The Break-Up

It’s not you. It’s me. That’s what I’m supposed to say, right?

I’m supposed to be tense and feel guilty, find some public, neutral place to break this news to you and then slink away.

*sigh*

Look, we’ve been together for years, but it’s just not the same anymore.

We used to have so much fun together. We tried new things, rearranged the furniture for no reason at all, went dancing. You have always been there for me. Anytime I needed you, you were there, even if I just wanted to watch TV for a while. You never cared if my hair was a mess or my stinky socks landed in a corner.

You taught me so many things about myself. You reflected my insecurities and strengths and without saying anything about them, you gave me room to grow and adjust. Not everyone is so completely accepted.

I admit now, there were some parts of you that I wasn’t interested in, but that’s not a deal-breaker for me. I’m not criticizing you, everyone is an individual and no one is perfect. I loved you for you.

And let’s be honest. There were only specific parts of me that interested you, as well. I know that. I get it. Between us, we had an abundance of material to maintain our relationship. We both gave to it. And we both let each other down once in a while. But we always hung in there during the tough times and made it work. I want to thank you for that.

I’ve heard people say, “You’ll know when it’s time to go.”

And that’s true, but hard to understand until you’ve arrived there.

This year, everything between us was an emotional rollercoaster.  There were times we blew hot or cold and weeks where we just weren’t on speaking terms. Relationships go through that and it’s normal and I wouldn’t have thought much of it in the big picture, except that deep down in my bones, for a long time, I knew that we weren’t going to make it.

I can’t really explain why.

But over time, a numbness crept in and I stopped fretting over us so much because it hurt and I didn’t want to live like that indefinitely.  I looked for other ways that would make me feel happy. Just to see if there really was another way to move and think and breathe.

There always is.

It’s not that you changed dramatically, but time marches on. This isn’t so much about “you changed” as much as it’s that I don’t smile when I see you anymore. Even if you changed dramatically (and I would never ask you to be something you’re not), I wouldn’t be interested.

But the change is inside me. Perhaps I am finally learning what makes me smile?

And that I really want to smile over this big, beautiful life.

This thought is why it all circles around to land on my doorstep.

I isn’t you after all. It is me.

As soon as I release the idea that I have to blame someone or something, there is only truth and peace. This is actually the way it is and it is okay and I made choices and I can keep making choices.

Yes, if you must know, here at the end of all things, I have been cheating on you a little. The guilt doesn’t hurt like it should. I’m just tired of waiting for you to be attractive again.

The fact that I feel no emotion when I say that is very telling. It sounds heartless.  But that’s the point. My heart is no longer in the game. 

And that is how I know for sure.

The emotional rollercoaster has been disabled and dismantled.

There is no longer a game in me for you.

For a while, we were exactly right for each other, and we will always have that.

You don’t need me, either, though it may take you a while to believe that truth.

I’ve already cleared out my stuff.

Thank you for everything. I wish you well.

Good bye.

This piece is about me quitting the gym after a dozen years. But…I mean, I could have been writing about gluten.

Neighbors and Other Suburban Wildlife

Good morning everyone and welcome to today’s installment, “Neighbors and Other Suburban Wildlife”. I’m joined by TV legend, Mr. Rogers, and editorial intern Melanie Williams, quoting from her book, “The Reader’s Digest Practical Problem Solver”, circa 1991, page 142, column 2, “Neighbors”.

 

**canned applause**

Jolie: “Thank you both for being here with us. I’d like to begin with an obvious question for Mr Rogers. In your expert opinion, Fred, would you consider a good neighbor to be elderly, retired, and nosy…or young, raising five children, and cranky?”

Fred: “Thank you for asking. Is the elderly neighbor wearing a cardigan? Does the young mother have her lace-up shoes on?”

Jolie: “Mr Rogers, the question is more about which house on the street produces the most stress on the neighborhood. For example, in order to be a good neighbor, would a house full of bachelors need to invite the young mother over for a beer when they throw their monthly motorcycle club soirees?”

Melanie: “Excuse me, but neighbors need not be nuisances. Invite your neighbors over occasionally. Make sure they know the layout of your house and make an effort to learn theirs. Such knowledge could be important in a crisis.”

Jolie: “Sorry Melanie. No can do. My grandmother did that once and the minute she left for vacation, the neighbors cleaned out her house. Left a bit of wire on the wall and that’s it. Took every clock and cabinet. The cops were all “smh” over it.”

Fred: “Must’ve lived on Sesame Street.”

Melanie: “To smooth year-round relationships, establish a council with the authority to consider such neighborhood problems as roaming dogs, loud parties, and unkempt lawns.”

Jolie: “That’s called an HOA and most neighbors find them the biggest nuisance of all. Most of my hood want the right to throw a quinceanera into upwards of three in the morning and we replaced our lawn with tidy flat dirt years ago because of the drought. I mean. My neighbors did. Um. Fred?”

Fred: “Bob Dog was a dancer. I wouldn’t describe it as roaming. Melanie, if Bob Dog was dancing in your front yard, wouldn’t you think he was a good neighbor?”

Melanie: “Some people prefer to keep their distance from neighbors….”

Jolie: “Of course, if you live in an apartment complex, you might have neighbors stomp around overhead while you’re trying to sleep or throw your laundry right out of the washing machines to make room for theirs…”

Fred: (pulling out a puppet) “Is this the Neighborhood of Make-Believe?”

Melanie: “Why not start a neighborhood newsletter? The kids can be reporters.”

Jolie: “Um, yes, Fred, it must be. Melanie, if you see kids roaming the streets with paper, it’s toilet paper and they are on their way to TP their rival football team captain’s front yard. They are going to pick oranges from the next house over and throw them at passing busses on the way home.”

Fred: “Officer Clemmons would have to think about that one.”

Melanie: “If fruit has gotten overripe, don’t throw it away. Puree it in a blender with a little lemon juice and spoon the result over ice cream.”

Jolie: “Melanie, you’ve skipped over to page 93. And why do you sound like Siri? Reader’s Digest doesn’t pay their interns very well. I’m afraid we’re out of time, Mr Rogers, if you could just queue up the trolley? Thank you. Gentle readers of the blog, if you have any pesky neighbor questions for Fred or Melanie, please leave them below in the comment box and they will reply as soon as possible.”

Fred: “That’s one thing that helps to make good friends: playing together.”

The Forgetful Files is a safe, supportive space exploring different life challenges and big questions with courage, kindness, humor, and practicality. Please join the conversation by offering your unique perspective!