Monday, November 3, 2014

A Bag of Stuff

It's funny how all relationships inevitably end with a bag of stuff. Or in the case of a divorce, maybe it is more like a truckload of stuff.  Even though my ex-boyfriend and I broke up weeks ago, I cannot seem to bring myself to get rid of his stuff. And he has not asked me for it either.

When I broke up with the Boy, I couldn't wait to give back his stuff. Actually, stuff is probably an overstatement. In that case, it was just a navy blue long sleeved shirt that he had left at my house a few weeks earlier. Even though we had broken up several times before, our final break up was short and to the point. After I delivered the news, I told him it was best if we did not talk or see each other for awhile.

I remember it was on a weekday evening that we broke up. When the weekend rolled around I put his shirt in a bag and headed out to Royal Oak with my sisters. After dinner and a few cocktails, I decided that I wanted to drop the shirt off at the Boy's house.

"What if he is home?" my sister wisely asked.  "Then what will you do?"  I was insistent that the Boy would never be home on a Saturday night. I was certain he would be out drinking with his friends and lamenting our break up. So I made my sister drive me over to the Boy's house.

He has a huge covered front porch with four wooden steps that lead up to it. With my alcohol induced courage I snatched the bag with his shirt from the back seat of the car and walked up to the house. It was an icy evening in February, so I took my time as I tiptoed up the rickety steps and dropped the bag at his front door.

I had just turned around and gently placed my high heeled black boot on the first of the four steps when I heard the screen door creak open. For a second, I froze. I knew the Boy must be standing right behind me.

I had two choices. I could turn around and look him in the eye or I could keep on walking. I chose the second option and tried to navigate the icy steps as quickly as possible so I could get back into the car. To add insult to injury, I could hear both of my sisters laughing hysterically as I opened the car door and got inside.  No doubt the Boy heard it too.

That was the last time I saw the Boy.  Or I should say the last time he saw me. I never did actually see him that night.  That event took place during the first season of the TV show "New Girl".  I will forever refer to it as my Zoey Deschanel moment.

Letting go of my ex-boyfriend's stuff has been more of a journey. At first I left all of his clothes in a pile on the chest in my bedroom.  I thought that if I moved them out of my bedroom it would be acknowledging that the relationship was truly over and he wasn't going to snuggle with me in my bed ever again.

Eventually, I found the strength to move his stuff into a Banana Republic shopping bag and I put it on the floor of my office. That was a little awkward because we were still talking a lot. He did stop over a few times and once he ended up sifting through the bag to find something to wear when we went bike riding. The bag sat in the office for a few weeks.

Yesterday I moved the bag into the back seat of my car. I was going to do some returns at the mall and I thought it would be a good day to drop the bag off at his house. He and I had exchanged a few texts during the day, so I knew he would be home. I got about half way to his house and I changed my mind. It was almost 5:00 on a Sunday evening and I started to worry that we would get into a protracted conversation, or even worse that we might end up making out on his couch. The break up was still too fresh to guarantee that wouldn't happen.

There is a part of me that feels this pressure to just get over it and move on. I am not sure where that pressure comes from. Maybe it is an expectation that I need to be strong. Or maybe I am worried that my friends and family will get tired of listening to me rehashing the good and the bad experiences of this relationship.

It seems that our society has a quick fix for everything. But there is no instant recipe for mending a broken heart. There are days when I feel excited to move on with my life and there are other days when I wish my boyfriend could just come over and hold me on the couch because life is too hard to face on my own.

There is a quote on the wall at the yoga studio where I practice. It is printed on tissue thin paper that has crinkles from being folded and unfolded multiple times.  It says: There is no such thing as small change.

It is easy to glamorize the dramatic moments in life. A new job, a new house, a new relationship or a new baby. But the truth is that most of us live our lives at the margin. Making incremental changes over weeks or months, so that only when you look back on a year of life do you realize how far you have come.

I keep thinking that somehow giving my boyfriend's stuff back will bring me closure and speed along the healing process. But it is just a bag of stuff. It doesn't have that kind of power.

