After breaking up with someone,
I broke up with someone and, on my birthday a year later, received a FedEx package from her. I assumed it was a present, though I couldnt figure out why since she wasnt happy about the breakup. It turned out to be every single gift, letter, photo or book that I had ever given her.
Ive gone through the boxes my ex-wife packed for me time and again, and it still amazes me that I can find some of her things. At the same time, Im not surprised since she had so much god damn STUFF. Whenever I find something of hers, I put it aside and, once theres a pile, slip it in an envelope and send it off.
Oddly enough, Ive never gotten the same courtesy from her. But the only items whose loss ever upset me was the first two films in a series of six, Lone Wolf & Cub 1 and 2. I like to break those films out once a year or so and was getting the urge when I realized they were gone. No problem, I thought. Ill just order them again. I would rather spend $70 on two videos than pick up the phone; thats how much I didnt want to talk to her.
Then the news came that the versions I wanted werent available anymore, only some crappily resubtitled subpar prints. Goddamn it. It actually made me pick up the phone, only to find that my old number was disconnected, my ex had moved.
So now, what do I do with the junk of hers that I continue to find?
One December evening, I was in my kitchen with some friends gathering mementos from my youth to give as Christmas presents for my nieces. I proudly displayed to my mates a glass jar full of tiny, fascinating rubber animals and a fine deck of Russian playing cards, circa 1947. But the piece de resistance was a handsome teddy bear hand-sown by my mother at the time of my birth, made from an old beige terrycloth towel and stuffed with worn-out pantyhose. I had kept it with me since my earliest days but after moving to Brooklyn it had remained tucked away atop a large bureau in my bedroom.
It had occurred to me that the bear would be a fine thing to pass on to my youngest niece as a proud heirloom of her grandmothers creative finesse in times of poverty and I announced as much to my friends. So I went into my room and returned to present the creature. As I entered the kitchen I froze as my eyes fell upon the thing; there, upon the smiling visage of the beast, below the tiny black stitches which comprised the mouth, on its little chin, was etched with a red ball point pen the word "EVIL." Funny, I thought, I never noticed that before. My mind was in something of a swirl. I had absolutely no idea how this could have come about until one of my friends (or, come to think of it, all of them) pointed out that it must have been done by my ex-girlfriend with whom Id initially shared the apartment and had had a particularly unpleasant and spooky break-up some nine months earlier. This certainly seemed in keeping with the sort of stuff shed gotten into lately, but, for the life of me, I couldnt figure out when she would have had the opportunity to vandalize the little thing since our relations hadnt really turned unpleasant until at least a month after she moved out. Then I remembered: for several weeks after she left I had taken care of her cat she came to pick him up when I was away from the apartment. Recounting this day later, she let me know that she had taken this opportunity to read through my journal and, in fact, quoted a passage from it.
Actually, I consider one of my greatest flaws to be that I, in fact, do not keep a journal. Rather, what she had gotten her hands on and quoted was an on-the-scene account of a particularly heavy mushroom trip Id taken a few weeks after shed left. During this experience my mind had got to wandering (naturally) and I began pondering matters philosophical and jotted some notes about the Belle Epochs "fuzzy" attitude toward good and evil inspired, I guess, by Nietzche (whom Ive never read, although my ex-girlfriend did and loved it) and how any such play with these notions had been made a bit difficult by the real evil wed witnessed in the twentieth century (Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Union Carbide, etc., etc.). Perhaps my writing was a bit sloppy and I didnt quite get the point across effectively, perhaps her reading of my hallucinogenic rant was too speedy because she was afraid I might walk in the door at any moment, or perhaps she was upset by the passage where I stated that she would have been a wonderful person if her family hadnt taught her "Catholicism and hate"; but in any event she became convinced that I was a wicked person and took it out on my bear.
And oh yes, I should mention that the last time I spoke with her she announced that shed joined a Wicca coven and that "We dont do bad things, we only wish our enemies love and light."
My sophomore year in high school, my girlfriend and I broke up after she heard (false) rumors of things I supposedly said about the relationship. She walked into our English class, took her seat in front of me, turned around and called me an ASSHOLE, then threw at me every letter I had ever written to her. They bounced off and flew all over the classroom.
Adam W. Lasker
For five years, I lived with a control freak who never let me keep stuff in the living room. When I moved in, he told me that since his stuff was better than minesince it cost more moneyI should get rid of everything. (He said if we broke up, hed give me $500.) Before he knew I was moving out, I gave away everything he was storing in my closet: a TV, VCR, cashmere, etc. By the time he knew what had happened, I was long gone.
