Detroit Rock City
We were together, exclusively, for the next four years. I arranged my class schedule my junior and senior years in college around weekends in Detroit or Chicago. He came to my town for Spring Break and we went on a 6-day road trip to the most obscure places in the Midwest, stopping at junk shops to buy treasures and falling into small-town cafes to eat pie. (“Do you have Raisin?? Oh, my God! They have Raisin!”)
He was the most arrogant person I had ever met. I loved it. He was passionate! He had ideals and convictions! He didn’t give a fuck about conventions, unless it was the 1968 Democratic National one in Chicago, where he was beaten and arrested at age 15. Politics, history, economics and art were mainstays of our conversations. He’d said, on more than one occasion, “I am the smartest person I know.”
By that time, though, I was hooked. We had amazing weekends, every month or two. The summer between Junior and Senior years I moved to Detroit to live and work with him. It was a disaster. I went back to school in August, and things between us went back to the way they were. I convinced myself that we just didn’t have any experience living together. Of course, we were working together, too- that had to have something to do with it. Another nine months of long distance, and I graduated and moved to Detroit to live (but not work) with him.
There were two problems there. One was that he worked from home, a tiny one-bedroom apartment filled with newspapers older than I was. He worked like crazy, drinking coffee and smoking for days on end. The other was that he was bipolar. This I would not know until much later.
When things were good, they were so good. When they were not- which was more often- it was the worst. Those convictions of his were held so strongly that friendships ended over them. He isolated himself from his entire family, all of whom he considered “of poor character.” One by one, friends each did something “unforgivable" like disagree with him- and were blacklisted.
I was afraid to do or say something wrong, whatever that might be; it could change daily.
It wasn’t the physical violence (which happened occasionally) that hurt , it was words- those words I’d loved so much-cut my fucking heart out.
He told me he loved me.
You are so fucking stupid.
He pleaded with me not to leave; he wanted to marry me.
You are so fucking naive.
I was the sweetest person in the world; his dead father would have loved me.
You are such a fucking disappointment.
He wanted a son named for his father.
I started seeing a fucking therapist.