Sunday, March 14, 2010

Relationship Debris

Anyone who has spent longer than, say, 20 minutes with me knows that I am a huge fan of the Modern Love column in the New York Times. Actually, to be more precise, I have a love-hate relationship with it. Sometimes it makes me tear up a little or laugh out loud, other times it fills me with frustration and I have to e-mail it to a bunch of friends accompanied by snarky comments. The most recent memorable article was about a man whose grandfather joined Facebook, then, to his chagrin, became friends with his ex-girlfriend. It was hilarious. (And yes, of course, I've written several drafts of Modern Love columns about my recent breakup to submit to the Times. I still feel like I need to let some time pass before I'm ready to submit anything though – it is, after all, a very public forum.)

Last week's column, about how one woman handled a breakup, was a huge miss as far as I was concerned. First of all, it wasn't actually written by the woman whose relationship ended; it was by her friend, and second-hand stories are inherently lame. Second of all, it was about how her friend dealt with the breakup by having a performance artist dressed in a bear costume named the Death Bear visit her house and remove all paraphernalia related to her ex-boyfriend and bring it to his “den;” this is just weird and annoying. It took place in Park Slope, and when the New York Times writes articles like this, as it often does, it reinforces a lot of people's stereotypes about Park Slope, which as a former Sloper I find offensive. And, finally, it was hard for me to relate because this kind of cleansing ritual is utterly antithetical to my philosophy. (I support people who it does work for, though – it just doesn't happen to be a modality that works for me.)

My friend and dating guru, Li'l JC, is such a person. She received a lovely tangerine-hued KitchenAid mixer as a gift from an ex-boyfriend, and told me that she seriously considered giving it away when they broke up. I, on the other hand, received a crimson KitchenAid mixer from my ex-boyfriend, La Moustache, and the thought of giving away my $300 mixer never once crossed my mind. I also wear every single day, even in the shower, a necklace designed by my friend Yummy Mummy and purchased for me by Moustache, as well as a watch he bought me (not in the shower though). I frequently wear the fuzzy brown hat he had my milliner make for me, as well as the antique pearl earrings he gave me (except that I left them at a friend's house in December – accidentally on purpose, perhaps?). Even my vacuum cleaner and coffee grinder were former possessions of Moustache's that I received in the divorce settlement. As if that weren't enough, I have two paintings on my bedroom wall by my ex-ex-boyfriend, l'Artista. And, for Christ's sakes, La Moustache and I had a pet bird together! What am I supposed to do, give my little bird away to a crazy man dressed in a bear costume?? Over my dead body. Even if I did get rid of every single object connected to my exes, there are a thousand little habits that would remain: when I did my laundry recently, I was reminded that I learned my underwear-folding technique from La Moustache's mom.

You can't get rid of the past; every important person in your life shapes you in some way, and for me it's better to keep my memories and the possessions that go with them and use them to reflect and learn. I don't believe in karma, or that wearing a sweater given to me by an ex could condemn me to a life of celibacy. I can understand the urge to get rid of everything connected to someone who has hurt and betrayed you, and I have sometimes taken breaks from things that remind me of people I don't want to think about, putting them in storage until I am ready to see them again and remember that period with less pain.

One particularly difficult decision I had to make when I moved out of the apartment I shared with Moustache was whether to bring my own mattress with me, or Moustache's. I thought about it a lot, and finally chose Moustache's. It was better quality, and after three years of sleeping on it, I was used to it. Of course, it had a lot of memories attached to it, but when I got to my new apartment, I flipped it over. Now it's like brand new. I sleep very well in it each night, and only occasionally have nightmares about La Moustache.

1 comment:

  1. Pas un amour, pas une amitié qui n'ait traversé notre destin sans y avoir collaboré pour l'éternité.bisous Alicia Didier

    No love, no friendship that has crossed our
    destiny without having worked for eternity. kisses Alicia