One of my ex’s and my favorite pastimes was going thrifting. We’d take long road trips, crisscrossing around Texas, getting fat off of pounds of barbeque and chocolate malts (with real scoops of ice cream), listening to Townes Van Zandt, taking photos of plaster Statues of Liberty growing old with roadside cactuses, and stopping in small towns for their church-basement thrift stores and roadside junk shops.
So it’s no surprise my whole house is now filled with debris from these adventures. Also, since Mister Frenchy Fry is an artist, I have little watercolors he painted for me, like the one of the albino alligator we saw in the New Orleans zoo (which, rumor has it, wandered loose around the streets after Katrina before being re-caged), and big paintings, Polaroids of storms coming in and of the birthday barbeque he threw for my 21st birthday (when I lost my ID and went back to using my fake for a whole year), and a psychedelic green chair—the one I made him pull over to buy and put in the back of his car. You get the picture: It’s a lot of stuff.
Knowing that not all of it was going to fit in a single box (and that, let’s be honest, I didn’t want to get rid of ALL of it), I opted for two huge plastic containers. I took down the photos of us, even if they were group shots, and put them in. I packed up sweaters of his, a white lace dress he gave me for Christmas and the dress my mom lent me for our first “official” date. I kept packing until they were filled and put them in storage.
The hardest thing to pack up was a tin of our old letters. I met Mister Frenchy Fry when I was still in college and he lived 90 miles away (a two-hour ride on the commuter train) in New York. When we first started dating (even before we became Friendster friends or said we were the big E: “exclusive”) we sent real, paper letters to each other weekly. I would go to campus mail and there would be a package filled with funny drawings, designs for the boat he was going to build for us to ride down the Hudson, a drawing of what he thought the inside of my brain looked like (a lot like Chutes and Ladders with ideas zooming about), our flag featuring an octopus which he sewed by hand, a zine about the feelings I inspired in him, and worst of all, detailed letters written in guy scrawl about the places we were going to go together and how we could take over the world.
Even just writing this my heart is beating faster.
So instead I shoved it into storage and took a 20-minute hot shower.
A lot of people (including commenters here) have been asking me why I’m not angry. Well, I am angry. I’m so mad that sometimes I just start screaming after we talk, or I write him long, verbal-diarrhea emails that tell him just who I think he is (at those moments it’s usually a jerk). But the truth is, I bear as much guilt in the dissolution of something magical as he does, and for every jerky action of his, I’ve responded with an equally bitchy reaction. Neither of us is the villain or the victim—we’re just people trying to figure out how to live in the wake of the disaster called heartbreak.
I hadn’t talked to him since I started living by the book. And then he called, late last night. Every time we talk it’s so confusing. I have to work so hard to fight off the urge to vomit and sob uncontrollably that I’m only half-present in the conversations. Add in a glass or two of wine and a late night and I actually often struggle to figure out what was really said. But basically, he had heard that I had started dating again and wanted to know if I still thought about him. It was all I could do not to tell him about this blog and say, “Hell, yes! I’m basically in a 12-step recovery program, complete with a support group (albeit an online one) to get over you.” Instead I’m pretty sure I just repeated the sentence “I don’t know what I’m supposed to do” over and over again in various tones of pathetic and agreed to meet up to talk this week.
I’m messing this up, aren’t I?
For the next month, Maude will be road-testing our new book, The Frisky 30-Day Breakup Guide, written by Jamie Beckman, documenting her experience along the way. For more information on the book (including where to get your own copy!), click here!