When the Bottom Falls Out

227234_10150189647514153_1184052_nIn a small city, the odds of running into the one who broke your heart are incredibly high. The odds of running into him when you look like hell are even higher.

Walking back to my apartment on a Saturday morning after grabbing my coffee, Marlboros and newspaper was always a regular ritual. Never worrying about what I was wearing or how I looked, I would generally just go in pajama pants & a baseball hat. That was until I had a devastating break-up.

In my own world, I people watched and gazed around the neighborhood. I exhaled the smoke from my last puff and through the haze, I saw him. Oh crap! I panicked. This can’t be the first time I see him after the break-up. I’m supposed to look confident… poised… put-together… Not like I haven’t been able to get out of bed or shower for days – even if that was really the case. As the crowd cleared and he drew nearer, I realized…That’s not Jim. Phew. But then at the same time I was relieved, I also felt grief. Out of nowhere, I began to feel tears stream down my face. I was a veritable pu pu platter of emotion. This must be what pregnant women feel like.

It had been a few weeks after my break-up with Jim, but I was still a bit dejected. Even though we only dated for a few months, the relationship had such veracity that it seemed like longer. Add in the fact that it ended abruptly; in an unfinished business sort of way. We were both too stubborn to admit our faults or talk about our issues, that we just walked away. There was no closure.

As I paused to compose myself, I glanced at the store window in front of me. Staring back at me was exactly what I needed to see; a book titled Finding True Love in a Man-Eat-Man World. I immediately went in, bought it & rushed home.

For the next week, I immersed myself in its step by step guide on gluing yourself back together and feeling worthy.

Erik Fact: If you’re working on yourself, you will find the guy who’ll work for you.

By the time I completed the chapter on the “Ten Commandments of Love,” I knew I was ready to come out of reclusiveness. My best friend D, having had enough of listening to me bemoan the relationship, was thrilled to welcome me back to the land of the living.

Dressed to the nines (in a new outfit of course), I strutted into our favorite club. I had agreed to meet an acquaintance of D’s. Hesitant, hoping for the best and expecting the worst, I still went. I walked up to see him standing next to an attractive, buff, brunette, with stunning green eyes. I smirked, surprised at D’s pick. As I got closer, the hottie walked away. Apparently, I had jumped the gun.

“Hey,” D welcomed. I waved as I chopped my way through the crowd.

“O.K. So, this is Ted,” he displayed as a man came around from behind him. I cringed, squinting with one eye open, prepping myself.

Soon, relief took over when an adorable, YOUNGER, slim-built, brunette, with warm brown eyes reached out, “Hi. Ted,” he introduced.

“Erik,” I replied with a bit of pleasant shock in my voice. I looked over his shoulder to give D an approving look. Not generally my type, but younger men can be so tempting. They’re more energetic…and more naive. That’s because they don’t have the same battle scars that years of heartache can inflict. Jackpot!

After the intros and some witty banter, I learned Ted was a graphic designer, a sophomore in college, charming and bitingly funny; just what the self-help book doctor ordered.

As the cocktails ensued, so did the flirting and heavy petting. It was innocent & carefree; a nice change of pace from my last relationship. He dragged me onto the dance floor, then up onto the stage, where he continued to grope me. Then, in the distance, there he was. Jim flowed through crowd with his usual air of confidence. My heart raced when he looked in my direction; my stomach a ball of nerves.

But this time there would be no tears. I felt confident, poised, and desirable. I was with a hot, younger guy who couldn’t keep his hands off me. At that moment, I couldn’t help but start to laugh when Ted started dancing behind me and began trying to take my shirt off.  I casually tried to slide it back down, but then he moved his hands down towards my pants. I just kept laughing…at him and the fact that D was dancing just in front on the floor by the stage. I turned back to face Ted so I could keep an eye on his hands and to divert my attention from Jim. As I did so, he put his back to me and bent forward, pulling me into him. I glanced back at D, raising one eyebrow with a smirk. When I looked back at Ted, I saw that he was trying to take his shirt off while leaning over. In doing so, he lost his balance falling off, narrowly missing hitting his face on a rail a foot away from the stage, by a few inches.

My jaw dropped. I jumped down to make sure he was ok. Situating himself onto his knees, his shirt was still halfway stuck over his head. Other club-goers began to gather around the resulting scene, which meant that of course, Jim saw the whole thing as well. I didn’t want to look back at the crowd out of fear that I’d turn into a pillar of salt. I made my first priority getting Ted up on his feet; steady, composed and unhurt. Once we realized he was unscathed, we just looked at each other and began to chuckle.

Erik Fact: Sometimes in life, if you don’t laugh, you’ll cry.