Like I said, I wouldn't have gotten as far as I did with Queenie Cakes if it wasn't for Joel. He got most of my equipment and supplies at off-the-truck prices, and got the cakes delivered. He also spoon-fed me many customers those first two years. Besides that, he also kicked my ass when my attitude started to slide back towards Lazy Ass Valley. My worst year could be attributed to him, too, but I won't bitch too much about it. It's over and done with.
Earlier this month, I got my annual phone call from him on the same day I get it every year for a very personal reason. Besides the "how are you" nonsense that exes go through, and then the slew of apologies that he recites like a rosary year after year, he also passed on a nice cake order. I was not going to take it at first because there was no way I would have been able to deliver to the location. He offered his services. I declined at first, but then he admitted he could use a little extra money and he would appreciate it if I could send catering orders his way if I get something I couldn't take on.
Hence, our agreement was struck. I was very clear that certain boundaries are to be maintained and that if any of our rules were broken, then this little contract would be ripped up immediately. The first few runs were good. He filled in to deliver when I couldn't do it, he helped me get supplies from cheaper sources, and he's thrown me some new customers. He's also stepped in to make some important decisions when I was too tired or too addle-brained to think clearly, like donating the cupcakes straight out and not charging anything for them. That has since paid off with several cupcakes orders and two party cakes in the coming months.
I don't like being friends with exes. I don't like having a reminder of the past; good or bad. When it's over, it's best to understand that it's over, let go, and move on. For me, that's the healthiest route to take so I can be the best I can be without any ghost of the past holding me back.
I have since let go of my past with Joel. I've forgiven him for horrible things he did and almost did. I've also filed away our feelings for each other in neat little scrapbooks that hide away in the back of my closet. I appreciate him for all he has done to help me grow as a person, but I know my path leads elsewhere, and NOT to a home back with him. Seeing that he's living with a new woman, himself, I felt like I was treading on safe ground. He's moved on. I've moved on. Can't we just make some money together?
Like I said, things were going well until Friday. He helped me out big time this week with this Yo Gabba Gabba order. He even got me to Brooklyn in record time to deliver. Holy shit, for once, I was EARLY! I don't remember the last time I was early for anything.
My bowling night was canceled. After the set up, Joel offered to drive me to Hicksville so I could get some storage things for my stuff; things I'll need this summer for my move. I was also able to get some new containers for my decorating knick-knacks.
I should have known better. During the 30 minute drive out there, he tried to walk down memory lane- a stroll I immediately shut down. While shopping around the store, he pointed to furniture we used to have, decorations we bought together, and memories I had safely tucked away. I wasn't getting weepy. I was getting angry. The final straw came when we were on line, and I was paying. He was dutifully bagging up my purchase and he asked me a question, something like, "Do you want it all in the same bag, boo?"
I flipped. As we walked back to the car, I made it clear again that I'm not his "boo", his "honey" or any other term of endearment anymore. I said if this sort of thing were to continue, then this agreement we have together would end right there. He promised it was only a mistake; it wouldn't happen again.
We grabbed a bite to eat before heading back to Queens. During the meal, a got a call from a friend, asking me to come upstate to visit with him. (No names.) I told him I would check my schedule and my funds and get back to him, but I wasn't in a position to discuss it at the moment. For someone who claims to have hearing loss, Joel seemed to pick up the conversation well enough and made some snarky remark about my friend and my intentions. Both of these things are obviously none of his business and I told him so.
The rest of the night passed quickly, and I was happy to get home. For my business, our agreement has been great. Even with the money I pay him, more orders means more income and even with the added expense of his services, it's still more money than no orders at all. However, I fear that I was too eager to give him a fresh chance and maybe his intentions are changing the more time he spends with me.
I know this song. It's the same one that played the more my ex-friend Jonathan and I hung out. As much as he kept saying he was cool with just a friendship, his actions proved otherwise. In the end, it was smarter to cut that tie permanently.
I'm at this fork in the road. Cut Joel loose before things get stickier or give him a chance to show that he can keep his memories in the past? Everyone deserves another chance. I've given our romantic relationship all the chances it deserves, and I know with every fiber of my being that he is not the one for me. Our business relationship has always been strong, and I wonder if it's smart to treat that as an independent entity with it's own set of chances, or if I should just take a page out of every other book I've read in the past and shut it down before things get worse.
Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone slips up. I know I've done it. I want to give him another shot. Truth be told, I need his help. I can't do the added load by myself, and I don't know anyone else I can trust the way I trust him with my business. I just don't trust him to keep his yearnings for the way things used to be at bay.
This is how I left things with him on Friday;
"You and I are as dead as our child. If you can't leave our relationship in it's grave, then you need to walk away now. This is never going to work if you keep trying to relive what's over."
I know, I know. It was way harsh, and very blunt, but I don't know how to be any other way when faced with these kinds of dilemmas. I'm not going to pretend that I know what's best for me or my business. I know I try to choose what is right. Many times I choose wrong. I'm not sure now. I know I want to run as far away from him as possible, but running has only landed me in deeper trouble. So, do I face it or try to see it for what it is or do I give up now for what "might" happen?
I guess time will tell. In the meantime, I have to work on getting myself in a position to handle my business on my own. Even if Joel and I can manage to ink out a reasonable working relationship, he won't be around forever. Maybe I won't be in NY forever. Then what?
Time will tell.