“Barn’s burnt down —
I can see the moon.” Mizuta Masahide
Looking back, I wish my relationship had imploded after he had a chance to install my AC unit.
My apartment is sweltering as I clean out my vanity. Tucked in the back are five Photo Booth pictures. The two of us are dressed up for a friends wedding, smiling and mugging for the camera. In this photo I kiss his cheek, in another he spins me around. These photos were taken the day before the truth came and knocked me in the teeth. The day before I learned everything that had happened between us over the last year had been a lie. I understand now why it all had to happen this way, but it doesn’t make the experience any less brutal.
From the beginning, my instincts told me he was a bad idea. I ignored the warnings of my most trusted friends who referred to him as “The Crayon” (a joke about his name). He was handsome, charismatic, and extremely fun to be around, but its hard to commit to someone who isn’t really committed to anything. With no steady job, no real place of his own, he worked his way back and forth across the country, snowboarding here, coaching there. I believe my initial infatuation is the direct result of reading On the Road right around the time we met. Curse you Kerouac!
A pattern emerged between us of resisting then relenting.The more I kept my distance, the more he pursued me. For about a year I let the on-again off-again relationship wax and wane. When I told him about my plans to move to Paris, he was surprisingly excited for me and completely cool with having an expiration date on our relationship. I later learned he was relieved to have an out. I suppose leading a double life is tiring.
I’ve never been punched in the face. Finding out the person you’ve been seeing for a year has a girlfriend in another state feels like what I imagine getting punched in the face feels like. I felt terrible for the girlfriend, who thought she was in a serious committed relationship. He had sworn to both of us there was no one else.
Well, good riddance to bad rubbish right? Thank God I was moving to Paris in a couple months. It was just one guy I was never sure about anyway. But the Uni-Verse doesn’t take half measures, it stepped in to make sure I had a completely clean slate. When I received the second punch, it was right to the gut.
Around the time the philandering crayon’s betrayal came to light, an old friend came to town. For four years I had harbored a crush on him. On paper, he was perfect. My brain knew he just wasn’t that into me, but my heart kept hoping that if I did or said the right thing, he would miraculously realize that I am amazing and he wanted to be with me. Because that happens so often. (Dudes love desperation right?)
In a moment of weakness I gave into the instant gratification and validation he offered. My firm resolve to be a tower of strength and pride vanished. He left town, and the old pattern resumed. Flirting texts followed, invitations for visits after my return from Paris. There I was again convincing myself that if only we lived in the same city, we could make something work.
Imagine my surprise when two weeks later I ran into him in Chicago. My jaw dropped when I saw him from across the bar. He looked guilty as he asked lamely, “Oh did I not tell you I was going to be in town?” I walked away from him for the last time. Saying you want to see someone a year from now when you don’t actually even want to see them the next day is the definition of leading someone on. It took me four years, but I finally understood.
So this is my obligatory Eat. Pray. Love. entry. Whats about to happen to me in Paris is going to be influenced by whats happened to me so far. This summer has been a series of sucker punches but I am so glad it all happened the way it did. Its been brutal, but now I will arrive in Paris with nothing and no one weighing on my heart. I have no emotional crutches, no ridiculous fantasies about winning someone over who made their decision a long time ago.
I think that life has a way of intervening on your behalf. It was devastating to learn that two people I cared about had been so reckless with my feelings, but if I hadn’t been so unsatisfied and stuck I would never have found the motivation to make a change. Sometimes you need a kick in the pants. These experiences, while painful, have been a gift. The decision to go to Paris had already been made, and the Universe is just clearing my path.
Now, based on this post you might think Paris is all about running away from failed relationships, and thats not the case. They just conveniently failed right before I went abroad for a year. There is so much about leaving that is difficult. I barely speak French, I know no one in Paris outside my host family, but thats what makes it all so exciting. I will embrace the challenges of living on my own in another city, and I can’t wait to share the journey here.