Archives for the month of: March, 2013

The Next Big Thing Project is a creative game of tag with the goal of prompting writers to share their current/future writing project. Eileen Dougharty just passed the torch to me so that I can share my BIG idea with you.

1. What is the working title of your book?
Forever Maybe. The story behind the title can be found here.

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?
In the year after my divorce, I began meeting an array of men and realized that meeting a large quantity of them would be the key to me figuring out what I was seeking. This began “Project 50”, where I challenged myself to meet 50 amazing men in a year (from one birthday to the next). I’m grateful for all of them and everything I learned. And to any woman who says “there just aren’t any single men out there”, I can tell her 50 reasons why she’s wrong.

3. What genre does your book fall under?
Non-fiction. Project. For better or worse, “chic lit”.

4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Emma Stone because she does awkward well. And Edward Norton circa Fight Club.

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5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Newly single woman dates 50 men in one year and finds something unexpected. Do you see what I did there? Are you on the edge of your seat? An NO, it’s not an STD.

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I always planned to self publish but now I’m not in such a rush to get it out. I’d actually like the opportunity to shop it around and get the full rejection experience. And then I’ll have that one moment in time where I call you crying to tell you that someone wants my book and you can’t understand what I’m saying through my uncontrollable happy sobbing and you keep asking, “What’s wrong?!”

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I started a blog in 2008, then devoted 6 months to writing from my year of notes. Still working on it so…the year of the project + 6 months + x.

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Coincidentally, I just met Rachel Bertsche who wrote MWF seeking BFF which is about her journey meeting 52 potential best friends in a year. I had the opportunity to tell her about my book and how whenever I talk about it, people inevitably ask me about her book. Jill Howe is now hoping that Rachel will write my foreword. Wouldn’t that just be THE BEST?

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I felt inspired to do something I had never done before- date without the pressure of trying to meet “the one”. Writing about this adventure took the pressure off each encounter and made it fun, the way that dating should be (not in a “you’re all jerks” Taylor Swift kind of way). I am inspired to share what I learned to help single ladies everywhere date fearlessly.

10. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
It answers a lot of practical questions about dating while making the journey entertaining. I now know the best question to ask on a first date, what not to do while speed dating and how to meet three men in one night.

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Women don’t really dress for men; we dress for other women. We choose “statement jewelry”, avoid over-matching and follow seasonal clothing rules, all for other women. A man doesn’t reject a woman for wearing white after Labor Day. It doesn’t even occur to him. But women, women will call the fashion police with their eyes. Those bitches.

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I met Pam at book club. She’s the girl next door, if the girl next door looks like Sheryl Crow and is effortlessly put together, humble and warm. Before the end of a night discussing Tina Fey’s Bossy Pants, she told us about a party she would be having called Estrogenfest. Women only. Hanging out. Mixing circles. She would ask all guests to wear comfy clothes, or what she called “birth control outfits”. An outfit you would wear at home, alone, maybe when you’re sick. The outfit that no man would be attracted to you in. There would be prizes.

I RSVPed yes immediately and actually had to choose between several outfits. I decided on light blue pajama pants covered in smiling yellow suns, white clouds and the word “sunshine” sprinkled all over. And for the top I wore a near-matching, hand-me-down, yellow cotton shirt with light blue three-quarter sleeves that had illustrations of famous dogs, Snoopy and Lassie on the chest.

I looked like a 9-year old ready for a slumber party. I put on yellow Snoopy socks to add to the “sunsemble”. The only thing missing from what felt like a memory of my youth was my braces and headgear.

My friend Jill offered to pick me up, which was ideal because then I could drink. But she asked me to wait for her at the Citibank parking lot across the street from my house because she was picking up Denise first and it was an easier route to Roscoe Village that way. My winter coat covered up Snoopy but the suns peeked out from under it. I walked across Ashland and waited with a large chocolate cake. I was in public. In these pants!

As I waited, a couple passed me. The man chuckled as he walked by, muttering, “Well those look comfortable”. Ugh. The bright yellow suns continued to smile. Stupid suns! Don’t you realize they’re laughing at YOU?

The cake just amplified the desperation of this outfit. When Jill pulled up with Denise, I was relieved. But as we were looking for parking near Pam’s, she backed up onto a one-way street, the wrong way. I let her know, in case she hadn’t noticed the sign. “Jill, I can’t die in these pants.”

We found a spot just half a block away. I would be safe inside soon. Or so I thought.

