digression: rebound heartbreak
Sometimes, the universe loves to kick you when you’re down. Like, the first time in your life you get food poisoning will come two days after you’ve lost your job. Or your car gets stolen on the way back from visiting a sick relative in the hospital – you’ll scream at the heavens “Who the fuck steals a car from a hospital parking garage!?!?” – but you won’t even know what you’re more upset about. You didn’t even let your guard down, but bad luck will hit you with a one-two combo you never see coming.
When it comes to love, you all know I’ve had my share of devastation. Upon reflection, though, I realized that some of the worst disappointments in my life have come when I was already in the grips of lovesickness over someone else. After one love affair has run its course, and you’re sick with yourself, convinced you’ll never find another who was so right for you, you might have the impulse to simply get a new liason out of the way as quick as possible. Cleanse the palette, if you will.
Not me, however. For whatever reason, my inner optimist always leads me to believe that my new relationship will immediately take the place of the old, broken one. That it was leading up to my glorious rebound and I’m taking steps toward lasting happiness. Then, when the rebound relationship doesn’t work out, which of course it wont, you’re in far worse shape, because you can’t even distinguish who you’re torn up over.
Below, I have a handful of my stories about some of my worst rebound heartbreaks. Take a moment to revisit them and if you’d like, please share in the comments why you think we allow ourselves to get our hopes up over rebounds that clearly will let us down.
Nadia, the end of the line
…A part of me wishes I could hurt you as much you’ve hurt me, but in the end, I know it won’t make me feel better. I think you’ll always be damaged goods. I’ve changed my phone number and email address and will be moving before the end of the week. Please don’t try to find me.
Hannah, the wall flower
“This is what people go through.” That’s the advice my old man gave me after my second wife killed herself. For more than three years I lived with oppressive grief. Holed myself up in a fire lookout in the Northern Cascades and contemplated why I always fell for the self-destructive types.
When I came back in from the cold I headed east to Boston. I stayed with my sister who was living in Cambridge, engaged to a grad student. They threw parties that brought crowds of intellectuals, artists and drug addicts together to binge drink and showboat. I’d earnestly try to enjoy myself but never could feel the spirit, so I’d usually just go back down to my room in the basement and read.
One such party, I came down to find Hannah quietly looking through my sketchpad.
Celeste, the reveillon
December 23rd, 4 am. My girlfriend threw me out of our Clinton Hill loft for the last time. I ended up walking over the Brooklyn Bridge in my cheap shower sandals, looking down at the ice flows shifting and cracking and thinking, not for the ninetieth time, what the hell was the point anyway?
Celeste was selling Christmas trees in the financial district. I don’t know why she was awake, much less standing outside in the low twenties, but when she saw me squaloring along, she burst out laughing. I stopped in my tracks. It was the most joyous sound I’d heard in months. She floated over to me and clutched me by my shirt. “You, sir,” she said in a husky Québécois accent, “Are lost.”
Cameron, the surprise
Lighting up a joint I thought, well, shit. There goes another. Ever since I’d fled Naples on fear of death, I had been on the warpath, hiding out in Southeast Asia until things cooled down a bit. I missed Anjolie terribly and I felt this crushing guilt for her accident, though it wasn’t my fault, exactly. I knew there was no going back if I intended to live, so I instead decided to go around the bend in “the land of smile,” crashing through beds and bars, opium dens and back alley yahbah houses.
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