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.
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.
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.
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.