The Breakup

Musings

I knew leaving Wyoming would feel like a very bad breakup, with me agonizing over what I could have done while looking back the whole way. What I didn’t know was that while I was breaking up with Wyoming, my cowboy would break up with me.

He opted to do it via email three days before I was due to leave Wyoming. Leaving Wyoming, in fact was about him in part and being closer to him and a relationship that had felt like it was moving steadily forward in love and commitment. Ironically, I was wrong. When I got the email upon arriving to my morning shift at work three days ago, I had already had a pit of doom in my stomach, almost sensing it coming for some reason.

While I won’t go into the particulars because they are all cliché and unimportant and along the lines of it’s not you it’s me, I did nonetheless have a smallish breakdown. The restaurant felt like it had suddenly tipped on its axis and so I stumbled into the bathroom and held onto the door. And all my thoughts went in a rapid-fire succession like this: you’re an idiot/he would break up with you when you are moving back across country to be closer to him/you’re turning 30 soon and this is a really nice cherry topper on the anxiety sundae that is your life/now you’re not just a loser ex-waitress and leaving Wyoming and a wanna-be-writer, you will also be bunking with your parents again (and your cats)/ did I mention you’re an absolute fuck-up loser?

I could feel tears and I saw the mascara instantly blackening my under-eye. I wiped them away and feeling very much near nausea, went to locate my boss and tell her something, anything, but that I just had to go. I couldn’t find her and I felt dangerously close to high-hysteria, so I found her assistant, told her I would be right back and ran home.

Upon rousing Kia, by whipping open her bedroom door and whispering, “he just broke up with me in an email,” I began to sob.

And I cried for the next two days straight.

I couldn’t write about it at first—technically I could have but I fear it would have been nothing but F-bombs and I know some of my readers don’t cotton to that (hi mom)—because I was so deranged with agony. Also I was angry. Really, really angry.

I wanted to be angry at the cowboy for the coldness I felt in being emailed that our relationship was over, but instead my anger was mostly directed at God. Just a few months prior I had sat down on the bathroom floor and cried—exasperated with my experience with men—petitioning God to only send me serious suitors from here on out. Ones who weren’t half-wits or assholes, or defamatory to God, or who liked ESPN more than they liked me. I pleaded with Him to simply not waste my time, because I was tired of the let-down.

And then voila! In walked the cowboy. As if hand-delivered by the Lord himself. A God-loving, horse owning, uninterested in sports watching, riot of a man who also seemed taken with me in the worst way. But I didn’t want to believe it, you see? I almost refused to believe it. He was too handsome. He was too funny. He knew how to build things with his hands and he sent me love letters and he made me feel cherished and oh so beautiful. And he was insistent. I was nervous that he wasn’t real and that I would have my heart pulverized again and I voiced as much. I said I was scared. I had been burned before. I told him I didn’t want to believe that something so good could happen to me.

But when he invariably convinced me anyway, convinced me that he wouldn’t be cavalier with my heart, that I was unlike any girl before, that I was worth loving and would continue to be worth loving, I let down my guard and let him in because he seemed steadfast and true. I went full hog into the perilous waters of love.

When he sent me a Christmas card that said all the beautiful things that I had ever wanted said to me, things that in only two months time, I had never heard in a year and a half with my ex, I cried on the couch and told my sisters I couldn’t believe I’d found the kind of love I had always looked for and didn’t think I deserved.

So when three days before my move, he told me he’d let me down, and though I was perfect and he loved me, he couldn’t do it, he just couldn’t, I naturally put all the blame on God. You did this God, I wanted to snarl and shake my fist (except I would never shake my fist at God—that seems disrespectful even in worst-case scenarios). I was hot with anger and rage, where normally the first thing I do during a break-up is hunker down with God, like I’m British and blue and he’s my hot cup of tea.

It was different this time. My anger was there and beside it was guilt. I couldn’t be angry at God, though I wanted to because it was all His fault for getting me in this mess in the first place. But anger directed at God felt foreign to me and unacceptable and so I settled on disgruntled. I told God I was disgruntled with Him. But all day the anger persisted anyway, hot and pulsing beneath the surface, refusing to leave me. Until finally I confessed to my other sister over the phone that I felt so angry at God for letting this happen when there was no point. I had already had ample heartbreaks and why did I need another especially when all felt so right? I pointed out in an epiphany that maybe if I could be mad from time to time at my brothers and sisters and mom and dad and even my ex-cowboy, that perhaps I was allowed a little anger at God.

She told me it was okay to be angry at God.

And so I stopped saying disgruntled and got mad. I am so angry with you, God! I said over and over and over again. I felt like a petulant child kicking rocks when their parents said to come in for dinner and they wanted to still play. I knew God was being patient with me because He knows my heart, and He knew full well I’d come around but if I needed to be mad at Him he could take it.

