“Te quiero con todo mi hígado, por que mi corazón pertenece a otro.” Susy used to tell us that shit all the time when we were little. “I love you with all of my liver, because my heart belongs to someone else.” We knew she loved us, of course. I mean I’m pretty sure she did. She had to have loved us, for what a bitch I was to her all my teenage years, and for her to still remind me nearly every day when I left my history textbook upstairs. And I don’t know if there’s better proof of how much I loved her than how horrendously argumentative I was- nearly as bad as with my own mother. Still, she would remember exactly what kind of protein bars I liked, keep the kitchen stocked with them, always make sure there was milk in the fridge, and make terrible fun of the people I “dated” (if you can even count anything from high school), in an offensive manner such as only the truest of friends can get away with. “One at the time,” she would say. “You can date as many people you want, but only one at the time.” She always joked that she would get out her “kuh- chupahhhh,” (her personal onomatopoeia, I suppose, for whip?) to ward off any boys that came around, but I know for a fact she wouldn’t have needed a whip to scare them. Poor souls, it really wasn’t my father they ever should have been afraid of meeting.
I think I was 14 or 15 the first time I heard her say she didn’t believe in being friends with your exes. I found this to be an egregious flaw of character. What kind of coldhearted bitch was incapable of maintaining a friendly relationship with someone who had once presumably been incredibly close? Of course, this was before I understood the implications of letting someone take off all your clothes and put their mouth all over you. Before I had any idea what that even meant, much less what it would mean when it stopped. What are you supposed to feel when he doesn’t want to take of all your clothes anymore, ever? Are there even designated feelings for that? Or worse, when he wants to take off someone else’s. And put his mouth all over her. And then you find yourself wondering how Looney Tunes always makes the anvils fall on the right people, the ones who deserve it, and why can’t that happen in real life and is there really such thing as karma? And what if there isn’t? Should you take matters into your own hands? How much does a rifle cost and where can you get one? Would the jail time be worth it? What if they give you the death penalty? Do you even care that they might? You might even be happy about it; weren’t you considering jumping in front of the A train at 59th St. Columbus Circle anyway, the day you found out he was fucking her? And then you realize that you are thinking like a crazy motherfucker. So you go home and eat most of a role of cookie dough in one sitting, and know that if you get fat it’ll be his fault and you can just have one more reason to hate him. You pour yourself a glass of wine, and hope, pray to whatever divine entity that runs this shithole—well first you pray that there is one—and then you pray, harder than you did even for the first Barbie Doll you received for Hanukkah when you were seven, “Please, please, please, please, please… let him get herpes. Let them both get herpes.”
It gets better. Eventually, you don’t pray for them to get herpes anymore (although, let’s be honest, you would still be overjoyed if by happenstance they did). You notice that, hey, they would have really ugly babies anyway. Maybe, if you’re lucky, he’ll knock her up and her dancing career will be over and he’ll be broke from paying child support and… wait, but you’re supposed to be the mother. Oh, but come on, do you really want to be the mother of an asshole’s children anyway? But he’s not an asshole… He’s extraordinary. He’s an extraordinarily wonderful asshole. And then you begin to understand that Susy isn’t a bitch… not even close. She’s a wise, wise guru. In fact, she’s even more your mother than you ever imagined, because isn’t Mom always right? You should have believed her years and years ago; you can’t be friends with your exes.
There will be small milestones, ordinary, completely unremarkable things that don’t mean jack shit to anyone else. And you will smile, as best as you remember how, and know the universe is gradually granting you back your life in small handfuls, as if you need to prove that you are responsible enough to be trusted with such privileges, and you will not buy a rifle. Or an anvil. There will be a day when you can listen to Joshua Radin again. Sweet Jesus glory hallelujah praise the lord when that day comes. Maybe someday you’ll even be able to hear Ron Pope and keep your composure. On that day, you will buy yourself macarons, and tip the coffee barista even though the service is terrible, and want to kiss everyone on their goddamn face because you are in love with the world, and you can finally believe again, that the universe is good. A few hours later, Such Great Heights will come on your iPod and you will run to the bathroom and wonder how much a person can throw up from crying. Is this what reverse Ebola would be? You could swear it’s entirely possible your intestines are going to come out your mouth. It will take you approximately one hour of staring at his Facebook before before doing something you would like to think is rather brave: you will remove him from your friends. Fuck it, go for the extra credit, block him too while you’re at it. (Brava! Pour yourself a glass of wine and a bubble bath. You deserve it, champ)
It will take you about a month to find all of his remaining belongings in your apartment, and then another month to decide whether to throw them away, donate them, burn them, sell them and go shopping, or return them to him. Probably some combination. You give your friend his favorite flannel, partly because she is a loveable mooch, partly because it looks good on her, and mostly because it is amusing and satisfying to imagine his confusion when he sees pictures of her on Facebook wearing his clothes. You will keep the sweater (his sweater) you couldn’t be bothered to take off the third time you ever had sex with him. Or rather, the third time you ever had sex. When he still wanted to take off all your clothes and put his mouth all over you. Other things you will keep even though you know you shouldn’t: an old undershirt, smothered in his pheromones, that you may or may not continue to sleep in for a few months. Course not. You would never do something so pathetic. This is the 21st century! You are a proud independent woman! After some time, you will learn to avoid, or rather, develop enough self-discipline to avoid, Sephora, because you know by now it’s inevitable that, like a bloodhound (pathetic dog you are) you will sniff out his cologne, spray it all over as many of those little paper tags as you can hold, and shove them in your purse when you think no one is paying attention. You have every right to be goddamn proud of yourself when you walk through the parking lot and toss them in a garbage can as you leave the mall.
There will be at least one rebound. Actually, it will start with just the one. You’ll wonder, in the future, if anyone else you’ve ever dated wasn’t a rebound. He will think you have amazing sex. You’ll let him fuck you, and when he’s done, you’ll turn your back to him and let him think you are spooning so that he will never know you’re crying. He’ll tell you he loves you, he’s in love with you, and you will try your absolute hardest not to grab the closest sharp object and cut his fucking dick off, because he doesn’t love you. Not even close. He doesn’t even have enough of you to love you, and you’ll never give that to him. He loves the idea of you—whatever glamorous unrealistic idea he’s made up of you for himself in his head. You will not tell him how demeaning this is, or that you don’t want to be his cure, or his vice, or his mother, certainly not his girlfriend, or that he should grow the fuck up. You will not disembowel him, or tell him that the sex was mediocre (mediocre being a rather generous description). You will simply stop talking to him and decide you probably shouldn’t sleep with anyone else for a while.
When you see your ex again, he will probably look better than you remembered. You will spend too much time making sure you look perfect but also like you didn’t try too hard, only to realize when you see him, that it doesn’t matter if you look like shit or if you look like Mila Kunis; he doesn’t care. You will not congratulate him for being the reason you broke your yearlong record of not cutting, even though he had been the one who got you to stop.
There will be a time when Such Great Heights doesn’t make you lose your appetite. I’m told there will even be a day when you can finally look at him and feel nothing. When you just don’t give a fuck anymore. Zero fucks given. And somewhere along the way, you will meet someone who doesn’t talk like him. Whose hands don’t feel like his, who is too tall and too nice and you want to yell at him for not having his smile and for not having his voice and you want to cry when he calls you beautiful. But you like his hands on your skin and his smile and his voice, and fuck it, he wants to take off all your clothes and put his mouth all over you and maybe you even want him to. And eventually, when he tells you he loves you, you wish he would understand if you told him, “Te quiero con todo mi hígado por mi corazón pertenece a otro.”