We walked through the living room of Pam’s appropriately-lovely single family home, toward the kitchen, the center of the chatter. It was a sea of black yoga pants. What’s going on here? I would sleep with any of those women! Those bitches. What about the embarrassment we’re supposed to feel TOGETHER. A guest walked past me, looked down and said, “Oh you’re definitely gonna win”.

We walked into the kitchen and I felt all the eyes on us. It was like a Halloween party, the kind where you’re the only one wearing a costume. We found Pam and she was overjoyed to see us, giving us the lowdown on who everyone was- coworkers, neighbors and women from another book club. Pam would later surprise everyone in a gorilla suit. PAM knows how to commit.

But right now, I felt so exposed. My worst was way worse than anyone else’s. Normally, I would have worn cute jeans and a sweater. A necklace thoughtfully purchased at an art fair. My hair tamed into a wave from its usual curly friz. But birth control was about friz. And no make up. I felt like a troll. Like the embodiment of PMS. I found comfort in a pan of cocktail weenies. I stood there, eating and contemplating the evening. Seeing my ruin from across the room, Jill and Denise rescued me from my hot dog binge and we went into the dining room to look at the jewelry that one of the women was selling as a side-show for the night.

“How much is this piece?” I asked looking at a silver chain with charms.
“Let me double check”, she said, picking up her price book. Then she looked down at my pants, “Oh! You’re so…frumpy!”

Was this a test? No one knew what to say to each other. I was hesitant to go up to some of the women and discuss their bad clothing choices because I wasn’t sure if they had deliberately made them. It would be like asking a woman about her pregnancy only to find out she’s not expecting. So I went back to the kitchen. And I ate more hot dogs.

This party had the best intention of breaking down walls giving us the ability to laugh at ourselves and each other. IF everyone played along. Which they didn’t. Those bitches. Some women were going out after, so OF COURSE THEY couldn’t wear something ugly. Our friend Sheri could have had this excuse- she had just come from work. But she stepped it up and brought something to change into. Something awful. A DARE shirt and striped pajama pants that only came down mid calf, exposing a layer of long underwear. She looked homeless. I immediately loved her even more.

Some women just ignored the birth control theme and wore cute dresses or jeans. One woman in particular was actually wearing a cute dress over jeans. Jill and Denise were having a deep conversation about being short and busty and how that can make shopping a challenge. Dress over jeans lady came over to commiserate. Tall and tipsy, she begged for our sympathy, “What about skinny girl problems?”

Skinny girl problems? Are those like rich people problems, except that you don’t have to worry about tax shelters? The three of us have no idea what skinny problems are. We couldn’t even acknowledge this woman after her inquiry. And then she proceeded to pose with us in every photo we tried to take.

Sheri and I collected our well-earned prizes. I went home and my boyfriend begged to come over and see my look. I thought about changing but that would defeat the purpose. Upon seeing me, he picked me up and hugged me and said, “You look so cute! What are you talking about with this whole birth control thing?” I was grateful that indeed I was not a troll. Or PMS. I was brave enough to wear my freak flag.

Finally, the suns on my pants weren’t the only ones smiling.

Weeks later, we had dinner and drinks with Pam. She told us that our skinny dress over jeans pal had a little issue after the party. On the way to her next destination, she threw up in her cab and was kicked out.

I guess THAT’S a skinny girl problem.

1988. Chicago. Seventh grade. Braces. Headgear at night. My musical epiphanies were Richard Marx and the Bangles. The only things that mattered to me were keeping up my grades, playing softball and practicing my Torah portions for my Bat Mitzvah.

Richard Marx photographed in 1987.  © Bernhard Kuhmstedt / Retna Ltd.

This year, we got a new math teacher. His name was Mr. Black. He was pretty dreamy for a math teacher- dark hair, blue eyes and dimples on top of an athletic physique. 26 years old, an ex-marine full of great comebacks to our failed math attempts like, “close doesn’t count except in horseshoes and hand grenades”. We never had a teacher like Mr. Black before. All our other teachers were older and unrelatable and their teaching methods were slow death by repetition and boredom. Mr. Black was anything but.

He had an edge and a point of view on the seemingly smallest details in math. For instance, he forbade us from using the word “and” when discussing numbers. 100 and 1 was now 101. Dots were now points.  He made us speak about math like smart people. He treated us like adults.

