Thursday, July 13, 2006

A Love of Bones

The funny thing about being in a relationship is the things you lose. I’m not talking about freedoms or me-time or options of dating other people. I staunchly believe the first two can be worked into any healthy relationship. The last one, hopefully, is something you’re only too glad to give up if this thing is going to be worth your time.

I’m talking about the strange little bones of sorrow which, it is suddenly clear to me, I actually enjoyed gnawing on. Who am I if not the girl who had her heart broken by Mr. Fancy Pants Director? What a great story I got to rehash to the girls over key lime martinis. I dutifully played the part of the wronged innocent. More importantly, defining myself in this way showed I had been through something uniquely Hollywood. I had valiantly attempted to rescue a man from the shallow trappings of his own fame and had had my Cinderella slippers handed to me with a copy of Variety announcing his rekindling with the Super Model. Ah, the stuff Chick Lit novels are made of. I wore my all-too-predictable broken heart like a badge of honor.

What about my ex-fiancé, the budding super-agent, who’d said he could never leave New York when I couldn’t bear to live there a moment longer? The same one who’d met and married an NBC exec and moved out here with her the next year? I got a lot of mileage out of the whole “it’s not you, it apparently really is me” thing.

My wallowing wasn’t reserved for the famous or well-connected either. I was connected via email with my very first love. We’d met while I was on my junior year abroad in Italy. Yes, a bona fide Italian Love Story. More recently, I loved to look at the happy pictures of he and his wife and chastise myself. Yes, I was sure he was really the one good one that got away. That’s when it actually all went wrong for me. I hadn’t actually had a prayer of finding Mr. Right since college! Silly girl. Time to start collecting cats.

Several months ago though, something in me pushed me back out into the dating world. I didn’t think I was ready to let go of my sorrow bones but maybe I could put them in storage a while.

Then my world underwent a shift of seismic proportions. Now I find myself in a relationship with a man who is wonderful in his own ways that outstrip the fairy tale worlds I built up around those previous adventures in heart break. He’s loving and generous and smart. He makes me laugh and I make him laugh. The icing on the cake is that he’s so gorgeous my knees get weak when he smiles at me. But the core of it is he cares about my dreams. They have become important to him. And one morning near the start of "us" he was telling me about a dream life goal of his and it hit me: I want that for him. And I will do whatever it takes to help him get his dream even as he helps me reach mine. In that moment of commitment things shifted for me.

Several weeks ago I heard from a friend that the Director had suffered a death in the family. I dashed off a condolence note to him without even thinking. Without calculating. Without needing to get a response. Just as you do for a friend with a sad heart. And when, to my surprise, I got a response, it was like a smile from a friend. No tug at the heartstrings. No pit in my stomach. The spell was truly broken. The pined-for day dream of being with him pales in comparison to the reality of being with someone invested in my dreams.

I’m no longer some naïve girl with a broken heart. I can’t lay claim to the title of “girl who was wronged.” Of course, it’s part of my life experience but it’s not the defining experience. I now get to create a new title; something along the lines of “girl who loves and is loved.”

It struck me how like an addiction it was; the enjoyment of sucking the marrow out of those sorrow bones. I kind of miss them. But now I can do what you’re supposed to do with bones: put them in a little box and bury them. And those experiences become exactly what they ought to be for a girl like me: fodder for writing.

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Blogger Kid Sis said...

Yea! Congrats.

Great post.

10:54 AM  

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