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.