the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

The Last Few Days

Valentine’s Day has always been tough for us.   The pressure of Valentine’s Day, with all the hullabaloo and candy-giving, makes us question our already unsteady relationship.  How can we ever live up to the romantic images on those Hallmark cards? 

Sophia and I got into a fight on the night before Valentine’s Day.   I went to find somewhere else to sleep.   I felt uncomfortable calling up a friend, so I drove to the nearest Holiday Inn to see if they had any availability.  All the rooms were booked except for the “Honeymoon Suite” with a Jacuzzi for $250 dollars.  See: Irony.  I was too tired to keep on driving, so I went back home and parked my car in the driveway, exactly where I started.  I went into the backseat, curled up, and decided to go to sleep, using my sweater as a pillow.  I had always heard of people sleeping in their car.  Hey, it was almost cool – like I was in a rock band!   I was woken up a few hours later by the metallic sounds of a torrential rain storm pounding on the roof of the car.  I felt like I was stuck in a car wash that had been taken over by HAL from 2001.  It was noisy, the rain and wind shaking the car.  I don’t know how I did it, but I fell asleep again.

In the morning, I woke up.  Have any of you ever opened your eyes in the morning and realized that you were sleeping in the back seat of your car?  If you have, you will understand how I felt.  I stumbled out of the car, my legs all stiff and asleep.  Standing a few feet away was my next door neighbor, a well-dressed attorney in her business suit, heading for her Lexus.  I stuck my head back into the car, moving my hands back and forth, making believe that she just caught me “cleaning out the back seat” of the car.

“Good Morning, Lindsay,” I said.

“Hello, Neil.” she said, sternly. 

I’m not sure I fooled her – at all.

I walked over to Starbucks, where I peed and washed my face, like a homeless man, feeling like Starbucks Inc. owed me for all those overpriced lattes.  A few hours later, I headed to Beverly Hills for a meeting with a Hollywood producer!   The meeting went well.  Maybe he mistook the “fire in my eyes” for my bloodshot look from sleeping in the car.

I’ve been in a hotel since then.  

Why am I telling you all this?  I probably shouldn’t be.  I have all these new, wonderful people coming here to read interviews, so it is a bit uncomfortable airing my dirty laundry, but as every blogger knows, a personal blog is about both the good and bad of life.  We’ve all been there, and I am inspired by the openness of many of you.

I love Sophia.   We have some problems.  Some of you have been reading about us for three years now.  We both attend therapy, but are finding it difficult to fix things.  Maybe living together while “separated” is not the answer.

Who’s at fault here?   Well,  you would hear very different stories depending on who told the tale, but basically we are both responsible for our own marriage. 

Today is Sophia’s birthday.   She’s probably upset.  I hope I get to see her later, but if I don’t, I hope she does something fun to celebrate her special day.  Please wish Sophia a happy birthday.  She’s a big part of this blog and I know many of you care about her.  

Happy birthday, Sophia.


  1. V-Grrrl

    Oh luv, life as a homeless man on Valentine’s Day has got to be a new low.

    I’m so sorry you’re in this place–physically, emotionally.

    When my husband and I hit rough patches in our marriage, it is truly disconcerting to see our situation. It’s astounding really, how at times we share so much and yet share so little, how silently we go from thinking we’ll be together forever to wondering whether we can last six more months.

    Peace to you where you are. And lots of love. Soon I’ll be in Virginia–which is very conveniently located relative to Redondo Beach, California. : ) I’ll leave the light on for you.


  2. Yvonne

    Your post broke my heart. I hope you work it out very soon…happy birthday Sophia.

  3. ingrid

    Dear Neil and Sophia,
    I wish you every wisdom for loving.

  4. Paul

    Of course I wish her a Happy Birthday!
    I hope you manage to sort yoursleves out – whatever that outcome may be. You both deserve to be happy.
    And of course, if you take too long I will get on a plane and bang your heads together!!! (is that phrase used in the USA??)

