When How Not To Marry the Wrong Guy asked me to serve as a contributing blogger for Cold Feet Week, I was flattered. I was invited to join the marriage conversation, despite the fact that I’ve never even been married. I guess, in a way, this is my Bethenny Frankel “Real Housewives” moment. And she came out of that show with best-selling book and a lifetime supply of margaritas. Why not?
Thing is while I blog about my single life, what I haven’t really talked about is the fact that I actually have been divorced. Just not in the traditional way. The wedding was without ceremony. In fact, we skipped it all together. It was a split decision, an arrangement of convenience. But still, it shaped the person I am today.
After I moved out from the apartment I shared with my ex, I moved in with my best friend, David. It was on his couch that I nursed myself back to mental health, one spoonful of Haagen-Dazs at a time. After watching this routine for several weeks, David decided “we” should get a gym membership, before my love affair with ice cream killed any legitimate chances of a rebound. I liked the idea, but there was no way I could afford it—that gym was more than $120 a month, and even if I could pay, I’d proven that commitment was not my strong suit. Which is when David made me an offer I couldn’t refuse.
“Let’s get married,” he said, turning off the TV.
Now this took me by surprise for several reasons. One, I never thought I’d be proposed to with a pint of dulce de leche in my hand. And two, David is gay.
“I’m not sure this will be a satisfying union,” I said.
“If we are ‘married’ we can be on the same gym membership. Domestic partners count, and you’re living with me. It’s not even lying.”
“I DO!” I yelled, raising my spoon in the air.
And while I moved out from David’s condo shortly thereafter, we continued our covert marriage for more than a year. I celebrated anniversaries with saunas, towel service, and lavender body lotion. And I loved every second.
But this fall, something devastating happened. Worse than Athlete’s foot, or a Lulu Lemon wedgie: David got engaged. This time, for real.
“We have to talk,” he said, sitting me down after our Saturday morning body sculpt class. “Now that Luke has moved in with me, we’re going to start going to the gym together a lot more…”
“That’s great!” I said, hoping this topic would blow over like my bangs under the breeze of those fantastic locker room hair dryers.
“No, he’s going to join me on my membership. He’s going to replace you as my domestic partner.”
“But you and I were married FIRST!” I said, knowing full well this line of defense was futile.
So, much like it began, in an instant our marriage was over. And while I grieved the roof deck pool and the rock wall, what saddened me the most was the realization that at 31, the closest I had come to marriage was a gym divorce.
And let me tell you, there’s nothing like losing an imaginary husband to send you into an Eat, Pray, Love tailspin.
With nothing holding me back, I left Chicago. For more than ten years I had been holding on to the notion that I would go to Argentina on my honeymoon. At a certain point you stop waiting, and start doing. And those are the moments that define you.
Turns out, my “unnymoon” was the best thing that could have happened. I thought back to my ex, and wondered what it would be like if he was there with me—and remembered quickly why he never made it into my Argentina fantasy. Places are only as romantic as the people you’re with.
On one trek in El Chalten, Patagonia, I saw a couple on their actual honeymoon. It had started to pour. Not the misty, romantic rainbow kind of rain, but torrential rain daggers that pierce through daypacks and destroy maps. The woman was furious, refusing to descend, and shouting something about the fact that her new husband had not informed her there would be rain on this trip. He turned his back and screamed something about how maybe if she listened she would have packed better gear.
I quietly observed all this from my perch under a tree branch, where I was waiting out the rain and enjoying the last of my dark chocolate bar. I took out my journal and wrote, “Here’s to me.”
I’d rather be on a trail enjoying my time than traveling with someone who is holding me back. And at that moment I was grateful for every relationship I’d ever had, because somehow, they had delivered me to this place. Even my gym divorce.
And who needs a StairMaster, anyway, when you can have the mountains of Patagonia instead?
***More about Cold Feet Week: Cold Feet Week is brought to you by How Not to Marry the Wrong Guy: Is he the one or should you run? and the experts at IdonowIdont.com. Just in time for wedding season, the sponsors are doing everything they can to inspire runaway brides (and grooms) to pay attention to their cold feet before they walk down the aisle! And Cold Feet Week isn’t just for engaged people—they want to help anyone who is having doubts about his or her relationship.
I don’t know about you, but for me it’s rare when I meet someone I really connect with. But it happened to me last weekend. I met a guy at a bar, we started talking, and it turns out, we share so much in common: he wears skinny jeans, loves Lady Gaga and shares a phobia of beer nuts in close proximity to bathrooms that lack hand soap.
“So, what do you do?” I asked turning my stool to face him.
“I’m a flamer,” he said, swirling his vodka soda with his straw.
“I’m sorry—what did you just say?”
“I said I’m a flamer. Like, professionally.”
