To be brokenhearted in Hollywood movies, properly brokenhearted, Oscar-winningly broken hearted, you’re supposed to eat a lot of ice cream, or so I’ve seen. You’re supposed to sit there with the carton and mope, but milk doesn’t really sit well with my stomach so I think I’m going to have to find an alternative. Maybe cake? Although I think the act is best perfected with the use of a spoon. I’ll try pudding instead.
I know you’re supposed to cry a lot. I’m good at that. In fact, I’m an excellent crier. I can do that without a specific reason. I’m already a very sorrowful person so I can always find a reason to cry. Now I have another reason.
If you break up the way they do on the movie screens, you have to put all of the stuff that reminds you of him into a box. Just like they do in the movies. The picture we took in a photobooth at a bar one week after we started dating, with my hand on your cheek, our lips about to touch, and a smile on both of our faces. That is a picture of budding love. I have to get rid of that picture. I might burn it for effect. It’ll happen in one take.
I’ll put the bracelet you got me for my birthday in that box, as well as the ticket stub from the first movie we saw together. To have a Hollywood broken heart, it helps to be sentimental and it helps to imbue everything the other person ever touched with a very special kind of meaning. I hate that I keep these things. I’ll put the University of Texas pajama pants in the box. They were yours, but I borrowed them once and never bothered to return them, the way girls often forget to return them. It’s how they do it in the movies, after all.
I will throw out your toothbrush. I will wash my sheets. I will sweep my floor. I can’t have your smell here. I need to start clean.
I will have a girls’ night with my friends. We will drink wine and bash guys, and they will give me hugs and kind words. I will feel loved and a little less alone, but if we’re in a Hollywood moment, there will be a small part of me that still aches for you.
I will vow to take some time to myself to mourn. I will sleep a lot. I will start a new book to distract myself. Or in reality, I will start a new Netflix show to pass the time. One with a lot of gore. I will probably buy something useless and expensive. A tight dress that I’ll never wear. A pair of really high heels that are uncomfortable and impractical. I’ll imagine what it would be like for you to see me in them. You’d trip over yourself, if this was a romantic comedy. You’d chase me down and say you were wrong.
My Hollywood broken heart will climax when I get really drunk one night and have the worst hangover of my life the next day. I’ll spend the day alternating between sleeping and vomiting, the way you do in a humorously cringe-worthy montage in the movies. Celine Dion would play, somewhat ironically. I’ll be too distracted by the physical pain to remember how sad I am. I will take solace in that.
I will eventually try to move on. Some day, the idea of sleeping with someone else will not make me gag. And I will go on a date and function as a normal person. I will stop thinking about you all the time. It will take time but eventually, I will stop being sad.
Or I could try to take the indie route, and be the hopeful and persevering girlfriend. This role isn’t in the movies all that often, so I don’t know exactly how it goes, but I think it has something to do with communication and patience. I think it’s less concrete, less hard fast. There are less rules and tropes and stereotypes if you try to work things out. Maybe that’s why Hollywood doesn’t try. Hollywood likes its formulas, and there is no rule here except for the fact that you just have to try. You can’t rely on drinking, or eating your weight in dessert, or settling for retail therapy. Friends will not be able to tell you what to do, if you choose to try. Chances are they’ve never done it themselves. This is completely unfamiliar territory. There are no cliches for me to follow.
But what I know is this: I can’t just put our problems into a box and call “cut.”