He also teased us- not so much to give us a complex. After all, my class- my whole grade was just 13 girls. It was a small private school and somehow all the boys decided to leave after 5th grade. He teased one girl about the height of her bangs calling her “ski slope”.  I was actually envious- my bangs wouldn’t do that flippy thing that was in style.  What I did do was wear a lot of make-up. Which is odd because I don’t actually wear make up now. He called me “Maybelline”.

We wondered about him and his private life. We took note of the car he drove and the clothes he wore. He was the mysterious stranger that came to town. And I think it’s safe to say that we all had a bit of a crush on Mr. Black, even though no one would admit it.

One of my older sisters was in her third year at Depaul. I visited her at her dorm in Lincoln Park. I was excited to one day live in a dorm just like her and have all my friends down the hall. It was pretty crazy that the dorm was girls and boys on the same floor. This was all before things like the Real World was on tv so the concept of opposite sexes living together was very new to me.

Upon meeting her friends, I immediately developed a crush on a boy named Andy. This wasn’t the first time- I frequently fell in love with my older sister’s friends and dates. These were the only boys I knew. I wondered if maybe she would date Andy. She should. I would have. Or at least called him my boyfriend and talked on the phone, which is what I thought dating was.

But my Depaul sister wasn’t dating anyone. Until she met some guy at a Depaul Blue Demons basketball game. She told me about him and how crazy it was that they met. He was a Depaul alum. And they got on the topic of where he lived…Lakeview. And what he did for a living…teaching. His name was Ben. Ben Black.

My sister started dating my math teacher.

I wasn’t sure what I thought of it. It seemed like it could have perks- I would be an insider on the life and times of Mr. Black. I could go into the teacher’s lounge and not get in trouble. Maybe I could have bragging rights.

But that’s not what happened. When news got out, I was ridiculed. Students from my grade. Students from other grades. Then teachers. Everything from teasing me that I would now get better grades to raunchy comments about my sister, comments I barely understood. I could only tell from the tone that these remarks were mean spirited. I was surrounded by bullies. School used to be a place where I was my best. Now it was my biggest challenge.

How do you fight back? How do you take on your peers? Or authority figures? There’s no HR in middle school. All bets were off.

My greatest accomplishment was making the cheerleading squad. I had practiced everyday- cart wheels, round offs, every cheer I knew. And splits, even though I could only do them leaning to one side or by propping myself up on both hands. But even this became heartbreak when rumors started. As the head basketball coach, Mr. Black was one of the cheerleading judges. And everyone said I only made the cut because the voting was skewed. They assumed I couldn’t have made it on my own.

It wasn’t just bad at school. At home, at family gatherings, I didn’t know how to address my math teacher. Everyone called him Ben, his secret identity. Ben was his Clark Kent. So I just called him “Black”. It would be better this way- so that I wouldn’t slip and call him Ben at school. And it was as informal as I could get with the man who was ruining my 7th grade life.

One weekend I stayed at my sister’s dorm. She was particularly sad. She and Ben had broken up. I could hardly contain my excitement. But quickly realized it was not welcome and disguised my smile as concern. I think he wanted more of a commitment than she could give. She was after all only 20. I was sad for her but secretly grateful not to have any other single good looking teachers.

My sister ended up finding love just fine on her own, love that was way out of the universe of my life. As for Black, he started dating the science teacher- a scandal that wiped my sister and me right off the map.

No one NEEDS a Costco membership. But in my early 30’s it seemed that most of the parties I attended were fueled by chips, cookies, cakes, vodka, all with the same signature brand- Kirkland. I wanted in.

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It didn’t make sense to take on the annual $50 membership alone. But what other single person wanted to join me in Costco matrimony just for the family-sized products?

My first Costco “husband” was a female coworker. Sometimes we shared a shrimp platter but we generally led separate Costco lives.  We would have renewed after a year but I didn’t really want to. She had become distant and I found out she was saying mean things about me – like that I’m moody, WHICH I AM, but still. She changed jobs and disappeared and I was once again Costco single.

Luckily, my boyfriend proposed. Actual marriage. This Costco partnership would now be so much easier. All groceries would go to one home. All coupons to one household. It was finally, the union that Costco and the Bible intended.

But then my husband and I went our separate ways. Much to everyone’s surprise, we continued to share the membership and even take trips to Costco together. He didn’t have a car and I liked the company. We got along great. Until we had a fight over how we were going to file our taxes from the year that we were married. I was so angry with him, that I did the unthinkable. I Costco broke up with him. And I didn’t even tell him.

