The trees have been having great hair days since the end of the world; their greens were greener, and their foliage was full and luscious. One of the paradoxes of heartbreak is that while you’re feeling your absolute worst, the rest of world is glowing, almost exaggerated. Do not read into this, this isn’t reality, it’s just to spite you.
“Oh hey, do you see, do you see how beautiful the world is,” the world asked, admiring itself.
This was chemical, the breakup had signaled the ancient animal brain. I was alone (romantically) and much more likely to die in the wilderness without a mate. I was flooded with survival hormones. The colors were over saturated, and the contrast was bumped up. This vestige would have clearly helped me forage for food and survive in the wild, but in modern times it only highlighted all the things I hadn’t paid attention too, including my relationship.
A hidden world of beautiful colorful things was the reminder of how much I had missed in my imaginary world.
A small scruffy brown dog bounced by the bench I was sitting on, jingling its collar like Christmas bells, no owner in sight.
“Where’s your owner, little brown dog?”
Before I could investigate, a short silver-haired woman around 75 years old was halfway through invading the bench I was sitting on. Her butt pointed exactly where she intended to sit, and she moved slowly enough to allow me to peacefully surrender that territory to her.
Without wasting time, she turned to me, mouth wide open, mostly in the shape of a smile. I looked away, I wanted no part in this, but I could feel her bright blue eyes on me: she clearly had something to say, and she would be saying it. I waited, and she waited. Enough time went by that I caved, and looked over to her, curious at what was going to happen next.
I held my breath. I’ve gone through several ends of the world and I’m quite familiar with her archetype. Apparently, we’re at this part of the story now, the part where the wise elder, God in human form, shows up to drop spiritual bombs on me.
“Beautiful weather we get today, isn’t it?” she said
I nodded. Of course, it’s beautiful God; you made it, stop fishing for a compliment, share your wisdom! Give it to me.
“My brother and I were raised here, he inherited his house: it’s up the street right over there.” She pointed her frail claw towards the hill in front of us
My jaw literally clenched — any harder would have cracked a tooth, but I couldn’t miss the miracle.
“But somethings’ wrong with him, he drinks too much and always screws everything up. He shouldn’t have gotten the house. He doesn’t deserve it.” She said looking over to make sure I was following her.
I’m ready, God.
“We all hate him.”
Apparently, we were not at this part of the story. This was just a bitter old lady campaigning against her drunk of a brother. She yammered on for about 5 minutes.
I sat there biting my tongue; I wasn’t in any mental place to responsibly share helpful insight from my drinking or drug story. The big-eyed young man sitting beside her would make her brother look like Mr. Rogers. I wanted to say something, but any one of my stories from the underworld would have killed her on the spot of a heart attack.
That little brown dog walked from one edge of the scene and out of view several more times, jingling like a janitor.
Where the hell was its owner?
It was finally time to get up and head to the tattoo parlor to see my artist, you know, the one who doesn’t yet know Justine and I broke up and she’s currently dating his nephew. I squeezed a big smile out of my face and nodded my head to the woman I recently mistaken for God.
“That’s too bad. What a sad story! Enjoy the weather,” I said getting up.
It was unfortunate that my artist and I had such good chemistry, as it would have been much easier to just wash my hands of him and find a new artist. But it took a long time to find a tattoo artist I loved, so part of this grown-up heartbreak was not drawing a line in the sand and ditching the neutral parties unwilling to pick sides.
Adam, my artist, greeted me with a big hug and went over the tattoo with me. It was a big ram skull on my left knee cap, something I had always wanted to make my skinny knee’s a little more masculine and threatening. Knee tattoos are notoriously painful so it just made sense to pull the trigger and get it done when I was already in a ton of emotional pain.
I told Adam that Justine and I had broken up, that we both loved him, and that we both got to have him in the divorce. I left out the part about his nephew because, well, he was going to find out soon enough anyway and I didn’t want it fucking with my tattoo.
The two other artists in the shop overheard me talking about what I was going through and pulled up a stool and shared their stories of heartbreak and recovery. One of the artists pulled up his pant leg to reveal a magnet with “crazy bitch” tattooed across it.
When the tattoo was finished, I felt like I was with family. I felt like they probably wouldn’t ban me from the shop when they found out.
But I wasn’t sure. So I hugged everyone and headed back out to the truck.
A normal person would have called this a day, but there was no one fitting that description here. I had more item on today’s agenda.
After a week of unrelenting pain and uncertainty, my sponsor had cleared me to meet with Justine and asked if she had made a decision about giving us one more try. Armed with my very cool new tattoo, I prepped for the big moment.