Va esta historia coqueta, que quiero dejar aquí aunque esté en inglés y sea muy larga y no le haya gustado a Javier (Javier todo lo sabe así que si la odian siéntanse en excelente compañía).
Y bueno, suficiente de disclaimers, va:
ANNA AND MICHAEL
She wasn’t immediately attracted to Michael. He was sloppy and short and suspiciously quiet for someone so popular. She wasn’t interested until she heard someone else was, some girl with long messy hair, split ends, loose cargo pants and super tight Ramones t-shirts. Anna despised and envied her in equal measure. She came to her and confessed in the sweetest fashion that Michael was haunting her nights, so Anna giggled in girlish agreement and decided to want him for herself. That’s just the way some women are, and that’s the way Anna was then, before him. The next week she saw him and once opened to the possibility, gave in for real. He was tapping his long fingers on the seat in front of him; his hands looked moist and strong, like a clammy teenager’s. One look and she could feel them on her. She was sold.
Michael had never seen her before that day she came up to him. I mean he had seen her... everyone had seen her, but the thing is - long before Anna - Michael had learned to scan her type and forget it in the same glance. She just reeked of unfulfillable requirements. But then she had inexplicably invited him to a party and he had felt an inexplicable urge to attend. Then she had inexplicably come up to him and drank with him and held his hand. Then he had talked about music and she had talked about writers and they had been both - inexplicably - enthralled. Then she had leaned over and kissed him, and she tasted like whisky and mint; and she had taken him back home with her, and he had let her.
The next day when he woke up she was taking a shower so he left. An hour later, against all his better judgement, he called to apologize for leaving and to invite her out the next day. She accepted his apology casually, like she hadn’t even noticed he was gone and rejected his invitation just as casually, like he hadn’t spent the night all over her. She didn’t sound surprised that he was calling, which pissed him off enormously; he was sure he wasn’t the first complete stranger she had fucked in a drunken stupor and yet he just knew Anna would never have the displeasure of feeling cheap or easy or used. They would all call the next day, exactly like he had, because it could not be helped. He had conquered the pink cardigan and the thin perfect, skin. He was perpetually hooked, officially in deep shit.
He called every day that month and she chose to ignore it. Then out of nowhere, one night he opened the door and she was there. She smiled peacefully and kissed him like they had been married a long time, they went to a movie she had chosen and a restaurant she paid for. Then she took him back to his place and didn’t leave for a week.
Anna couldn’t remember when the whole thing turned romantic. She couldn’t place the moment she had fallen in love with the slob; the boy her parents would do their very best to approve of and fail; the boy who was a boy and would stay a boy for good. He said he wanted to be a musician but his definition of practice was jamming with strangers in after hours bars; and his definition of training was following every indie band who would ever play anywhere and learning the lyrics to every song ever sang by anyone. But he challenged her and mocked her and turned her into everything she felt she had always wanted to be. In his world she wasn’t a journalist, she was a rock and roll reporter. In his world she wasn’t a princess, she was a bohemian with high standards. In his world she was her own definition of wonderful: fun and relaxed and easily beautiful. She could eat cold pasta with her hands and walk around the living room wearing snoopy boy briefs and t-shirts.
Of course she ate the pasta with perfect manicured nails and her t-shirts were vintage Channel, but Michael fell for it all and fell for her. He was in love like he had only read people could be in love, but loved her because of things he couldn’t imagine anyone else understanding. He also felt loved back; admired by the perfect woman for all his imperfect habits; adored for everything he hated about himself. He felt needed but disregarded, completely powerless but never diminished. He loved the life she had led, although he didn’t completely fit in it, and dreaded every time he was dragged into it. He loved the life they led together because it was like a joke only the two of them got. He loved that he took her for granted and yet gasped for breath anytime she wasn’t around.