I didn’t know that the next time he would use his card, he would be with his parents. Full cart in tow at the register, his card would be rejected and he would be forced to get a new membership on the spot or leave. He called me to tell me how awful the experience was and how he felt like a criminal. Still, I can’t believe I used Costco for evil.

My new Costco rebound husband was just a friend. And like me, he was also a hot dog enthusiast, which is ideal because at Costco, you can get a hot dog and a diet coke for $1.50. We shopped together a lot. He was as giddy about the savings as I was. And in time, we became giddy about each other. We started dating. Oh, Costco romance. We joked about getting actually married at Costco. There were aisles. Customer service could officiate. And then everyone could have hot dogs! When I renewed the membership, I upgraded to executive and paid for the whole thing. I was in love.

Until he broke up with me.

Really broke up with me. And I didn’t have a back up or any one I knew who had ever expressed interest in warehouse pricing. So I just left it. I left it until it came up for renewal. It didn’t make sense to support discounts he would be sharing with someone else.

But who would be my new Costco husband? I guess I could have the membership by myself. But who needs that much toilet paper? And does it say about me that I can’t even hold down a successful Costco relationship?

Seeing the carnage of partners behind me, I could only choose someone I didn’t want to be involved with or even friends with. I needed a business partner who just would help me sever ties with my current partner and secure my future of bulk M&Ms.

I thought about asking a 20-something hipster at work. Even though we had become pretty good friends, we grew apart and now, he and I were only occasional carpool buddies.

So three months ago, I finally decided to propose. He jumped at the chance to share the membership, maybe hoping for a chance to rekindle our friendship. He didn’t know about my sordid past and was walking into a trap. “Once you take that pixelated photo for your card, any hope of friendship will VANISH.”

I was optimistic the day we met at Costco for our marriage ceremony. After he took his picture, signed on the dotted line and gave me his half of the membership fee, we took our first official lap around the store. Into the cart, he tossed a monster-sized box of granola bars and cereal. I picked up spring rolls and a package of corn. We checked out.

And we haven’t spoken since.

After months of indecision, I am finally coaxed off the fence.

I look up the number to Circa, a jewelry buyer. When the voice on the phone asks what I’d like to sell, I reveal my past in three words. “An engagement ring.” While it’s a rare transaction in my world, I have a feeling they encounter this every day.Image of jewelry to be used by Heavely Treasures Inc. for website or catalog.I’m not saving the ring, just in case. I don’t want to make it into a pendant. I don’t want to make it into anything but a mortgage payment or two. I have just quit my job to live the dream—I’m writing my first novel. It’s the story about the year after I got divorced. I challenged myself to meet 50 possible suitors with the goal of figuring out what it really was that I was after. Afflicted artist guy? Flex in the mirror guy? Buy you tampons and chocolate guy? I had no idea and was determined to make my definitive must-have list. And then write about it.

The Saturday morning of my appointment is unseasonably warm for April. I dress up a little, throwing on a black velvet jacket over jeans. I wear eye liner and mascara, something I usually reserve for formal events, hoping to look more put together and less like the girl who has no idea what she’s getting herself into.

I take the red line to Chicago and march toward Michigan Avenue. As I approach the Hancock, I’m shaking. I try to reason with myself. Is it regret? Is it the vulnerability of thousands of dollars in my purse? Am I scared that the jeweler will be condescending and offend me with a low offer? Or is it a growing pain?

My friend Stacey agrees to meet me downtown for this mission. Tall, leggy, blond, blue-eyed and fearless, she turns everything into an adventure. She is the friend you expect to see whizzing by on the back of a motorcycle. Topless. Simultaneously she is the calm, collected confidante. She thoughtfully acknowledges every detail and appreciates even the slightest of achievements. And today, she will not let them take advantage of me.

My ears pop as we shoot up to the 25th floor to find a suite with glass doors. They buzz us into the waiting room that is both luxurious and sterile. A sanctuary for unwanted gems, this is where jewelry stylishly goes to die. The receptionist who is behind a thick but decorative shield of glass greets us. Circa is on serious lockdown. Stacey takes it in, audibly enjoying the ride. “Wow. This is a quite a place you’re taking us to”, as if we were fine dining. The next locked door opens. We meet Ed.

