me knowing it, and I’ve learned how to deal with practically any situation. But I’m at a disadvantage because I became dependent on those skills, and it’s hard to undo all of that. I’ve only ever been Me for about five or six years, and living now is like learning how to translate my native tongue into my adopted home.

Rob’s the only guy who’s seen so much of me – the real, the fake, the good, the bad – and continues to really see me. He and I met in the same boat: neither of us really knew who we were, or what we wanted, or what we deserved. Neither of us know what it takes to be in a genuine and healthy relationship. Neither of us trust others to show us the way.

And maybe that’s why I stay with him. Maybe I don’t see us as over, because us has been a learning experience in the most authentic form of that term, and I have a feeling that us has more to teach me. Maybe I know that he’s the only person who’ll understand all of what I’ve told you, and will still accept me and say, “It’s not your fault.” Maybe my subconscious knows that all of my misadventures were preparation for a time when I’m able to make my own reality from the ground up. On my terms. In my own way. Confidently and securely. Despite the odds. Despite tradition. Despite normalcy. Despite social expectations.

Maybe, deep down, I think I’ve found someone who’s willing to say, “Screw everything. Let’s make this work, whatever this is.”

I don’t know for sure. At least, not right now.

What I do know is that I’ve only recently discovered myself and where all of my experiences fit in the grand scheme of things. I know that I’ve only recently come to grips with my past, my strangeness, and all that has made me. I know that I’m strange, and that I’ve embraced my strangeness. And I know that there’s only one person who sees past all of the lies and half-truths, and still calls me out on my bullshit, and deal with my many neuroses and has earned the backstage pass to Me when everyone else is only part of the audience.

When We First Met

When We First Met

What the Fuck Is He Good For?

Friday, January 16, 10:30 PM:

It’s been a long week. The kind when every day seems plodding and exaggerated. The kind when your best friend calls you an idiot because you’ve decided that you’re ready to become a mom. The kind when you begin to entertain this idea, simply because you’re at your wit’s end and have no other answers.

Even though throwing in the towel sounds like a viable option, you resist. Maybe it’s because you’re not sure of what doing so would entail or because you’re ready to become a mom (and therefore living for something much bigger than yourself). Maybe it’s because you have always been a fighter, and don’t know how to acquiesce. Maybe it’s because you’ve always done everything on your own terms, and fuck everyone who says that you’re not gonna make it. Whatever the reason, you plug on. The future is brighter than you’ve ever imagined.

Despite your optimism, it’s hard. People tell you you’re not fit for motherhood. They question your motives and doubt your preparation. They tell you that your baby deserves better than to be born into a dysfunctional family with an ex-sex worker mom and a delinquent dad. And a part of you – your pragmatic and diplomatic side – takes into account all of these perspectives and sees where they’re coming from. You’ve always been good at seeing every side of the story, even the sides you don’t like or agree with.

You think really deeply about all of these points and points-of-view and this is what you come up with: You’re ready to be a mom. You know that despite the fact that you’re up to your ass in debt and not in a stable relationship with your baby’s father, you’re capable of being a mom. You know that despite the fact that there are women who at this very moment are poring over adoption pamphlets, and that these women have stable careers and less emotional baggage, you’re the one who deserves this baby. You’ve never been more sure of anything in your life. You know this with every fiber of your being, and a part of you wonders how much of this feeling is caused by hormones and a mammalian instinct to reproduce.

__________

Your pseudo-boyfriend is reminding you why that “pseudo” part has yet to fall off. He is unreliable. He swears that he wants to make things work, but doesn’t keep his promises. He stays in his mom’s house when he could be helping you with the nursery. He says that he’s too tired after a long day of jury duty to talk about the baby and your upcoming prenatal appointment and your doubts and your fears. He calls every night and talks for half an hour if you’re lucky. If you’re not lucky, he’ll talk for fifteen minutes and say that he’s too tired to stay on the phone. You wish he’d either become a tried-and-true asshole so you could leave him, or that he manned up to his role as a provider for the baby and really tried to make things work with you. You wonder what kind of help he’ll be once the baby arrives and your concerns and issues are that much more pressing.

It’s hard for you, this role reversal. To care about whether a man wants to come over or not. To worry that you’re alone. There is a deeper urgency now that you’re expecting a baby. There is a deeper meaning to every choice. It’s not the prospect of loneliness that upsets you, but the not knowing. The future is one big blob of maybe and you’d like to lock down as much control as possible before everything comes spinning at you from different directions.

“Tell me that you’ll come over”, you say to him. “Tomorrow morning? Please?” It shames you to have to beg. But you want to be able to look your child in the eye one day and say with honesty, “I really wanted you to have a normal life with a normal family. I really wanted to make things work out with your dad. I’m sorry if I wasn’t enough.” (Because in your gut, you know that that conversation is inevitable. But you hope you’re wrong.)

He says, “Of course I’ll be there, love. You know I want to be there. I swear I’ll be there early in the morning.”

Saturday, January 17:

It’s early in the morning and he isn’t at your house. He hasn’t called. You remember that he’s been doing this for weeks. Every Friday night, he swears that he’ll come over the next morning. And every weekend, you don’t see him till Sunday. You remember all of the promises that he’s broken and your newfound resolve to try to make things work. Maybe, you think, it’s somehow your fault that you feel this way. Maybe you’re not understanding enough, or lenient enough, or loving enough. Maybe you’re not patient with him, and you’re too demanding. Maybe you’re somehow not communicating your wants and needs.

