Onions In A Suitcase

He had never really experienced the pure definition of “madcap” until she came along. Her head so far in the clouds he had to wonder if she didn’t have a direct line to God. At first, it was something he found charming–even admired–about her. As the next year or so wore on, he started to view her almost willful space cadet nature as a source of vexation rather than vixendom. He only wished he hadn’t agreed to move in together before the full crystallization of this epiphany. In the slow process of transferring their items like wielding a sieve to extract the water from an ocean (mainly because they walked their possessions instead of using a van or other vehicle), Godard was realizing they were quickly running out of time. The end of the month was imminent, with only three days left for each of them to flee from their respective living spaces and combine all of their “assets” into the new apartment. 

A sense of dread was starting to accrue within his psyche. An unshakeable feeling that he had been too brash in this decision. That it would suddenly alter everything, and that, once they were together all the time, he wouldn’t be able to ignore his latent assessment that Ella was actually insufferable. At his request, she came over on the last night he had remaining at his apartment, helping him shove things wherever they could be shoved in order to take them to the next stop. In her daffiness, and without telling him, she unloaded a heavy grocery bag he had stocked full of various items leftover in the cabinet and refrigerator. If she was meant to carry it along with the suitcase to the new apartment just a few blocks away, she knew she wasn’t going to be able to transport it in its present state of cumbersomeness. Thus, she proceeded to unload some of the items in the overfilled paper bag and put them in the suitcase, easier to pull when packed with ungainly objects. Like the medium-sized sack of onions Godard felt obliged to keep in his bottom drawer, as though he ever engaged in enough cooking to warrant such an attachment to it. Perhaps he believed if he went to all the trouble of bringing it with them, then he would finally fulfill his vision of himself as a “cook.” She reckoned they would be ordering a lot of pizza instead. The diet of champions, and those who have given up on attempting to be bourgeois with practices like buying groceries and cooking them. 

Ella knew, of course, that Godard harbored delusions of himself being a viable member of twenty-first century bourgeois pursuits, still, somehow, rooted in twentieth century ones despite the fact that the system had been blown up long ago by the various factors of moral outrage, environmental concern and a massively contagious novel virus. Regardless, the hordes, including Godard, couldn’t stop themselves from entertaining that dangerous drug called hope. Hope that someday, somehow capitalism would simply have to benefit them–a thought everyone clung to because everyone believed they were special, the rare exception to the rule that in order to profit from capitalism, you had to be born already with a silver spoon in your bouche. Godard couldn’t be told this, nor could anyone else continuing to grasp at the straws of how the modern world was conditioned to function. Which is why, yes, it is true that the world will sooner end before capitalism does. 

Maybe it was Ella’s inherent knowledge that nothing mattered–radiating so strongly in the form of a blasé attitude–that irked Godard most of all. That she couldn’t be told or persuaded into anything one way or the other. Yet it must have been convenient for her to have so many non-convictions when she herself didn’t have to work like the rest of society. Yes, Ella had found that rare loophole: getting paid to study. To research ad infinitum the subject of obscure nuns throughout Italian history that made contributions to the medical field yet went undocumented for these accomplishments because of their gender. Yes, that would take an entire lifetime indeed. And she was paid the monthly stipend of 1,200 euros to do it. It wasn’t much, but it was enough not to work in the sense that society deemed was work. And that was all Ella needed to be happy. Godard, in contrast, was getting increasingly wrapped up in the inane dramas of the corporation where he worked, evermore ruthless in their layoffs and firings, making the entire vibe of the company have a distinctly Survivor feel. In point of fact, Ella had wondered how a reality show hadn’t yet come to fruition to document the redundancies made by a company post-pandemic. Wouldn’t that make for “must-see TV” to the sadists called the public? 

As Ella herself was beginning to recognize, moving in with Godard was going to cause all of their diametrical oppositions to come to the forefront. As he grew more irascible in the coming week with the stress of having to move and worry about his job security while continuing to lick asshole at work, Ella could feel the volatility of his energy, particularly while she slept in as he had to get ready in the small hours of the morning. When he got home around seven, she could tell he was disappointed that she hadn’t cleaned up more or, “at the very least,” cooked them dinner. Instead she asked, “So you want me to order us takeout?” while he undid the noose that was his tie and ran his hands through his thinning hair in exasperation.

His mood was becoming a ticking time bomb. Worse still, in Godard’s mind, it seemed as though the second they were in the same space together–with the not so magical stardust of “domesticity” sprinkled over them–she had lost all sexual interest in him. He had noticed it the first evening, after they had slammed the last of the boxes and luggage down on the ground and settled into bed. He tried to caress her, to grab her in that way men do–as though they think access to women’s bodies is their god-given right–but all she did was lay there emanating a coldness he had not detected before when they lived apart. When sharing a bed was more special rather than quotidian. 

A month passed in this fashion, with Godard going to work and Ella sleeping in before enjoying what Godard viewed as a day of leisure rather than her doing any actual work. Because when women did cerebral work it was considered not valid in the male estimation of things. He could only value what she did if it was manifest in the Hestian ways of “home and hearth” (a phrase that could induce vomiting if uttered to Ella), and she was beginning to see that his inherent misogyny with regard to this viewpoint was getting impossible to ignore. 

One night, after a week of no sex and what he deemed was not enough affection, he threw one of his now regular tantrums. Except rather than being forthcoming with his emotions, he took a classic move from the male playbook of “expression” and chose to give her the silent treatment. It was on a Sunday, when his mood couldn’t be evaded with the cushion of his absence at work for most of the day. He stalked and sulked around the apartment until she had no choice but to capitulate to inquiring about the cause behind his “humor.” 

“What did I do?” she offered. As though on cue, having waited long enough already for her to ask, he snapped, “Nothing. You do nothing.” With that he proceeded to tear open the boxes and suitcases that still hadn’t been unpacked in all the time they had been there, getting to the one where she had stuck the bag of onions. From the instant of being unleashed via the slightest opening of the zipper, the odor was pungent, as though it had been steeping in its stench for an effect that gave it ten times the impact of its normal “essence,” filling the abode with a stink mirroring that of Ella and Godard’s relationship. It was within the effluvium of the onions that Ella was the one to re-start time within the apartment by announcing, “You know what? Don’t bother unpacking. In fact, I think there was a subconscious reason neither of us have this whole time–even though you expected me to finish it all just because I’m here ‘doing nothing.’ We’ve both known this thing between us is forced.”

He didn’t want to argue with her. He was so tired. Too tired to do anything, let alone fight for a woman who didn’t love or support him in the way he wanted, in the way he felt was “correct” for a woman to do. So he said, “I’m not moving again. You can leave.” 

And she did, comforted in the notion that his suitcase, and the apartment along with it, would reek of onions for quite some time. Just as, more than likely, her own person would be tainted by the whiff of Godard’s negative energy lingering upon her for several months more before she could get a date.

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