In the movie 500 Days of Summer, Tom, the protagonist, is crushed by the girl of his dreams. In an attempt to help, his best friend suggests he should write a book because “Henry Miller said the best way to get over a woman is to turn her into literature.” Although McKenzie, the best friend, had good intentions and overall a good idea, Miller in fact said, “There are only three things to be done with a woman. You can love her, suffer for her, or turn her into literature.” The point, however, that I’m trying to make is that regardless of quoting someone correctly, turning a person you once loved who is now nothing more than a mere stranger into literature, is the only way to get over a broken heart.
Two years ago was the last time I got my heart broken. I technically could go into detail over every mundane and pathetic heartbreak prior, but for the sake of your attention span, I’ll keep this focused on one relationship. I wouldn’t say this relationship was one that stands out or continues to stay with me after years and years of wondering if I let the love of my life get away, but nevertheless, this relationship was it. The heartbreak felt from this relationship broke me. Prior to this one, I had been single for two years due to being cheated on and overall controlled and mentally abused by a bigot, white-power imbecile. One would think that a relationship as terrible as that would have broken me first, and in a way I suppose it did, but the most recent one was more prominent.
The relationship was a mistake from the very beginning. Friendships were destroyed, leases were broken, money and time was lost, but most of all, I was made to hate myself more than I ever had in the past. This isn’t to say the guy I was dating was any worse than the others (definitely not worse than the bigot), but he also wasn’t anything more than a child and he probably never will be. In three short months my life fell apart. It would be wrong of me to blame it all on him, but he did have a huge hand in the mess of things. From fighting all of the time, to being compared to (and losing to) his ex-girlfriend, to being turned down on a daily basis, to being avoided and ignored, this relationship was on par with an immature relationship one has during high school before the prefrontal cortex is developed.
The actual break up lasted for twenty hours. It started with a text message that lead to more text messages, that lead to an awkward lunch, an awkward dinner, an awkward trip to Best Buy, and finally an awkward car ride and an “I love you” that was and still is ignored. For someone who never gave a shit about anyone he dated, he sure does drag them along. Maybe it’s a sense of not wanting to feel guilty or not wanting to be alone, but whatever the reasoning, nothing he ever did was handled the way a decent human being would handle things and that is why I decided to write a book.
I remember him calling me a few weeks later and after dragging on a meaningless conversation for far too long, he stated, “So you’re upset because you don’t have a boyfriend?” Much like all the other pieces of shit I dated, he never understood me or what I was trying to say. I often felt like I was speaking to him in a language he couldn’t understand. Was I being too articulate or confusing? It’s unlikely. It’s that in the end, despite all the things we both did wrong, we just weren’t right for each other.
So how was I supposed to prevent this from happening again? How was I to protect myself from getting my heart broken by another guy who didn’t understand me? I can still see myself sitting in my tiny little room with plain white walls and crying, wishing, hoping that the pain would all go away. My heart wasn’t just breaking because of this one guy; it was breaking because of all of them. When I date, I don’t just date, I fall. Maybe I’m an idiot or maybe I want to believe that you can love many different people, but why waste your time if you aren’t serious? Why share yourself with another person if you honestly don’t give a shit?
I have never been quick to sleep with people. In fact, I’ve had relationships with men that resulted in only us sleeping together once because it never was and never has been about sex despite this generation being obsessed with it. I was searching for something full of meaning, something worth a damn, but I realize now that not many people care like I do. In retrospect, I can’t even really blame these people because it was my fault for loving them. But I digress; I began reading, re-reading, and re- re-reading years and years of writing. I had poured my heart and soul into so many words about these men and here they were, just sitting in journals and doc files on my computer. My love life was comprised of these sad entries that were just waiting for me to pass over them when I felt lonely. I didn’t want these entries to be hidden away any longer.
I compiled, edited, revised, and edited again, each and every entry. I made chapters, I chose a title, I even wrote a goddamn epilogue in preparation for self-publishing this terribly sad and wearisome collection. It was to be called “Used To Be” after a Beach House song and it would entail each and every man I ever loved, thought-I-had-loved, and denied-I-had-loved. With each chapter finished, I was given the chance to finally move on and forgive myself for the heartache. I was able to get out of bed in the morning and look forward to living again, even if that meant I was to be living alone and out of love. Once the book started to take shape and the momentum began to move on its own, I felt normal again. Writing gave me a second chance not only at life, and as cliché as it sounds, at love. Turning your past relationships into literature is the only way to mend a broken heart.
And so during the process of writing the book, I ventured out of my tiny room for the first time in months and unknowingly found the ending to my book. I found B. Once we fell in love the book was put on hold because I didn’t need it anymore. Now it sits on my hard drive waiting to be finished, but does it even need to be? Should I venture back into the dark recesses of heartache in order to compile more thoughts, feelings, and memories about guys from my past? Or do I just move on making my book as distant of a memory as the men I once loved?
Here is where I need your help: Is the integrity and the existence of a book more important than finally burying my past? You decide and help me to figure out whether “Used To Be” deserves to live or die.