I keep coming across new, heretofore unimagined reasons why breaking up sucks. There’s the usual—heartbreak, misery, loneliness, all the wailing wreaks havoc with your complexion, suddenly it’s left to you at 3 a.m. to go beat housebreakers to a pulp with the toilet plunger. Those are the classic ones.
The ones I didn’t expect, they keep piling up—it is deeply disappointing to not have anyone around when you really deserve a double high-five and a fist bump. Your success suddenly doesn’t feel nearly as successful when it’s not capped off with celebratory hand gestures, you know? And then there are the totally honest, hold-nothing back frank evaluations of your butt in those jeans. You know your butt is awesome in those jeans—and he’s always agreed as is right and good. But sometimes you are—no, not weak. Not vain. Not lame. You are just in the mood for a little validation, and by god, there is nothing wrong with that.
(And by god, you are way too old to post a picture of your ass to Facebook and quite frankly you’re not sure who you are anymore, that that idea even occurred to you, and so you must suffer in uncertain silence.)
The gallons of milk you keep buying go bad, because who can drink a gallon of milk by herself in a week? You keep checking to see if the toilet seat is up, wasting precious seconds of your life because of course it isn’t any more. You forget exciting new puns you have made up in your head because there’s no one to turn to and make suffer with them. Etc.
Today, today it’s the tree in the basement. We bought a tree last year—an artificial noble fir, pre-light, huge. He is tall; he wanted a tree that towered over him. It was an expensive tree, and for some reason it came with a CD that combined installation instructions and odd selections of holiday music. We set the thing up in the corner, and we plugged it in, and we realized how very naked it was. Instead of buying vast buckets of holiday balls (holiday balls!) we decided to institute a tradition: the ugliest ornament. We’d each select the most horrible ornament possible, and exchange them as loving gifts. I won last year, with my melting-demon-spawn from the deepest pits of the most sadistic hells (I think it was supposed to be a jolly snowman).
We added dinosaurs and Star Wars ornaments and tinsel and it was our first real Christmas in the house we bought together and a beautiful tree, but now it is folded up in the basement and he is gone and I guess you can’t really call it a tradition if it only happened once.
All of it is in a box downstairs, and it’s December 1st, the only acceptable day to begin decorating for Christmas, and somehow I cannot get off this couch to go down there and pull it out and look at it all. I spent—I spent a lot of money on Amazon just now instead. A white tree, and a bucket of hot pink ornaments and a disco star for the top. Nostalgia-free and history-less and memory-unhampered. Slightly insane. But I wanted a double high-five after placing my order.
I don’t know what to do with the tree in the basement. I’ll offer it to my ex, maybe. Donate it to a shelter. Let it sit there like Ms. Havisham in the dark. Let it stay because I loved that Christmas and that tree and everything about our first real Christmas together and that won’t change. Unless I discover the satanic snowman is no longer in the box but is instead somewhere in the walls, slowly making his way upstairs to steal my breath and crush my heart in his pulpy, misshapen hands on Christmas Eve.