  5. blackbird

    Gosh that stinks.
    I AM new here and barely know you (happy birthday to Sophia)but I do hope things get better (and that could mean moving out completely) and that you have some resolution.

  6. Diane Mandy

    Happy Birthday, Sophia. I hope she gets her birthday wish and that you both find peace in your relationship.

  7. better safe than sorry

    happy birthday to your lovely sophia.
    i have no answers but my heart goes out to both of you. some things aren’t meant to be.

  8. Alison

    Aw, dang, Neil! 🙁

    And Happy Birthday, Sophia!

  9. Guilty Secret

    Happy birthday to Sophia. Keep working at it, Neil, you clearly still love each other.

  10. Alissa

    Happy Birthday Sophia.

    Neil, you’re in my thoughts!

  11. Karl

    Sleeping in the car?! Dude! Come on out to Florida…you can stay on my couch. We’ll do Disney.

    Happy birthday, Sophia.

  12. Marge

    “I figure whenever you’re down and out the only way is up.”
    Hang in there!

  13. Rhea

    Happy Birthday, Sophia! Neil, I wish the best for you. Sleeping in the backseat of a car really stinks. I know. From experience.

  14. sarah g

    I’m sorry that things are rough, but at least you’re both making efforts! Sorry that cupid missed this year! Happy Birthday Sophia!

  15. Nat

    Jeff and I hit a rough patch a few years back and I didn’t think we would make it. It’s a sad, hard, scary place to be. Hang in there.

    And a happy birthday to Sophia.

  16. Avitable

    I’ve only been reading here for a little while, but happy birthday, Sophia.

  17. bookfraud

    relationships are hard; making them work is harder. i hope you and sophia can work things out. i haven’t had to sleep in the car except following a bout of drinking in high school, but i feel your pain. try to keep the faith.

  18. Marilyn

    I’m so glad you posted this. Personally, I sorta hate V. Day and all the expectations it drums up for people. We celebrate (our version of an) anniversary a few days before, so we tend to let the 14th pass by unnoticed. I do wish Sophia a Happy Birthday today…and know that this day can’t be easy for either of you based on what you’ve written here. I believe one of the things that draws so many readers to your blog is that you’re willing to write about your relationship with Sophia in its less-than-perfect state. Because so many of us (myself included) are in relationships that don’t fit the mold of what ‘they’ say we should have. Hang in there…and don’t forget we luv ya on Twitter, too.

    P.S. I just watched ‘Election’ the other night…and laughed out loud when Matthew Broderick woke up having slept in his car…because the windows were fogged with condensation. Been there. I feel for ya.

  19. nancypearlwannabe

    At least you have a hotel room now and can wash your face and not have to dry it with one of those hot air blasters.

    Happy birthday to Sophia.

  20. SAJ

    Happy Birthday Sophia!

    Thinking of you Neil.

  21. sizzle

    aw Neil, i’m sorry to hear things are rough for you both. 🙁 i understand about airing our dirty laundry on our blogs…and yet that kind of frankness draws readers as well. and it can help, hopefully, you not feel alone.

    happy birthday to sophia. i hope her day is special.

  22. Not Fainthearted

    Oh dear. I was afraid it was something like this.

    Sophia – birthday wishes pale in comparison to wishing you happiness in your life. Which I do.

    To both of you, I’m sorry that this part of your journey is so rough. Lean on your friends. Lean on your counselors. And hopefully, one day again, you can lean on each other.

    Peace and blessings.

  23. punchlinewalking

    Oh, I’m sorry, Neil…here’s hoping sleeping in a car on Valentine’s day is rock bottom and things are on the mend one way or another.

    Happy Birthday, Sophia!

  24. Finn

    Sorry love. Really sorry.

    Sophia – I hope this year is the one where you get exactly what you need to be happy.

    Love to you both.

  25. Dagny

    Happy birthday, Sophia.

    I hope that you two can find some way through all of this.

