the filing cabinet incident

as much as i am loving this baby quilt i am making, i’ll be glad when it’s finished. i feel guilty because i’m working on the quilt instead of making the skirt ericka paid me to make for her. i always feel bad when i don’t make stuff people gave me money to do before everything else. especially when it comes to ericka, who was so stern with me when i was a flaky zinester writing “a renegade’s handbook to love & sabotage” & she was running pander distro & i was so bad at sending her copies. mostly i’m just dragging my feet on the skirt because i hate cutting out pattern pieces. once that’s done & i start pinning & sewing, it’ll be a snap. i wish i could train ramona to cut fabric for me. maybe someday…

but i’m also looking forward to this quilt being done because it’s stirring up all kinds of memories i’d rather forget. like i said, this quilt isn’t for ramona. it’s for some other baby. & once upon a time, the father of this baby bought me a filing cabinet for my birthday. this was an incredibly thoughtful gift–something i really wanted & needed, & i was really touched that he’d found one for me. but obviously filing cabinets are heavy & bulky, so it took him a little extra time to figure out a way to transport it over to my house. in the period between procuring the filing cabinet & delivering it, we had some dumb fight & he refused to give me the filing cabinet. i have no idea what happened to it–whether he kept it for himself or gave it away to someone else or what. that was our last hurrah as good friends. i think someone told me he gave it away to someone else, which was just salt in the wounds.

anyway, obviously that was years ago & i’d forgotten all about it. but in the middle of sewing this quilt, it suddenly came back to me & i got pissed off all over again. i found myself thinking, “why should i put all this work into making a lovely quilt for your baby when you couldn’t even give me the filing cabinet you got for me?” even though obviously it’s not the baby’s fault. & in the years since then, i acquired my own filing cabinet & then outgrew my need for one & gave it away to someone. & obviously our relationship has been patched up enough that i am making a quilt for his baby. i would just prefer not to remember crap like that. leave it in the dustbin of history, where it belongs. especially because it’s pretty clear that an apology or explanation is just never going to come my way. so why dwell on it?

it also makes me think about this present that i got him, all those years ago when we were actually fairly close, & how we had this epic dramatic dramedy right before i gave it to him & i was like, “man, forget this. i shouldn’t even bother giving this to him now.” but i did anyway because i got it for him & what was i going to do with it? it was kind of valuable so i guess i could have sold it, but then i would have felt like a mercenary. so i gave it to him despite everything & he seemed touched & it was nice to follow through on the nice thing i planned to do even though there was a lot of bullshit going on. it made the bullshit feel a little less important. & then i get mad about the filing cabinet again. because really? i guess by the time the filing cabinet thing happened, we’d just had one shouting match too many for things to be spackled over with a gift.

i think this is why i’m kind of speed-sewing this quilt. the faster it’s done, the faster i can go back to just forgetting all this shit. but you know. it’s also nice to sew. especially something easy & pleasant to look at, like a baby quilt.

also last night while i was sewing, i got to thinking about “mad men”. people cheat on each other A LOT on that show. what the hell is up with that? is it just a dramatic device, or are there some people who really cheat on each other that much? i’ve never cheated on anyone so i have no idea what is going through a person’s head when they make that decision. because the annoying thing about “mad men” as a TV show is that no matter what anyone does, there are never any significant consequences. people just go around cheating on their spouses & even on the rare occasion when someone catches them, nothing really happens. that’s unfathomable to me. i feel like cheating on your partner would change how you think about them, & you’d also just be distracted trying to keep this big secret from them. right?

i asked jared about it. not that he is some great expert on cheating (as far as i know). but he’s dabbled in it at least once (not with me). he said it did have consequences in that it made him less invested in his relationship, & he found himself thinking, “i have this huge thing going on in my life that my partner would definitely want to know about & i’m not going to tell her. huh.” i asked if he had ever been “the other man” & he said, “no one wants to think of himself as the other man. you want to think of yourself as The Man.” that made me laugh really hard. i have been “the other woman” a few times & i definitely thought of myself as the other woman. i mean, when someone has been with their partner for years & years & then they fool around with you, you really have no illusions about what’s going on. though i have also been the other woman without knowing the person was in a relationship, which jared found impossible to believe.

“weren’t all the photos of some other woman & a bunch of kids kind of a tip-off?” he asked.

“a person can be in a relationship without being married with children.”

“okay, but, like, what about when you ask them to hang out & they’re like, ‘oh, i can’t, i have to go to target & buy kitty litter & look at curtains.’ kind of a hint that they might have a domestic situation with someone else.”

“or, they just say something like, ‘i really need to be alone tonight.’ i mean, a person can be in a relationship & cheating on that person without living with them & being all domestic, you know?”

“sure. but then is it really cheating?”

“if it’s not, why not just tell me there’s some other girl in the picture?”

“fair enough…the thing about an affair is that the affair really needs to be more fun than the primary relationship. otherwise, why bother?”

“yeah, & that’s where the person who doesn’t know they’re an affair really struggles. they start acting all like they expect some accountability & the person is like, ‘great, now i have two girlfriends. fuck this.'”

jared & i should totally host a relationship advice show.

Published by Ciara

Ciara Xyerra wrote zines for the better part of two decades. She has a brilliant & adorable preschooler named Ramona & sews as much as she possibly can. She lives in Lawrence, Kansas with her boyfriend. She enjoys catching up on "The New Yorker", meatball subs, keeping it cranky, intersectional post-third wave feminism, dinosaurs, & monsters. If you have nothing nice to say, she recommends that you come sit here by her, so you can say not-nice things together.

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