I read this at the last ever Solo in the 2nd City show at Beauty Bar on February 13, 2014. The theme of the show being break-ups, I decided to look at the end of one thing as the beginning of something else.
According to some stupidass quiz on Facebook that it seems all of my female friends (yet, curiously, none of my male friends) have taken, I was supposed to have gotten married two years and seven months ago. The median age of my married friends is 37, and the quiz reminds me in the kind of hopeful way that only an internet quiz can have that “half of your friends were married after that age!”
Yeah. Thanks. I already knew that.
Not only because I took math in school and remember what the motherfuck a goddamn median is. But also because when those married friends got married I was there for, huh, I don’t know,the median number of them?
The last wedding I went to took place in Sewanee, Tenneesee last September. My friend Matt married his lovely bride Stephanie in a beautiful university chapel in the kind of lovely but short ceremony I have come to appreciate in my years of wedding-going. Because this was a fall wedding, I didn’t sweat at the ceremony FOR ONCE. But I did a fair amount of sweating at the reception when I got up to dance with my beloved married lady pals Jacinda and Nadine.
At our advanced age, the kind of dancing we do at parties has taken a retro sort of turn. We start wiggling our hips, like our pantyhose itches. Nadine starts to wave her arms like she’s gonna do the pony while Jacinda shakes her flat whitegirl ass. I give up on sucking in my gut and alternate dancing like John Travolta in Pulp Fiction and… Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction.
It’s times like these that I look at my friends and think
This is so good.
I love these bitches so much. They are the goddamn best.
They are my family.
I have loved these fools for the past 20 years.
I hope they love me for at least 20 more.
Please let’s be happy for ever and always.
And then I look over at their husbands, watching our purses like good dates do. They’re drinking beer and talking about politics or music or the kids or whether or not they should go bum cigarettes of the young people on the porch of the inn where the reception is happening.
I look at the kind, sweet, generous men and I think to myself
You’re so lucky to be married to two of my best friends.
Yeah. Two of my best friends. You can have two. IT’S A TIER. (I totally stole this joke from Mindy Kaling.)
You’re so lucky to be married to two of the best and most generously endowed women I have ever known.
You would be lost without them.
So please… please don’t fuck it up.
Because of these and other generous couples in my life, I know what hard work it can be to keep a relationship going for years. Some of my older friends are in relationships that are already well into their second decades.
But some of those relationships are starting to crack. Truthfully they’ve been cracking for days, months, years. Strain that we’ve been too nice to mention to each other over brunch, pretend not to see on group outings to the Art Institute. We’ve started learning about impending divorces in vague Facebook statuses, and whispers over playdates.
We were at Poor Phil’s Bar & Grill in Oak Park two weeks ago — me, Jacinda, Joe, their children, and both their moms. Little H was ripping open a parcel of American Girl accessories, a birthday present from me, when Jacinda leaned over and whispered that she’d heard that Katie and Joe (NOT THEIR REAL NAMES) were probably going to divorce. She’d heard this from Chuck (not his real name) during a playdate between Little H and Chuck’s own daughter. A few moments later Chuck’s wife Estelle (not her real name) confided that she and Chuck hadn’t done it IN A YEAR.
Over the course of the evening, Jacinda and I started to count the number of couples we knew who were divorcing, separating, or just trying to “figure it all out.” We came up with five. Some couples were closer than others. It seemed odd and maybe even disrespectful to mar a child’s birthday with our whispered worry but we couldn’t help it. The divorce dam had broken.
I think the thing that surprises me the most is how not surprised I am to hear about these splits. That makes me a little sad, but it’s a feeling I’m familiar with, something I’ve felt a lot in adulthood. The feeling of a door closing, and a dream being diminished right before my eyes.
I still struggle to understand that just because I want something to work, be it the elevator in my building, or my friends’ marriage, doesn’t mean that it will. Just because it worked before doesn’t mean that it will or won’t work again.
The reason I don’t get broken up with because I don’t get involved in the first place. You can’t break my heart because it was broken a long time ago and I haven’t had the time or the energy or the fucking guts to fix it.
But I’ve learned that even if you do get your heart broken, stomped on, thrown in a fancy Vitamix blender, pureed into a soup for your ex and his new girlfriend to eat and then shit into the hole where your heart used to be, used to save the parking spot you just got dug out only to get run over by a mini-van sliding into that spot because dibs is really just that much bullshit, left behind on the plane, or mixed up with somebody else’s laundry at the laundromat, you might get it back. It’s 2014, you guys.. Like Oscar Goldman of “The Six Million Dollar Man” might say – “We can rebuild it. We have the technology.”
I want Facebook to tell me, if I missed my marriage age, when I might expect to shack up with some sexy-ass dude in France and definitely NOT GET MARRIED BUT HAVE ALL THE HOT SEX INSTEAD.
If my friends endure horrible breakups, I want them to understand that I’m always there and I’m only using their experiences for my writing because one day, they will love again and when we’re talking about their new loves over ALL OF THE GLASSES OF WINE, they’ll forgive me and I’ll have a wealth of experience to teach me how to get over breakups of my own.
Can Buzzfeed post something about the 27 AWESOME WAYS THAT BREAKUPS MAKES YOUR LIFE BETTER illustrated with pictures of corgis?
I’m gonna go ahead and announce that my all Asian remake of Waiting to Exhale is currently in pre-production and yes, there will be a Kickstarter.
If something ends, you can start over. Nadine reminded me about this in a blog post she wrote a few months ago, on the 15th anniversary of her relationship with her husband, Nick. A blog post that also happened to be about (and contain a recipe for) a yeast starter for baking bread.
I am trying to make a sourdough starter. If it works, it could live for a very long time. Some lucky people have starters that are over a hundred years old and have been passed down through generations of the family. I’ve been wanting to try this simple, yet oddly miraculous feat, and our 15th anniversary seemed like an auspicious day to do so. If it works, I’ll call it my Anniversary Starter…
A starter can, of course, die. It can be thrown out by an overly zealous cleaner. It can dry up from lack of water. Without regular feedings, it will starve. The microbial community can simply fail. (Although—very important—a starter can be kept dormant in the refrigerator or the freezer, so you don’t have to take it on vacation with you and such. Some people do, but I’m not planning on going quite that obsessive.)
But here’s my point: if my starter dies, that’s okay. I’ll make a new one, and try again.
Some people get very antsy about the symbolism of planting a tree when a baby is born or giving a plant to someone for a wedding gift. They think that if the living thing dies, it’s bad juju for the baby or the marriage. At the very least, the symbolism is poor.
This doesn’t worry me in the least. For one thing, I’m not at all superstitious. And for another, if there’s one thing that fifteen years in a relationship has taught me, it’s that starting again is something we do over and over.