You’re Really Something Special

I’m from the Golden Star generation.

We’re the kids who grew up believing that even if you didn’t succeed, there was something to be said for trying. There was a first — but never a last, more just a group of people who didn’t win (thank you, Ricky Bobby). Our parents, the Baby Boomers, raised us to be as self-sufficient as we are dependent. A few have made their way with a few trials, a quarter are still searching and another quarter probably will never figure it out. And honestly, they really don’t care.

We aren’t necessarily dependent on our families for financial support or even emotional support — it’s not even that we’re that dependent on our clan in general. It’s more so, we’re used to our folks reminding us of a simple fact, over and over again, regardless of the outcome of the spelling bee or pageant, the slide into home run or the goal that was kicked in the opponent’s net. No matter what, under any circumstance, if we bombed the test or we soared – our Baby Boomer mom and dads never let us forget that we’re special.

When boys broke our hearts or the popular girls at school were mean to us, they remind us that our hearts will mend, we’ll meet someone new and those silly girls never end up never leaving town, but we will. We’re so special, so unique, so talented, so everything — that surely, everything we ever wanted would come our way.

But then we get that diploma, we pack up our bags and forget all that we knew to move away. As our special-self, we tackle the vast unknown that is a great, big, ‘ol city and we set our heights high. Why? Because we’re special. Because we have what it takes to make it anywhere, even here Blue Eyes, in the city that was made for dreamers, believers, bankers, artists, druggies, waiters who think they’re actors, and all of this-and-that that’s always in between. And if we’re lucky, like I have been — we do actually find a career path that makes us feel important. That makes us feel like we’re part of a team, that we’re getting paid to do something we thoroughly enjoy. And that feeling — well that feeling makes me feel special.

But even if we get the 9-6 duck-in-a-row, we start searching for something else to make us feel like we matter. And for the majority of us, that comes in the form of a sturdy, handsome and strong man who also happens to be kind, generous, selfless and hopefully, bilingual with a fat wallet. Or even if he’s not all of those things,  if he sees us as strong, beautiful, kind, generous and hopeful, if he reminds us of how important we are, of how irreplaceable we are — even if he kinda sucks — then we’re smitten. We suddenly feel what we’re been wanting to feel — special…to someone else. Or in someone else’s eyes.

Is that why they call it a special someone? Because we all look for someone who thinks we are special to make us feels special, so therefore they become special? Are relationships more about an ego boost than they are about love and partnership? As much as we’d like to think they aren’t self-serving, are they? When you breakup, is it the man that we miss or is it the constant emotional reinforcement that we’re pretty damn fabulous? And beautiful, even when we wake up with stinky breath and pimply skin?

Because when someone who once made you feel special, was once special in your eyes, isn’t there anymore — somehow you feel less important. I think I’ve used the words disposable, forgettable, unimportant in blogs past. But that’s not really the case. Having a relationship end doesn’t make me any of those things, it doesn’t take away my special-ness that many someones once loved. In fact, in an odd sort of way, it makes me more special.

Because I valued my own…value. I took matters into my own hands. I realized that what I wanted wasn’t possible, who I loved wasn’t an actual person, but an idea I had in my head, that having someone to remind me of what makes me shine isn’t nearly as beautiful as reminding myself. I decided that while I love my gold stars and my business card that goes along with the job of my dreams, and having a partner to fall in love with, the thing that makes me special isn’t how well I did in school or how I am in the office, or really how I am as someone’s girlfriend, it’s the fact that I’m just me.

And as adults, the person to hand out the certificate of merit is ourselves. Not our parents, not our teachers or coaches, our bosses or our supervisors. It’s not our very best friends (who are so special themselves) or the men that we hope will never stop seeing us as incredible, gorgeous creatures. The special-ness stops being told to us all the time by other people, so instead, we have to keep telling ourselves.

When we’re upset or sad feeling disconnected or forgotten about, it’s our own spirit, our own saving grace that comes in and whispers: “You’re still special, you’re still going places, you’re still going to find that love you want. Why? Because you’re really someone special. Because someone, someday will really notice that about you because first, you noticed it about yourself.”

