Monday, August 13, 2012

I don't think I've ever gone this long without posting. I'm sorry, my dear readers. I've been going through some stuff, I suppose, and haven't been quite ready to wear my heart on my sleeve. At the same time, what's churning inside of me is so present that it's been difficult to write about anything else. So I've been a bit at a stalemate with myself.

In the meantime, allow me to tell you an unrelated but sweet love story:

I've been a Married Lady for a long time now but before that I had a couple long-term relationships that really meant a lot to my heart. When I was twenty-one, singing and dancing in New York City, a guy hit on me at an audition for The Fantasticks. He wasn't really my type but he was playful and funny and extraordinarily persistent. The audition was a callback that ran long and when we left the building it was dark and had started to rain. He coerced/charmed me into sharing my umbrella and I begrudgingly gave him my number after he made me laugh for the whole seven-block walk to the subway.

He called me and made me laugh some more and sent me roses and completely won me over. I fell for him and we stayed together for over two years. What I remember most is being best friends. Together we navigated those unique early-twenties growing pains--becoming separate from our parents, making decisions on our own, figuring out the kind of adults we wanted to be. I also remember how much fun we had. There was a certain sweet time together where we'd literally fall asleep laughing and wake up laughing.

Our demise was partly due to timing issues. There were times when he was all in while I was ambivalent and other times when I cried my eyes out, feeling so in love with him while he was the aloof one. We were also so young. I remember a certain (ridiculous) fight we had where he yelled at me for spending money on a psychic nutritionist. "How can you do that when you know how hard I'm working to pay my rent?! You should be helping me out!" I was furious. "IT'S MY MONEY!!!" I shouted back, even though I knew he was right.

There weren't any epic problems, we'd just started to grow apart. It felt like our time together had run its course. I was pondering a move to LA and felt like that would be the best time to end things. I was terrified because he was my best friend who I loved so much, but in an effort to listen to my heart, I gathered up all the courage of my whole life. When I finally broached the subject during a walk one sticky summer night, he had a panic attack on someone's stoop. It killed me so much to see him hurting that I recanted and said I was sorry, we'd make it work, and we started to make plans to move to LA together.

I relocated first while he finished the run of a show in Connecticut, and during my six weeks alone, I blossomed in my new LA life. I felt free and full of possibilities and excitement. If I would've listened, I'd have realized that I wasn't missing him. But I didn't. The plans were already made.

When it was time, I flew back east so we could drive his car out west together. On our cross-country trip we were listening to these metaphysical books-on-tape and the author said, "If you are completely committed to your own spiritual growth, you should ask yourself what you are most afraid to do and do exactly that." The words burned into me and shook me awake. Oh my God, I have to break up with him, I realized. I knew it was over. Yet here we were, driving through a two-day-long corn field on the way to our new life together in Los Angeles. It wasn't an option in that moment so I squelched it down (yet again) and we moved in together. We lasted another 6 weeks and when the break up finally went down for real it was bad. The trickle had become a raging river and we were both torn apart by it. I broke his heart even worse by not following my own sooner.

The aftermath was even messier. We continued to live together while he looked for a new place. He slept on the couch while I took the bed and we could hear each other crying from our separate rooms. He smoked Marlboro after Marlboro on the front porch (partly for comfort, partly because he knew I hated it). And when he finally did find a new place, I helped him move as we cried and fought the whole time. It was the saddest thing ever.

Over the five years that followed we bumped into each other only twice, once awkwardly at an ATM and another time in the lobby during a play's intermission. That time I was with my new husband and he was with a date. Uncomfortable introductions ensued. And then another five years passed with radio silence.

Then something remarkable happened. One day I was hiking and passed him on the trail. Before having the thought to stop myself I called out his name and he looked at me and smiled. We walked together for the next two hours, catching up and laughing and crying and apologizing and finally experiencing the graceful completion that we were unable to have a decade before.

He's now one of my closest friends and it's the biggest blessing to have him in my life in this new way. Our relationship is such a reminder to me of healing and being open to life bringing its unexpected magic. Life is messy and I'm beginning to think: why shouldn't it be? I'm reading this book right now that says we get into trouble when we think we are the ones "doing" our lives. The physical part of us craves control but the spiritual part wants us to be out of control so there's room for the Great Mystery to work its magic through and around us. That way it can also bring us things (in a million years we'd never ask for) that lead precisely to our greatest good or happiness or learning or expansion--it's all for good, right? I'm choosing to believe that.

It's such a blessing, too, that we now get to enjoy the things about each other that always worked the best. The other day over lunch we talked about our breakup and actually laughed. "Remember that time I threw that stack of mail at you and it went flying all over the room?" He said, "And then we both started crying and I slid tragically down the wall in despair?" I had forgotten until he mentioned it but I immediately flashed to that moment. "We were so dramatic," I said. And then he said, "You never know how life is gonna go. If you told me fifteen years ago we'd be sitting having this conversation I'd have said you were a crazy person."

And then we belly-laughed.


  1. You're a really lovely blogger Jolie. It's always such a pleasure to come across your posts now and then.

    Beautifully told. I know this story all too well.

  2. You are so good with words Jolie! Thank you for being so open and honest. What a beautiful post. I'm also eagerly awaiting what you are hesitant to write about. Just do what your metaphysical book-on-tape suggested and do it because it scares you? :)

  3. This is great Jolie! I get it. :)

  4. So beautiful- brought me to tears.

  5. Thank you so much for this, Jolie. The quote that you heard in the car, about doing what you are most afraid of is exactly what I needed to read in order to move forward at this point in my life. I am 21 and in a messy-fun-scary-exciting relationship and at times I question it. Keeping this quote in mind will guide my future decisions. I am so grateful that I took the time to read this post! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    - Andrea

  6. It's so nice to read a story about two people who I love and want nothing but the best for. And the two of you have the have each other and you always did. Love you, James

  7. I stumbled upon your blog and love this post so much. It's so honest and helpful. But I'm curious to know - if you don't mind my asking - how your husband feels about you being friends with your ex?

    1. Thank you so much for reading and for your kind words:) It took a while for my husband to fully get on board with us being friends. But after a couple dinners and gatherings with other people there too, my ex and my husband got to know each other organically and are now quite friendly. I'm so glad. It was really important to me that my husband feel okay with it all.


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