It’s Not about the End. It’s about the What’s Next

exactly.
exactly.

“You’re going to cry again,” my mother said.

She, like everyone else I’ve seen in the last week, doesn’t believe that I really mean it when I say I’m okay.

No, I’m not okay. I’m great.

They keep waiting for the waterworks to start again, the way they did last Thursday when every inquiry into what was wrong started a lip quiver. Like all good things, a relationship that seemed to be going in a good direction ended. Perhaps, more abruptly than we would have liked, but sometimes, when it isn’t love, you just have to rip the bandaid off and get it over with.

Break-ups suck, even the good ones. Each has its own recovery path and time. Sometimes, there’s the shock of the loss to overcome. Every one is has its mourning period where you remember the good times and come to terms with the fact there won’t be any more. Then there comes the anger – at the ex, at the “system.” Next, you press the restart button and begin your make-over as you prepare yourself for the road ahead.

Sometimes you need a scotch to help things along. Scotch always tastes good after a break-up.

Being emotional after a breakup gets you pity drinks from friends. Being rational gets you nothing but a "thata girl!"
Being emotional after a breakup gets you pity drinks from friends. Being rational gets you nothing but a “thata girl!”

Sometimes I wish I was more emotional and less rational. Being emotional gets you out of work early and earns you pity drinks from friends. Rational gets you to the restart period faster — 3 days later and I’m already several ab workouts, a manicure, and a date with my stylist in. I don’t think I’m going to cry again.

This break-up came with an unusual stroke of clarity. I’ve decided that the hurt or pain following the end of relationship is the less daunting challenge to overcome – harder to conquer is the fear of the “what’s next.”

For every end of a significant relationship, a significant question lingers.

After the one that got away: Will I ever love someone that much again? So far, No.

After the one I left behind: Will someone ever love me as much as he did? So far, No.

After this last one: Will I ever be as comfortable being myself as I was with him? So far, TBD.

The path to finding love ever lasting is an uphill marathon
The path to finding love ever lasting is an uphill marathon

The feeling that something’s missing, or that something you had can’t be replicated with someone new — that’s what gets ya down and keeps you there for a while. Makes you swear off falling again. Or lowers your bar for the next person. Or adds another layer of bricks and mortar to the wall around your heart.

Endings are supposed to be new beginnings, but the truth is, new beginnings are hard. First dates are fun and easy. But getting to 4th, 5th and 6th dates — when you start the uphill slog towards trust and a committed relationship — that’s the most testing part of the cross-country marathon that is finding everlasting love.

For now, I’m on the bench for a while. It’s time to treat the wounds and seek the trainer. The  course ahead is a long and tricky one. I need to be ready before I get back in the race.

When Ranting On Your Blog Doesn’t Turn You Into the Next Mark Zuckerberg

Blogging is dangerous business. Originally, They Told Me to Find a Rich Husband was supposed to be anonymous. For a long time, even after I had given the “About” section a named authoress and a face, googling me wouldn’t get you to my blog. Somewhere along the way, probably thanks to Facebook, that changed. Now, anyone doing background on me will find TTM2FaRH front and center on the first page of search results.

Is this a problem?

Up until today, the answer would have been “no.” There’s nothing I’ve written that I would be ashamed to have a boss or family member read. A few boys doing their pre-date due-diligence have stumbled on this page — what they uncovered had never amounted to a strike against. Quite the contrary.

And that’s largely because I had adhered to a few simple rules: never be mean, never complain.

Boys behave badly, boys break your heart, but never make your blog about them. Keep it about you. Because sometimes, you behave badly. That’s more or less been my motto.

But I broke my rules. In a moment of frustration, I riddled off and published a post I shouldn’t have. For the first time, I made it solely about them. And it was mean-spirited. Thanks to google, it was found. I was rightly put in my place.

“One cannot be always laughing at a man without now and then stumbling upon something witty” — so wrote Jane Austen in Pride & Prejudice. Stumbling upon something witty is what TTM2FaRH hopes to do. Yet in the same book, her best loved hero, Mr. Darcy confesses: “I cannot forget the follies and vices of others so soon as I ought, nor their offenses against myself…My good opinion once lost is lost forever.”

The keyboard is mightier than the sword, and used recklessly, offers the Mr. Darcy’s of the world reasons enough to loose their good opinions.

There are enough blogs out there that ridicule men — Fail Males, for example.They Told Me to Find a Rich Husband will not be one of them.

 

An Essayist Fails to Find a Moral: or The Boy Broke My Heart and Taught me Nothing about Life. What a Jerk.

An essayist breaks a cup. She writes an essay. She learns and shares a life lessonl. No pressure.

A personal essayist carries the weight of the world on her little writer’s shoulders.

She breaks a teacup.

She writes an essay about breaking the tea cup.

She turns introspective.

She employs wits.

She jerks at the heart’s strings.

She considers the social impact of breaking the teacup.

She turns a seemingly insignificant moment into a neatly resolved story with a moral and rounds it out with insightful commentary on the way we live now.

