I’m an avid museum-goer. When I interned in the city nearly three years ago, I made it my mission to go to every famous museum Manhattan had to offer. And now that I live here, I sincerely need to go more often than I do.
There is something incredibly fascinating about seeing items that once belonged to people hundreds of years ago. Just by looking at artifacts, you can envision how daily life was, what fashion was popular, and what roles were defined by men and by women. You can witness first-hand talented artists and individuals who not only existed in their time, but have the gift to transcend centuries.
And maybe because I’m a writer (or I think just way too much), I always attempt to think of the story behind those portrayed in paintings or sculptures. Did the sculptor love this woman who he shaped so beautifully? Did the artist who painted this happy family hear them fight and scream behind closed doors? Do the Egyptians really mean something different than what we’ve all determined they meant in their inscriptions?
As I walked through the Met on Saturday, I thought about how as humans, not only do we remember the stories behind items (and others try to guess), but we place so many parts of our stuff and our hearts behind glass. And once a relationship ends, parts of our lives that were once alive and vivacious become not only dead-to-us, but completely forbidden.
When a relationship ends, why do we put parts of ourselves away in a Museum of Lost Love?
For instance, when my most recent ex and I broke up, Mr. Idea (which I’ll get into more detail about in a post to come), I all-but deleted Dave Matthews Band from my music collection. Because we both shared a love for DMB, we spent a lot of our relationship listening to them, and of course, our song is by them as well. When we broke up, it was much too painful to listen to anything DMB for a while, and when someone else would mention them, my stomach would churn. Of course, this is normal for someone dealing with heartbreak – but I could list all sorts of remnants from other relationships that cause me pain, too.
So when does that end?
We can’t spend all of our lives avoiding music, restaurants, places, foods, smells, or clothes that remind us of someone we once loved. We can’t cringe at the thought of a name or meeting someone who looks a lot like a boyfriend three-years-removed. At some point, there has to be a time when we completely let go and start putting in all the things we love back into our lives.
And the same goes with our hearts.
Sure, everyone we love remains with us. And hopefully, if the love was returned, they keep that feeling with them too. But, to be able to meet the person we’re meant to be with or to completely fall in love with ourselves, like we need to, we have to have all pieces together.
When the Mr’s stop being Unavailable, Flings or Ideas, and turn into Mr. Right – he doesn’t need to be led around rooms in our souls that are off-limits because a man before him touched them. He shouldn’t get half-a-heart because someone else has the rest.
But even before Mr. Right – there has to be a point where we accept all of the pain we’ve endured, the disappointments we’ve dealt with, and the love we’ve experienced, and lost. We have to come to a point where we accept that what is over, is over for a reason – and what is before us is so much more important, more exciting, and more brilliant, than what’s behind us.
There is no need for a museum to preserve and to highlight what happened, even if we enjoy the stories of long ago. Those stories will never be forgotten or deleted, but their endings will remain the same, and shouldn’t be rewritten.
It is only when we break through that glass, no matter how painful or dangerous that may be, that we can turn the page to a new chapter. And if we just let ourselves continue to the next plot twist, we will see that we never needed to create that “Love Lost Museum” in the first place.
That really, our relationship residue isn’t meant to be overly examined by ourselves and others –but to just be exactly what it was in the time that it happened. Our hearts don’t belong in a museum to never be touched again for fear they will be ruined, but they need to be out there in the open, ready for whatever, and whomever, lays before us.
No admission should be necessary, but you can request a suggested donation of dinner-and-a-movie, if you’d like.