Once upon a time, in a land called Music City, there lived a fair maiden who fell hard for a boy. For four years she loved this boy from afar, as the two engaged in a very on-again, off-again, Carrie Bradshaw/Mr. Big, never-quite-black yet never-quite-white relationship. The girl could never work up the nerve to tell the boy she loved him, and then one day it was too late. He disappeared without warning. And he stayed gone for a year and a half.
Then one day in the summer of 2010, the boy reappeared in the girl’s life, just as suddenly as he had vanished, and her world was turned upside down. Knowing how rare second chances at love are, the girl finally took a deep breath, looked him in the eye, and told the boy how she felt. To her surprise, her admission of love bought her not the ticket to the Love Train she was hoping for, but instead a lifetime pass to Relationship Purgatory. He was up, he was down, he was in, he was out, he was yes, he was no, he was fast, he was slow. He was into her just enough that he didn’t want to let her go but not into her enough to do what it took to hang onto her.
The girl was me. And the boy…well, he knows who he is.
There comes a moment in every relationship when taking up permanent residence in the gray area between what is and what isn’t is no longer enough. When the need for clarity surpasses the need to make things work no matter how much of yourself you have to sacrifice to do so. When you start to realize that the constant limbo of an undefined relationship isn’t as fun as it was when the music first started. And when you have to seek your own closure when the other person cannot or will not give it to you.
There’s an old folktale that goes something like this: If you want to render a relationship null and void, you must go back to the place where you first met the person and say, out loud, “I divorce you, I divorce you, I divorce you!” three times. Theoretically, this works even if, as in my case, you’re not actually married to the person. What a concept. A completely no muss, no fuss separation from the keeper of your heart…and one that can be performed in the time it takes you to simply say the words. Tonight, as I was on the way to grab dinner with my girlfriends and quite coincidentally (and ironically) drove by the place where I first met The Boy, inspiration struck.
After dinner, my three girlfriends and I went back to the scene of the crime and even managed to sit in the same booth I was sitting in when I saw him for the first time. Giggling, we grabbed a napkin and wrote out a contract, stating that as of this day, the 29th of July, I was free of (insert his name here). All three of my ladies stood gleefully in agreement with me and signed the contract with the kind of gusto that can only come from friends who know how much this single woman needed to symbolically release the past, once and for all, and move forward into the next chapter of my life. Then, as loudly and proudly as I could say it, I repeated the magic words: “I divorce you, I divorce you, I divorce you!” That’s the thing, you know. Until we are willing to close the book on what was, it’s impossible to fully embrace what will be. Sometimes all we need is a push in the right direction by a few good friends to give us the courage we need to surrender our will to that of God, the Universe, and fate. Maybe some would say the whole thing was silly…but as I looked around at the faces of my friends and the band, quite by chance, broke into “Free Falling” by Tom Petty, I felt a little piece of my heart that had belonged to him for the past four years return to me.
“Now I’m free…
And aren’t we all free falling just a little bit? We’re free falling into love…free falling out of love…free falling into a new career or a new city or a new life all together. Maybe at the end of the day, all we can do is cling to what completes us (like our best friends) and release what depletes us (like a guy who can’t see the crown jewel standing right in front of him). Maybe when a romantic interest can’t decide if they want to love us or not, we take away their right to leave us stranded in Relationship Purgatory for even one more minute. After all, shouldn’t there be a statute of limitations on how long a person gets to take deciding whether or not they want to love us and let us know…or gently let us go? Sometimes in life we have to create our own closure. Sometimes we have to decide when enough is enough and walk away. So whether you try a Love Cleanse, or have a bonfire with all the things that remind you of that person like Monica, Rachel and Phoebe once did on Friends, or, as I did, go in search of “The End” by going back to the place where it all began – I urge you to find a way to peacefully close the door on the past so you can walk away with your head held high and with no regrets. Because at the end of the day, sometimes it takes opening a door to get to a new place…
…and sometimes it takes closing one.