Goodbye, Mr. Big (Part 1)
About a week ago, I closed the door to my past and the girl I used to be, boxed up the contents of my life, and marked the end of a very long chapter of my story once and for all.
Today, as I sit in my new apartment, surrounded by the boxes of my new beginning, I am struck by how intertwined “The End” and “Once Upon a Time” truly are.
The beginning and the end – the Alpha and the Omega – are bookends to every life. The ending of childhood marks the beginning of adulthood…the end of singledom marks the beginning of marriage…the end of life marks the beginning of death, and for those of us who believe, the afterlife. And just when we think we’ll be mourning forever over the end of what WAS, life surprises with the beginning of what IS and what is still to come.
For those of you who don’t know, the house I just moved out of belongs to my best friend Jason, who is also the best friend of my “Mr. Big,” my on-again, off-again almost lover who coincidentally lived in my bedroom before I did. Actually, ironically enough, he lived in that bedroom when we met, five long years ago. (So, in case you’re keeping score – we share a best friend, we’ve shared some of the most memorable moments of my life, and we’ve even shared an address.) I lived in that room on and off over different periods of time over the past two years, always drifting back there during transitional seasons, always finding myself face-to-face with the Past each time I went back, but still never really ready to tear myself away, once and for all.
You see, in true Mr. Big form, he escaped to California last year after we spent the magical summer of 2010 together, typical behavior for someone who only allows himself to get so close to someone before he hides behind either physical or emotional distance; or in really special cases – both.
In the past, I would have mourned his departure, marking it perhaps with the type of angst-filled gesture that I’m famous for: writing his name on a big red balloon and releasing it into the sky; driving past all our old spots with Taylor Swift blasting at top volume; deleting him from my Facebook page in an attempt to delete him from my life…then immediately regretting it.
But not this time.
This time…something was different. Something had shifted. Something had changed.
Was it my increasing impatience and lack of tolerance with his ability to commit to a relationship, a career path, or even a city? Was it my preoccupation with my own life and the addition of so many new dreams and goals that kept me from dwelling on the subtraction of his presence from my life? Or did I just assume that, like most of his dramatic exits, this one was only temporary, and before I knew it, the invisible rubber band that bound us together would snap him back to Tennessee and back by my side?
Was the “something” that had changed…ME?
One night, a few months after he had sped off into the sunset and out of my life once again, we were having one of our normal, Mandy/Mr. Big phone conversations, with me trying to convince him WHY he should take a spontaneous pilgrimage back to Music City to tie up loose ends (or more specifically; the frayed, ripped, tattered end called “our relationship”) when it hit me.
I was over him.
The growing feeling of restlessness in my spirit that had me fighting against the constraints of my life and ridding my existence of any excess baggage and turmoil and drama finally burst to the surface, awakening my senses and opening my eyes for what felt like the very first time.
Suddenly every word that came out of his mouth sounded false, and hollow, and empty. His complete inability to ever let me scratch beneath the surface of who he REALLY was and get close enough to SEE and FEEL his heart felt like laminate, or a shiny veneer; a smooth coating of what he WANTED me to see instead of what I NEEDED him to be. I suddenly realized that I was no longer in love with who this person was, but with the potential of who I thought he could be…and as my friend Christa Black put so succinctly at lunch a few weeks ago: “You can’t date the potential of who someone could be. You have to date the reality of who they are.”
As Big went on and on about something – I have no idea what, since I had tuned him out in the midst of my “aha!” moment – I managed to find my voice.
He kept chattering away as though I hadn’t spoken.
“No, don’t!” I said, louder this time. “Don’t come here.”
He stopped talking. Silence. I could hear the clock ticking on the wall behind me.
Nothing. Not a word spoken between us for several seconds. Then finally…
“What?” he asked, sounding confused.
“Don’t come home. Don’t come to Nashville. Don’t come to Tennessee. Don’t come here. Don’t.”
More silence. Then a loud sigh.
“You’re doing it again, Mandy,” he said in exaggerated exasperation. “You’re doing it again.”
“No!” he interrupted. “That IS what’s going on here. You do this every two or three months. ‘Break up’ with me. I wish I had a calendar so I could better track when you’re going to throw me out of your life. Why are you always trying to quit me?”
“That’s not what I’m doing!” I protested. “And how can I even ‘break up’ with you? We’ve never even been in a real relationship! It’s not quitting if there’s no committing!”
“Okay, Mandy. Whatever you say.” He said in a patronizing tone. “But you ARE trying to break up with me again. And in a few weeks, you’ll change your mind. Just like always.”
“No.” I said with resolve in my voice. “Not just like always.”
And because I had come too far to turn back now, I continued: “It is obvious to me that our lives are on two VERY different paths. And it needs to stay that way.”
He started to object, but I cut him off.
“I have to go.”
“Okay, well, I’ll call you back later, when you’ve had time to calm down,” he said cajolingly, as though talking to a child who was throwing a temper tantrum.
“There’s no need,” I said calmly. “There’s nothing more to say.”
I hung up.
For a long moment, I lay there on my bed in silence, staring at the phone…not moving, barely breathing, waiting for the rush of familiar pain to flood in like it always did after I attempted to cut this never-ending, never-evolving relationship out of my life…
But this time, I felt nothing.
And then something dawned on me…a thought as enlightening as though someone had turned on a bright, illumin
ating light in the middle of the pitch black room I had been living in for FIVE LONG YEARS. I scooped up my Blackberry and began tapping out a text.
“For years I’ve been beating my head against the wall, trying to figure out what I could do to make myself worthy of you,” I wrote.
“Tonight, for the first time, I realized that YOU’RE not worthy of ME.”
Without hesitating, I hit Send.
TO BE CONTINUED…