Luckily, Ed is not the fast-talking pawn-shop type I feared. He goes with the rest of the experience- slow and calculated, suit and tie, distinguished, grandfatherly, at ease, taking care in shaking our hands and acknowledging our names. He is more like a doctor than a salesperson. He ushers us in to small office with a floor to ceiling window. We take a moment to admire the people and cars so small beneath us. Ed and Stacey hit it off immediately. She wants to know about drama and heirlooms and he doesn’t disappoint. He shares a story of a husband who uses his wife’s money to buy a larger than life diamond ring for his lover. She is convinced we can interview Ed and put together a book of his wildest transactions.

She is truly my cheering squad today, my date to what feels like a wake. While Ed steps out of the room for a moment, I open the casket and show her my ring. I’ve heard people say that they would know their diamond anywhere, as if it had enough character to be distinguished in a line up. I’ve never felt that way about mine.

In fact, this is my second diamond. I broke the original just months after getting married. I cleaned it often and one day, it slipped right out of my hands and onto the marble bathroom floor. The collision left a cloud on one side. At closer inspection, it looked as it had a bite taken out of it.

The insurance agent wasn’t convinced, “No one breaks a diamond.” “Well, I just did.” In a world where paper beats rock, why can’t marble beat diamond? After I re-explained the incident more than a few times, he finally sent us a check. Once we had the appraised value in our hands, I realized, we had actually profited from this mistake. I asked my husband, “Should we keep the money? Do I really need a ring?” Getting a new one was like ordering an appetizer halfway through the entrée. I felt gluttonous. Maybe the time for this ring had passed. But he took my hand and insisted on replacing it, “You need your ring.” He knew how much I loved it. Of course I did- I not only chose the setting, I helped pick out the diamond. Together, we made appointments for stores on Wabash we had never noticed before, learned about the 4 c’s and got comfortable using a loupe. I had been waiting all my life for this ring and wouldn’t leave the details to chance. In hindsight, these were not the details that required my attention.

He and I were the best of friends. But getting married and living together exposed a side of us we didn’t know, we couldn’t navigate and we didn’t like. We were both overly particular and constantly at odds over big and small issues. I didn’t understand why he needed to grind coffee every morning knowing it would wake me up. He couldn’t understand why I didn’t want to stay at home with the children that we didn’t have yet. The issues piled up and buried me first. I tried to climb out, scheduling an appointment with a therapist the day after our one-year anniversary. I told her, “Marriage is all pedaling and no gliding. I thought the first year was supposed to be magical. Like newlyweds, right?”

I wasn’t sure what answer I was looking for her to give until months later she simply stated, “I think you weren’t ready to get married”. Not us. Me. It was my fault. I steered us into this glacier and there was no turning back. Of course, when you go to therapy to explore why you’re not happier in your relationship, your relationship goes sour on its own. I suggested separation and he asked, “What do you expect to happen?” Inside I knew, separation is the gateway drug to divorce, which is what he suggested. Our marriage netted a year and a half. Our wedding had been so small that most people barely knew we were married. Just a blip on a timeline, but a scar I will always have.

My ring is now in a pile with gold I have received throughout my life. I have a small collection of half hearts that all carry the message, “Best Friends Forever”. Why do girls need to lock it down so early? My ring represents a similar proclamation except that I hold both halves.

The process of giving it up is similar to buying it. Ed weighs the diamond, compares the color and clarity and counts the imperfections. Stacey and I are fascinated watching him conduct what looks like a science experiment, taking notes and seeing a whole world in something so small.

I won’t have the ring in my possession for much longer and I want Stacey to see the engraving which is even more brilliant than the diamond. It’s a tiny love letter, a reminder of how special someone once thought I was. She reads it out loud, “Forever…maybe?”

“(Sigh) Keep reading.”

“Longer. Forever maybe longer.”

She’s puzzled. It sounds much more fluent in my head. I explain, “He used to add “maybe longer” to regular statements about forever. As in, “this Kardashian marathon might go on forever.  Maybe longer.”

It was the sarcasm and sentiment of putting this inside my ring that I loved about him. For me, it was a reminder to add humor and levity to any situation, no matter how ridiculous. And that we would be in it together, way past the wheels falling off.

Or maybe not.

Ed is careful when he removes the body from the room. We thank him and shake his hand.  Stacey is still hoping to coerce Ed into publishing his tales. We extend a heartfelt goodbye and head to a bar on Michigan Avenue to celebrate the successful trade and huge weight lifted. I sip my wine and imagine the wonderful new home my diamond would soon find.

