I felt a kiss on my forehead and heard my bedroom door open and close. I knew Louie was leaving for work, but was too comfortable to get up and lead him to the door. It had been cold the night before, so I was wrapped up in my hooded sweatshirt and a blanket. The morning light was starting to come through my blinds and warm me up, so I peeled the blanket off.
It was autumn in 2009, and Louie had recently started his surgery residency. When it came to his residency he was nervous, but confident, the same way he was with me. At the time I'd been seeing Louie for a few months. I was comfortable with him. He was intelligent and interesting and made me laugh. He was short and red-headed and muscular and an all-around adorable guy.
My mom was so pissed when we broke up several months later. "You don't just run into a surgeon every day..." she reminded me.
Uh, I work in a medical library, so yeah, I do.
Around eleven in the morning I finally decided to pull myself out of bed. I ate a cup of applesauce and drank a glass of water, which is usually my first meal during a hangover.
I saw it draped over my orange desk chair as I walked over to my computer. It was a hooded sweatshirt, a green one with a zipper. It didn't belong to me.
It belonged to Louie.
This item was not mine. It was foreign and strange. This green, hooded sweatshirt with a zipper, it did not belong to me. I repeat: it did not belong to me.
I did what anybody would do in the situation: panicked and called my lesbian ex-girlfriend (if you don't have a lesbian ex-girlfriend, I'd strongly recommend getting one, available at your local Home Depot).
She groggily answered and I explained my predicament, confident that my tone would make her see that calling at the ungodly hour of noon was justified.
She was unimpressed.
She told me it wasn't a big deal and that he'd come get it later. When was later?
"But what if he leaves more stuff, like leftover pizza or something? What if he leaves a toothbrush? I'm so fucked if he leaves a toothbrush."
"I've seen your medicine cabinet. There are at least a dozen toothbrushes in there. What's one more?"
She told me to just tell him I was uncomfortable with him leaving stuff at my place.
You'd think that after sleeping with me so many times she would have understood that I was never going to say that. But she probably didn't use sex as communication the way I did.
I was all, No, because this shouldn't bother me, and if I tell him it bothers me he'll figure out I'm crazy and leave me for some slutty nurse or a handsome burn victim, somebody better looking and more mature and who never wears boxers. What if he thinks I have, like, commitment issues or something? Isn't that what always happens to those sluts that are always buying shoes on that show?
Or something like that. It's been a few years.
"Don't even act like you don't know the title of 'Sex and the City.' It's not cute." She always called me out on those things.
"Sex and the what?" But I was too stupid to admit it.
And then she hung up on me, as I was in the middle of this reasonably important and unmanageable crisis. What an awful friend. We'll see how many shots I would buy her on her next birthday. When she wakes up the next morning in her own bed without a circle of vomit around her, she'll remember what she did to me. That would show her.
In retribution I sent a text message that probably used the word "cunt."
She didn't respond. I took it as a victory. She knew she did me wrong, the cunt.
I took the hoodie and hung it from a hook on my bedroom door. I thought moving it would help. It didn't. It hung there for two days, taunting me and invading my space. Thankfully, I had two jobs, so I wasn't home that often, but even at work I could feel its presence. I imagined the hoodie becoming animate and wandering around my room, sorting through my clothes and mocking my tastes, looking under my bed for secrets, judging the amount of dust behind my desk. That hoodie was a jerk.
Later in the week I saw Louie again. He stopped by my house for lunch after his work out while I was between shifts at my two jobs. I was able to remain rational, and was planning on politely (and sanely) letting him know that he left his hoodie in my room before he departed to the hospital for an evening of slicing open skin and moving organs around.
"Oh," he said between bites of his sandwich, "I forgot my hoodie here the other night."
While I wanted to sprint to my room, tear the hoodie off my door, and throw it at him in a fit of excitement, I simply said, "Yeah, it's in my room."
We finished our sandwiches, talking about the hospital that employed us or books we had read or whatever it was we talked about. I retrieved his hoodie from my door and returned it to him with a peck on the cheek. Finally, my sanctuary was back to normal. That rude, invasive hoodie was leaving. Louie smiled and planted a kiss on my forehead, which left him making an almost cartoon-like movement because he nearly had to jump to do it.
"Hey," he said, "Do you mind if I leave my gym bag here? I don't want to carry it all the way to the hospital."
"Of course," I answered, feeling my irrational fears inside me screaming in protest. Past the knot in my throat I was able to release the words, "No problem."
And surprisingly, it wasn't. The gym bag politely sat in the corner of my room until the weekend. I barely noticed it was there.
I'd like to think that it was a turning point for me, that I was on the road to becoming less crazy, that maybe I had grown to a point in my life where I no longer personified inanimate objects to manage my social fears and relationship insecurities.
Or maybe that hoodie was just an asshole.