It’s not me. It’s you.
Julie held the postcard and read it for the hundredth time. On the front was a picture of a pig with wings and a caption that said: “Cincinnati. Home of the Flying Pig Marathon.” On the back, written with a red marker were the words: Cincinnati rocks! Cheers, Ronny.
This was the fourth postcard she’d received in the two weeks since Ronny had left her. He’d stood in the middle of her bedroom, cheerfully stuffing all of his band clothes into a couple of army duffel bags. She replayed the whole Day of Being Dumped once again, as she did every time she looked at another of his cheap postcards.
There he stood at the foot of her bed, and there were his army green bags, and there went his clothes. His clothing resembled the costumes of hair-band rockers in the late ‘80s complete with mesh t-shirts and too-tight jeans. “Look, Jules. I’ve got to be honest here,” Ronny said in his thick English accent, thicker perhaps because he was from Detroit and not England. “It’s not me. It’s you. You’re too dependable.”
“Dependable?” Julie asked. “That’s a bad thing?”
“Well, yes, actually. If I’m going to be a rock star, I can’t bloody well have a girlfriend. I’ve got to keep open. Be a sex symbol. I’ve got to be more like the lead Singer of Cold Play.”
“Chris Martin? He’s married.”
“He and Gwyneth are really happy. And he’s actually super responsible.”
“But he didn’t start out that way, did he? I mean, he’s a rock star. Purebred. Like me. What I need is some spontaneous string-free romping. You stay home and watch the Food Network and Star Trek. It’s like you’re sleep walking through life or something. I want to tear life apart and suck the marrow from it, you know? And I would too if I weren’t a vegetarian.”
Julie couldn’t believe this was happening. She’d been dumped before, too many times to count, but they always tried to spare her feelings. True to form, Ronny spared nothing. “I mean, what’s the last really crazy thing you’ve done? Besides take up with the likes of me?” Ronny paused here and Julie realized he was waiting for an answer. She tried to think but she couldn’t come up with anything. Three years ago she’d taken Ronny home with her after his set. It was, truly, the last, first and only spontaneous thing she’d ever done.
“Look,” he continued as he rifled through the closet and pulled out his studded leather jacket and slipped it on. “It’s a terrific opportunity. We’re touring all of the Midwest including Cincinnati. Can you believe it? Cincinnati! We’ve even got groupies following us.”
“Meg and Marla?” Julie asked. She hadn’t meant to say anything, she was too numb for that, but the words sort of slipped from her mouth.
“Yes. Meg and Marla.”
“They’re not really groupies,” Julie said softly. “They’re your band members’ wives. And they’re in their fifties.”
“What bloody difference does it make?” Ronny’s voice was high-pitched and tight. “I’m leaving, Jules, and that’s all there is to it. Maybe when I’m back, if I’m back, we can try again.”
“You mean after you get rich and famous?”
Ronny stepped up to her, pulled her in close to him, and kissed her; because she didn’t know what else to do, she kissed him back. “Later, Jules,” he said, and then left.
Now, just two weeks later, Julie’s apartment was empty of all traces of him, except for her four postcards from the Midwest with notes like “I’m living the vida loca” and “Flint is wilder than I ever dreamed.” And what was she doing? Flipping through her pictures of him, eating cold Indian takeout, and crying. She’d really thought Ronny was The One, or at least tried to convince herself of it. And just when she’d thought she’d gotten over him, she’d get another stupid postcard in the mail reminding her that he was on the road, and she was still stuck in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
She blew her nose into a tissue and tossed it on top of the pile at the foot of her bed. “It’s not me,” he’d said. “It’s you.” End of story.
Or was it?
Julie grabbed her cell phone and speed dialed her best friend, Eve. Dependable, huh? Living her life as if she were asleep? Julie Mills was about to change that.