So, my boyfriend and I broke up.

I was trying to think of a way to open the column less bluntly, but everything feels blunt right now. My heart (or, to be melodramatic, what’s left of it) is an exposed nerve and it’s hard for me to finesse words in the usual way. I barely have enough energy to make coffee. (In the new coffeemaker I had to buy because he’s keeping ours.)

I know the first thing you might be wondering – who got the dog? The answer is me. I received full custody of Janey, by mutual agreement, on account of I have a more stable job and living situation (and also, she likes me better). I also got Juno the cat, but that went without question. The three of us, all 10 of our legs and two of our tails, moved back into my mom’s house. I feel it’s important to keep up my millennial branding, and what is more millennial than living with your mom? (Also, rent is expensive, particularly when pets are involved.) Mom said I was always welcome at home and that she likes living with me. Of course, she said that before I broke the screen door and a potted geranium plant (both accidents).

The second thing you might be wondering is, what went wrong? And that’s sort of a complicated answer. Neither of us did anything wrong. We still love each other. I mean how could I not love him? He’s a great guy. The best. But we kept finding ourselves going in circles, coming back to the same argument. His dreams were west, mine were east. His were south, mine are north, and we just couldn’t get ourselves going in the same direction.

Like a lot of people, I thought the phrase “conscious uncoupling” was a ridiculous one when I first heard it, but now it’s making more sense. (Perhaps too much sense.) In addition to the regular logistics of ending a 3½-year relationship (moving my stuff out of the apartment, figuring out what to do with the lease, changing my address), there are all these thoughts throughout the day that I want to text him – but then I don’t. Or I’ll think to myself, “oh, we’re out of paper towels, I’ll ask him to grab some” – but then I remember I can’t, and that the paper towels are now my responsibility.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my grandmother. She had to move back in with her mom in the early 1970s when she was 31, and had three kids. And she had to go to Argyle, New York, which is even more middle-of-nowhere than Buxton is. I wish she were still here so I could ask her if she felt like a failure, too. I wonder if she ever knocked over her mother’s geranium plant. (I wonder if my mom ever broke my grandmother’s door.) (Probably not.) I wonder if she ever felt like a bad parent because her rescue dog is only 85 to 90 percent housebroken. I wonder if she ever cried in the Hannaford parking lot because a Huey Lewis and the News song came on the radio. (I do know her face didn’t get all puffy when she cried like mine does, because she was the essence of elegance.)

I’ll probably be single for a good long while. Time to get my house in order, so to speak. The very idea of dating right now makes me feel itchy, in the bad, breaking-out-in-hives way, and besides, Janey is scared of men, which cuts out half my dating pool. (Although if you happen to know any attractive bachelors or bachelorettes of independent means whose dream girl is a chubby millennial with a scaredy-cat dog, send them my way, I guess).

And it scares me, a lot, to think about the unfortunate and horrible truth that chances are numerically quite high that anyone I have a relationship with in the future will never have met my dad. How am I supposed to marry someone who missed out on such a big part of who I was?

What hurts most, other than the loss of my now-ex-boyfriend’s daily company (which is very pleasant company to keep), is the loss of a future. A future is a painful thing to lose, and unfortunately I’ve managed to lose quite a few so far. And this was one that I really, really wanted. But, as I keep reminding myself, it’s just pain. (So far that mantra is working out slightly better than it did with my back injury. But only slightly.)

And as my mom pointed out, all I have to do is get through the next 15 minutes, and then the next, and then the next. And onward.

Victoria Hugo-Vidal is a Maine millennial. She can be contacted at:

t[email protected]

Twitter: mainemillennial

 

 


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