No pressure.

I like to think of myself an essayist, or perhaps an essayist in training. I’ve always believed that there is a story behind everything – and every story is interesting if you tell it right. There should never be a lack of inspiration, as long as you’re in the mood to be creative.

And there is certainly never a lack of inspiration when your favorite subject is the way we love now.

This is how I look when i'm trying to write an essay...

After several years in the trenches of Love’s War, I’ve decided every first date can provide preliminary material for a minimum of 3 essays. For each date thereafter, the number of possible papers increases exponentially.

As you stop counting singular dates and start measuring your relationship in real time frames (i.e., weeks, years), you can generate an endless number of moralizing assemblages of prose.

I’ve never had a problem finding a greater life lesson or an aha! moment of self-reflection in a first date… until Gary.

Gary came pre-approved with the Grimm’s Fairytale Stamp of Prince Charming Approval. He was everything I had ever designed for myself in the Simms World of dream mates. I was ready to fall in love with him. Fate dangled him in front of me just long enough for me to get my hopes up and then, it whoosed him away.

Sitting pen and paper in hand a few days later, I was at a loss. I find myself asking:

What was the fucking point of that one?

If I could have walked away having learned something worth sharing I would feel better about Gary’s intrusive foray into my dating life. Be a jerk, I say, but at least lead me to an “aha!” moment in the process!

Thus, instead of rising above the fray of emotion to bring this to a resolved closing remark, I end insight-less. Essayist major fail.

woof woof

Trying to Remember It’s Not Hallmark’s Fault. It’s Tony and Katie’s.

Every year, I I try not to blame Hallmark for the excessive quantities of pink hearts floating around retail stores come February. I try not to label St. Valentine’s Day a holiday institutionalized by older married women in order to make younger single women feel inadequate. I try not to reduce February 14th to an excuse to eat excessive quantities of dark chocolate and caramel.

I "accidentally" knock Sweethearts off the shelf and "accidentally" step on them. I try not to, but I can't help it.

Most years I fail — I eat thousands of calories worth of heart-shaped truffles, I shoot bitter stares at older couples, and I “accidentally” knock bags of Sweethearts off the drug store shelf and “accidentally” step on them.

I blame Katie and a boy named Tony for my general animosity towards the holiday.

In the 6th grade, a single carnation-gram arrived on my homeroom desk with a note “Love, your secret admirer.” I was appropriately tickled pink. I moved from social studies to earth science on a cloud — what joy!  At dismissal, Katie confessed she had bough carnation-grams for all our girl friends. My little 11 year old balloon was burst.

Many, many, many years later, Tony would burst yet another heart-shaped bubble.

When Tony suggested we spend Valentine's Day together, this is what I envisioned... not a bar on All You Can Eat Wings! night

Of all our friends, we were the only two still single, and I confess that I was somewhat “in love” with him. When he suggested that we spend Valentine’s Day together, I took it as a sign he wanted to be more than friends. We agreed on casual, but when we ended up in a sports bar on “All You Can Eat Wing Night,” I wished I had worn my sports bra instead of the lacy push-up restricting the blood supply to my extremities. Midway through the evening, my toes were numb and a chunk of some frat-boy’s wayward vomit landed on my pink satin motorcycle jacket.

As Tony walked me home, we conversed by screaming, our ears still not adjusted to normal noise levels. We stopped on the stoop of my building and moved close together, our eyes full of  intention and confusion. I don’t know how much time passed, but I’m sure we reached a world record for longest awkward pause.  I eventually broke the stand-off with a kiss on the cheek and a g’night.

My bra had broken a rib, my jacket reeked of regurgitated chicken wings, and my “date” and I had loss our sense of hearing —  it was the most romantic Valentine’s Day I had ever had.

I’m sure one day I’ll be over my February the 14th phobia and once again become lover of Valentine’s Day. But I doubt carnations and men named Tony will have anything to do with my recovery.

I ask you...

Unforeseen Hazards of Snowdays: Uncovering the Ghosts of Relationships Past

The wintry weather forecast made me feel like a kid again -- snow day? yes, please!

The wintry weather forecast for Tuesday night made me feel like a giddy school girl again. Snow day!? Yes, please! I awoke Wednesday morning knowing that the roads still needed clearing and sovwas slow to advance into the day. Sure, there were things to be done (like laundry and job applications), but why do something productive when the entire tri-state area had braced itself for snowpocalypse and was thus resigned to being unproductive?

Ignoring the stack of cover letters in progress, I began the cathartic snow day activity of clearing out my gmail inbox. Where did those 2,241 messages come from anyways?

As I worked my way backwards, it was somewhere around email 1,950 that I was punched in the heart. Sitting there between backups of old grad school papers  was a lost exchange with “The One I Let Get Away.” The emails were 2 years old and I wasn’t sure if I should delete them on sight or open and read. They had survived several previous inbox purges — there must have been something in the 9 messages worth holding on to.

