We broke up after my 30th birthday when he gave me a diamond studded watch instead of a diamond ring and we realized we wanted different things out of life.
The thing is, we did want completely different things out of life.
I wanted to explore the world to all ends of the earth and back.
I had been determined to take him kicking and screaming with me and he wanted to stay close to home, and wanted a woman that would never ask him to do anything he didn't want to do.
In the end we both got what we wanted.
For the first six months after we broke up I cried, drank double bottles of wine on weekdays, and never slept. Actually it would take me another 3 years to sleep the entire night through. I worked a lot. I drank a lot. I started smoking cigarettes again, I had quit for 4 years. I cried all the time I wasn't working.
During the course of our relationship we'd never taken a vacation anywhere further then Ocean City Maryland. This is what spurred our last huge fight the weekend of my 30th birthday, I wanted to stay longer, and oh yeah, a diamond ring, and to be 29 again and he wasn't on board with any of that.
So I went to the Grand Canyon.
It was the night of a full moon and I sat on the edge of the canyon by myself and watched the sun go down and the moon come up. I remember asking this old man who was sitting resting his feet if he wouldn't mind taking a picture of me since I was alone. He was happy to oblige, and even told me to sit on the edge and turn around and look over my shoulder, you look pretty that way he said.
Then we sat there and gazed into the canyon.
"What a thing." he said "Best example of soil erosion I have ever seen."
And I remember texting my X with a picture of the Grand Canyon "I made it." I said.
When the moon was high in the sky, I drove back to where I was staying with the top down on my rented convertible and I drove with the moon over my head and the desert lit up in the moonlight and I told myself to never forget that I'd made it.
I had made it to the Grand Canyon, a dream I'd had for as long as I could remember, and I did it all by myself, for myself.
Then I traveled to Seattle and hung out at the Capitol Hill Block Party, and visted Cascadian Organic Farms, and drove through the Cascade Mountains. And I saw beautiful things in the mountains and was touched in my core by the beauty of the wilderness.
And I texted my X, "the World is so beautiful".
Then I booked a surfing trip to Costa Rica with my girlfriends. I had paid off a credit card and so I treated myself to a personal trainer twice a week to prepare "my core" for riding the waves. I had never worked out a day during my previous 3 year relationship. But I was skinny from heartbreak and looking good for the surf trip.
What I would learn later, when surfing the Pacific Coast after moving to Seattle, is that surfing the warm tropical Costa Rican surf with a cute and friendly 18 year old Costa Rican surfer holding your board for you is actually not surfing at all…. but it was fun, and it's was the first time I'd been out of the country in years. I discovered I don't like monkeys. They are smart and vicious and they scare me.
Then I fell "in love" with an Urban Cowboy in Denver, who would call me while he was driving in his truck in the countryside and describe the moon light on the mountains to me. Unfortunately this story ends with me getting a 3 part text beginning with canceling our weekend plans to Chicago a few hours before I was to get on the plane, and ending with "I got back together with my exgirlfriend". I proceeded to pour myself a straight vodka on the rocks and stay up all night, sitting on the rooftop of my apartment in Baltimore until the sun came up. But I never cried.
Then I met boy at the gym, he was a hunk of a man, fucking awesome smile. We flirted like hell for months before going out. Later when telling this story to my friend Zach, he guessed the punch line before I spoke another sentence- He had a girlfriend. "No self respecting guy will flirt with you for months, knowing you're interested and not ask you out…. unless he has a girlfriend!" But I didn't know this when we went on our first date.
Oh it was dizzyingly wonderful by the time he finally arrived to pick me up for our first date. I distinctly remember being in the kitchen with my roommate at the time saying "Oh my God, I think he might be the one! He's so amazing!!!"
And it was IT. Our first date was amazing! We loved the same music, we loved adventure, we both loved our dinners and fed them to each other as we talked. On our second date we ate sushi and went a saw a live band and we sat at the bar and were smitten with each other, so much so that an older gentleman approached us and asked how long we'd been together, we laughed and said oh, we're only on our second date…. and he said "You're so lucky. You look so happy and in love with each other."
It was somewhere around our 3rd or 4th date that I was so utterly thrilled we were going to meet up and have our friends hang out. I mean this was SERIOUS right?!? God, I can still taste my excitement in having all my friends meet him and our friends hang out together, I mean we were going to be the most fun awesome couple in all the land….. and then, well he's late showing up, you know, he's coming from his lacrosse game and all…. and when he does show up, he's not exactly as affectionate as I remembered him being and well the night goes on, and his friends are ok, but no one seems just as excited as I am that things are coming along so swimmingly…. and then his girlfriend shows up at the bar. In retrospect, the scene kinda plays out in slow motion for me, though I'm certain it was only so dramatic to me, since everyone else kinda knew how the stage had been set.
So he, in fact, was not IT.
Painful low grade heartache had settled in my bones, and bad love stories had become the under current theme of the mediocre drama of my life. I drank a lot. I worked a lot. I slept very little.
A year, two years, went by on my bar stool in Baltimore. My X met a bridesmaid at his best friends wedding. She lived in Boston. When I found out she was moving to Baltimore to live with him, I didn't get out of bed for two days. Soon thereafter, I would learn they were having a baby. He had fallen madly in love.
So then I went to the Arctic Circle.
to be continued..... smile.