  26. psychomom

    I have no advice but I know how it feels to sleep in the backseat, hell I know how it feels to have sex there 😉

  27. Pants

    I have no words of wisdom to offer but I sincerely hope Sophia’s birthday is wonderful!

  28. ElizaF

    Hi Neil, that is a pretty rotten way to spend any night even those devised as special by a marketing machine geared up to extract money out of you. Perhaps if being a non-couple living together is not working then being a couple who don’t live together could?

    Happy birthday Sophia and good luck to both of you.

  29. Laurie Ruettimann

    We love Sophia and we love you. Hang in there & keep writing with such honesty.

  30. chantel

    Its difficult to watch any two people not make thing works; especially when they obviously care for each other so much. I wish you both the best and an especially a Happy Birthday for Sophia.

    Neil, when you share this side of yourself its nice; it makes a whole human instead of just a talking penis. Although I think that’s true for a lot of people. errr or is it just men?

  31. Jennifer

    My heart aches for both of you.

    If it helps any, my husband and I have a habit of having horrid fights just in time to ruin our anniversary every single year. It’s the only reason we celebrate Valentine’s Day, actually. To make up for heinous anniversary days.

    I wish peace and resolution and full hearts for both of you.

    Happy birthday, Sophia.

  32. LVGurl

    I really hope things pick up for you, and that you and Sophia find your answer…whatever that answer may be.

    Happy Birthday to Sophia 🙂

  33. Roadchick

    Happy Birthday Sophia!

    And – Valentine’s Day is hideous pressure for almost everyone. At least Redneck & I had the excuse of sickness to mostly ignore the whole thing.

    Nothing says “I love you” like sharing the cough drops and Kleenex.

    We’re so romantic.

  34. Irina

    A very happy birthday to Sophia!

    As for Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14 was an appropriately horrible day to culminate an equally stressful week for me, so I know where you’re coming from. Looking back now, I really can’t figure out what the big deal was.

  35. Kelliqua

    Aw, Neilochka… Passionate people, as you two seem to be, have both fiery love and explosive fights. The passion goes both ways, right?

    Channel. Focus. Keep your eye on the prize and remember that the only failing in falling down is the failure to get back up.

    The happiest of birthdays to dear Sophia and the best of wishes for you both.

  36. Leslie

    I wish the both of you peace and love.

  37. 180/360

    Thinking of you both and wishing Sophia a great birthday!

  38. Non-Highlighted Heather

    Anything I say will sound trite.

    с днем рождения, Sophia.


  39. Tuck

    Maybe time to trade that baby in for a VW Bus.

  40. Annika

    Happy Birthday Sophia.

    Neil, I am very annoyed with you for having an ironic honeymoon suite story that is better than mine.

  41. lizardek

    Bummer, dude. 🙁 I hope things either improve for the two of you or that you both move on…you seem sort of stuck as it is.

  42. Mr. Fabulous

    First, Happy Birthday, Sophia!

    Second, I am sorry for all this. You two are such awesome people…I really hope you find a way to make it all work out.

    Thirdly, it’s the 21st century. Don’t say “hullabaloo” anymore please.

  43. Hilly

    First of all, Happy Birthday to Sophia.

    Secondly, about posting this…you know that I understand all too well exactly what it’s like to be going through those kinds of problems and not know where to put it. If you can find a way to talk about it on your blog without being disrespectful to yourself or Sophia (which you totally mastered here, btw) then it should be talked about. As personal bloggers, we too often take a bunch of flack about opening up our real lives here but why?

    Any-stinkin-way….I hope that you find your way to happiness no matter which way that leads you. If you need a place to stay ever again, please call me.

  44. Pearl

    Rodgers/Hart said it best, Neil: “…each day is Valentine’s Day.” I hope you remember that when you personally wish Sophia a happy birthday; show her she is and will always be your valentine…separated or not.
    I hope your meeting with the producer helped pave the way to good things for you, Neil.
    Hugs from Toronto.

  45. claire

    Sophia, I hope you’re having a lovely birthday.

