A Memoir of Young Love

I have had my heart broken three times in the past three years. The most recent disillusionment occurred three days ago.

They say it takes half the length of the relationship to get over a breakup. I believe it depends not on the duration, but the depth. Luck would have it, my favorite ride at the carnival has always been the drop tower.

I have always been a daredevil, especially in childhood. When I was seven, a neighborhood kid bet me I couldn’t jump off a two-stories-tall ledge into a dirt pit where all the older kids went to smoke cigarettes. I sprained my back. He was my personal slave for weeks.

I turned twenty-three two Fridays ago. This is the story of my heart, and the closing chapter of my adolescence.

M slipped a plastic ring on my finger in a tiny, one-terminal airport in Fayetteville, North Carolina. We giggled like school children. “Next summer, when you graduate, I’ll put a diamond on that finger.” I closed my eyes and breathed in his cologne for the last time.

I sprawled out on the pizza-stained burnt orange couch in our apartment, bathing in the lazy evening sun slipping through shutters. I emptied my lungs and watched the thick, white smoke dance through the air. R sat on his amplifier, strumming a familiar melody on the bass guitar, lips slightly pursed. His intense emerald eyes flickered up to captivate my admiring gaze. I envisioned our son sitting on his lap, bobbing his tousled little head to Black Sabbath.

“I have never felt more compatible with anyone else.” The sincerity in his chameleon eyes stole my breath. I sank into T‘s embrace, thoughts racing, heart pounding, blood rushing in my ears. Night turned to morning and morning slipped into the afternoon as we tangled up in each other. We perched on tall stools in his kitchen, eating kimchi, eggs, and toast while discussing the latest political scandal on NPR.
“I’m sick of America. Let’s move to Paris together, and live in a cute apartment in the city, and we can have coffee and cigarettes for breakfast.”
“Just coffee and cigarettes? That doesn’t sound very nutritious. How about kimchi and toast and eggs?”
“It’s just an expression! Of course we’ll have real breakfasts.”

“Ah, clear they see and true they say
That one shall weep, and one shall stray”
― Dorothy Parker

Matthew taught me to never change myself for anyone. I kept kosher for an entire year, almost converted to Judaism, and exercised daily to maintain a size zero.

Ryan taught me the difference between lust and love. We discovered together the definition of a dysfunctional relationship.

Thomas taught me that love isn’t a fairytale, and timing is everything.

I am too young to know who I am and what I’m looking for. Yet, without fail, I fall head over heels and expect the world from my partner. Each time, I feel more compatible and fall deeper. This last breakup, although no less painful, was a much-needed wake-up call.

I need time to straighten myself out first. I need time to understand what I need, before I leap recklessly into another pit with the senseless expectation that someone or something will catch me. I am learning to brace my own fall.

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