“I live in Boystown,” I said. “Don’t play. It’s offensive.”
“No, I mean I really flame things — in the restaurant, where I work.”
“That’s a job?”
“Yes, it’s a job. I’m the fire guy. I mostly do desserts—we do a lot of flambé — but sometimes I’ll light up a Greek cheese, too . Opa!”
“I’m sorry, are those finger guns?”
“I don’t have fire. I had to improvise.”
“ Here’s your chance–looks like our candle is out. Show me your stuff,” I said, pushing the candle towards him.
“I don’t do candles. What do you think I am? A busser? You know what? I don’t have time for ignorance.” And with that, he stood up and left.
Another one up in flames.
I know we haven’t met yet, but let’s just say, I’ve heard a lot about you. I know you must be really busy, packing and getting ready for tomorrow and everything but I am writing to ask you a favor.
Let me introduce myself, first. I’m what they call here on earth a “disaster.” In other words, there’s a very good chance you have me down for a “come-to-Jesus” meeting tomorrow. But before we meet there are a few things I’d like to run by you.
Now, I’m the last one to tell you how to do your job, but I did have a thought. How do we feel about postponing a bit? I mean, Saturday night? Rapture, you’re going to catch your entire target audience while they’re out drunk, and we both know booze + rapturous feelings = CRAZINESS … also unwanted pregnancies.
Perhaps you should procrastinate until Monday or Tuesday? You know, after the weekend but before the Thursday-night lineup, when people will be too distracted by Sweeps finales to notice the End of Days.
Also, and this is just a minor detail, but I met a guy. It’s the weirdest thing. I gave him my number and he actually used it. He called the next day and asked me out. I’d tell you his name, but to be honest Rapture, I don’t think you know him. Not only am I convinced he’s not a serial killer, I’m pretty sure he’s a door-opener, too.
Thing is, we’re supposed to go out Saturday night. I mean, what are the chances?! Saturday night, I finally have a great date, and you decide it’s the Apocalypse. I mean, don’t get me wrong, your sense of humor is amazing, and your timing impeccable. (In fact, if you’d ever like to be a contributing blogger, I’d love to have you, but we can talk about that during our 1 to 1.)
So again, if you could do me the eency weency favor of just postponing your arrival, I would be so grateful. Or we could handle it like we did Y2K, and just let the whole thing blow over like it never happened. People will move on and forget about it. But not me, Rapture. I’ll be your biggest fan. And I want you know that as a token of thanks I’ve already signed you up for the Wine of the Month Club. No obligation, but I figure this whole thing is so stressful, you could probably use a drink. You know, just while you think things over.
So, this just in: apparently I graduated from college 10 years ago.
Yeah. It blew my mind, too.
One night I was just a college student, smuggling bagels from the cafeteria to hide under my twin mattress,
and then BAM! It’s 10 years later, and I’m at my dining room table in Chicago, eating a Lean Cuisine with extra ketchup, wondering where the hell the time went.
It’s not that I particularly have a problem with the fact that I’m 10 years older. I just have a problem with the fact that there are so many people
who are younger than me.
But I guess there are some advantages to having graduated in 2001. When I was in school there was none of this “social media” business. The only planking I ever heard about involved Kappa Sig initiation. Back in my day we had to type in complete sentences. We didn’t WTF and LMAO — we actually spelled out our swear words. And the best part about being “pre-Facebook” is that we didn’t post photos that would someday come back to haunt us. For example, there are none of my graduation procession, the one in which I donned a pink boa and star-shaped sunglasses, because I was still drunk at 7 am (as were my roommates, who agreed that my accessories were a very good idea). While my soon-to-be- hedge-funding class of ’01 lined up in perfect formation, I took a power nap in the bushes. And fortunately, these actions have been scrubbed from the social record.
These are the kinds of things that float through my head whenever Alumni Relations calls
–they don’t know that they’ve got the wrong person on the line. And suddenly, I am overcome with the desire to help them do their jobs to the best of their ability. I don’t just want to provide leads, I want to be the best damn informant Brown has ever known.
“Haven’t you heard? Jack sold his Investment Bank to and Investment Banker and then acquired himself back in 2009. He’s worth roughly a trazillion dollars. You should definitely call him. And Chris is an extremely successful PR agent in LA. Apparently he’s been handling the Schwarzenegger love child thing since graduation. I know–he’s so good at his job!
And then there’s me. Ten years out of college, and I’m still the same disaster I was back then (although I really wish I hadn’t misplaced those star sunglasses–they were fabulous). I still go through the vacuum bag for loose change.
I called my friend the other day from San Francisco to talk it out:
“Hell yeah you should go!” She said, before I could even finish my thought.
“But, I haven’t even made hotel reservations — I’ll have to stay in a dorm. I’m single, I’ll be surrounded by married people, and I don’t even own a shower caddy. This is impossible!”