“Hey there kiddo! Long time no see (could it be that I’m possibly starting to miss you?)” I wrote in the opening email that invited him to join me in my grad school graduation celebrations.

“HEY!!! Well, I know that I definitely miss you!”

I may be a sucker for Snoopy, but I'm no longer a sucker for an "I miss you."

Now I remembered why I saved the emails. “I definitely miss you” was a profound display of sentiment from a guy who was the polar opposite of sentimental.

The first time he told me he missed me was the first time I realized I was in love with him. He had called one summer night because he needed to talk through a rough patch. An hour passed and after we said our good-byes, he threw it in:

“I really miss you, you know.”

“I love you, you know.” But it was too late — we were already disconnected, and I realize now, disconnected in more ways than one.

A few months ago, after years of bouncing around in no man’s land, I finally came to terms with the fact that “I miss you” and “I love you” are not the same thing, even for the most philophobic of men. An awkward Friday night punctuated weeks of silence and sent me home ready to cut the few threads still holding together our threadbare relationship. It took 5 years for the story of us to run its course, but it took less than an hour to delete most traces of him from my every day life. In clicks and swipes I erased old text messages, buried photos of the two of us in the back of already dusty photo albums, removed his number from my phone, and sent old emails to the trash box.

But just as once shared songs have a habit of popping up on the radio or itunes, other specters of relationships-past can loom behind any corner. Some fade as quickly as they appear, others linger, showing their ghostly face every so often in the back of our memory. Luckily, these emails were an easy kill.

Conversation deleted… but not before I hit “print” and tucked the pages away in the back of a notebook. One day, “They Told Me to Find a Rich Husband” might be a book. When that day comes, you can bet The One I Let Get Away will get his own chapter and I’m going to want all the fodder I can get my hands on.

Becoming a Horse of a Different Color

Sometimes when you’re expecting bad news, the best thing to do is run away.

That’s exactly what I did in March of 2009 when I was in the thick of writing my masters thesis and awaiting responses from a handful of PhD programs. Given that the recent economic downturn had significantly reduced university endowments, I wasn’t optimistic that I’d be a paid student come September. I thought bad news would sound much better when received on a beach with a margarita in my hand. Inspired, I threw a polka-dot bikini and flip-flops into my car and drove 1,200 miles from New York to South Beach, FL for an early spring break.

sometimes bad news sounds much better when you hear it on a beach, with a margarita in your hand

It was a good thing I had such foresight.

While I was in South Beach, every PhD program I applied to sent me a rejection letter. Needless to say, I consumed a lot of margaritas that week.

Spending 7 days in the Florida sun, replenishing my vitamin D stores while getting to know the bartenders at my hotel may have temporarily raised the spirits and enlivened the soul, but once I was back home in a gray and slushy city, holed up in my smaller-than-a-dollhouse studio, the debilitating sting of the rejections set in.

100 pages of writing sat between me and my MA and for the first time in my life, I faced an uncertain future. I felt useless. I had no power to go back and change anything — not the topic I had spent 18 months researching, not the character of my fellow applicants, not the shape economy — yet I felt the need to change or exert power over something.

transforming into a horse of a different color is one way of asserting we're in control of our life... maybe

And so, in an attempt to gain temporary control in my life, I booked an appointment with my hairstylist.

Ladies, we’ve all done it before — broken up with a guy or had some traumatic experience that compelled us to bee-line to the salon for a makeover. Redefining our appearance is a way of asserting a new take on life and exercising power over our future. Sometimes we add bangs, sometimes we go platinum, sometimes we get botox, sometimes we get bangs, go platinum AND get botox.

I went orange.

I walked into a salon on Madison Avenue with long brown locks and hoped to walk out with spunky curls spiked with scarlet. Instead, I hit the pavement with short tendrils the color of pumpkin pie.

I walked into the salon with long brown locks and walked out with short pumpkin-colored tendrils. So much for taking control...

Under the warm lights of the salon, I thought this was exactly what I wanted — a total overhaul, a brand-new, “in your face, future!” me. It wasn’t until I met a friend for lunch that I realized the irony: at the end of the day, my little act of self-empowerment didn’t empower me at all — I asked for red highlights and got a florescent carrot top.

“Your hair is orange!” she cried, knocking over her iced tea in a visible state of shock.

“I know. I thought I needed a change.”

“Don’t you think it’s a little… err…. extreme?”

“It was only supposed to have highlights.”

“It’s a lot more than highlights… and it’s orange. And you’re orange. Where have you been all week?”

“Florida.”

As I sat there, munching on a biscotti, recounting the reasons behind this sudden transformation into a horse of a different color, reality set it. I may have mitigated the rejections by running away for a week. I may have tried, in vein, to assert a sense of control by changing my appearance. But at the end of the day, I stood at a cross roads, and orange hair and a margarita-spiked tan wasn’t going to make it go away.

It was time to go back to my apartment and get writing…

And maybe, en route, pick up a box of Clariol Nice n’ Easy in Chestnut.