After consigning the last tangible memory of my marriage, it only makes sense to make the ring’s partial inscription the title of my book. A story about forging the road to my next big love. A journey where I don’t take life too seriously, this time around.

Forever Maybe fits perfectly.

break up shoesBreak ups are hard.

And not just with the emotional side – all the pre and post break up consultation with friends. “Am I doing the right thing?” “Are you sure he’s not right for me?”

The actual logistics of a break up are a big deal. It’s got to be in the right place, at the right time, though in the moment, even in the most optimal setting, it never feels quite right.

I was dating a guy off and on for about a year. He and I just didn’t seem like we were going to last. I started mentally going through the break up process and enlisted my friends to help. I rehearsed my delivery of this message. I reminded myself why it wasn’t working out. But I needed something else. Something that would keep me on track when I went in for the big moment.

Shoes.

I would get special break up shoes that would be like my uniform, my heart breaking cape for the day. I would go in and come out a break up champion.

I went to DSW to find these shoes. I planned my break up for Saturday late afternoon/evening. I had plans with a girlfriend later so it wouldn’t interfere with my night or with my boyfriends possible plans for the evening. She and I were going to a concert so I would have to be wearing something kind of comfortable and sporty. And this would work perfectly because the one thing I realized about break ups is that once the damage is done, you’ve got to get out quick. In fact, one thing that can really slow you down in a situation like that, is laces.

Ideally, you want to go quickly from, “It’s not working out” to “I’ll see you”. Having to put your shoes back on at the door can really slow you down and make that moment awkward, especially if the recipient is angry or otherwise emotional.

I needed shoes that would be ideal for the dismount.

I found slip on sneakers that were smart enough to wear with a skirt. They were dark gray with some sort of intricate bungy system to tighten and loosen them. But once you got them on, you didn’t have to adjust them further. I practiced slipping them on and off, while standing. These were the shoes. These, were break up shoes.

When I got to his house, I just couldn’t go through with it. My girlfriend was actually picking me up from there for the show. It was a break up and run kind of plan. So when she called and I told her,” Come up and say hi for a minute”, she asked, “You didn’t do it, did you?” Thank god break up shoes are good for other tasks because they didn’t help me as much as I thought they would. Though in time, I got the job done.

And I really liked these shoes. In fact, when they wore out, just from regular use, not from break ups, I bought a pair similar to them. I liked having sporty slip ons. And they could come in handy for emergency situations like fleeing a burning building or just casually, like visiting a Buddhist temple.

Last winter, I began planning a break up. But then it snowed. A LOT. I picked the best day and time but I had to wear boots. Big pull on, lace up trek through the Arctic boots. After I had succeeded in my mission, it took be nearly 10 minutes to suit up and get these boots back on to leave. He just stood and stared and it felt like this part actually took longer than the talk.

The following fall, I was in the throes of my most meaningful relationship. The kind where you feel like it’s pretty locked in. Key family members are aware of the relationship. But he was becoming distant and I wasn’t sure if he still wanted to be in the relationship. I started thinking about a fresh pair of break up shoes. I didn’t want to be in something if it wasn’t working. And I didn’t want to be asked to leave if I had overstayed my welcome.

One Tuesday night, he came over to my house. I usually went to his so this was kind of special. We caught up on each others lives and things started feeling right again. I guess I was paranoid for nothing.

But then, he started in with the vague relationship statements, “I’m not sure if I can do this right now.” “I don’t feel like it’s fair to you when I’m away so much”. “Maybe we rushed in”. “I just feel like I’m hurting you”.

He was verbally lacing up his mental break up shoes.

I was caught off guard. I wasn’t usually the recipient. How didn’t I see this coming? I had nowhere to run. Though really, all I wanted him to do was stay.

After I had expressed my disbelief and a tearful storm of objections, he left. But right before leaving, he said, “Oh, I brought this for you” and left a piece of paper on the counter.

It was a $10 off coupon for DSW.

Very funny, universe. Now I could buy the break up shoes I had been meaning to get, but I had no one to break up with. And buying break up shoes after the fact, doesn’t even make sense. But more importantly, WHO breaks up with someone and gives them a coupon?

I just bought a new pair of break up shoes. When I explained my theory of break ups to the new guy, he shuddered at this purchase. Was this my lead in to ending it? I assured him it wasn’t. Break up shoes have just become an empowering accessory. I know that each relationship is my choice, both getting in and getting out.

And hopefully, someday, I won’t need them anymore.