After the guy Id been dating for three months or so dumped me, we had the classic one-for-the-road fuck. As he was getting dressed and ready to leave afterward, I noticed all his credit cards on my floormustve come out of his pocket when he took his jeans off. So I kicked them under the bed and didnt say anything. I wish I could say I did it vindictively, but the sad truth is that I just wanted an excuse to see him again. In a couple days, I called him up and said, "Uh, I think you left some stuff here." In the meantime, I used his ATM card to check his balance, but didnt withdraw any money or anything. What can I say, I was young!
Still havent figured out what to do with the fuzzy handcuffs from my last relationship. They sit in my underwear drawer with five untouched condoms. What are you supposed to say to your new flame, "Oh, sure I just happen to have these condoms leftover from whats-his-name; we never finished the whole pack."
The first time my boyfriend left me, I was drunk and left standing at a New Years Eve show in a Chicago club. When I decided to get out of my jammies three days later, I discovered a closetful of his clothes. I thought of what Id done in the past (bundling them up neatly and sending them, COD, to the owner; appropriating them for myself; distributing them to friends) even as I already had the scissors in hand and was cutting his shirts and a pair of pants into teeny pieces. When there was nothing left of the ghost of his presence except a large pile of pieces of cloth, I decided to learn how to quilt.
Anne Elizabeth Moore
After a four-year stint with the man I thought I was going to marry, I endured a painful breakup and ended up living with my best friend, Gabriel, who also wanted to get married. I knew it wouldnt work; we were best friends. So, I moved out and stayed with friends for the duration of our lease: three months. The final month, in desperation, he moved in with his parents because he couldnt "stand the smell of me on the bed and furniture." So we split the rent even though neither of us lived there. Incidentally, I lost ten pounds during that time.
Keys. I must have three or four sets of keys from past girlfriends apartments sitting in this little ceramic bowl on my kitchen table. Although Ill never use these keys (in at least one case Id be shot if even my shadow darkened a doorway) I cant bare to throw them out. Over time Ive salvaged the keyrings which once held each set together and distinct. So all the keys are jumbled up with one another at the bottom of this bowl. Even if I wanted to return or use them I couldnt. Theyre my keys, my memories, now.
David and I stopped speaking to each other a year ago. Its awkward and hard to think about him now. Last week, I found his green silk boxers in an old trunk of mine. I think Ill leave them there.
When my boyfriend and I split up I wrapped all his things in garbage bags and left them in the front yard. I couldnt stand to have any reminders of him. One of the reasons we broke up was because he was a big flake on my birthday (I wont go into the whole story) and gave me a plant as my present. A plant. It was one of the first things I put outside and left to die. I never watered it, shoved it behind some patio furniture, and forgot about it. Now, two years later, the thing is five feet tall; it just keeps growing, even without any attention from me. There is symbolism in there somewhere.
I was once dumped after giving Valentines presents to a boyfriend who was too dopey to get me anything; he felt so crappy, he initiated an "I suck and you deserve better" breakup on February 13. . . I was recently in a long-distance relationship that ended (this time, on February 14!) during one of his visits. He had brought all kinds of amazing presents: flowers, a gourmet coffee maker, and a suitcase full of Pop Tarts. I got to keep everything but felt like crap about it . . . Ive lost two VCRs in relationships. They resided two-and-a-half blocks away from each other, which I always thought was a little weird . . . I have tried to take a shirt from each relationship, though I havent always succeeded . . . I once came home to find a grocery bag in front of my neighbors door that I nicknamed a "dump bag." It was clearly a bunch of returned books, clothes, and some owed money, with a note attached. Nice that they didnt have to do that face to face . . . My last key-sharing relationship was a really tough breakup, and the personal step of removing their keys from your keychain is not only sad, but its a constant reminder that youre not together anymore since your keychain is lighter. I held on to his keys for months, eventually casting them off my ring with a sort of triumphant feeling. Over a month later, I saw that he still had my keys on his ring. I dont think hed even noticed, but somehow, I got satisfaction from that.
I havent talked to my first love in over eight years, but in this time he has sent me two graduation cards (one had no return address, the other came two years prior to the actual event) and a friendly but formal letter updating me on his studies and hobbies (which I have never answered because I have no idea what to say). Ive sent him one birthday card.
Last year, with no explanation, he mailed my mother an orientation t-shirt from my college. Obviously it was mine, but I have no memory of him ever having it or my ever having missed it. I guess he ended up with it when we got back together for the third and last time. Im sure I will never wear it. Why on earth would he have kept this thing for so long, presumably moving it from house to house and across state lines? I threw away the underwear he left in my room at my dads house years ago. Should I have held on to them for ten more years and then sent them to his parents?
I should probably return the 8 x 10 baby picture he gave me in high school and the childhood photos he gave me after the second time we broke up but they are stuffed in a drawer at my moms house and I doubt Ill ever get around to it. Which is more bizarre: owning pictures of a virtual stranger or mailing them to one? I guess my real fear is of finding out what hed dig up to send me in return.