32 / 365 – An Old Proposal

KATE HOPKINS

He asked me to marry him once. Last year, before we went off to Europe. I didn’t say “No,” I said, “Let’s wait.” Sometimes I wonder if this would all have unraveled if I had just said, “Yes.” He didn’t seem bothered at the time. I think he said, “Yeah, that probably makes sense.” I was all done with finals, but he was still studying for one. I said, “What are you doing? You haven’t finished your last final,” and he said, “I just felt like it now.” I found a ring once, when we were packing. I haven’t seen it in awhile. I don’t know if he took it back to North Dakota with him or if it’s gone. At Christmas I asked him if he had gone back home because I said no, and he said no.

I didn’t talk about this for the longest time with anyone. I had the story. He was going to start his job in six months. He went back to North Dakota to earn some money in the meantime. It was a stupid story — what could you earn money doing in North Dakota? He’s been working as a fucking bartender, he could have done that here. Better tips, I’m sure. I’m not even going to talk about the cafe. Fortunately nobody really asked me questions when I told them the story. My parents asked and I said, “He’s paying his rent every month.” That satisfied my dad, at least. As long as he’s paying rent, he must be a reliable guy. Guys get a pretty low bar for behavior. As long as they pay their rent and they’re not cheating on you, they must be good guys.

I finally started telling friends from work. I haven’t been doing much on weekends, just hanging out at home. I was looking forward so much to exploring the city with Finn. It seemed a little big without him. Just figuring out the day-to-day stuff, getting food, taking the train to work, getting around, that was enough adventure. So it was OK for a little while — I have to work pretty hard. I went to the gym a lot when it started getting dark early in October. It’s free from work — that’s one of the things I love about working at this little start-up. Look, I’m in really good shape now. It was nice to look so good when I finally got to see Finn in November. I could tell he missed me.

I finally started going out with other people from the office back in December, after the Christmas party. They ask me about Finn — they all liked him when they met him. He turned on the charm pretty well, I think — he knows how to do that. I wish he would do it for me more, lately. But last week some of us went out to this fun little bar near here, and after a few beers — maybe I had too many — it sorta spilled out. Well, it didn’t spill out — it sorta dripped out. I said one thing, people asked questions, what’s going on, that sort of thing. Next thing I know I realize I’ve told them a lot. And I’ve messed up telling it in a way that people won’t bug me about it. His best friend and his brother died last winter in a terrible accident, his girlfriend from growing up, from high school disappeared last summer. They think she might have jumped off a bridge. I would have liked to have taken that little bit of information back. Now they all think Finn is no good. “God, if he’s not here, you should just dump him.” A couple of them have asked me about it since then. “Did you dump him yet?” Argh. It’s made it complicated to go out. I like hanging out with these people but I can’t take them bugging me about it.

Maybe I’m stupid and I should end it. “Take a hiatus,” one woman said. I’m really loyal. Something is really wrong, it’s like he’s depressed or something. You don’t walk out on the guy you love when he’s having a hard time. God knows what I would do if my best friends from my whole life had all died. But I don’t know, I’m starting to think this isnt going to get better. He used to call every day. Now not as much. I have no idea what to do. I just want my Finn back, my best friend. The guy who asked me to marry him. I miss him terribly. I can hang in there for him, I just don’t know if I’m being stupid. Sometimes you just wish there was an instruction manual for times like this. A ‘troubleshooting manual,’ as we’d call it at work. To help you make sense of what to do. I feel so lost.

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