One Year Ago
One year ago today, I sat at someone else’s tiny kitchen table in someone else’s tiny studio apartment in Bankers Hill, looking up at my dad. Before me was a stack of papers, each awaiting my initials. Then at the end, a signature. I looked up at my dad one last time for a re-assuring nod, put pen to paper, and that was it. I was 26, single, and had just signed the lease for my first apartment I was to live in alone.
“I … my boyfriend and I just broke up,” I stammered.
“Oh honey, we see that all the time.”
Then suddenly, it was just me in the middle of 500 square feet and I took this picture. I posted it on Facebook with the caption, “It’s officially mine!”
If it sounded like I was celebrating, I assure you I wasn’t.
Not only had the boyfriend of two years with whom I had lived and gone through Catholic confirmation so we could get … ugh … and I recently broken up, but I discovered that my previous boyfriend had cheated on me for much of our relationship. The lovely girl he cheated with felt the need to let me know that more than two years after the fact in a Facebook message received at the height of my sadness over my current break-up. My response to her was swift and rife with my favorite four-letter words.
What the…? I was devastated and confused about what had just happened to the life I thought I knew. I was terrified. And I was positive I wouldn’t be able to do it on my own and have to move in with my parents. Oh God, I can’t move in with my PARENTS. What a loser! Actually, I wasn’t so worried about looking like a loser as I was about my parents’ dog, Abby, which I’m convinced is really a sloth bear, who snores worse than the fattest fat man on the loudest train you can imagine. Maybe it was because of the sloth bear, or maybe it was because of me. Whatever the reason, I got that lease and began living on my own for the first time in my 26 years.
There were many other emotions that came and went those first couple of months, but I want to keep those to myself. Dealing with a crushing break-up is hard. Dealing with a crushing break-up, being kicked out of your home, scrambling to put together the money you need for a deposit and should have been saving all along, and learning to live on my own for the first time is harder. I had a ton of support, though. My supportive parents were just a few blocks away. My sister and brother-in-law were even closer. What can I say? We Foxes always find each other. I had friends with huge, open arms. My sorority big sis, one of my closest friends in the world, lives in L.A., but we texted every day, multiple times a day, for months. Any irrational thought I had about him, she calmed. Any feelings of wanting to give up, she squashed. With her and my army of loved ones, I slowly started to be OK.
Then, I started to be really OK. It’s fascinating how the mind works. I was so mad at people who told me time would heal all. Screw you. You don’t know how this feels. I would soon find out they did know how it felt, and that’s why they knew time would do the trick.
Turns out they were right. Time kept passing and soon, I wasn’t just accepting of my “situation,” I was loving it. I decorated. I had a huge housewarming party. I discovered the beauty of living within walking distance of bars, then I discovered the beauty of windows you can climb through. Because, you know, sometimes you forget your keys at home … or in your purse … or fine, the key is in the door and what-the-hell-it-won’t-open-the-lock-must-be-broken. Blame it on red wine-induced user error. I set my pillow on fire with a candle, then my stove with I’m-still-not-quite-sure-what. I had friends over for wine, went to bed early when I wanted, stayed out late when I felt like it, and made dinner for one. I paid my own rent and bills. I figured how to afford it all and when I finally did, it was the best feeling in the world. I was having the time of my life.
I started to date. It felt really weird and made me sad, so I stopped. Apparently that weird, sad feeling means you’re not ready and when you’re not ready to do something, you don’t do it. Oh, so that’s why… That’s an entirely different story, though. I leaned how to be alone and enjoy it, and I found plenty of happiness - no relationship required. So when I met this cute, older, dark-haired guy at El Camino the night my friends dragged me out, I thought I didn’t want anything to do with him. And when we went on a date a few weeks later and unloaded our baggage on each other, I was sure I didn’t want anything to do with him, nor him with me. So nothing really changed.
Except everything changed. I got promoted at work. I joined The Junior League and made the most amazing friends. I volunteered often. I baked. I wrote. I traveled. I figured out what I was good at and what I liked to do and did it all. And I continued to see that dark-haired guy I met that night at El Camino every now and then.
I went to New York City on a whim and toyed with the idea of moving simply because I could. I had an weekend thee, but something was missing. When I came home and couldn’t help falling in love with the dark-haired guy, I knew what it was and what I wanted from that moment on.
Seven months later, I’m still here and I’ve never been happier. I still live on my own - The Boyfriend Formerly Known as That Dark-Haired Guy and I agreed early on that we wouldn’t live together ‘til, well, you know. He’s the most amazing guy I’ve ever known. Our relationship is everything I’ve ever wanted in one. We laugh at all hours, even the God-awful morning ones before I’ve had my skinny vanilla latte. We want the same things in life. We share the same core beliefs. He knows a lot about things I don’t and teaches me something new all the time. We inspire and support and adore each other. I hear that’s what a happy, healthy relationship should be like. I never thought it was in my cards, but I guess I got really lucky.
I told him in the beginning he would never be my best friend. I had best friends and there was no way I was going to make a guy one of them again. Been there, done that. He’s changed my mind about what it means to have the person you’re in love with be your best friend. It can be done. Back to the subject of “you know,” I have a lot of friends who are married, getting married, and/or having babies. I want all of that, but I’ve never been more content letting things come. And it’ll all come - I’m pretty sure of it now.