Can’t Have My New York

After brunch at 40 Carrots, M, A and I browsed the racks at Bloommies full of clothes  we can’t afford (but like to pretend we can), and chatted vigorously despite our hangovers. Deciding it was about time to get snow boots, we took a load off to try on Hunters, that unfortunately only came in one size and one color — neither of which suited any of our needs.

As M tried on a boot, I received a text message from Mr. P that felt like it made my heart stop.

Unable to really comprehend or to make sense of anything, I started gathering my things and wrapped my scarf loosely around my neck, when A looked up and noticed my panic. “What’s wrong?” she asked. I showed her the text message and said, “I have to get out of here.” M quickly stepped out of the temporary footwear and I pushed through Bloommies like I was someone important, completely careless to who I ran into. I felt like I was losing my breath and I needed to get to fresh air and out of a store that while I love it, doesn’t exactly give a warm and fuzzy feeling.

When we reached the cool outside, I exhaled for the first time and felt the tears splash down my cheeks, uncontrollably. I didn’t care who on Lexington Avenue gawked at me, the pain hurt so deeply that I knew trying to conceal it would only sting worse. A gave me her D&G sunglasses to hide the mascara residue and M quickly filled our conversation with laughter and always-insightful perspective. Walking to the subway on the way home, where we would all veg on pumpkin cheesecake and movies that have nothing to do with romance, I tried my best to not look around at everything we passed.

The Plaza, Central Park after the first snow of the season. Barney’s, Columbus Circle, the horse-and-buggies that are so old-fashioned and cliché that they’re beautiful. Tiffany’s. The last surviving multi-colored leaves and the feeling in the air that the holidays are near — all of these things make New York what it is at this time of the year. And for me, they remind me of all of the hope I used to feel toward Mr. P. Of when it seemed like he would actually change from Mr. Unavailable to a true possibility. I’m taken back to strolling while holding hands, to admiring his rosy cheeks that I could feel myself falling for, to how I thought New York was magical because it was New York, but also because I thought I was falling in love.

And you know, I did. I did have that first New York romance that’s every single bit complicated as it is dysfunctional. I stayed longer than I should have, I wore those rose-colored glasses when I would have been smarter to invest in a good pair of D&G’s that apparently, can conceal most anything from passerbys. I was loyal and true, and I let myself believe that someone who can’t love himself could ever love me in the way I deserve. I gave more than I had and when it wasn’t enough, I convinced myself that leaving would surely invoke passion in someone who is quite passionless.

There is no harm in believing, but there is harm in deceiving yourself. And I became the master of tricking myself to see a vision of Mr. P that doesn’t exist — so much that I allowed myself to go back to the scene of the crime, only to be disappointed, again. I played the part of a fool as brilliantly as a fool can be played, and in the end, I only found myself with swollen eyes, bundled up in a winter jacket next to the two best girls in Manhattan, feeling disposable, degraded and wondering how in the world I will be able to love someone with all of my heart ever again.

But then I reminded myself — sometimes you put those big girl panties on and deal, and sometimes you stupidly take them off to make more mistakes. Sometimes you make the wrong decision despite knowing that eventually you’ll just cry about it later. Sometimes you see the goodness in people to the point of self-destruction. Sometimes you love someone blindly, hoping that with love will come change, forgetting that it’s really only changing your outlook and standards that will bring you love. Sometimes you can do all of the right things, say the right words, be the right kind of person, love the rightful, selfless way — and still, the person you give so much to, will not give you the same in return. Being a compassionate and kind-hearted person will get you very far, but only if you’re surrounded by people who are the same.

Looking at me as I stared off into the anonymity of the MTA, M said, “You can’t let him ruin Bloommies for you, though!” A excitedly nodded in agreement and I smiled. She’s right — he can’t ruin Bloommies for me. Or Barney’s or Rockfeller Center. Not even Bryant Park where we had our first date, or Williamsburg where he lived in a tiny little room. He can’t ruin the splendor of Christmastime in New York or the magic I feel in my heart on these streets. He can’t ruin Central Park or Tiffany’s or put a dent in that magnetic skyline that’s always been destined to be my backyard.

