Would You Recognize Me in the Wild
Today, I discovered The Moment You Stopped Loving Me. Just sitting there, casually, out in the wild. I was shocked that it didn’t even seek cover when I approached. Later, after some research, I found that The Moment You Stopped Loving Me doesn’t have any known predators. Nothing will thin this herd. Darwin has no say here.
Locking eyes as I descended the stairs into the living room, we just stared at each other. It was almost as if we recognized each other, as if we had met before…like at camp or something, but that didn’t seem true or feasible. In reality, I had only ever heard rumors of this species existing. I’m pretty sure those rumors just live in memes, deep in the internet. So you can imagine my surprise when I came downstairs and saw The Moment You Stopped Loving Me eating cereal out of my favorite bowl on that ugly old couch you love so well. We bought that couch from my friend Ryan for $50. We bought it, but it was my friend, and my $50. We bought it together.
After the shock wore off, I went to get some cereal myself. Unsurprisingly, The Moment You Stopped Loving Me put a nearly empty carton of milk back into the fridge. Like a monster. It ate the last of the good cereal too. I decided to make toast instead. I thought it would be nice to smell something being burned for a while. But eventually, I started to worry that the toaster wasn’t really working, and I was just having a stroke. I touched the toaster to see if it was warm. I left my hand there too long, to make sure I was understanding the moment correctly. I hurt my hand. The toaster was working. I may still have been having a stroke, but at least there would be toast.
When the toast popped up, I thought about getting a plate to put it on. The plate shelf in the cupboard was empty though. I yelled to the living room to ask The Moment You Stopped Loving Me if the dishes in the dishwasher were clean or dirty. It ignored me. “Mo!” I yelled, because there’s an intimacy between us that allows for the affectionate shortening of names. “I’m serious! Are these clean? I need a plate for toast! The crumbs otherwise!” The Moment You Stopped Loving Me told me to just use a paper towel.
I took my towel of toast into the living room and sat next to The Moment You Stopped Loving Me on the couch. We’re currently watching Pioneer Woman. Ree is making breakfast. Neither of us will ever make anything she is talking about. We agree she is kind of annoying but that we’d still go to brunch with her quarterly, if she asked. We would not, however, attend any birthday party she might have, should we be invited.
Later in the same episode, The Moment You Stopped Loving Me slurps its sweet cereal milk over Ree’s explanation about how much Ladd enjoys this lunch (but her kids can sometimes be finicky) and sets the bowl on the edge of the coffee table. I fold up my toast towel, careful not to let any of the crumbs free. I wipe buttery, jammy crumb residue off my mouth, twist the toast towel up, and toss it into the used cereal bowl.
I think about going to put the cereal bowl in the dishwasher and running again…or for the first time, who can say. If dishes get washed twice, so be it. The Moment You Stopped Loving Me is a guest in our home after all, and clearing its dish is the hospitable thing to do. I keep watching Ree, until I hear you open your office door. After I hear that, I’m just looking at Ree’s ranch life and bigass kitchen and perfectly seasoned cast iron full of yum. But I’m just looking, not watching. Without moving a muscle, my body has turned all of its attention to you.
“Hey babe. Whatcha watching?” you ask, leaning on the door frame that bridges the kitchen and the living room. For a split second, The Moment You Stopped Loving Me and I lock eyes, and I remember. That’s where I recognize The Moment You Stopped Loving Me from—the fight we had in the kitchen about why I let my friends make jokes about my getting another English degree, but I won’t let you make jokes about it. And it occurs to me that was almost a year ago. And, the reason The Moment You Stopped Loving Me looks so familiar is because it is really just The Moment I Stopped Loving You with a new haircut. All that resentment got too heavy, so it got a trim to lighten things up. I was so used to seeing it with resentment that the new bangs threw me. The bangs don’t look good either. They dull The Moment I Stopped Loving You and make it unrecognizable. But that’s the point, yeah? For me to not recognize this moment. To assume this can’t be my moment but is more reasonably your moment. A moment where I’m unloved makes more sense to both of us. You know this. The Moment knows this. We all know this.
Given this turn of events, I guess Mo isn’t a house guest. It’s us against you. You’re the odd one out. I’m just not sure how to get you out yet. So, I tell you I’m watching the Food Network and ask if you can throw my bowl in the dishwasher and run a load, because we’re out of plates.