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Mac is in sales. And he’s very good at what he does. A few weeks ago he closed a deal on what may have been the biggest sell of his life. After nearly one year of buttering ‘em up, then greasing the wheel, promising commitment, and pledging to stake his personal reputation on a shared vision for their future so beautiful and inspired that it regularly brought him to tears, Mac left me for another woman. I was sold, hook, line and sucker.
There’s no need for civility here so let’s just call it what it is. Mac dumped me, as one does a bag of rotting trash filled with the carcasses of the dead animals they’ve just skinned, butchered and seared the shit out of before sitting down to dinner. And he did this, over the phone…with her in the background.
Bad man. Never. Ever. In my life have I felt this particular variety of rejection and loss. I’ve suffered break-ups, I’ve known what it means to love fully and lose deeply, but never have I been quite so plainly abused.
I feel broken. A fool. After being sucker punched over the phone, I flew myself to Chicago to demand answers. I was met with little more than tepid excuses as to why this middle-aged, under-inspired, over-indulged man “can’t commit” to anyone but a string blonde bimbos, of whom I most certainly count myself among. As Bill Maher is so keen on reminding us when discussing Sarah Palin, a bimbo is a physically attractive but unintelligent woman. Clearly, I’ve lost all sense to fall in love with a self-proclaimed coward who walked out of my life as easily as he lured me into his own.
As I lay sobbing in a pile on the bathroom floor of the hotel he shipped me off to for our final meeting, I knew this was gonna hurt for many moons to come. And it has. Bad. But I also knew I had to pick myself up. In the past, I’ve been the sort to starve myself in heartache, not being able to stomach the act of eating or any other pleasure that brings me joy. But my adventures as Maven have taught me nothing if not to live with gusto and tremendous gratitude for every day I’m given in pursuit of this food life. And so, after just four days of self-imposed misery, I got myself together, ventured out to Whole Foods and got back behind the stove.
I’ve been feasting ever since. In my kitchen and in my heart I feel very much alive. As Camus, I believe in living to the point of tears, but I also believe in working through pain and staying hungry for whatever we’re served next on the menu of love, life, and of course, dinner. So for the last several weeks I’ve been serving up distraction. I can either be found working 15 hour days in The Dinner Belle kitchen, pulling off our busiest month on the books without missing a beat, or eating breakfast in bed with only my furry friend to keep me company as I pathetically admit to watching excessive hours of crappy reality television, hoping for that distant, gleeful relief that comes from comparing myself to Jon, or Kate, or any of the many “real” Housewives, and thinking, “It could be worse.”
And of course, it could. I’m lucky. I’ve held on to my hunger; I have my Tribe to keep me hopeful, and my family to keep me company. As I travel to each of their hometowns in search of their ultimate comfort, I’ve begun to feel that if there is a silver lining to this whole affair it’s geography. I’ve scored trips to visit my family in Florida, Los Angeles, and now find myself home sweet home in Buff. Mac and I had begun house hunting in his Windy City, and just about the only compliment I can pay him is that he saved me from moving to Chicago. It could be worse, indeed!
Last week in LA my brother played for me the “Fix You” tune off Coldplay’s sleeper “X&Y” album. As I drove the 8 hours from NYC to Buffalo yesterday, I kept it on repeat, and as the tears streamed down my face, I knew I was headed home to the lights and love that would help me fix myself…
“And the tears come streaming down your face
When you lose something you can’t replace
When you love someone, but it goes to waste
Could it be worse?”
“And high up above or down below
When you’re too in love to let it go
But if you never try you’ll never know
Just what you’re worth”
“Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you”
I’m beginning to remember what I want and what I’m worth, and what’s more, I’m almost convinced I deserve it. I don’t miss him anymore. I just miss loving him. I miss holding hands in savasana; I miss making his coffee; I miss sex. I am not yet done with the grief, but because I refuse to be “stuck in reverse” I am done with Mac. If pressed, I think he would actually agree, I am better off without him, and he’s the one who’s stuck with his sorry self.
Death is never easy, but I’m guided by a sense that in trading in this salesman for a chance at love with a real man, I’ve been spared some measure of future agony. In other words, it could’ve been a hell of a lot worse.