He can take a lot of things from me and he has. And I have let him. My patience, my give-a-damn, my dignity, my pride and the pieces of my heart that were too warm and sincere for him to ever deserve. He can make me cry outside of Bloommies, on my birthday, in a sushi restaurant I’ll never go to again, in my hometown with my parents in the next room, at a bar in meatpacking and one in the Lower East Side.

But he can’t have my New York or define my happiness here. As a native, he’ll never understand it’s shine, and as a self-centered careless 30-something bachelor, he’ll never be able to appreciate my shine for all that it is.

The Sound of Hope

Puffy-eyed with my ego severely bruised, I sat across from Mr. Possibility feeling especially vulnerable and terribly foolish. It was the great exchange on Saturday: returning the items we kept at our separate places to their rightful owner. I refused to travel to Brooklyn, and so after a little expected protest, he made his way to the Upper West Side, carrying a pair of heels and some cheap perfume (I dare not leave anything of value in his hands – we already saw what that did to my heart).

It is never a pleasant experience to take back the physical things you left in someone’s care. Keeping something even as simple as my night creme or some hair conditioner is symbolic in a way, but it’s more territorial. It’s saying: my stuff is here so no other lady’s stuff can be here, and vice versa. Sure, there are ways to get around such an unintended (but purposeful, I think?) clause. Though I knew I would probably cry and so would he, I was actually looking forward to sealing it all up. If there is nothing left for me to hand over, nothing else I need from his place, then I can put the whole baby to bed. Then, I can really start to mend myself and get to healing the pieces I let get the best of me by being united with him.

It didn’t go as I thought though, it was far more dramatic, as it always is with Mr. P. There were both hateful and loving words, accusatory remarks and pitiful apologies. There were dated excuses and lack-luster advances, discussions of what was and a question of what could be. It was up and down, just as our relationship had been, and he made no real commitment to do anything with graciousness, just has he never done before. By the second hour, I was teetering toward sincerely crying my eyes out with no hope of the type of remorse I wanted him to have in return, when I heard a faint saxophone in the distance.

Distracted by the Louie Armstrong-esqe tune, I stopped talking and asked him to kindly shut up. I listened to the notes and I was brought back to nearly a year ago, almost to the day – when I had my date with freedom.

It was one of my favorite posts and one of my dearest New York memories. I had walked around the Jackie O reservoir, treated myself to fine wine and dinner, and took a gander around the Metropolitan Museum of art. After taking my time and observing everything around me with a loving, attentive eye, I started to head out into the fall afternoon when I heard a saxophone at the edge of the steps at the Met. I never included this part in my post, for at the time, it felt too magical, too personal to share with strangers I hadn’t started to connect with yet.

With that beautiful melody, so smoky yet clear – I sat down near him, threw a dollar or two into his case and just listened. I leaned up against a pillar, my high-heeled feet relieved for some much-need relief and I watched him play. His fingers moved so quickly, his face scrunched up in pure passion – and I could relate. That’s how I feel when I write – when I put everything I have into the medium I best express it with – that’s when I feel alive, that’s when I feel my own form of music run through my veins. It doesn’t take as much breath support, but it requires some pretty fast hands. He was older but with a kind face, and I think he was satisfied with the company he attracted. I couldn’t tell you though, anything about those people who shared that moment with me. At the time, it felt like I was listening to the melodies in the New Orleans, in a private little bar that was just for me.

I was mesmerized.  Once dusk started to trickle into the city, I picked myself up and gave a few more dollars before walking away and making a promise to myself: I will go to a jazz club alone, wear a stunning black dress and red lipstick, and I will sit in the front row with some burgundy wine and spend the night with the music.

I never went to a jazz club,” I said to Mr. P wistfully. “You never told me you wanted to go to a jazz club. I would have taken you,” he defended himself (as usual). “Because I didn’t ever want to go with you. I wanted to go alone,” I replied, maintaining eye contact. “Well, if you ever want to go, I could maybe take you sometime,” he offered, fully trying to free himself of any guilt. “I won’t want to go with you. I want to go with me,” I replied before leaning further out of my chair, trying to hear more of the sax.

