It started Friday. But I’ll start with Saturday.
That morning, coming home after the yoga class I cried through, I wandered around my apartment, not knowing what to do. The same thought occupied my mind every time I left it unoccupied and I had already had two sleepless nights – the one where I tried to convince myself that it wasn’t going to happen, and the one where I had to remind myself it did.
I bounced off the walls a few times, took a shower, cleaned up my bedroom (again) and thought about eating, but I didn’t. I wasn’t hungry. I was too sad to eat. Because I got dumped.
“Oh my god!” they said. “You seemed so happy together!”. I thought we were. And then we weren’t. And so, after declarations of non-commitment, a week of lackluster texts and an avoided phone call, I lashed out with the anger fueled by my abandonment issues that had been triggered, bottled and then, blew. I had tried to convince myself that I could be okay with watching someone detach right before my eyes. I knew it was coming and I knew what I could have done to prevent it. But I didn’t want to fall further in with someone who was simply emotionally unavailable. Now, don’t start with me – I’ve read “He’s Just Not That Into You”. I wasn’t fooling myself – I knew he wasn’t into me anymore, but I’ll call it what I like. But at one point he was, then he wasn’t. That’s what hurt: seeing the switch flip and being able to do nothing but watch the shutdown in slow motion.
“You should write a song, it’ll be therapeutic!” Sure. I had plenty of material to go and write a song. But I have already written that song (I even made a video for it). And since there was nothing really new under this sun called “break-up”, I just didn’t want to write that song again.
I cried instead. And was amazed that people kept telling me I looked fabulous. So I told them I had just lost 185 pounds.
For the last eight years, it has been my habit to watch ‘The Big Lebowski’ when I’m sad. No matter how horrible I feel, I can put it in and it will get at a few small and at least one large laugh out of me. Eight hours into being newly single, I thought about it and signed into Netflix. And then I thought I’d save it till tomorrow, in case I felt worse than I already did. Somehow I fell asleep at 5 am. And woke up three hours later. And yes, I felt worse. So I went to yoga, knowing that I needed movement to get me out of my head.
But the wheel pose got me in yoga class. I bent my back, straightened my arms and reached my heart to the ceiling. And I felt my chest crack open and I remembered the day we spent time on Skype, doing wheel for each other to our own web cam, giving feedback on each other’s form and finishing the call smiling like goofy kids because we had seen more of each other that day, through sharing something we loved.
I’ve never been one to avoid looking something dead in the eye. So I got down to rest briefly and got back up and my heart caught in my chest and the tears started and I could not make them stop. I gave up and lay on my back, and the stupid tears pooled into my ears. The instructor came over and stroked my face and head. It helped the tears keep coming, and that helped. It really, really helped. And then I remembered that when he was tired, or didn’t feel well, I would stroke his hair. And suddenly there was a boulder on my chest. But it was time to go into the next pose, so I did while the tears dripped onto my mat and I pulled up my feet into bow.
Back at home, sitting on my bed after a shower to wash way not only the sweat but also the feeling of his hands on my body that I could not block from my brain, my friend Allison came in and demanded to know what I was doing for the rest of the day. I shrugged my shoulders, having no answer.
“You’re coming with me”, she said.
“Hollywood Forever Cemetery. We’re going to see ‘The Big Lebowski’ “.
I laughed in spite of myself, thinking that timing was perfect. Then I didn’t want to go. Then I cried. I won’t bore you with the back and forth but she did promise we could stop for slurpees, so I was sold. I put on the cutest outfit I could manage that would still be appropriate for a movie in a graveyard that would get cold as it got dark, and off we went. But first, we visited “The Dude”.
“The Dude”, or as I know him, Jeff, is a new friend of mine. Although I know him as my roommate’s ex-boyfriend, he’s actually a bit of a mythical figure – the inspiration for the “The Dude” played by Jeff Bridges in ‘The Big Lebowski’. Jeff and I get along. He says it’s because I’m from Manitoba.
After watching me plunk myself down on the couch on his porch he said:
“What’s the matter sweetheart?”
“I got dumped”, I said.
He cocked his head and said: “How old his he?”
“38″, I said.
“Oh, so he’s just another fucked up man. I’m sorry.”
I picked up his book on George Carlin and stared at it although I saw nothing while Allison and Jeff made plans to meet up at the cemetery. “You’re coming, right?” Jeff said. “Yep,” I said, “When I’m truly sad, I watch ‘The Big Lebowski. It always cheers me up. Must be the nihilists.”
Sitting in line, waiting to get a space in the cemetery, Allison and her friend Melissa drank white wine while I drained my slurpee. Of course we talked about men so I told Melissa what happened.
“He’s an asshole,” said Allison.
“He’s not an asshole,” I said “he’s just…. he just didn’t like me as much as I liked him.”
