I have no idea why people can’t admit someone broke up with them, but I’ve had a few friends look at me with confusion playing about their face when I share that this was, in fact, what happened. Maybe most feel they’d be admitting they were flawed, that there was something wrong with them if they didn’t get to the business of breaking up first or refer to it as mutual, it wasn’t working.
Originally I thought about posting guidelines for men on the verge of breaking a heart, but that seemed trite and neither the ended relationship nor the offender is deserving of trite. It was a very healthy relationship and this is why I had to put cold spoons on my tragic eyelids prior to the LORE photo shoot that was in preparation for our launch.
Text to both photographer, Talbot, and Melissa:
X broke up with me. I will not be talking about it, but serious editing will be required.
Many outs were offered. I accepted none because I am a prideful little snot. I can tell you a boy broke up with me, but God forbid he makes me fetal when I’m supposed to be doing something fun. No stinky, dirty-hearted boy (note: he’s not really stinky or even dirty-hearted in RT) was to come between me and my passion project. I most certainly did talk about it a few times throughout the shoot and the above photo was taken during one such diatribe which I was asking Melissa to transcribe on song lyrics Talbot handed us innocently enough as a prop. I was pretending to be a boss and I posed as if I were telling Melissa about market efficiency and readership. She was actually cracking up because I was saying things like, “They’re all tricky and smell good and then you go to dinner and they break up with you IN A RESTAURANT. THE NIGHT BEFORE A PHOTO SHOOT.” I turned, hip jutted out as I looked the camera square on, flash, jut, flash, “Talbot, did I tell you I had to put spoons in my freezer this morning?” I wrote “Boys SUCK,” somewhere in between the box flash going off and the popping sound of magical moments captured.
I wonder what conversation transpired in the studio the next day when the artist got his song lyrics back.
After changing into jeans and my sad face Melissa lovingly insisted we sit in the very dark bar at Ferraro’s, “No one will notice. People cry there all the time. Besides, you cry pretty.”
She had to say this several times while I wiped my tears between bites of pasta with the most amount of cream and pancetta the chef offered. I figured the cholesterol and sodium could fill the cracks of my broken heart and if I ran out of napkin I could start wiping my tears with bread.
It wasn’t until our waiter paused that it was clear crying pretty is still crying, “Honey, are you crying?”
I nodded, silent tears streaming down my cheeks, while Melissa explained that my boyfriend broke up with me in a tone that sounded like warm sugar and Advil.
“Did he want to be with you?”
Typically this type of question from a complete stranger would make me purse my lips or turn my eyes into little judgmental slits, but I could tell the waiter was asking in earnest and had no ill will. I shook my head no, not able to say the word.
“Then he did you a favor. You don’t know that now, but you will.”
I knew what he was saying was truth and I wanted to set my sad little broken heart in the pool of awareness (and cream sauce) he offered. I wanted to float a little, to feel some comfort.
The waiter then told a story about a girlfriend and a dog and how you know who loves you most because when you let them out of your trunk your dog is happy to see you. We laughed. He walked away and we both leaned in toward each other with quizzical expressions.
Melissa got there first, “I think that was creepy. Was that creepy? I’m pretty sure you shouldn’t laugh at people being put in trunks.”
We agreed that you shouldn’t.
When the bill came my drinks had been removed from the tab, my dinner discounted. In that moment I smiled into the gift of friendship and compassion I’d been afforded that evening. Rather than telling me I should get back into the dating scene immediately or that he’s an idiot with a dismissive wave of hand (my gay boys are going with the latter, dear God I love them), I was gently offered some carbs, a little alcohol and the grit of understated support; the kind where the eyes are soft, the smile understanding and the bit of space you need to greet sadness before you get to the business of moving past.
I blew a tearful kiss to Melissa as we parted. As I rolled up my window I heard her voice over the sound of whatever singer-songwriter was bleating on whatever Sirius station covers my state. I’ll take bets on Coffee House.
Hers was a sweet offering, “You still cry pretty.”
I cried pretty for at least a few more lights.
Oh no. I didn’t stop crying because I was done. That’s when cry ugly was like, Ok, that was sweet, but let’s move this along. I only paused to laugh at the pinnacle of the ugly cry when you have to look at yourself in the rearview mirror out of pure curiosity and wonder if anyone would comp your drinks in a dark bar now, bless them.
Whether or not someone would stick around for the cry ugly, it doesn’t matter. I look at the photos from the shoot and smile. They are not a reminder of a hard day, but of lovely souls that recognized where I was and my desire to rise above the deeply shattered remnants of my poor darkly bruised heart (I hope he’s reading this) and give me the space and the respect to do it with humor and a safety net.