He probably didn’t get it – I’m not even sure I did right then-and-there. But what I meant was, against my better judgment and during this wonderful journey, I still lost myself in the relationship. I still wandered off my own path to try to make two parallel roads join together, though as logic tells us – they never would have. I stopped doing those things I wanted to do. I placed my best interest and sometimes, my friends and family behind Mr. Possibility in some desperate mission to make something that wasn’t working, work. I lost sight of what New York meant to me in an effort to make myself mean something to him. I stopped planning for what I wanted, what I hoped to do, so I could try to urge Mr. P into making plans with me.

But then – mind my ridiculously cliché pun – I heard the music. I was brought back to that date, before Mr. Unavailable was Mr. P, before there were any distractions of the male kind. And I remembered what I wanted to do, and there in that depressing moment where I knew my relationship was officially over and the key to his door and to my heart were switched – I found some strength. I found something to look forward to.

Tonight, on my way to the train from yet another blissful day at work, I walked down 14th Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenue and I heard that addicting melody again – someone in some apartment was playing their little tune, and I smiled. It echoed on the block the whole way down, almost like a marching anthem to remind me of what’s important in my life. When I turned the corner and cascaded down the grimy steps, already bubbly from hearing the music, I was so astonished to see another saxophone player on the platform that I laughed.

Those who noticed my uncontrollable giggles probably wrote me off as another crazy mad woman in New York — but to me, the mix of my own laughter paired with the brilliance of a talented, bluesy player sounded like one thing: hope.

You Have to Feel It

In an effort to stop eating half-a-pizza on my own, placing cooling cream on my eyes every single morning and sending out hasty, long-winded emails to my friends complaining about how much it sucks– my friend M demanded I hit the town, in style. So, we met at Bowlmor – a “luxury” bowling alley (if there can be such a thing) to redeem a free game we won because we successfully played corn hole. (Note to New Yorkers – corn hole is quite common in the South, especially if you tailgate).

It was raining on Friday and we came in a little frizzy and damp, determined to make that pitcher of Blue Moon and single game last long enough to get our overpriced Spinach and Artichoke dip’s worth. While I bowled quite a good game (three strikes!), my mind was anywhere but there in that semi-fancy establishment. I smiled and laughed, talked about my week and we both tried to steer clear of the topic of Mr. P. It’s more than a sore subject.

After we couldn’t squeeze anymore time out of the game, we headed to bar close by, snuggling under one black umbrella, trying to walk slowly in tight, cotton black mini-skirts and pumps. M was in a cheerful mood, trying to keep me occupied and distracted so I wouldn’t let myself get down. We stood near the back of the bar, sipping on our drinks and watching the crowd buzz. It was an alive night – everyone was out and about, staying inside to hide from the weather and meet with friends or flirt with strangers. As they always do, a group of guys found their way to us and started chatting. Though I wasn’t in the mood, I responded a bit, faking a few smiles and made small talk to keep the conversation going. But in less than a few minutes, the guy asked me quite sincerely: Are you okay? Your eyes look so sad.

Wow, I thought. I can’t hide it at all.

He’s right and so are all of my friends – I look sad. I am sad. I wasn’t at first, though. I savored being incredibly angry and feeling rightfully justified. I was proud of myself for getting up the courage (finally) to walk away from something that was toxic and not bringing me the enrichment I know I deserve. I had my hopes set high for Mr. P and when I realized he wasn’t going to meet them, he emotionally wasn’t ready for what I wanted – I left. It wasn’t that I really wanted to leave, it was just that I had to, or we would grow to resent one another and any chance for a friendship down the road would be a distant possibility. The relationship wasn’t working because there was only one person who actually was…well, working.

And maybe because of this blog or just because I’m learning with each man, I loved myself enough to let go, so I could at least have the opportunity to meet someone who is right for me. I also loved Mr. P enough to give him the space and time he needs to learn to love himself – which is far more important, in the long run, than him learning to love me.

