It’s Not Them…

Dearest Rachel –

“It’s not you, it’s me.”

It’s amazing to realize you never heard those words directed at you, but I know it to be true. You never dated anyone – indeed, you never considered dating (although you admitted to having a handful of childhood crushes back in the day) – until I came along. And even throughout our time together in college, it never occurred to you to do so, either. To you and Elizabeth, I was just an older brother type (actually, you two tended to refer to me as ‘Daddy,’ but it wasn’t like that – you’d created an entire family out of the various people in our mutual circle. Dave was ‘Grandpa,’ a drama student at my dorm became ‘Gramma Margie,’ and so forth. Oddly enough, you two didn’t incorporate Andi or Al into that patchwork family, but whatever. We never know who we’ll wind up keeping in touch with more or less in the future, I suppose). It wasn’t until I left and sent that letter to you that you actually began to consider the possibility… and in a way, it’s why I keep writing you letters to you these days; it’s the closest I can come to communicating with you anymore.

I seem to have drifted away from my point; sorry about that, although I warn you, I might just do it again. The thing is, throughout your life, you only had one dating relationship – one boyfriend, one lover, one husband – me. That’s such a rare thing in life – and I don’t think it’s just our generation that would find it so – and a lucky thing for both of us. For my part, I never had to suffer comparisons where I might not measure up (figuratively or literally) with previous boyfriends, and how well they treated you – or, for that matter, how poorly, so there’s that, too. There was no one to compete against for your heart and affections.

It was also fortunate for you, in that you never had to suffer the heartbreak of being dumped – or having to figure out how to dump someone else – with words along the line of that old cliché: “It’s not you, it’s me.”

But sometimes in life, it’s necessary to say it. There are partings in this life that can be controlled. While I mentioned yesterday how we often do not realize when we are doing something for the last time, there are other situations when we must decide to make it the last time. The relationship may be proving dangerous to continue in, or the situation has served its purpose, and it’s simply time to move on. To be sure, some things, like marriage, should only be broken in the most dire of circumstances (which is why they need to be approached with the greatest of caution in the first place – both of the parties involved must know everything about what they’re getting into, and with whom, so as to not find out later they’ve made a tragic mistake they can’t get out of). Other things, like a job or a living situation, can be difficult to extract oneself from, but there’s not necessarily that moral weight behind either choice.

And then there’s a situation like this. Coming here to AnimeIowa has been a habit ingrained in us for almost a quarter-century. To us – positioned as it has been in mid-August, although it’s made its way into late July at this point – it’s been sort of the signal of the end of summer, the end of convention season, the end of the vacation/travel season. The idea of not coming seems almost alien.

But then, the idea of traveling without you is equally alien, and I have no say in whether to do that or not (well, okay, I can decide to not travel. But I think even you would be sorry for me if I chose that path – or rather, that lack of path – since it was always something we both enjoyed). So, perhaps coming here no longer serves the purpose it used to, and it’s just as well to bid farewell.

One of the suggestions Pastor Scott and Linda gave at their marriage seminar a few months back to keeping a marriage healthy was to make sure to make time for each other. Date nights needed to be made and kept (although I’ll admit, I think we may have fallen down on that at various points; we gave up on the whole ‘dinner and a movie’ thing early on after having Daniel, and we never quite got into ‘Netflix and chill,’ specifically), but also, they mentioned the need to get out of town on occasion, and the convention life served that purpose. We had time to share in a mutual interest, time to socialize with other people together, and time to enjoy our own little things as a couple. I always feel badly for those that attend by themselves without their spouses; this would seem to me to be a perfect bonding experience – and if you two don’t try to share that time, this sort of thing then runs the risk of making cracks appear in the marriage rather than sealing it that much tighter.

And what’s a date weekend when you’re on your own? It’s not like I’ve been obsessed with a certain series for a long time (yes, I still use that old identity from Ranma½, but that’s more as a signature to those who know me – who are getting fewer and farther between all the time – and it no longer bears much resemblance to the character, such as she was). The appeal of the place is gone, and the purpose it served is one that I no longer can use, so why am I driving so far, and spending this time and money to be here?

The time has come for me to go. But it’s not the convention’s fault – it’s me.

And so, as I pack my suitcase, slide my computers into the backpack, and pick everything up to bring it all downstairs and put it in the car, it’s not done with anger or disgust, but rather sadness and regret. I know Robin will be disappointed – she always greets me with a hug, as the ‘mom’ of the convention, so to see one of her children go has got to hurt – and there are other regulars I know by sight, if not by name (like the girl at the sponsorship booth, for instance) that I’ll miss, and who might miss me. But with you gone, the dynamic has changed, and there’s nothing that convention can do to mend that.

It’s not them… it’s me.

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I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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