So you take a deep breath and sing to the baby in your tummy, and channel all of your fears and insecurities into looking for work. You wait till 11 a.m. and then call his house. No one picks up. You are annoyed but unsurprised. Despite the fact that he lives with six other people, no one ever picks up the phone.

You start writing a short story. The main character is baking something, and you text people to ask suggestions of what she should be baking. His cousin texts you back a suggestion, but it doesn’t follow your guidelines. You know you’ve said that the recipe has to necessitiate a folding of multiple ingredients into a batter, but his cousin keeps mentioning simple recipes, i.e. merengues, madeleine cookies, etc. Finally, the conversation turns and she mentions a bakery in Fort Greene. You laugh at the turn of events and wait for his phone call.

He calls you around 2 p.m. and asks if you’re mad. You tell him that you’re not mad, and you’re not lying. You’ve gotten used to his irresponsibility, and now you’re just surprised that he has the decency to call you. He says that his cousin (the one you’ve been texting) wants to buy you a cake from the bakery in Fort Greene. He says he’s going to go with her to the bakery, then take the train to your place. “Ok”, you say. “Tell her I said thank you.”

At 5 p.m. he calls you from his house phone.

“Why are you at home?” you ask.

He explains that he’s misplaced the paperwork that he has to show in court for community service. He had to go home to look for it. He says that it’s a courtesy that he’s calling you, that he did it to keep you in the loop.

You wonder why he hasn’t kept his paperwork in a safe place, and why he thought about it anyway.

He says that he’ll call you when he finds his paperwork.

It’s 7 p.m. when he finally calls you back. You think about the fact that it’s 7 p.m. and realize that you only think it’s late because he’d insist that it’s late. It’s dark and there’s ice all over the ground, and God forbid he get into trouble on his way to see you, he’d get thrown into jail. You tell him to stay home; it’s late and you’re angry. Why can’t things be simple? you think. When did everything get to be so goddamn complicated? When did 7 p.m. become late?

On second thought, you think, please come over. Your features soften and your pink, girly side shows itself. It’ll do you some good to see him. To lie in his arms and pretend that everything’s going to be ok. To be assured with his charms that fairy tales do come true and happy endings aren’t only for princesses.

But you’re pretty sure that if he comes over at this hour, he’ll go straight to sleep. No cuddling. No charm. No sweet talk. He’ll come over, complain about a lack of food or the cold and ice, then fall straight to sleep. So you rethink your stance. You mention that you have to go to Brooklyn the next day; there’s a debt you have to pay, and you promised your former roommate you’d walk her dog while she’s out of town.  He has a choice: he can either travel, right now, from Brooklyn to Queens, and then help you with your errands the next day OR he can stay put in Brooklyn, pay the debt for you, and meet up with you at your former apartment.

He picks the latter. You won’t see him today at all.

Sunday, January 18:

Here’s the plan: he’ll get the money and pay off the debt around 2 or 3 p.m. Then he’ll take the train over to your former apartment, you two will have lunch, and then you’ll make the trek back to Queens. It makes sense. You both agree to the terms.

This is what happens: It takes him until 11 PM to get the money and deliver it. He complains the whole time that he has a pain in his ass. He says it’s not his fault that it’s taking so long. He makes no explanation, gives no real reason.

At 11:30 p.m., you call him and he promises to come over in the morning. “Just call”, he says. “Just call at 8 AM. I won’t even shower. I’ll just hop on the train and get to your house.”

Monday, January 19:

You call 7 times in an hour. He doesn’t pick up. Finally, around noon, he arrives at your house. He complains about his ass. It hurts, and it’s hard for him to move or sit or walk. You ask if there’s anything that you can do, if he’d like to go to the ER or the doctor’s office. He refuses to go anywhere or do anything for the pain. You say that you’re sorry that he’s in pain, but that you have a long to-do list that you need his help with. He complains some more about his ass hurting, and you throw your hands up in frustration. He spends the day doing nothing. Nothing gets done.

You tell him that you’re worried. That you need assurance. That you want things to work out with him, or at least you want to try to make things work out with him. You make small talk and laugh and joke about the little things in life. You try to make light of the issues, even though they’re eating you up inside. You don’t want to be a nag or a bitch. But it’s gnawing at you, this feeling. It’s killing you that you have to bend over backwards to not be frustrated and angry all the time. It’s killing  you that he says that he’ll try, but that you never see results. It’s killing you that you can’t even count on him to be with you when he says he’s going to be with you. And it kills you more that when he is with you, he’s just as irresponsible and rude as he is when he’s not with you.

Around 8 p.m., the two of you are in your bedroom. He’s lying down, saying this is the only way he’s relatively comfortable. You say that you have to eat, and that one of his favorite shows is gonna come on soon. He tells you to wait for him, and you tidy the room a bit to buy him some time. Your stomach is grumbling from all of the stress. You tell him that you can’t wait any longer, that you’re really hungry. He says he’ll be down in 10 minutes.

You go downstairs, set up and cook dinner for two, then turn on his favorite TV show. You call out to him and he grunts inaudibly in response. You say to him that you’re hungry, and that the food’s getting cold. When he doesn’t say anything in reply, you know that he’s asleep.

You eat your meal and watch his show, and around 9:30 you go upstairs and find him swathed in blankets and snoring lightly.