Navigating the Ordinary: Heartbreak

It began with one peppermint patty for every text not sent. Part of the bargain also involved capping my consumption at four a day, but I granted myself an additional gift: I wouldn’t think about weaning myself off chocolate for at least the first week.

The fact that I was able to settle on any kind of limit is proof that minds do continue to function when hearts seem to stop: I could have four chocolates a day, one for each of the four years we were two.

Needless to say, in those early days, I spent a lot of dinners swallowing sobs and stuff on [soggy] toast.


I stuck to the edges of our tight-knit campus as much as I could, and when I did have to brave those familiar paths empty-handed, I kept my head down and motored.

Without much effort at all, I memorized the way my room slowly filled with light, morning after sleepless night.

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It was inconceivable to me that my first love wouldn’t also be my last.

It was as if everyone before had only ever seen my sharp edges [Boston-bred, long distance runner, front-row-center-student, health nut, and major homebody]. I fell hard and fast, and for a long time it was everything every songwriter ever said it would be.

With still-tangled roots, we gradually grew up and apart. I remember how fiercely we tried to hold our relationship together, and how we splintered ourselves when we set each other free.

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When the time came, there was no room for bitterness or blame – just a defeated kind of acceptance that things hadn’t worked out the way we’d hoped. It was an impossibly gentle goodbye, the kind that I would wish on my someday daughter – should having your heart broken be a pre-requisite to growing up.

The devastation that followed shouldn’t have rocked me the way it did, but it was months before I stopped lunging for my presets when one of our songs came on the radio [how did we end up with so many?!]. When I hear one now, I don’t exactly crank up the dial and belt out the lyrics, but I don’t burst into tears or change the station, either. Hannah: 1, Heartbreak: 0.

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Fast-forward another few months, and the sight of a couple cozy in their own cocoon no longer made me feel like I’d been sucker punched. Eventually, unbelievably, I even became one half of a pair again too – this time to someone so well suited it was like he’d been custom made just for me.

In the end, “moving on” didn’t come with going X number of days without feeling a tug at my heartstrings. It didn’t come when I opened myself up to the possibility of meeting somebody new, or even when I met that somebody new. It has come with letting myself be [unapologetically] in love with my memories, whether they make me cry or laugh or a mixture of both.


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