It’s never easy, packing up one’s things. Especially when she doesn’t really want to. When she’s doing it for the benefit of a relationship she is blind enough to ignore how spectacularly it’s going to fail. But that’s what Roslyn (loosely named after Romeo’s first love) was doing on this particular Friday after quitting her job earlier in the week and deciding to uproot her life in the hope that it would please Gerard, a 38-year-old Frenchman five years her senior.
Roslyn had already invested a lot in this relationship, both emotionally and financially. Foolishly, she went out of her way to appease him–to entice him to stick around–with the purchase of trinkets and trips she hoped would keep him “stimulated,” entertained enough to not want to bolt the way so many often did in the crisis state of twenty-first century monogamy. But it wasn’t working; Gerard still wanted to flee. Back to Toulouse. And Roslyn was all too willing to accommodate this request, as she was fairly burned out on living in Seattle, where it always rained and people were annoyingly into staying active. It also seemed that ever since 50/50 had been filmed there, things were becoming more expensive. So yes, Roslyn wasn’t averse to making a change.
Still, there was an unavoidable sadness to the boxing up of all the possessions she had accumulated over the years, and since Gerard had very few items of his own in their shared apartment, most of the packing was left to Roslyn.
As music is required to perform all mundane tasks, Roslyn had put on a playlist that eventually included some of the songs from one of Metric’s lesser appreciated albums, Synthetica. As far as objectivity was concerned, Metric had fallen out of fashion the moment they became popular, after “Help, I’m Alive.” Nonetheless, Roslyn had always found solace in their music, and even once shlepped to L.A. to see them at the Hollywood Palladium when a friend offered her a free ticket. From the instant she first heard its moody intro, her favorite song on Synthetica was “Dreams So Real.”
As Emily Haines’ lamenting voice opened with “Seems like nothing I said ever meant anything,” Gerard sauntered into the room with a glass of wine in hand. He had worked from home for the entire four years they had lived together, so it wasn’t uncommon for him to take the Frenchman’s approach to lunch by pouring himself a glass of Bordeaux around this time. As he sipped from his glass and watched Roslyn melancholically rip up some of her personal papers–cards, receipts, random journal entries–the chorus, “I’ll shut up and carry on/A scream becomes a yawn,” exploded through the speakers.
He laughed, “This is so you.”
Of course, whenever someone says “this is so you,” it’s never really intended as a compliment, so much as a judgment.
“Why do you say that?”
He chortled. “Don’t act so un self-aware. You have this tendency to stifle everything. Shove it down when it’s clearly bursting out of you at the seams.”
Gerard set his glass down on the table and smiled at Roslyn’s overt offense. He rubbed her shoulder with more than a tinge of condescension. “Come on, I don’t mean it in a bad way.”
She backed away from him and continued ripping her papers with increased fervor. “I don’t think it can be taken as ‘in a good way.’ You obviously think I’m the sort of person who just accepts whatever shit gets shoveled onto them.”
He sighed. “You’re being hyper-sensitive, as usual.”
“And you’re being hyper-insensitive, as usual.”
Shaking his head in disapproval, Gerard offered, “Do you need help?”
“Don’t you think it’s a waste of time to tear up all those papers? Why don’t you just toss ’em?”
“Because my mother instilled the fear of identity theft within me from an early age.”
“Jesus. You’re insane.” And with that he walked off, retreating to another room so as to stay away from her.
She wanted to scream, naturally. For the impossibility of their compatibility. For all the ways in which she had tried. For all the chips she had placed on this betting table called love. But Haines is right: a scream does become a yawn.
As Roslyn finished disposing of the remainder of her paperwork, the song concluded with, “Faster than you think, time staggers on.”