I know all of these things rationally. I saw the destruction and I felt myself fall apart each time we were around each other because I couldn’t stand another day where the only thing I could think was: Why can’t he just feel how I want him to feel? Why can’t he see what he has? Why does he take me for granted? I couldn’t hide that frustration and I couldn’t stop my heart from breaking, so of course I made a decision and remarkably, even after returning his key and returning his things, I stuck to it. The Lindsay I was a year ago would have caved, but this one is determined to have more than a lack-luster, unwilling-to-emotionally-commit, show-up-an-hour-late to my birthday party kind of man. Even if I do, still, after everything, foolishly love him dearly.

And that’s maybe why it’s so hard. There was no huge, big blowout fight where I stormed away in my high heels and he came racing after me. There was no grand exit or big reveal that made me turn on a dime and hit the road. As far as I know he was loyal and apart from the final month of our relationship, he was always someone I could communicate with. We started as friends and we grew to be best friends – maybe the turning into lovers part was a bad idea, but it happened and here we are now. Or there we were.

It’s easier when everything comes crashing down and you can depend on pure animosity to keep you warm at night. When there are no lingering feelings or when someone does something so remarkably selfish that you can’t stomach the idea of being with them again – maybe the wound isn’t as deep. But when it simply won’t work because the other person doesn’t have themselves together enough to love you truly, that’s when it all just feels bittersweet. That’s when, even though you know it’s the right thing to do for everyone involved, your heart still aches for it to be different.

After Mr. P left with everything I ever borrowed of his, plus some gifts for his nieces that I now will not be able to give in person, I cried on the phone to M: Why does it have to hurt so bad? I know I made the best decision I could and I don’t want to be with him, not when he’s like this, so why does it have to hurt? I’m strong and I’m okay being single, why can’t I be stronger than this? Why do I have to hurt?

Carefully, as if not to unleash the sobbing machine that I can be when my heart is so fragile, she reminded me that it only hurts because it meant something. If it meant nothing, I would feel nothing. And to get to the happiness – I have to feel the hurt. And yes, the hurt will suck, I’ll have those sad, sad eyes for a while, but the sparkle will return. So will my confidence that always seems to lose its way after a breakup. But I have to feel it, I have to let the hurt come and let it leave so that I can feel something different. Something better than what I’ve felt before.

After I got off the phone with her and was left alone to myself, I thought about how accurate she is. Not just about this messy clean-up period following the end of my first New York relationship (which was as complicated as any girl would ever wish it wouldn’t be) – but about love in general. Just like you have to feel the hurt to get over it, you have to let yourself feel love to ever have it. And sometimes that love will stand the test of time, sometimes it’ll just last a few years or months, sometimes it’ll show you a new side of yourself, sometimes it’ll crash you continuously, sometimes it’ll give you six-months worth of blogs, sometimes it’ll leave as easily as it came.

But I’d rather feel love and lose it then to protect myself from any hurt at all. Because if I can get through the love and the hurt that follows it, I know I’m strong enough to do it all over again. Love is painful, even when it’s the love. If it wasn’t, it’d never be worth it.

Pigs Can Fly & Hell Freezes Over

I prefer to do my crying in the shower. Naked emotion seems to pair well with literal nakedness, plus mascara used as blush just isn’t cute. The issue though, is that I tend to bathe in the mornings before work, so my hair is freshly pressed for the day. Or as it is in most cases, unpredictably wavy in all the wrong places. So when I retreated to the bathroom at my designated time (with four roommates, you have to auction out privacy), with warm, salty drops splashing on my cheeks, I wasn’t concerned with why I was actually crying but frustrated that my eyes may be puffy for work.

Luckily with some careful washing, I managed to escape any noticeable marks of sadness that anyone could see. However, the raw emotion that caused the tears didn’t wane as easily.

I’ve been attempting to put it into words, both here and in my own head, what I feel about Mr. P. We haven’t been able to go even one night without an argument or without me crying in quite some time now. For a relationship that has always been chaotic, this isn’t exactly out of the norm, but it’s most certainly out of my comfort level. The thing I always loved the most about us, about him, was that I could talk to him about anything. Nothing was off-limits, no crazy outburst was too crazy, no ridiculousness distracted him, no irrational fear seemed irrational to him. For the past year, he had a way of putting me to ease and he offered a secure shelter from any New York frustration I battled.