Melissa said: “I’m happy to hear that you have boundaries, and when he crossed them, you called him on It.” Boundaries? Sure. If that’s what you call feeling like crap and saying so because someone tells you multiple times that they’re not sure if they want to commit to you, then I’ve got ‘em. “I think that there are a lot of women who would put up with that sort of thing, hoping that the man would come around. I wouldn’t, either.” she said. And she gave me a high five. With that settled, we went to find our spot.
Firmly ensconced on our placed-just-enough-off-center-of-the-projector-to-see-perfectly blanket, thanks to Allison’s eagle eye, we awaited the departure of the light and the start of the show. When Jeff, “The Dude”, showed up, he plunked himself down on the blanket, displacing us just a bit. “Okay girls,” he said, “you’re coming up on stage with me.” Before we could protest, he explained that we would dance through the crowd with him, pull up people and spin them around, and then dance him up to the stage where he would give his speech. He did it every time he introduced the film, and it was our turn to support the cause. And off he went to prepare with a White Russian.
Allison and I looked at each other. We had agreed, but then I was skeptical of dancing through wall-to-wall people in the dark, visions of falling flat on my ass on top of a stranger dancing in my head. “Maybe we’ll just not go up,” I said. “Maybe he’ll forget he asked.” And the Allison’s phone went off. It was Jeff, telling us it was time to go.
I won’t go into detail of the 20 minutes of so before we got up on stage, but it was some kind of slapstick, including someone (Jeff) walking through a photo booth shoot in progress (the necking couple didn’t even notice and at 6 foot and then some with a grey ‘fro he’s pretty hard to miss) and request after request for me to take a picture of someone with “The Dude”. When some poor guy asked him why he was in the production area Jeff snapped “Don’t you know who I am?” I dragged Jeff away mouthing a silent “Sorry” to the now completely confused and shaken kid. Somehow we got him to the guy in charge. And when Jeff started to tell the guy in charge what he was planning to do, I could see the guy in charge wanting to tear his hair out at the thought of the insurance nightmare created by people being squashed by the tumbling bulk of “The Dude”.
Finally, Jeff was convinced that there would be no dancing through the crowd. “Girls, are you ready?” he said while crushing us into his chest. “When the music comes on, we dance!”
As ‘Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Is In)’ blared over the speakers, we danced out to the spotlight in front of the crowd. Jeff did the bump and grind with Allison, and then turned to me and spun me around so my skirt flared. As we three pranced, completely engrossed in our moves, the guy in charge starting making the ‘wrap it up’ gestures. We smiled and waved at the audience, Jeff kissed us on the cheeks and off we ran, laughing and laughing at what we had just done in our bare feet in the cemetery in front of hundreds of people. Then we watched him do his thing, talking about the movie, it’s cultural impact, the underlying political statement of the film, and it’s relation to the state of the world today. Which for those few minutes, took my focus off poor me, newly single, to think about how in the grand scheme of things, there was much worse around me than what I was going through. And that, in time, I would be okay. I looked out past the crowd of wall to wall people, out at the stars above the palm trees and knew that, despite how much it hurt, I would not regret for one single minute that I had loved a man who didn’t love me back in the way that I wanted, no matter how hard I wanted or wished it.
“This is a special film,” Jeff said. “And a friend of mine told me tonight that, when she’s depressed, she watches this film, and it makes her laugh. That gets me right in the heart.” And then he said, “And you should know her.”
Before I knew what was happening, I was standing beside him on the stage in front of a thousand or so people, while he explained that I was an amazing artist and musician and they should all go my website (which he then spelled out, with no prompting from me), and that they should all listen to my songs. And then he gave me a one-armed hug with his microphone-free hand and kissed my head. Off I ran, as he finished his speech, waving at the applauding audience, and so moved by his endorsement to so many of me, who was hurt so much by the rejection of just one.
As I always have done, watching ‘The Big Lebowski’, I did laugh. Once we found our way back to our blanket with the help of Allison’s iPhone, I laughed like I always do – at The Dude, Jesus, the Nihilists, and especially Walter. I never laugh at Danny. It sounds trite but, surrounded by my friends, it wasn’t so cold. And as we watched Julianne Moore as Maude work her legs into the positions that would insure conception, Jeff pointed at the screen and said: “See that? That’s what he’s afraid of. You’ll find a man who has no fear of that.”
I didn’t laugh for awhile. I was too busy hearing what he said.
It’s not as if I slept much that night, and it actually took me days to finally get seven hours. But I didn’t cry as hard because I had spent a day with people who loved me enough to get me out into the world and show me that it had in no way ended. Every person in that crowd had a heart that had been broken. And there they were, living their lives. And so was I.
So, I know it’ll get easier. Nature abhors a vacuum, you have to lose some to win some, empty space is always filled, on and on with the clichés. Love is everywhere. There is so much that I lost when the relationship ended but in the moments where sadness doesn’t overwhelm me, which will come less and less, I can remember there is always something that is to be gained. The space in my heart will be filled. But Saturday was special. Because on Saturday, a little over one day after my heart broke, Jeff and a crowd of a thousand people reminded me that if I gave up on trying to make one person love me, I could so clearly see all of the people who do.