breakups · love · relationships

Everything Old is New Again.

10.24.18.jpgAs you may have guessed from my recent vaguing about relationships, I’m in one.  To be more specific, I’m back in one.  With J.

I was walking to meet an internet date for dinner on a Friday night at the end of September.  I’d planned it so it was in walking distance from my apartment and I didn’t have to drive, as is my prerogative!;)  I’d gotten glammed up and looked good — well, I’d taken a shower, at least!

I was cantering down the commercial corridor where I live and spotted a car that looked like J’s.  But I’d seen many of those around—each time, spotting a blue Subaru, darting my eyes through the windshield, assuming it wouldn’t be him since he didn’t live close but had been about to accept a job nearby when we’d parted in June.

Now, I spotted this familiar looking car.  Then, I read the license plate.  It was his.  My eyes flashed through the windshield… and there he was.  Sitting in his car, typing on his phone.

My breath stopped.  I came to a halt beside his car.  He looked over.  He both smiled and looked horror-struck.

J. rolled down his passenger window.  “Getting a haircut?” I asked.  (He’d found a place he liked when we were living together and, once found, he was unlikely to veer from it!)

“Yep,” he replied.

We remained there, just kind of staring at one another.  Eye-lock, look away.  Eye-lock, look away.

We exchanged a few update words:  You change jobs?  Yep.  You start the school year?  Yep.  I fiddled with the window frame.  Well, this is hard, I said, half-smiling, somewhere near tearing up.  Yep.

Somepoint soon, within this 3-minute conversation that reached to the horizon, we said goodbye.

Later that night after the date (underwhelming but fine), I dialed J’s number.

I’d texted about two weeks earlier, on the 90-day mark on my calendar that indicated it’d been 3 months since we’d spoken, my own self-imposed separation/no-contact.  I’d written him if he were interested in being in each other’s lives, “friends or something.”  He’d replied he’d love to, but he still saw a future for us together and it would be too hard, too painful.  I typed okay.  And resigned to / accepted that he would contact me, if and when he were ever ready, or not.

So, as the phone rang that Friday night in September, I didn’t know if he would pick up.  The hurt of the break-up, the hope and pain of seeing one another.  The love that had clearly not diminished an iota. … the constant comparison of J to any of the men I’d met or communicated with during my recent re-entry into dating.

No one was like him.

Our first date lasted two hours.  We walked and talked and laughed.  We were wry and joking from nearly minute one.  There was such ease and familiarity … he could always make me laugh.

I wasn’t immediately sure after our first date.  I went home and took the quiz I’d bookmarked, It’s Just a F*cking Date (from the authors of He’s Just Not That Into You and It’s Called a Breakup Cuz it’s Broken).  He didn’t score record highs after that first date, partly because two of the questions were “did he make a plan?” and “did you like his plan?,” but I’d made the plan!  (Coffee shop in walking distance of my house, naturally!)

But, he’d squeaked over the line to, “Give him a second shot.”  So I did.

On the 2nd date, he scored full marks.

The phone rang.  I perched on the edge of my bed, heart a bit full, a bit poundy.

And he picked up.


breakups · growth · relationships

Grief isn’t Linear.


Such is what a mentor relayed to me many years ago.

As I begin to envision what life “post-J” will look like, the crying bouts are frequent—short but frequent.  A sudden welling up, perhaps a few shoulder-rattling sobs, and then a deep breath and a moving on into the next moment.

It’s Spring Break from school right now, and J is on his annual ski-backpacking trip with some friends.  He’ll be back Wednesday night, so I’ve been experiencing a few days of “what it’ll be like when he’s not here.”  He’s signed a lease and will begin moving his stuff out when he returns.

He’d taken the end of the week off in anticipation of our mini-vacation to Los Angeles, as we’d planned to take when we were still… making plans.

It’s hard, this breaking up thing.  It’s hard as the breaker, because it feels like I have the power to take it back, to make it go away, to “make it right”… but there is no making it right here.  And I have to continuously, repeatedly, and painfully remind myself of all the reasons “why not.”

We got into it on Saturday before he left for his trip.  He was facing the possibility of having to cancel his trip because of drama at work.  A trip that he plans his whole year around, that he cherishes and anticipates, with people he laughs with only this once a year.  And they were going to take it from him (or so he lamented).

And I got so mad.  I got so angry that he wasn’t more angry.  That he wasn’t as fed up and over it as I was — or at least not so much that he’s willing to make a change around his work situation.  He is trying, but he’s …

It’s not my business.  That’s what I had to keep coming to on Saturday.  I have TRIED this.  I have tried the convincing, the cheerleading, the obviously-not-so-helpful helping.  And it has always led me to leave.  To despair, to hurt, to hopelessness, and to leave.

Breaking up has so much balancing and weighing, so many reminiscences of the good, like the pencil from the hotel where we stayed in New York that I fished out of a bag this morning.  There is so much good, and there is so much not.

Remembering either is excruciating.

But of anything that I “know for sure” (to quote Oprah), I know this pain is temporary.  And I know the woman I must become—to be ready for who I will be, and who I will attract, next.



breakups · dreams · relationships

Broken Promises.


Many moons ago, J and I broke up (for the first time).  It was Spring, and he’d purchased us each unrestricted season passes to a ski mountain up in Tahoe.  These are pricey commodities bought because of his love of skiing each Winter and the anticipated notion that the following Winter, we’d both ski the mountain together.

And then, we broke up.

So, what does a person do, I later asked a girlfriend, with the promises you made while you were together?

What do you do with the ski passes, the travel plans, the house you envisioned,… and the children you named?

This question has been resurrected this last week since J and I decided to break up again—though I am more the firm one on it, and our living together rubs daily salt in the wounds.

What do you do with the promises you made when you were together?

I ask this aloud as J and I sit opposite one another over the breakfast table last weekend, both a little soggy in our tears, warm mugs and handkerchiefs in hand.

I answer that maybe I consider each of the plans like small, child travelers — now, I wrap them back up in warm clothing, zip their puffy coats, straighten their mittens, and send them back out into the world.  Your place is not here, I’m afraid.  And walk them to the door, and watch each promise waddle back out into the snowy village to look for someone else to take them in.

Or, I suggest, perhaps each promise is simply like a thought gift I get to hug close and thank for visiting me—for offering me its joy or serenity or delight or warmth—and then I get to release it, like a caged bird into the sun.  Thank you for visiting me, for showing me more of the world.

J replies dryly, “That does not help.”

And that’s okay, I suppose.  It doesn’t have to help him, but it may help me.  It may help me to treat all of the plans and promises we made with love and gratitude, rather than with mourning and bereftness.

None of us know which bundled traveler will stay—and none of us know which traveler is cresting the ridge of our yard, just now waiting for us to open the door.