In the midst of my anger and crying I attempted to do that whole pick myself up by the bootstraps bit, but unfortunately I was utterly consumed with my anger and fresh rounds of tears and that took up all of my mental space. Also the tears were like the flu. Purge and feel better. Get nauseated with the sadness and compulsion to sob again while feeling surprised because I thought I’d got it all out on the last purge and so I’d purge again. And again. And again.

My darling sister Kia tried to console me on the first day by taking me for pizza and a movie to distract from my pitiful state. I had no appetite and could barely choke down bites. Then she took me to see Joy, which seems un-aptly named for a post-breakup flick, but despite the heroine’s pluck and overall success the film did depress me a great deal anyway. Holding back tears for two hours in public however, led to my immediately exiting the movie and crying again in the parking lot.

My sisters even had the decency to cry with and for me. When I had first burst into Kia’s room to tell her the news, she saw my shoulders hunched and my face dipping down between my knees for breath, because I was crying like a just-gunned-down banshee, she too began to bawl and later told me that during my shift (the one she offered to cover so I could stay home and be a psychotic sad sack) she had to take repeated bathroom breaks to cry herself. Kirst confessed that she sobbed while doing the dishes later that morning and tried to rationalize things with God, telling Him I didn’t need this.

I betchya don’t have sisters that feel your hurts as keenly as you do. Or if you are broken up with feel as if they too have been broken up with. And if you do have those kind sisters, consider yourself one lucky fool, because that my dears, is love of the finest quality and caliber. I may not have won the man lottery, but I definitely won the sister lottery.

But here’s the thing. The two days post-breakup came and went and while I cried because of the break-up and then cried for Wyoming and the thought of leaving her and cried because I assumed I was a fuck-wit and cried also because I assumed I was a fuck-wit who happened to be unlovable, I came back to myself and came back to God.

I hadn’t been able to see reason or have understanding for the why’s of heartbreak or why some people stay in your life and why some people leave, but because I am prone to happiness and not despair and prone to love for God and not anger, I came to this conclusion while sniveling my final little snivels the other night in bed:

I am lucky.

Yup. I said it.

If knowing what I know now, if I could ask God to have gone back and intervened and given the cowboy’s table to someone else or prevented me from knowing him, I wouldn’t do it. I would start over and do it all again.

And not that bullshit that it’s better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all. I hate that phrase, because the losing really reeks, folks. I mean, it is truly rank. No. It’s that with the cowboy I felt more love in three months’ time and experienced more of the kind of things I had searched for in every other relationship and had never found. And if I got three months with a man who made me laugh so hard I cried, and took me flying and wrote me love letters and sent me heart-shaped things, and made me feel more beautiful than all of the Kardashian girls combined, well then by golly it’s a start.

And my mom, God love her, said the best thing. She said, “but Cassandra, your boyfriends are getting better each time! Like significantly better. Your next one is going to be AMAZING!”

I like her logic, though I gotta say I want to go back to simply dating the mountains and my cats. Eh, you’ll have that.

All the Kinds of Love

Musings

I recently went to visit my boyfriend—hmm. It’s real fun saying that. I think that may be the first time I have said that about him. At least in writing. Anyhow, digressions are my favorite—in Pennsylvania. Where he lives. And yes I live in Wyoming. Let the record state that long distance relationships are real challenging. But if it is with someone truly exceptional, as fits the bill with my boyfriend, then they are also truly worth it. Again I digress. None of this is the point.

Visiting him was… I don’t even want to insert a word there, like incredible or wonderful, because those are just words that are vast and don’t really hold the meaning of what I felt being in his home. His home where he puts his feet down on the hardwood floor in the morning and walks to the shower. Or eats cookies standing up and drinking his milk slowly. Way more slowly than I drink milk, especially with cookies. Where he brushes his teeth and dances with his dogs: Moses and Chubs, totally differing in personality, Moses being sort of subdued and sweet and Chubs being overeager, because she’s still young and fiercely excited for attention. Moses has the same personality as my brother Nick. And I don’t mean this as an insult to Nick. It’s a compliment. I think Nick is darn near perfect in his sweetness. His temperament of not wanting to upset any balances or ruffle feathers and doing exactly as he is told. That’s how Moses was and I loved it.

Being there and walking around his yard, checking out the chickens and goat, who also seemed as curious about me as I was about them. Or writing in his kitchen while he made me lunch and would continually come over to kiss my cheek and smile at me. Then when I got up to refill my coffee, which was really just a ruse to be near him, he pulled me to him and sort of swayed with me right there in the kitchen as he always has music on. And I thought, well… isn’t this lovely… being held in his light blue kitchen with exposed barn wood, lounging dogs and rustic cowboy décor. And with a man who always smells fresh and has this really Colgate-y delicious breath that made me constantly fret over my own breath.