I think I fell in love with the friendship and then as I started to fall in love with him as a man, as a partner, as a lover – I started to pull away. I stopped conversations about exes, even though we had always analyzed our lovable (and unlovable) pasts together. I stopped being able to stomach the fact that he had lingering feelings toward women who refuse to talk to him. I also stopped being able to ignore that as a gaudy red flag right in front of my face. My preferences in bed changed, I wanted our weekend plans to change, I wanted him to march up to his rooftop in Brooklyn that’s cleverly decorated by his domestic-fied roommate, and shout that he loved me, that he was crazy about me, that he was so happy to be mine.

But I knew that wasn’t going to happen. I still know it won’t. Mr. P may be infamous for too many little white lies to count, but he won’t scream something so absurd. Especially if there’s a chance someone could hear that he was smitten. Because…he’s not.

Sure, he loves me. I know he cares about me. I’m confident if I needed something, if I was in dire danger, he’d come to my rescue. I think he could see a future here, he could picture us together in the long run and he knows I’m marriage material (whatever qualifies that anyway). But he’s not there yet. I think those were the words he used. And if I could just slow down my feelings, if I could just take a breather and stop wishing and demanding that he feel the same, we could go back to that easy happiness we once had.  If I could just relax and be that carefree, easy-going woman that he fell for. The one who didn’t pressure him or who didn’t want anything more than what he could give, then maybe I’d have a shot at holding the prized title that so many women are eyeing by blowing up his Blackberry and Facebook. I could have the opportunity to be The One.

But to do that, to stay in the relationship, to keep him in that role in my life, I’d have to put my feelings on hold. I’d have to fall out of love enough to meet him down at that level he’s at. While I’ve progressed the last six months or so by gradually becoming more attached to him, he’s stuck back in February when everything was new and unsure. I’m not questioning how I feel anymore, but I can’t stop doubting how he does.

And so, I cry. I pick fights. I stop in the middle of foreplay because my mind won’t shut off. I don’t return calls and I ignore emails. I attempt to go an entire day without a text message. I try to resort back to how I was before I fell for him, before I told him I loved him, before I started imaging visions of happily ever after with him. I try to convince myself that I want this, that we could really be something one day, that we could come out of this and he could see that I’m irreplaceable. I keep reminding myself that it’ is possible for love to bloom out of complication, that so many relationships have rusty beginnings, that he could very well end up changing his tune and be the man I crave.

I see the facts, I understand the reality of the relationship. Yet I’m stuck in dreamland, lingering on some hopeless prayer that Mr. Possibility still has possibility, that he’s still capable of releasing the past to build a future with me. That just because I fell in love with him before he fell in love with me, he could still feel all of those things I want him to. That if I can fall in love, can’t I fall out of love so someone else can fall in it?

Or am I waiting for pigs to fly and for hell to freeze over, spinning my tires on some dirty gravel road that leads to a bleak dead end that’ll only waste my gas and piss me off? I suppose we’ll have to wait for my give-a-damn to weaken to find out.

You Can’t Screw Up What’s Meant to Be

Hard-to-get jobs and even harder-to-get men, high heels unintended for anyone but Ms. Lady Gaga herself, a city that allows few to make it before they break it, chances that have no reasonable shot in hell…. I tend to be pretty resilient and brave, a fighter who graces dresses and pearls while living up to the name I was born with.

But when it comes to gaining enough gumption to end a relationship…I suck.

Perhaps that’s not the most elegant of words to choose but it’s a pretty fair representation of how I view myself when a love affair turns sour. We all know when those boots should be made for walkin’, we know when the tension has turned from sexual to painful, and when nights are ruined by the presence of your partner, instead of brightened. The truth of any matters of the heart is that they are never easy. And if you’re anything like me, they are extended and lengthy, lingering around for far too long before they come to some immature, emotional and irrational head – leaving both parties destroyed and vulnerable, resenting each other for the past three hours of torture they endured. Not to mention, inflicted on one another. The end of a relationship is a great time-waster and mood killer. That’s when you know it is truly, completely over – when there is no hope for makeup sex because you just want…you need…to get away from one another.