    To you both… when you’ve invested a lot in a relationship, it’s hard to let go. You guys seem to be in a painful limbo. Maybe that’s what working things out looks like though. Whatever the outcome, I wish the best for you both.

  46. Heather

    Aw, Neil. This post breaks my heart. I’m so sorry. I hope you’re doing okay, and I hope Sophia has a nice birthday.

    Love is so hard sometimes. I wish you both the best.

  47. sassy

    Happy B-day Sophia, bless ya Neil.

  48. Erin Cooper

    So sorry to hear about all this Neil. I know you love Sophia, and I hope everything works out.

    Happy Birthday Sophia!

  49. Catheroo

    Oh, Neil. I’m sorry to hear you’ve been going through this. I hope things get better soon.

    And Happy Birthday to Sophia.

  50. Akaky

    Well, it’s never dull coming over here to COTM, is it? I trust you guys will get over this bad patch and many happy birthday wishes to the always lovely Sophia

  51. Turnbaby

    There’s a refrain from a Lyle Lovett song tyhat keeps running through my head lately.

    “It ought to be easier when you turn your lights down low
    and it
    ought to be easier to leave when you know that you have to go”

    I’m sorry for your struggles and I hope the two of you can find a your way to some peace.

    And I know all about the pressures of V-Day–it’s also my wedding anniversary.

    Happy B-Day Sophia

  52. wendy

    Happy Bithday Sophia.

    Neil, I have a guest room.. Colorado is freezing right now..If you slept in your car you would be dead.

    I suppose there is some sort of your current geographical location? right?

    See.. you’re not alone. Just in flux.

    Love always.

  53. churlita

    Happy birthday Sophia. I hope things work out in a way that is best for both of you.

  54. Annie

    Neil, I am so sorry, I had an awful
    Valentine’s day too, so I know how
    it sucks. Best of luck to both of you
    and Happy Birthday Sophia!

  55. Aimee Greeblemonkey

    Happy birthday Sophia!

  56. Artful Kisser

    Happy birthday Sophia. Thoughts and hopes are with you both. xx

  57. Ash

    Happy birthday Sophia and *hugs* Neil. No pretty Valentine’s here either, maybe I should have joined you in your car.

  58. therapydoc

    So many things to say here, so I better shut up.

  59. Bec

    Happy Birthday Sophia… I hope everything turns out the way you want it to.

  60. ETK

    I don’t have anything worthwhile or additional to add – but I do hope that you two can work it out and/or find happiness. Happy birthday Sophia.

  61. Long Story Longer

    Big, happy b-day to Sophia.

    Neil, I am genuinely sorry for everything that’s going on. Gosh, I haven’t slept in my car as the result of a fight with my partner, but I have had times where I feel just terrible, terrible and can’t see a way out of it. I’m glad you shared so we could all send support.

  62. Elisabeth

    A Happy birthday to Sophia.

    And to you, Neil, hang in there. maybe what you need to do now is move out for a while, just to sort things out. I seem to remember that it’s not the first time that you will have done that.

    Whatever the outcome, I hope that all ends up being for the best. Keeping you both in my thoughts.

    Oh and, BTW, last time I slept in a car was in the summer of 2006, and I was with my boyfriend (we are both in our fifties) – and no, there was no hanky-panky, we were exhausted, and there was a torential downpour (we could not find a hotel room, because of the flood in upstate New York.)

  63. Sarah

    Happy Birthday to Sophia!

    There, now that is out of the way I can just say I am so sorry things have been rough the past few days. I was wondering what was up based on a few clues here and there.

    Sending love to you.

  64. Nics

    Happy Birthday Sophia.
    Fingers crossed for the outcome of your meeting Neil. And all the love and luck to both of you.

  65. Nichelle

    I feel bad for you and Sophia, but unless there is threat of violence, I don’t understand how you can’t sleep on the sofa until you work things out. Staying at a hotel seems so dramatic and expensive.

  66. margalit

    Happy Birthday, Sophia.

