let’s break up again

Hollywood has made a killing on romantic stories of first dates that happen over and over again.

And so, while lying in my hammock on the first lovely day of spring, remembering fondly its role in the courtship between me and my first boyfriend after becoming single again, I began musing on what I thought was a brilliant idea:  We had broken up so lovingly, maturely, beautifully…why couldn’t we break up over and over again? Why not spend one more beautiful, perfect, last day together — knowing that maybe we aren’t quite right for the long haul together — but enjoying and celebrating the love and affection we still have for one another. What could be wrong with that? Perhaps I should start on the screenplay!

So as I was remembering and musing — you’d think I’d know better — I dialed his number. To my surprise, he answered. And I rambled on for a bit about all my girlfriends thinking I’m a damn fool and how much I missed him and that I’d brought my hammock out and I told him my idea. We chatted a bit and then, as we were about to end our conversation, he asked, “So, do you want me to come over?”

And he did. And we talked and snuggled in the hammock for a bit and he said, “I’m going to take you upstairs and [this part is really not fit for print] and then we’re going to dinner and then I’m going to bring you back home and we’re going to [do that part] all over again.”

Now, y’all know by now how much I like a man with a plan. And especially one who can execute on the plan. Well, we did exactly as planned. Except for the part where he paused and told me that the only thing that could make it better than it was already was if we were in a committed relationship. And when I told him that I still couldn’t say, “YES!” to that, I know he was disappointed.

As we said our good-byes that night, he looked me in the eyes and said, “Now don’t call me again.” And I haven’t, even though I still think he’s wonderful and will miss him.

I’ve since told a few girlfriends about this, and they’ve all nodded and repeated, “mmm, breaking up again” knowingly, like it’s a thing. So apparently this is no novel idea. Apparently, for years, all around me and without my knowing it, people have been breaking up again and enjoying it! Like so many other things, I am a late bloomer when it comes to enjoying the benefits of break-up sex.

None of this brought up difficult emotions for me. I’d made my peace with where we were at — and I still think this guy is a terrific catch!

And then, earlier this weekend, I saw a little film (again) called 500 Days of Summer. Months after breaking up, main characters Tom and Summer find themselves at the same wedding / reception and she falls asleep on his shoulder on the way back to the city. She asks him to a party that weekend and, at some point that evening, he realizes that she’s engaged to a new guy…and he’s devastated.

That’s when I realized that I was Summer and he was Tom, and inviting my former man back into my life for a day may have given him false hope of reconciliation and was, probably, actually kind of cruel…and that hurting him was the furthest thing from my intent.

Toward the end, the two leads run into one another again and, in the course of their conversation (I may be paraphrasing here), Summer, now married, says, “One day I woke up and I just knew.”

Tom:  “Knew what?”

Summer:  “All those things I was never certain about with you.”

And I guess that articulates really well what so many of us are looking for:  certainty, something to which we can say YES!

Oh well. Lesson learned. But I’m still toying with that screenplay idea, Hollywood.

p.s. If you haven’t seen the movie, do — it’s a tale wonderfully told. Besides, who can resist Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel?

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About failedatforty


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