I’m not an expert on very many things. I would say I’m highly qualified to do approximately two things: skim paperback books and sniff out the nearest bakery.
But otherwise…otherwise I am pretty much learning as I go. What does this mean? This means that I’m forever scorching my tongue on my first sip of coffee, I’m new to biscotti, and I’m only just beginning to discover the beauty of dipping good things into other good things.
About that biscotti. I thought hard and dry and plastic-wrapped and do not want, for the longest time. Point me towards the nearest under-baked chocolate chip cookie. But the other day I ducked into a local coffee shop, and saw a pretty glass jar full and a cute boy with his hand on the lid, and I thought: just-made and mini and pistachio-chocolate-hazelnut and boy with clear blue eyes. Want!
How many other opportunities for truly excellent biscotti have I passed up in my lifetime? This does not bode thinking about.
Do you know what else we probably shouldn’t be considering too carefully? How many fruity jellybeans we’ve eaten in the last 48 hours. And how much we really wanted them to taste like Cadbury eggs. Or was that just me? They never did [taste like chocolate], and yet I ate them anyway — one after another, hoping against hope that the next one would. Until they were all gone, and the insides of my mouth hurt.
I hate it when I do that. Not just when I eat something that I don’t really want, and can’t really seem to make myself stop — but how I just can’t seem to let go of it, afterwards. There must be some part of my body that likes to hold onto things that smart.
That part of me must make me want to run my tongue right over the place that stings. For a long time, that place had a name. I don’t call it by name anymore, but you need to know that it had me all torn up for months. Whenever I’d get anywhere close to healing, I’d go back in and rip everything wide open.
This is what I’ve found. You do heal. Even if you self-sabotage sometimes — whether it’s by reading old emails, or hanging onto an old t-shirt, or keeping tabs on a Facebook page that you REALLY ought to nix from your newsfeed. For your own good. (You’ll get there. Maybe not this week, maybe not this month, maybe not even this year. But eventually, when you’re ready, you’ll get there.)
This is what else I’ve found. You won’t forget, exactly, but you will get to a point where you no longer feel like there’s this gaping wound you need to be constantly careful to work around. Maybe it’ll be when you realize that you’ve had enough of curling yourself up into a ball, enough of sobbing yourself into silence. Maybe it’ll be when you realize that you’ve eaten enough cake batter to sink a ship, and you’re ready to cook yourself a meal. A real meal. Even if it’s just something simple.
Or maybe it’ll be when you realize that there’s no timeline for this sort of thing. That there are no shoulds when it comes to the way that you feel. (Isn’t that a nice thought?) Should be over them by now, should have met someone new, should have never texted them, should have loved them better, should have loved myself more, should have been braver, should have known it never would have worked.
Or maybe it’ll be when someone says their name — without really thinking — and for the first time, you don’t feel quite so much like you’ve just been chewed up and spit out.
Or maybe it’ll be when you realize that getting over it isn’t really a reasonable request, and you might just try letting go of the parts that really royally sucked, and think about incorporating some of the parts that really were wonderful, into your new life. (Like the way they made a habit of saying drive safe, every time you went anywhere? You’re going to start doing that for everyone you love. And the way they always kept a little chocolate, in their bedside table drawer? You’re going to start doing that for yourself.)
Or maybe it’ll be when you run into them (hopefully on a good hair day), and realize that the person you knew exists somewhere, but too much has happened for you to ever really reach them again. Too much time has passed. You don’t hate them, you don’t love them — you don’t actually know them, anymore. And it makes you feel kind of sad — that loss — but not I am never going to smile again sad.
Or maybe it’ll be when you realize that nobody can ever take your memories away from you, and you can keep all of the good ones, for as long as you’d like. You don’t even have to tell anyone about them, if you don’t want to. You can just keep them, until you’d like to make some room for some new ones. Maybe sometime in the spring.
Or maybe — maybe it’ll be when you’re on public transportation going the completely wrong direction, that you’ll realize. That there is hope — that you will meet someone you feel absolutely sure about, and who feels just as certain about you. Someone who will want your forehead against their lips, your sugar in their coffee, your Braided Brioche Bread in their oven, your eyelashes on their sheets.
As I said, I’m not an expert on this. But I’m so hoping I’m right. For all of our sakes. I’d just like to see someone out there for everyone. Wouldn’t that be nice? Someone who would want to be yours at 3 in the morning and at 3 in the afternoon, every single day, from Sunday to Sunday. Someone who would want to put your name in the space after in case of emergency, please call. Someone who would be no less than thrilled to teach you a new code of we, us, ours.