    Neil, I’m so sorry to read this. It broke my heart. I’m now going to add you to my list of people I worry about. You know, it’s the Jewish mother in me. Please take care of yourself. Sleeping in the car just isn’t a good idea. Wish I lived closer. We have a nice comfy sofa you’re more than welcome to visit.

  67. mckay

    happy birthday, sophia. you are so special to all of us – for your generosity, whit, and truthfulness.

    thank you, neil, for being real. the velveteen rabbit would be proud of you.

    prayers and well wishes for both of you.


  68. mrsatroxi

    Hugs and very best wishes to and for you both.

  69. Chag

    Aw, man. This sucks. I’m hoping for the best for you guys.

    And Sophia, hope you had a great birthday!

  70. liz elayne

    sending you both peace…

  71. E

    Late, but Happy Birthday Sophia!

    Love to you both.

  72. Cléa

    Sorry to hear that, Neil. I’m not really up on the background so please forgive me if this sounds out of place. When you say “Maybe living together while “separated” is not the answer”, maybe the reverse might work. A close friend of mine did the “living apart but still together” thing, and they eventually reconciled.

  73. fringes

    Be of good cheer, Neil. You are in my thoughts.

  74. dan-E

    hang in there neil. you guy will be ok.

  75. suburbancorrespondent

    Marriage can be difficult; my husband and I had less than an excellent day ourselves. Sleeping in our car, however, is out – it’s disgusting back there, with all the dropped food and spilled drinks.

  76. Geeky Tai-Tai

    I’m so sorry Neil. I wish you both love, peace, and happiness.

  77. Whit

    That’s tough. I hope things take a positive spin for you both.

  78. supa

    Ohhh. Hard times. I’m sorry to hear that, Neil. I applaud you for writing it, though. I hope it helps you.

  79. Bre

    Relationships are never easy, rarely simple – but hopefully very worth it in the end.

    Happy Birthday, Sophia!

  80. cruisin-mom

    happy birthday Sophia. I’m sorry that life has not been easy for you. John Lennon said it best…“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans”.

  81. HeyJoe

    Wow. Very brave post, Neil. I hope it all works out for the best, whatever that may be.

    Happy Birthday to Sophia.

  82. Atomic Bombshell

    Happy birthday, pretty lady, and BIG LOVE to both of you.

  83. Lara

    Oh, happy late birthday to Sophia.

    As for the rest of it…I wish I had some advice for you both, but considering that my husband and I went to our first couples therapy session yesterday, well, man, I’m SO not the girl to talk to about this.

  84. Lara

    PS, oddly, I just resisted the urge to type “May the force be with you”. I haven’t seen a Star Wars movie since approximately 1983, so this is very strange.

  85. melanie

    i think romantic holidays are the hardest days for couples with troubles. I hope you two can find solutions that are best for both of you.

    happy birthday sophia.

  86. Otir

    Sorry I missed your birthday, Sophia, счасливым днём рождения ! (I hope I didn’t mispell it on top of everything).

    Maybe we should start a tradition of wishing you a happy birthday everyday, to make up for being late once?

    Love to you.

  87. Shelli

    Belated birthday wishes to Sophia. I hope you are working it out with each other as well.

  88. MCS

    I wish I could buy you a beer.

  89. abigail road

    After reading your twitter, I realized I hadn’t been here in awhile, and was out of the loop. I hope everything’s ok. *hugs*

  90. brettdl

    Sorry to hear it Neil. (I would have commented sooner, but I’ve been sick the last week.)

  91. been there.

    i’ve been reading your blog for a few months and decided to read some of your archives while enjoying some much needed rest. wow…this post left me speechless. i have been in this EXACT situation and it truly sucks. the horrible fighting is bad enough but combined with the need to run off and humiliate one’s self in the back of a car makes the situation near intolerable. i have been there. getting out of that relationship, while drawn out and painful was the best thing that happened to me. now, in new york, it’s a bit harder to follow my first reaction and run away for the night. but luckily, it’s not as necessary with the current man. from someone who has been there, good luck resolving everything.

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