My heart is the only place where I can truly find closure. And when I am ready, I will. Until then I will just drive around with a bag of my ex-boyfriend's stuff in the back seat of my car. Maybe one day I will be ready to move it to the trunk.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Marathon Men

They say that June is peak wedding season, but for my friends on Facebook it seems to be October. It started with my friend from high school. The one who I used to see at Match.com events until he met someone and got engaged last year. They were married a few weeks ago.

At first glance, they seem like an odd couple.  She is cute and perky, with a beautiful smile that jumps right out of the photos. My friend is thin and balding. He was always a little bit awkward and shy. Seeing the pictures from the wedding and honeymoon, he looks like a completely different person. Being with her actually makes him appear more attractive.

I may not have mentioned this before, but he is a marathon runner and also competes in triathlons. I am not sure if his wife runs, but she definitely attends and posts photos of all his races. They seem to be happy together.

About a week later I noticed photos from another wedding. This time it was a girl I met when I was dating the Boy. She used to date the Boy's roommate, so I got to know her pretty well.  She was one of those fun loving, partying people who ate and drank pretty much whatever she wanted. On the weekends, they would come home wasted at 2:00 AM, turn on loud music and have what sounded like really sloppy sex in the room across the hall.

A few years ago she got a new job and moved to Baltimore. Within a very short time, she met a new guy. By the pictures, he looked like the opposite of the Boy's roommate. This guy was skinny and bald, with kind of narrow features. And he was also a marathon runner.

She started to post pictures of his races and pretty soon she started running herself.  She must have lost about 30 pounds in the past year. Her life has completely changed from when I knew her. Last weekend she posted a cute story about running her first half-marathon as a married woman, along with a photo of her and her husband. They looked really happy.

My philosophy on running is simple. I will only run if someone is chasing me. But seeing these women happily married to their marathon men, it makes me wonder if the universe is trying to tell me something.

I remember all the profiles I read when I was out searching on Match.com. If a guy mentioned that he was a marathon runner, I would immediately stop reading.  Generally, I tend to put runners in the same category as the guys who say they "work hard and play hard."  That approach to life has always seemed counter-intuitive to me.  I don't really work that hard and I certainly don't want to play hard. It sounds exhausting.

But then I started thinking about what it takes to be a marathon runner. It takes persistence to build up the stamina needed to make it through the entire race. And it requires strength in times of adversity. And faith to know that when you are not feeling strong enough, a force greater than you will pull you through. I wonder if those same qualities would also make them a better life partner than the average non-running person.

This morning I was scrolling through my Facebook news feed and I saw a post from the Boy.  The Boy has had a Facebook account for years, but he rarely posts anything.  His page is mostly just a series of pictures that he is tagged in by other people.  Yesterday he updated his relationship status to "In a Relationship."

The Boy and I dated for four years and neither of us ever felt compelled to update our relationship status on Facebook. At first I set aside the phone, but later that afternoon curiosity got the best of me. Who was this girl?  Was she prettier than me?  I started scrolling through his Facebook page, hoping to catch a glimpse of her.

As it turns out, the Boy's new girlfriend is a marathon runner. And she is definitely not prettier than me. She is the female equivalent of the skinny, bald marathon running guys. As I looked at the picture, I could see that she was lean and muscular, with a strong tomboy vibe.  By the crinkles around her eyes I would say she was at least my age or older. She wore glasses and had mousy brown hair that seemed to indicate no prior experience with a blow dryer or curling iron.  This girl was the complete opposite of me.

What was most revealing about the photos wasn't her appearance, but the Boy's. He looked relaxed and happy. Then I came across a recent post about her running the Free Press Marathon in Detroit. She thanked the Boy for waking up at the crack of dawn and standing outside in the freezing cold to cheer as she ran by. It was actually very sweet. This marathon girl seemed like a nice person. And the fact that she could get the Boy to drag his ass out of bed that early for any reason was impressive.

Maybe these marathon men (and women) do possess some sort of special power that makes them better at relationships. The act of training for and successfully running a marathon must provide a great deal of inspiration. And that positive energy must carry over into other aspects of their lives.

And maybe the reason people are attracted to these marathon runners is that it gives them a focus or purpose in life. Whether it is by participating, or just going along to cheer the other person on.

I am not sure whether a marathon man is out there for me, especially if it requires getting up at the crack of dawn to go watch a race. But I could definitely use a little inspiration in my life. I just hope to find someone who can go the distance.