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Part IX: These Are the Laws
I have been memorizing this room. In the future, in my memory, I shall live a great deal in this room.
I aim the remote and the television is silenced. My eyes slowly wander around my home, resting on precious objects, skirting over paperwork and dirty dishes. Monday is hell. The first Monday after vacation is slow, torturous hell. If the day ends with no one to come home to, it is depressing.
Kerry is scouting out potential employment prospects. Armed with her CV, a letter of recommendation from Don Anspaugh and formidable stats from her time at County, she is a force to be reckoned with. I doubt very much that it took her the entire day to secure an offer but Kerry won't be content with just one. She'll demand interest at every stop and she'll get it, she's that good.
I'm overjoyed with her initiative and enthusiasm but a small voice in the back of my brain is niggling at me. I can't seem to stop myself from mentally sabotaging every forward step we've taken since we reconciled. I've had relationships hit the skids before and I've done my share of gluing them back together. Inevitably those patch jobs were shitcanned because whatever broke down in the first place always reared its ugly head.
The fact that I'm pinning so much of my hope hell, my heart on a future with this woman is scaring the bejesus out of me. She's the one and if we can't make a go of it, well, I'm done.
I've gone around and around on this issue before, arguing with friends about the concept. 'One certain person for each person' is not exactly a healthy thing to believe and I usually counsel my patients against the idea. And in some respects I question it, too. My mother's second husband is a wonderful man and I know they love each other deeply. My parents weren't divorced, my Mom was widowed; does that mean she's had her one true love and anything after that is just companionship or convenience? Now there's a happy thought.
Yet no matter how much I try and talk myself out of it, my conviction still persists. Kerry and I are totally different people; we've had completely different life experiences, we disagree more often than not, but every time I'm with her I feel like she was made especially for me.
So what's the fucking problem, Legaspi?
We will build a life together, a new life, one in which she feels free to publicly express her love and devotion. She will drop by my office and my secretary will know that we are a couple. I will visit her at the hospital and not have to pretend that we are simply friends. And she will look within herself and tap those endless reserves of strength and confidence and stand up when someone disagrees with who she is. We will raise a family and grow old together. Hers will be the last face I see before I leave this earth.
These thoughts warm me enough to put aside my unnamed doubts. And that is when it hits me.
The problem is that as long as we live in San Francisco, all of our progress will remain theoretical; she will never have to deal with the circumstances that pushed us over the precipice. She will safely retreat to another city, another hospital, where she will most likely never have to deal with the sheer volume of shit that she stepped into at County.
Timing is everything.
The jangle of keys turning the deadbolt heralds her arrival and I watch the door slide back with interest. I feel a deadly calm settle over me.
She is exhilarated. She grins at me as she removes her coat and shoes. She makes her way over to the couch and carefully lowers herself beside me. I do not move closer and this is her first indication that something is not right.
"Hey you, how was work?"
"Work was work."
She absorbs this lack of information in silence. I start to feel irritated that she isn't asking me what's wrong, then realize that she's patiently waiting for me to continue.
What if I told you that I've changed my mind?"
"About staying in San Francisco."
Utter quiet for quite some time.
"I've been thinking about it and I think I want to go back to Chicago. Maybe not back to County but
As the words leave my mouth, I feel myself split into two distinct people. One is a complete stranger; the other is me, watching in horrified fascination as this stranger deliberately baits the woman I ostensibly love.
She is floored and she doesn't try to hide it.
"What the hell happened today to bring this on?"
"Who knows about us?"
"At County, who knows that we're back together? Or maybe I should ask, who knows that we were even together in the first place?"
She knows that I'm fishing but she hasn't quite grasped exactly what it is I'm looking for.
"You told him soon after we split up, though, right?"
"Could you please just tell me who you've told about us?"
"Well, when you kissed me in front of the admit desk before we flew out here? I think that was a pretty big announcement."
"So you never actually told anyone that we'd been lovers?"
The penny drops.
Surprisingly, for someone who makes a living at being able to read and interpret people and situations, this one blindsides me.
She abruptly stands and makes her way back to the door. She quietly pulls on her shoes and coat. Clutching her purse, she turns to face me.
"I never really told anyone about us, Kim. I flailed around for quite a while, personally and professionally. When I finally regained my balance, you know what I told the people I work with? I told them I was sorry for how I'd been acting, that I hadn't meant to cover my ass while Chen's career went down in flames. I told them that as much as Malucci deserved to lose his job, the way I went about it was unprofessional and undignified. I told them that someone special had helped me to see that there was more to my life than just work."
I stand up so that I can take the blow head on.
"Nothing will ever change the fact that when I finally came out, it was Sandy that was by my side."
Hearing the words actually staggers me.
"You will never know how sorry I am that I couldn't do that for you, Kim. And I understand that you can't forgive me."
And with that, she turns, opens the door and leaves.
It is not a similar circumstance that eventually rears its ugly head; it is my inability to let it go that dooms me.
I stand in the middle of my living room for what feels like hours, turning what just happened over and over in my mind. She wasn't ready to come out for me six months ago but I set in motion events that changed her into the person she needed to be for us to finally come together.
A second chance. It's not what I needed to offer her it's what we both were given when we found our way back to one another.
The door suddenly reopens. Kerry stands there, glaring at me expectantly.
"You think I'm going to let you get away with that shit?"
She is angry and rightfully so. She strides across the room and plants herself in front of me.
"I've been standing outside for five minutes, what the hell took you so goddamn long? You think you're the only one who's scared? You think I don't worry that I'll fail you again?"
I can't think of one thing to say to her that will make up for what I just put us through.
"Can we just start again from here? I don't know any other way to do it, Kim. All I know it that I want to spend the rest of my life with you. If you want to go back to Chicago and be miserable just to prove a point, fine. If you want to pitch a tent on top of Mt. Fuji and live on roots, I can do that. You want me to hold your hand in public or kiss you in front of the Geary, I'm there."
She pauses to take a breath and I see my chance. I walk to my desk in the corner and open the top drawer. I stride back over to her and drop to one knee, handing her the Cartier box at the same time.
"Kerry Shannon Weaver, will you marry me?"
She flips open the lid, quickly glancing at the square-cut diamond set in a platinum band.
"You realize that I'm only saying yes so that I can make your life a living hell for the next fifty years, right?"
I nod eagerly.
"Well, all right then."
She says this grudgingly and I rise and move to embrace her but she is having none of it.
"You came this close, Legaspi. Coughing up a rock doesn't wipe the slate clean."
I decide to press my luck.
"Can you just stay here and blow off the last six months of your contract?"
She stares at me incredulously.
"You've got brass, Kim, I'll give you that."
She stops and eyes me thoughtfully.
"You know, you just might have something there. We'll talk about it during the fabulously expensive dinner you're going to treat me to tonight."
And that is when she finally allows me to take her in my arms and never let her go.
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