Self-help books say it is important to date from a place of hope. I come from a much less distinguished neighborhood, only slightly north of despair. It is not that my love life has been larded with disappointment. It’s just that I’m 39, with a lot of miles under the chassis. So I try to spin this, to find inspiration in my past: I have known extraordinary loves, all of them brilliant and, crucially, capable of making me laugh.
Every ex — with the notable exception of the most recent — is now married to someone who is not me. I wish each one all possible happiness. With all my heart.
The Big Love of My 20s
He set the bar for kindness, taking in every stray, every bird with a broken wing, and offering deepest, heartfelt compassion, even when the bird was flying repeatedly into the same window. He was a rock solid mensch, so good for the bad times, but not so celebratory in the good ones. As I hit my 30s I discovered life doesn’t always suck. Somewhere, about year five in our relationship, he mentioned that he liked kids just fine after they were about 6 and capable of real conversation. I told him I liked kids from the get go, all the way down. BLM20 is currently married to a woman who had a 6-year-old when they met.
The Holocaust Boyfriend
It is not his fault we broke up; it is Hitler’s. His grandparents survived Auschwitz. His mother was born in a DP camp. He learned sadness at the breast, drank it with his mother’s milk. It was his birthright. And if he was a jackass on his way out the door, he was depressed. Because, Hitler. The woman he married studies criminal law, she knows more than I do about guilt or innocence.
The Orthodox Boyfriend
I did try to have the life my religion intended for me, observant, obedient, and, well, that’s about all my religion requires of me, at least until I reproduce, since I’m merely a woman. We met and dated for a year within the confines of the Jewish community, which is small and in each other’s faces because they have nothing to do on Saturdays. Our relationship ended when I realized I didn’t want to spend Passover with his family. I don’t like Passover. There’s nothing to eat. He married a woman who observes.
He was a good friend having a rough time. We shared some questionable moral judgment together. The less said about this, the better. The woman he is married to who is not me is the one he started out with. In my meager defense, they were separated at the time.
He was a Brooklyn dad, wounded by a terrible marriage. I walked six inches off the ground for the six months we dated, and it was the best uninterrupted run of fun, warmth, and joy I’ve known. He introduced me to his family, took me to weddings and asked me to be his date to the White House Christmas Party. Then I met the kids. He ditched me in 15 of the most frightening minutes of my life. He said he wanted to be married to the woman who was not me who was the mother of his children, the former Mrs. Hyde. I was so terrorized by the exit, I got shingles on my face. I lost him and my looks simultaneously. That was just over a year ago. The blisters are gone now, but it still smarts.
Next post: This Terrible Date Actually Happened, Part I