after seeing countless “chick flicks” and reading scores of young adult, coming of age-type books as a pre-teen and adolescent, it seemed like it was some sort of twisted rite of passage: get heart broken, spend an entire weekend in your pajamas crying and eating haagen-dazs and swiss rolls, emerge from your cocoon on monday (much to the relief of your friends and family) with a new lease on life – one fueled by either a fuming desire for revenge or a never-say-die attitude that the best is yet to come so there.
* * *
it’s an otherwise ordinary tuesday night. when i finished my pint of phish food – did i really eat that quickly? are these smaller than they used to be? – i found myself torn between getting more ice cream or searching for the sharp things i thought i had fallen out of love with some eight and a half years ago. i absently rub behind my left ear and ruminate on the tattoo i have had for over two years but have never seen, an infinity symbol we got together when i was home on spring break during my first year of grad school. if we were IMing as we got ready for bed it was always a race to see who could manage to type “<3 x ∞” and then log off before the other could respond and have the last word, so to speak.
love times infinity.
the tattoo is forever, at least.
when i was younger, watching those movies with my friends at sleepovers filled with popcorn and teen and cosmogirl quizzes (“is your crush into you??” “what’s your lipstick personality?!”), i was always left slightly baffled. i could not for the life of me imagine myself becoming a 48-hour hermit with precariously high sugar levels over some guy. but then two things happened: (1) i got it through my thick skull that i did not, in fact, have the remotest interest in guys; and (2) i fell in love.
and then i got my heart broken.
…and then an entire goddamn year went by.
and now – what? now i’m sad? now i find myself fetal in my bed watching my train wreck of an adult life play behind shuttered eyelids as my fingertips count the train tracks written in my arms when i was 14, 18, 21? why now?
the movies don’t show this part, they don’t let you in on how, while you’re absentmindedly yet somehow also manically devouring that ice cream you’re also wondering if your landlord will just write off the rest of your lease in the event that you disappear, or if your father will somehow be saddled with that on top of the realization that the only remaining piece of his immediate family has also checked out. as your spoon hits the bottom of the carton you remember how, just a few weeks ago while you were shopping for boric acid you looked up one shelf at home depot and saw a display of utility knives and were pleased that you were no longer lulled to the display, that you could barely remember how it felt to slide the blade out – click click click – and hold it in the curve of your fingers, weighing all the power it held.
you silently curse yourself for owning nothing sharper than a butter knife. you curse again that you care.
no, those teeny-bopper novellas don’t also tell you that while you can pretend to bounce back all you want, the pain you swallowed initially will eat at you like a cancer, until finally, a year later, you look down and realize that it has come back around to devour you whole.
and none of those insipid story lines will tell you the most important and terrifying thing of all: that you will look around and realize that somewhere along the line, you stopped giving a shit.
and while this is not the stuff of blockbuster mega-hits, this is the stuff of real life: ice cream doesn’t cure jack shit, there are no second chances, and the only thing you can “get over” in a weekend is a fucking hangover.
i’m too exhausted to end this eloquently. and that, too, is the stuff of real life.