uh oh, here i am dipping into the archives again. but i'm still not quite ready to write in the present tense, and i don't want any of you lovely ladies to de-friend me for going inactive. so here's a story i wrote in may 2001, when i was working at my high-powered dot-com job.
There's this ex-girlfriend who does my taxes for me, going on three years now, because I can't be bothered to figure out how to fill out forms, I'm allergic to them. She does it in exchange for free long distance phone calls I can supply her with, through a former employer of mine. She was in a hurry to get it over with this year, because she was about 13 months' pregnant with her second child and afraid she might have to go into the hospital at any minute. Alas, this was the hardest year so far, because I moved from Florida to California, necessitating scads of additional forms. I lost some of the paperwork I needed because it got mailed to my old address, which I never forwarded. We barely got finished in time.
She had her kid last weekend and e-mailed me the address of the obligatory web page with newborn photos on it. It was the first time I'd seen a picture of the guy she married a couple of years back. He looks kind of boring and plain, especially in contrast to his wife, who looks pretty much exactly the way she did eleven years ago when we were dating. She was all sweaty and exhausted, but still radiant. And I thought: That could have been you in that scene, stupid.
She dumped me the year I was 27 because we were stupid and in too much of a hurry and I wasn't really 100 percent over my previous girlfriend, blah blah blah. I took it pretty hard. I tried to get her attention again for a long time, but she wasn't having any of that.
She married this pretty boy she dated right after me and had her first kid, a really cute little girl. The pretty boy turned out to be a total flake, she divorced him after less than a year. The year after that, she found me on the internet. I was living in Miami by then. She didn't come out and say it in so many words, but it was plain she was testing the waters, to see if we could start dating again. She sent me lots of photos of her cute daughter, along with pictures the kid drew, which I dutifully attached to my refrigerator with magnets.
I probably would have gone along with her if her conditions hadn't been so rigid. She'd just bought a house in Wichita and was making it plain that she wasn't planning on moving away from there any time soon. I knew perfectly well I could never move back to Wichita again under any circumstances. These days I would suffocate and die if I tried to spend even a month or two there.
I tried to point out that I could make much more money and get much better jobs out in the real world, but she was having none of it. She was doing my taxes, so she knew exactly how much I was making and at the time, it wasn't much. At that point I'd quit my first big Miami job and hadn't figured out what I was going to do next. So she was unconvinced.
We talked on the phone several times about tax details this year and I could hear the change in her tone of voice. She's not the type to say hardly anything directly, but the subtext was pretty clear: "I guess you were right about making more money away from Wichita." It's a little late for me to say "I told you so."
So, she was willing to compromise on the less-than-dazzling husband, and there she is on that web page having her second child. I have so far not been willing to compromise, and here I am, still.
epilogue: here it is four years later, and that's all still true. shortly after that, the ex-employer who gave me the free long distance started to go under, their phone lines were getting disconnected for non-payment. the ex-girlfriend didn't want me to pay her directly, she said that would make her a "paid preparer" and if i got audited, she would be involved. without anything to barter for, she wasn't interested in doing my taxes anymore. i haven't heard from her since.