The moment whatever they were doing had become important was a mystery for both of them, but the moment it had become familiar and easy and spectacular, they could both recognize exactly: it was the night Anna came home with the projector. She had stolen it from her dad, who used it occasionally for case presentations, because she wanted to watch movies on saturday nights but she despised the crowds with the same passion she despised their tiny TV. They didn’t have a screen so they projected on the ceiling because it was the only white space big enough to act as one in their tiny apartment. They watched “The big Lebowsky” which she knew by heart and he had never seen. When it was over their room was dark and warm. She turn to look at him and realized she was looking at her family. He looked at her and simply knew that girl and him were in it (whatever it might be) together for good. They had spent their short lives expecting to find such thoughts terrifying, and were both silently and pleasantly surprised to find them comforting instead.
Anna began to buy movies like it was her purpose in life, which Michael loved because it made gift shopping easy. She accepted anything from old screwball hollywood comedies to experimental German new wave. Eventually her collection became so omnipresent Michael feared she would kick him out to make room for it. But then he hooked up the projector and held it pointing in the right direction which made him feel quite indispensable.
They spent their summers in New York with her parents, where the plan was basically to wear white without spilling on it, a feat which Michael slowly but eventually mastered. And sundays they spent visiting his father, being heavily overfed and listening to old boisterous music. Anna loved everything about those visits. She loved his huge dark arms and the way he hugged her like he could have made her disappear. She loved to bring him records and listen to him and Michael discuss them; they somehow managed to argue all afternoon despite agreeing on practically everything. He always drank two glasses of wine and by the start of the second he began to sing loudly. Anna adored the sound of his huge, accented voice bouncing off the walls, so low she could feel it hit her body.
After three years they moved to LA so she could go to grad school and - as she liked to put it - postpone growing up. Anna had given Michael a copy of “Burn to run” that Springsteen had signed for her during an interview. The night before they left for LA they brought it over to his dad’s house and spent the night listening to him sing “She’s the one” along with Bruce. For hours Anna stared at him, drinking big salty tears that fell down her cheeks and into her mouth. Years later Michael still couldn’t see his dad without thinking of Anna’s face. Anna could never think of Springsteen without missing Michael’s dad.
They had been in LA for about a year when Michael realized he wasn’t a musician; he simply had great ears and loved hanging out with them which is how he eventually fell ass backwards into managing. Not surprisingly he was great at it, he kind of enjoyed it and it also gave Anna a new wonderful answer to the question - “What does your boyfriend do?” - which (he could tell, though she would never admit) gave her enormous peace of mind. She stopped covering rock and roll nightlife and got a job at the LA times. By the time she graduated she was making the front page at least once a month. She also befriended her boss and went from intern to editor in like, a week.
Michael could see that for all her talk about not wanting to grow up, she was actually remarkable at being an adult. She enjoyed it all: paying bills and talking to the gardener and buying flower vases and meeting deadlines. They began to hardly see each other during the day and after a while they could both tell they were slowly getting attached to things the other did not care for or even understood. Once Anna sat crying in her office for forty minutes over a story she was covering; after a week she realized Michael had lied about even reading it. A few months later Michael lost one of his best clients because he was a famous family man and Anna had forgotten to show up for dinner twice. They fought a lot, or worst, lost the energy to fight, but when it got bad they had nights and movies and their ceiling and their bed. When it got bad they had this thing that was only theirs; a habit where they got each other back; a pause where they were both exactly where they wanted to be.
Then Anna got pregnant and after two days of wanting to jump off a cliff she realized she was actually ecstatic. She wanted a boy with Michael’s nose and sweaty hands. She wanted a girl who cried watching her grandpa sing. She wanted it, period. And that it had just happened seemed not only not tragic but almost precise. She was happy, and Michael seemed happy and her family was fine. Two months later she lost the baby and she realized Michael was actually relieved. By the next three weeks she was living with a stranger she disliked intensely. Within six weeks the stranger had moved out.
Ok so Michael shouldn’t have pretended he really wanted the kid. But if you think of it, come on, did he really have a choice? He was twenty nine, had an ok job and the woman he loved came to him wearing a blissful smile and announced she was pregnant. He dared anyone to be the asshole who acts crestfallen. Of course he was sad about the miscarriage; seeing Anna’s face... nothing had made him that miserable before or since. But it had ended, and that was that. Afterwards she just wanted to keep trying, just like that; like an accident had replaced a conversation. He knew there was no coming back from that. By the next week she had lost her too and he was sleeping on his sister Lynn’s couch. After a month he rented the apartment above her and left it unfurnished for as long as he was there. Anna had kept everything: the movies, the music, all their life. He refused to replace any of it.