God, it sucks.

My friends and family get to hear about this process the whole way through. They’re so lucky, aren’t they? As I wrangle with my exit strategy, make pro and con lists, go through periods of indescribable bliss that tease me into thinking things can change…only to be brought back down to reality the next day when the picture-perfect something I cooked up, boils over. It’s a nasty little ride I take myself on, a rollercoaster I not only pay for but add thrill to. Funny thing is though, it’s not thrilling but I entertain it anyway, waiting until the very last second before I finally push on the brakes. I barely miss a head-on collision each and every single time. My friend K says it’ll get easier as I date more New York men. I’ll grow accustomed to the process and it won’t be so difficult to turn on my heel and trot off. I’ll believe her when it happens, just as she had to experience it to believe it for herself.

For now though, I’m stubborn and falsely misled by fancy illusions of what a man could be, rather than really seeing, accepting and loving him for who he is. Possibility might as well be the middle name of any man I attempt to date -Lord knows I’ll be trying and trying again, until there is no more opportunity left to be found or piece of my heart to be shattered.

But when I get to that point, it is actually rather simple for me to cut my losses and tighten my ends. The decision becomes clear and my head stops spinning. I still experience the wallowing stages of misery that follow the death of love – after all, nothing dies more painfully or slowly than a dream, especially one that floated on Cloud 9 at one point. But when I decide it is time to leave, when there is no more fun to be had, no more fixing-up I’m capable of, no more squinting to try and visualize a future that never existed – I go. I swiftly get as far away as I can, severing contact and carefully tucking pictures with tattered, loved edges away for safe-keeping. For when it’s safe to look at them again without risking inexplicable sadness. And of course, without going up against the obsessive “What if” thoughts that attack the heartbroken spirit.

What if I would have tried harder? What if I wouldn’t have given up on him? On us? What if I would have been more understanding, more patient, kinder? What if I would have stayed around longer to see what could happen? What if I would have swallowed all of those things I wanted, just to be with him for a few more hours? Few days? What if we were at a turning point and I sealed our fate? What if all this is my fault? What if this is as good as it gets and I’m crazy for hoping for more? What if I walk away from him and he is my soulmate, and then I never find anyone else? What if I’m always alone?

What if I f***ed it all up?

When those thoughts disguised as fearful regrets won’t leave me alone, I remember my mother’s carefully selected words that she planted in my mind a decade ago when I felt so guilty for breaking up with Mr. Faithful after he had been so, well, faithful to me: Honey, you can’t screw up what’s meant to be. 

So tonight, with my two-piece fried chicken dinner from KFC because Southern food will always be my comfort food, a bottle of bubbly left over from ol’ Irene, a list of distracting movies from Netflix and some buttery, awfully bad for me popcorn for later on hand, I repeat her mantra in my head: Linds, you can’t screw up what’s meant to be. But I also add my own ending: you also can’t screw up what was never meant to be either.

You’ll Be Sorry

Last summer was a great debate – should I or shouldn’t I go back to Mr. Idea?

We both flirted with the option, I even made an impromptu trip to visit him in his new a zip code, where he had new friends, a new apartment and a new job. We spent hours on the phone that usually resulted in some sort of bickering – I wasn’t doing enough of this, he wasn’t jumping to that conclusion. We would talk about the good times like they were decades ago, when in reality we had barely known each other a year. In the duration of our relationship, the honeymoon period was brief and lack-luster, but I think we both held onto the idea of what could be. Hence his name in this blog.

I knew then – or at least I’d like to believe I did – that it would never work out. Maybe we hadn’t known each other that long but in that time, a lot happened in my life: my dad recovered from a six-year health struggle, I graduated from college, I moved back home, I moved to the city, I found my first job, I paid rent for my first New York apartment, I became an adult. And with all of those big, life-altering, character-creating, patience-demanding changes – I started to learn more about what I wanted.

