The Halfway Point

Anyone that has read my blog knows that late last year I went through a breakup. It wasn’t just any breakup, but rather, it was my first breakup. They say you never forget your first love, like you never forget your first dog or your first kiss. I’ll never forget my first dog (hope you’re doing well, Buddie), but I never think about my first kiss. That’s probably because it happened when I was fifteen, at the Alvin & the Chipmunks movie. I still laugh when I have to remember that Jason Lee’s voice and some whiny chipmunks were witness. On top of that, one of my good friends was sitting right next to me when it happened. I could only imagine how awkward he must have felt when I started making out with her. It had to be trapped, because the movie was horrible, and then here’s me right next to him having a jolly old time. True poetic justice later unfolded when he ultimately dated her. But that’s high school; you know how it is.

I was sitting on a plane this past winter, ready to depart from Boston to New York. It was a small plane, the type where only two average-sized people could fit. Fortunately, when I arrived at my seat after walking hunched over to get there, a nice man greeted me.

“Do you want the aisle seat?” he asked, already positioned near the window.

I hate the window seat, probably because being 6-5 and scrunched in between strangers against the window, with only a sheet of glass separating me from the atmosphere, is disparaging enough for me to take the aisle.

The man and I began talking about our lives. He too was a product of a breakup. “Why did she leave you?” I asked him.

“I think she wanted to have sex with other people,” he halfheartedly laughed. He stopped talking for a moment, presumably to process the old and bad memories I had just excavated; the ones he had been trying to suppress for so long.

As our conversation progressed, it was clear why I took my breakup so hard. It is difficult to get over someone. I had only been single a month, and I wondered how long it would be before I could emotionally let go.

“How long were you together?” he requested.

I slowly counted the time, using my fingers and the part of my brain that all throughout life had never been geared toward math. “Um, about twenty months, I think.”

“It’ll take you ten months to get over her then. Always cut the time in half. That’s your benchmark,” he advised.

I recently hit that benchmark, which reminded me of that fateful day on the plane. The man was a truly genuine individual. He was the same guy who advised me to use the website Warmshowers on my bike tour that summer. As a side note, he could not have been more right. Warmshowers, name notwithstanding, is the best way to travel via bicycle, especially across the country.

But as that ten-month point came, I realized I was not over my ex, at least not in a conventional way. I know she’s never coming back, and for the last few months, the thought of a reunion has never crossed my thoughts. But I still think about her, perhaps because once I stop, all the memoires we created will be gone, lost somewhere deep inside my subconscious, only to be resurrected at various points by specific symbols in my future.

I unsuccessfully pleaded with her during our breakup, “I don’t want you to become a memory in my life.” But she has become just that. I think the sad thing is that the memory of her has faded so much, like Post Malone late at night, to the point where I can’t really remember much about her at all. Maybe it has to do with that fall I took in Ohio this summer, or maybe this is just my brain’s way of healing, finally trying to sap all the thoughts that for months debilitated my ability to simply forget.

I do think that going through this breakup is the best thing that has ever happened to me, not that I wish the same on anyone. It’s taught me just how hard love is to find. When I say love, I mean real love. The kind where you wake up next to someone and feel comfort from their presence. The kind where they make you food, if only because they can. The kind where you have someone to bring home to your family for the holidays. Yes, that love is indeed so hard to find.

It’s not hard to find sex. Anyone who can pronounce polysyllabic words and smile over a few Grey Goose can find physical companionship. Or even if you’re willing to put a flattering photo on Tinder and talk about your life a little bit, then you certainly can find someone who will be into you for a night or a long weekend.

The going gets tough when you want more than just a good time, and that’s something I took for granted. I thought it would be easy to find a girlfriend, and have been shocked at how tough that process actually is. Maybe it’s because I’m not sure I can actually be in another relationship. It has taken time to come to terms with the mistakes I made in my past. For so long I wanted to repress those thoughts, find someone else to blame for my decisions. Love is just so hard; not only to find, but also to do.

I recently fell is lust with a woman. There was just something about her that made me stop and think a little longer than average about who she was as a person. Even as it became clear the lust was mutual, my chemical interest did not wane, unsurprisingly. Unfortunately, the deeper connection I felt went unrequited. By now, I should have known better. I could see it her eyes, the fact that I would never be more than just a good time. Foolishly, I tricked myself into thinking I meant more than I did. I even found myself using sex to get love, which might sound weird coming from the male perspective.

“I just don’t feel that spark,” she later texted me. She went on to describe how everything else was there: the conversation, the attraction, etc. But the missing component was that proverbial spark, and for her it just never came.

I don’t think I’ve ever felt a “spark.” I’ve felt a tangible spark, in regards to attraction, but never a spark that says anything else. I don’t believe in them either. To me, sparks only happen in fairytales, and while I am hopelessly romantic, I’m not that fictitious.

Snow has started to now fall, for the first time since I was back in St. Cloud, Minnesota, which precipitated the new reality I’ve been living in these last ten months. When I step out the door most mornings, I’m taken back to a cold reality, and a past I would rather not think about. It’s still hard to decipher if the snow on the ground is symbolic of a past that is now history, or if it’s still just a Band-Aid, a temporary fix for a scar that simply won’t heal.

The halfway point can’t end with fireworks, on account of the fact that this episode of my life is far from finished. There is still so much I don’t know about the world. Frighteningly, there is equally as much that I don’t know about myself.

***

Like this and other posts? Read more of Quentin Super’s work in his new memoir, The Long Road North, available at Barnes & Noble, or a B & N near you.

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