After he left Anna spent months trying to get his smell out of her bed. She bought every Tide mix she could find, but it wouldn’t budge. She bought new sheets and they just absorbed it. She bought a new mattress, bedspread and pillows but still every night she rolled over and there it was. She felt it on her, raw and sweet and lazy, halting the pit of her stomach. At some point she took to inviting other men to sleep on it and see if that would banish it. She took in as many as she could find, as smelly as she could find them: potheads, sweaty jocks, smoky rockers, superbly old men. About three months after the breakup she heard Michael had met someone else, Faye... the name alone made her want to crawl under a table and never come out. Months passed and she was sure they were still together or Lynn would have mentioned that they had broken up. She couldn’t help herself with those kinds of news. So much so that she was sure Michael was hearing all about the endless parade of seedy men that came and went from her room. Every time one of them climbed on top of her the first thing she could see was Lynn recounting it happily, a concerned “poor little Anna” expression on her face. And she wondered if Michael would know the reason for it, and thought he might, because for all his faults, he had truly known her that well. Then she thought about time passing and how long Faye had been around, perhaps by now Michael’s sheets smelled only of Faye and yet here she was fucking some guy to exorcise him from hers. Sometimes when it was good she felt she succeeded for a second, but still when she was left alone with her face pressed under her pillow, there was Michael.
His smell stayed for so long after he was gone that Anna began to suspect it was actually coming from her. Perhaps that was possible. Perhaps it was possible to become so attached to another body that the line that separates it from yours just blurs for good. She began to resign to the fact, stopped feeling it at night or caring about it, stopped noticing it all together, and then she met Tommy. Tommy who smelled like shiny bath salts and creamy soap, Tommy who smelled like her parents’ bed right after it was made; even while he slept, Tommy had a fresh, spray-on scent. She knew she would gladly sleep next to it for the rest of her life.
Michael rarely thought of Anna, specially since he had left LA. His biggest client had moved his office to New York, he was sick of the heat and Faye wanted to move so he just followed him. Once he had run into Anna’s mother and it felt like he had crashed into a past life. The New York he lived in was so terminally different from the one she had grown up in, it was really no wonder nothing there reminded him of her. Granted going to the movies was excruciating, but Faye had such bad taste in films that he was always successful in blaming the actual movie for the pain. And then when he felt even a hint of nostalgia he remembered she was living with Tommy. Tommy for fuck’s sake! Even when they were together and Lynn introduced them to him he was sure Annie had a thing for him. Clearly she did. Tommy the diligent med student who parted his hair like fucking Don Draper. For sure by now he was an actual doctor who parted his hair like fucking Don Draper. That must be nice for Annie - he thought - a cute doctor like her daddy walking around her bedroom. Surely he was also wealthy like her daddy, and well-read like her daddy and well-bred like her daddy; generous like her daddy; kind like her daddy; and - this is where he stopped, because who was he kidding? He had loved Annie’s father, admired him deeply, and Tommy was probably just as wonderful.
He did rarely think of Anna, except for that freak incident recently when Jack had given him the “Born to run” acetate. He had locked himself in the bathroom and cried over it like a teenage girl. Memories have a strange way of creeping up on you. He knew he had loved Annie, but it had been a long time since he’d actually felt he had loved her. But he had. "Annie" - he said it out loud. Just once; and left the word hang there for a bit. It is remarkable - he thought - the way some things never end.
Tommy had called her Annie just once since they met. They were standing at a gallery, staring at some painting when he casually leaned over and whispered it into her ear. She felt like time had stopped; she could feel Michael standing in front of her; and his dad singing; and Lebowsky flickering. She could feel her entire body aching for something her head had completely forgotten. She turned around and held Tommy close, stroking his hair gently. –“Don’t call me Annie” – she said soflty, and time went on again.