I discovered that I needed to be with someone who was supportive of my career – Mr. Idea didn’t really care for my writing (to each his own), nor would he ever approve of this blog (I can’t tell you how many times he’s called me to tell me not to write about him. I always listen, can’t you tell?). I figured out that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with someone who enjoyed having sex and initiated it (to be blunt, I’ve never met a man –sans Mr. Idea – who didn’t want to jump my bones). I realized I wanted someone who wanted the same things I wanted, who lived in the same place, who shared my same set of values (He was always a little too self-centered, far too stubborn and completely indulgent in fantasies of himself that simply weren’t true). I came to believe that while a man who made me laugh gave him an amazing advantage, a man who I could trust enough to never worry or doubt their devotion was far more important (I’ll give it to the guy, he’s funny – but I care more about that kindness that comes from your soul).

On and off paper and no matter which way I tilted the picture, Mr. Idea was far from my ideal mate. I didn’t have that deep, intense longing to be with him or to rekindle something that died within the first three months it was lit. Even so – I wanted him to want me. I wanted to have that comfort, that safety net just in case my feelings changed. Just in case I could mold him into the Mr. Right I sincerely knew, in my heart-of-hearts, he wasn’t.

But there’s that thin line between love and hate. That line that produces thoughts we’d rather not entertain (or admit we have) – I want him to think I’m the one who got away. If I’m sad and it is hard for me to walk away, I want him to be sad and have trouble letting me go. If I hurt, he should hurt. And if he doesn’t hurt, I’ll wait until it will hurt him to jet set off into my new, bright, fancy life. 

Ouch – writing out those words makes them sound far crueler than they ring in my head. But truth is painful sometimes, and most of the time, it’s a lot to stomach. I’m not proud of feeling that way or being so venomous, yet I know I’m not the only wounded lover or hopeful woman who had her hope lost when the rose-colored glasses she wore, shattered.

After exhausting conversations with him, where I would ultimately have to get off the phone so I wouldn’t say something I regret (like those crummy sentences italicized above) – I’d close my eyes, tuck my knees into my chest and I’d dream up the perfect scenario:

Mr. Idea would be visiting New York – or maybe he would have just accepted a job that finally brought him here, after months of arguments on why he wouldn’t look in the tri-state for opportunities. He’d be strolling in Central Park and see me sitting alone, wearing something ultra-flattering and alluring, and he’d have to rub his eyes, just in case I was a mirage. I wouldn’t be of course – but I’d be more beautiful than he remembered. After all, it would have been years since he’d seen or spoken to me. Casually with an air of hesitation, he’d approach me and we’d exchange niceties, both saying a lot without saying anything at all. The Autumn air would then circulate the city and my hair would fall in my face. He’d reach to push it away, giving me those puppy-dog eyes of remorse I craved – but then I’d move my head quickly and smile at a man walking up behind me with two ice cream cones. It would be early September, right before my birthday, and this man would be treating me to sweets as I celebrated another year. He’d kiss my cheek, I’d reach for the cone with my left hand, giving Mr. Idea a glistening view of my lovely engagement ring, and say, “Sweetie, you remember Mr. Idea I told you about? It looks like he’s found his way to New York!” And then Mr. Idea would be filled with regret, so disappointed that he let me get away, that he was so awful to me that I couldn’t stand to be his lady anymore. He’d be…sorry. He would be oh, so sorry.

A year later, a year maturer, and no part of me wants to rub anything in Mr. Idea’s face (pun intended). I actually want him to be happy, to be successful, to find the love that’s right for him. To find peace in those things that bothered him, to release whatever troubles haunt him. I don’t care if I’m the one who got away or just someone he briefly cared about for a short period of time, and though we participated in heated fights that were very hurtful, I wish nothing but the best for him.

Visions of revenge and witnessing your ex envious of your happiness may be enjoyable past times when you’re getting yourself through a breakup, but when you wake up on the other side – where acceptance and compassion live -you won’t be wishing that he’d wish for you, you’ll be sorry for having wished him any awfulness, at all.