In fact, after lunch one day—which was pulled pork, except I had mine on a salad with raspberry vinaigrette dressing—I went to brush my teeth, because well, yikes. But also I was about to meet his family for the first time and I wanted to make an impression that didn’t include raspberry beef breath which is exactly what I said to him when he asked if I was ready to go. He was rinsing his plate as I made my way to the bathroom.

“Wait a minute!” he yelled, “you better not brush your teeth yet! Raspberry beef breath?! Get over here,” he said with a seductive little smile like he was very enticed by my lunch breath. I began to laugh and came back to the kitchen. He grabbed me and began to kiss me, pulling me into the living room and then tipping me over the back of the couch so we both toppled and I landed on top of him.

“Beef breath huh?” he said, while continuing to kiss me. I giggled and squirmed to get off of him so I could go brush my teeth.

“Okay, get off of me and go brush your teeth,” he said while clutching me tighter to him. I tried to pull away and he pulled tighter. “Well are you going to go?”

“I can’t!” I laughed.

“Oh my gosh, get off of me,” he said, while still holding me tight.

I finally weaseled my way off of him and went to brush my teeth, chuckling the whole way to the bathroom and thinking if a man still wants to smooch me with raspberry beef breath, he’s probably a keeper.

Then there was flying in his plane. I wish I had words for this as well. But I don’t because certain things in life leave me utterly speechless in the most profound way and I know it’s God letting me know that not every thing or every experience can be assigned a word—when some things simply illicit overwhelming feelings of awe, wonder and intense gratitude for the moments that belong to you. And being in a plane, that my boyfriend flew, while staring out at patches of land, clouds, lakes, rivers, sunshine, birds and barns, was an extended moment in time that I wanted to frame and put on my memory’s mantelpiece. If truth be told I would probably frame the beef breath thing too.

And so when it came time to leave, naturally I took it like a total toddler. I sat in the airport listening to a song that reminded me of him, and a bluesy one at that—in true masochistic fashion—wanting to weep. But didn’t because while my eyes lighten to a stark shade of turquoise when I cry, that is the only part of me that’s remotely fetching. And I wanted to spare my fellow Delta passengers awkward discomfort while I sniveled as if my boyfriend had just left for war, when really we were A-okay, we just couldn’t make out and eat cookies together in his kitchen anymore. As I have a job and he has a job. It’s a whole messy debacle this adulthood nonsense, but alas.

Now here I am, back in the West and it has been a few days for me to come to grips with being minus one cowboy, while I admittedly have continued to be a bit of a baby brat about the whole thing. So when I trudged home through the snow last night, to my quaint and cozy house, I had to pull myself out of the doldrums, where I had been comfortably sitting for some number of hours. It was necessary and it was time.

I walked inside determined to see the loveliness around me and not just fixate on my bluesiness over finally meeting a real solid man only have to him live oh so far from me and my mountains. He was nice, see? He stocked his house full of dark roast coffee and chocolatey snacks because he knew I liked them. And he kissed me even when I had coffee breath… or worse. And well if we’re throwing out stats, he’s also super easy on the eyes, which isn’t hurting anyone.

But my heart isn’t so small that it cannot recognize all the kinds of love. The part of me that craves love—especially of the coffee and chocolate/dog and chicken loving/good kisser/silly and wonderful/delicious cowboy variety—isn’t the only kind of love that means something to me.

So I started doing the dishes. Which, though a chore, always soothes me and I found the task of cleaning plates and organizing a messy kitchen helped un-rattle nerves that were wound tight. Then I scurried about the house tidying coats and papers and adjusting candles and making the house look generally pleasing.

And as I did this I noticed something else. The way the house smelled like pine trees and pecans. How Kia high-fived me as I walked past and smiled at me just because she’s my sister and she’s fond of me. How the Christmas tree lights reflected in the kitchen window and sparkled in the dark. How nice it was to have a home with my sisters, where we shared things and talked over one another when we were excited to make a point and cuddled and cried and did each others laundry.

And all these things are a very specific kind of love too. Suddenly enveloping me I thought, all these seemingly mundane details of life: like how my back room that I share with Kirst is too cold and even though there are at least 5 mismatched comforters on the bed including one with Mickey mouse and one with goldfish, sometimes I am still too cold and so Kia will give up her room, which is the laundry room and is always hot from the dryer, so that I can be warm and cozy. That is love. And Kirstie will pack granola bars for hikes and purposefully give me the one that is not s’mores flavored because she knows I hate s’mores flavored anything unless it is a real s’more. That too is love.

These things add up to love whichever way you do the addition, whether it is a sister or a cowboy, the love is there.

And while being held tight by a cowboy kind of love is sincerely wonderful, I don’t know how many more years I will be able to have Kirst and Kia (though both much littler than me) be the big spoon in a bed full of Disney blankets. So maybe I shouldn’t bemoan so much now. Love is love after all. And there is no absence of that in my life.