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Pickle Me This

February 2, 2006


A break-up is always difficult, whatever the circumstances. The end of a marriage is devastating, being dumped is humiliating, dealing with the end of a common-law relationship is hard because there is no established paradigm as to how to do this. The end of love is doomed to be a messy business, but particularly so if there was only half a love involved. Getting over unrequited love is perhaps the hardest thing of all.

The divorcees don’t know how lucky they have it. They look around and see painful reminders, but I call it proof. Wedding photos, old cards and letters, souvenirs from vacation past. At least somebody liked you once upon a time. All I had was a photograph folded into three, to cut out my friend in the middle so it looked like he and I were standing side-by-side. And you can’t put that up on the mantel.

I remember the futility of shaving my legs almost daily, just in case, and it all coming to naught. I remember laying awake all night, terrified he had ordered call display and was going to find out that it was I who had called and hung up nineteen times while he was at work one day. Trying to interpret signals in such a way that him going out of his way to avoid my path somehow meant affection. “He is intimidated by you,” my friends said. “He’s afraid of me,” I declared, implying that he was afraid of someone like me, someone he couldn’t help but fall in love with, because it was a big step to take. Though of course, in fact, no. He was just really afraid of me. As anyone would be of one who called nineteen times and hung up while they were at work.

There is no vocabulary for it. You can’t refer to “my ex”. Instead, you just can’t talk about it at all and years of your life get wiped away. Which might be a good thing, considering how remembering those years make your writhe in agonizing embarrassment. But no one lets you mourn. Mainly because they’re tired of you, him, and the fact that you’ve been mourning since the day you met him. No one lets you mourn the death of hope, which is the saddest death of all.

The end of unrequited love is no less monumental than any other. Look at the great unrequited loves throughout history: Britney Spears and Prince William, Rosie O’Donnell and Tom Cruise, Scarlet O’Hara and Ashley Wilkes. It is a proud tradition. And there is always light at the end of the tunnel. Glowing beaming radiant light. Because in the end Brit found K-Fed. And as God as her witness, I am sure, she will never be hungry again.

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