“You need to go for three reasons,” she interrupted. “One: there will be single guys there, and they are vetted. The odds of them being serial killers are like a bazillion to one. Two: everyone there is looking for one last Walk Of Shame — the efficiency is like, blowing my mind right now. And three: I saw that picture of you from college that was in your apartment — the one where you’re in a jean jacket on rollerblades? Yeah, that one. You looked like an adorable, chunky, lesbian. Everyone is going to love to see your long hair and the fact that you’ve stopped wearing flannel. You have to go back!”
It was a pretty compelling case. And if you’re going to be a Disaster ten years out, you might as well own it, right? I’m on the fence, so I’m taking a poll. Please, help a DOH out–leave a comment and let me know if you think I should go.
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1. You left home wearing Spanx over your fishnets.
2. You drank PBR from a can, but decided to “class it up” but inserting not one, but TWO limes. When that failed to impress, you held out your pinkie finger, and left it there, erect. Your commitment to class is unsurpassed.
3. You refreshed your makeup in the bathroom mirror after your second tequila shot with bartender. Only instead of using your brown eyebrow pencil to perfect those arches, you used your purple eyeliner. (Fortunately, purple is a very regal color.)
4. You gave a man your phone number. You did this only because he could name the capital of Maine. You were so proud of this encounter, you high-fived yourself. In front of him.
5. On your way home you accidentally called your parents home phone from your purse, while rummaging for keys. They missed your call but immediately called back. When you didn’t answer, they naturally assumed you had been kidnapped and were being held hostage in the back of a trunk and calling for help, because why else would you be calling at 4 in the morning? It’s not like you would ever be out that late. It’s not like you’re in college or anything. But of course you didn’t answer–you were passed out. So they continued to call and text until you finally woke up 6 hours later, to 14 missed calls, and your mother saying: “For Pete’s sake! Don’t you think you’re a little old for Amber Alerts?”
Seriously. This is my weekend. I would tell you more, but I still don’t want to breathe on you. I’m afraid you could still get a contact buzz.
Spotted in the Ukrainian Village at 2am. Poor Disaster. I can’t imagine that her night ended well.
Disaster on heels sighting? I want to hear about it! Send pics to disasteronheels at gmail.com, or share them on Facebook here.
My mom is many things, not the least of which
is hip. It’s rare to be able to go home and actually borrow stuff from your mother’s closet, but I do. She has a keen sense of personal style and has tried over the decades to cultivate mine. I think I can trace that back to 7th grade, when she not only bought me Hammer Pants to wear to school (with matching red suede high tops), but she encouraged me to wear them.
“Oh those are adorable!” she said. “And with those bells on the cuffs, I can hear you coming a mile away!”
So I was the one rocking Hammer Pants during the peak of adolescent angst, and I was doing it with pride. And it turns out, these pants were just a gateway drug. There would be brief foray into tie-die, a very deep love affair with velor (particularly in the purple pants variety) and eventually, a longstanding commitment to silver jewelery that would culminate, much later, in a nose ring.
It was my mom who encouraged what is still one of my all-time best flair purchases, an item unearthed on a sales rack in Filene’s Basement in Boston. It was long, hand-embroidered red silk jacket. Originally priced at $800, mine for a mere fraction. It was this jacket that I used as revenge against HR at a terrible job in Boston where they had hunted me down daily to look for dress code violations (they even called the VP of my department one day because the HR coordinator felt my leather Italian slip-ons were bordering on “sneakers”). Turns out that while they had a strict dress code even for casual Fridays, nowhere in their handbook did they say a word about the use of silk kimono jackets, a loophole I managed to exploit to the fullest. (I later heard it was amended to include not only kimonos, but also the “visually assaulting use of lime green and other neon colors,” which was my second-favorite move.) My mom taught me not to give a flying fishnet, and it was the best gift a girl could ask for.
But I can’t help but to compare us and realize that at my age, my mom was already an “adult.” Like, the non-disaster kind. The kind that wears matching socks, no matter how lazy she’s feeling, and who owns things called “slacks.” As I get older, I’m trying to reduce my flair-ups, in an effort to balance my closet with more work-appropriate attire. Not because I feel I have to, but because I want to dabble in this language my mother speaks so fluently. This thing called “classy.”
This was on my mind today when I went shopping. I sat there in front of the mirror I did what I always do: I wondered what my mom would say. Versatile? Good fit? Well-made? Worth the money? I tried to envision her responses.
So mom, while I didn’t buy you a gift , per say, you should know that I was totally thinking of you while I was shopping for myself this Mother’s Day. Especially when I purchased this:
Happy Mother’s Day to a fashionista, a practicalista, and the perfect life accessory.
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