Break-Ups, Sentimentality and Handling Your Shit Or, Insert Drake Quote Here.
This piece is almost a decade old, but I think about it a lot.
It's good writing, I like the Black Keys and I can relate to the subject matter. But the thing that really gets me is the everyday details of intimacy that form the cradle of a relationship.
Relationships are filled with quiet things that no one ever knows and have no significance to anyone other than the people involved.
What happens to these things when the relationship dissolves - these things that meant and mattered so much?
Some people hold onto them - a faded t-shirt with holes peppered like constellations at the collar, a vacation photo from the last time you remember being happy together, a bad penny shot glass that just keep turning up, the memory of them saying "Chin Chin" instead of "Cheers” when they toasted.
It's sweet, right?
I am not one of those people.
I feel like I'm supposed to be sentimental.
I'm a writer. This is what we do - we ascribe a far deeper meaning to trinkets and tchotkes than is actually warranted, we personify and we slap on rose-colored beer goggles and turn our mediocre relationships into epic romances and our pain into prose and poetry.
I don't do that and as a result, all of my break-ups have been breaks.
No, I don't want to be friends.
No, I don't want to meet up when you're in town.
We have nothing to talk about.
Block. Unfriend. Delete.
When it comes to past relationships, I don't reflect warmly on happier times and I definitely don't hold onto items accrued during that period. When I got divorced, my china went to a co-worker, scrapbooks and photographs were torn and tossed in the trash and the rest was donated during one of three trips to the local Goodwill.
It's stuff. Just stuff. Stuff that belongs to someone else now....except for one bowl. It was pink Kate Spade China. What am I, a monster?
My sentimentality is reserved for something far greater: 90s pop culture - the music of Candlebox, a desire to be Sarah Bailey from The Craft, a consistent plea to the universe that some brilliant woman resurrect Sassy Magazine and a deep and abiding love for the movie Swingers.
I watched it approximately 4000 times during my teenage years and can probably quote the movie and its musical cues verbatim. Swingers made me want to move to Los Angeles, dress like an extra from L.A. Confidential and listen to Big Bad Voodoo Daddy.
But, the biggest thing I got out of it - other than a decades-long crush on Ron Livingston - was how to handle a breakup.
For those unfamiliar with this classic, Swingers is the story of two dudes - Trent and Mike - navigating single life. Mike broke up with his girlfriend of six years to move out to L.A. and pursue comedy and Trent? He's not a player, he just fucks a lot. They hang out with friends, they go to various clubs and bars, they drink, they play video games, they do dumb boy shit that guys do in their mid-twenties
Mike's having a hard time letting go of his ex and gets some solid advice from his buddy Rob, played by Livingston:
She's a sweet girl and I love her to pieces, but fuck her, man. You got to get on with your life. You've got to let go of the past Mikey, and when you do, the future is beautiful. Alright? Look out the window. It's sunny every day here. It's like manifest destiny. Don't tell me we didn't make it. We made it. We're here. And everything that is past is prologue to this, all the shit that didn't kill us is only - ya know, all that shit... You're gonna get over it.
It’s a string of well-worn cliches but it’s exactly the kick in the ass that Mike needed to get over his ex and after hearing it a couple thousand times during my adolescence, it laid the foundation for how I approach adversity - be it divorce, having an dumpster fire of an immune system or coming to terms with the fact that Netflix cancelled Santa Clarita Diet.
I’m lucky enough to live in South Florida where is really is sunny every day here. That helped a lot.
But more so than that, I refuse to let ephemera hold me hostage.
You spend ten seconds thinking about the way they used to kiss you goodnight and that’s ten seconds you’ve spent fucking up the next sixteen hours of your day.
You’ll find someone else to kiss you goodnight or maybe you’ll get a dog who likes to ride shotgun and howl along to Tom Petty songs or you’ll travel to Denmark like you always wanted or you’ll learn how to surf.
Let go of the past and when you do, the future is beautiful.
All the shit that doesn’t kill you does make you stronger. My immune system is trying to kill me on a daily basis but every day - I kick it square in the ass by making it through.
I work, I do yoga, I show up for the people I love, I play with my dogs, I cook really goddamn delicious food, I talk back to murder podcasts, I get entirely too excited about new restaurants and I genuinely love my life…which is a pretty excellent way of telling a defective immune system to go screw.
I don’t know why I wrote this. It just kinda fell out of me and it felt right.
But listen - any bullshit that you’re dealing with in your life? You’re gonna make it through. It’s gonna suck for a bit, but don’t let that harden you.
Just be kind to yourself, don’t dwell on the past and when you make it out on the other side, remember the words of a great philosopher: