Table For One: Heartbreak at the beginning


I’ve been thinking a lot about heartbreak lately.

I’m living in what I think can only be considered a constant state of Heartbreak.  It’s not the one that lingers on, even when you know it must go because it’s silly and he wasn’t good enough for you and all those things. It’s not the kind that is a surprise either.  In fact, I dread its inevitable arrival, knowing it will quickly replace the Hope that was there just a second ago.  It’s the one that bubbles up so inappropriately–over brunch at my favorite little hotel lobby restaurant in Hollywood, for instance–with someone new.

The way I order my breakfast, without asking the server a single question, I can already tell it’s not going to end well for us.

I waited tables in Los Angeles for 7 years, working in restaurants on and off while I worked as a freelance writer/producer.  I used to work every Sunday brunch.  It was my worst nightmare.  I’d come in hungover from Saturday night, and serve cute couple after cute couple, strolling through in their pajamas or workout clothes.  They’d want a table on the patio because they brought the puppy they share together.  They’d sit on the same side of the booth and cuddle while they drank their coffee.  She’d like to add avocado to her egg sandwich and could he please have some hot sauce on the side. I loathed them.  But mostly, I wanted so badly to be them.

Now, at this Sunday morning breakfast date, I was that couple, more or less.  I’m sure we seemed cute to the tired server waiting on us.

I bought new sheets recently.  It was a necessary splurge, and so I got wacky with it, opting for sheets patterned with little watermelons, pineapples and bananas on them.  I call them my Fruit Sheets.  Because sometimes giving names to inanimate objects makes me forget I’m alone.  You should meet my houseplant roommates sometime.

I’d wholeheartedly hoped this new someone would see these sheets and think I was adorable, while also thinking I was sexy and want to ravage me on them.

Before ending up at this brunch with this wonderful man that I already knew I wasn’t in love with, there was the music industry exec.  He was great, sweet, and from the Midwest just like me.  He would have made a nice husband.

Before that there was the lawyer from Chicago (just like me!), and we had attended the same university but didn’t know each other then.  He was on his way to being successful, he was sweet, we slept together.

Before those two was the TV writer with whom I had mutual friends.  He was spiritual and smart.  It was all very fine.

It’s all fine.

The test for my dating life is if I want to smush my face into their face forever.  I think smarter people than me would call that pheromones, but I call it face-smushing.  It’s just–do I want to be around you, like pretty much all of the time?

This is a hypothesis I’ve developed through many frustratingly thorough experiments.  And no one ever passes my face-smushing forever test.  The ones who have remained elusive, either dumping me, or turning out to be a total dick later on.  It’s a very scientific process.

I remember when I used to date losers.  It all seemed so dramatic and important then.  Now I’m going out with so many men who are wonderful options for mates.  It’s Heartbreaking, knowing that despite their wonderfulness, it just isn’t right, that I’m just not right; when it creeps up at the beginning of it all, my face starts to burn and the tears well up so fast that I can barely see.

We ate our breakfast and talked and laughed and did the date stuff.  He offered to drop me off at home before he headed out for the day but I told him I’d walk.  It was hot outside, that sauna-like heat that Los Angeles has endured all the way through October and November this year.  At first I couldn’t tell where the heat was really coming from, but then the tears came.  I found a bench near a record store and a very tattooed man smoking a cigarette watched me sit down to cry.

I called Brittani.  Thank God for fellow single friends. They’re the only ones who understand this kind of heartbreak. May they live wonderful happy lives but remain single as long as I am.

Sometimes I discuss relationships with long-coupled friends but it isn’t the same; it isn’t that deep mutual understanding of having the exact same diagnosis.  It must be because this kind of heartbreak has a late 20s – early 30s onset, and those long-coupled friends just don’t catch it.  These friends will tell me things like, “You’re lucky that you know now instead of two years in.”  Ahh, yes, I am so lucky.  Lucky me.

I sat on that bench and cried over the phone to her.  Because to keep trying is exhausting.  Because the Hope escapes so fast and the Heartbreak arrives again and it’s enough already, and I just want to go home and take off my pants and eat a piece of chicken.

I like to walk and pick up food instead of ordering delivery.  It’s a nice walk.  Sometimes, when the cashier is ringing me up, I’ll think, You probably think I am alone but you don’t know that I have a sick boyfriend at home.  I’m picking up food for him because I am the best girlfriend. Sometimes, I don’t think about these things at all.  But sometimes I think this, and I’m secretly validated for going out alone…in my imagination.

The spiral starts when I think about these men I’ve known I wasn’t in love with, but a part of me wants to reach out and try again.  No no no, I’ll think; that’s something different talking to me.  That’s Loneliness masquerading as Hope.  Don’t fall for that again.

There’s so much Hope involved with Heartbreak.  I always have all the Hope.  Even when I think that well has run dry, that I am so done with it all, I meet someone new and all that stupid Hope comes back.  And each new person is my future sick-at-home boyfriend.

I met someone new on the train.


Meg Schmidt
Meg is a writer, director and producer based in Los Angeles and she serves as the Executive Producer at Hello Humans. She has a lot to say and no one to say it to but her houseplants.


  1. Meg, that was so good. And it is so true that married friends do not understand. I was married 26 years and getting divorced at 51, my married friends are all around the same stats. And they will actually say stuff like “you’re so lucky. I’d love to be single. Eat when i want, what I want, watch what i want on TV, no snoring, nobody’s dirty clothes to clean up. Ill live vicariously through you and your dating. What fun.” What fun? I’m not at the “wow, this is fun” stage yet. Yes, I eat when I want and what I want. Usually in front of the tv with Wolf Blitzer. Not my ideal date, but he tells me interesting things that happened during the day. No snoring? Yes, but you know what I would do now to hear someone at least just snort or roll over in the bed? The bed can be a big lonely place after a while. Dirty clothes? What is it to pick up someone’s dirty socks once in a while as a tradeoff to share Valentine’s Day with someone? Those things might seem great from their married perspective, and yes, there are days I do love being single, but what I wouldn’t do for someone to watch TV with me, with their arm around me, saying “I’m so glad we found each other.” Yes, hope is still alive for me. Each and every day. Thanks for a great article.

  2. Ok did you read my diary because you literally described my life a year ago. Love this article. Thanks for putting my emotions into the perfect words.

  3. Worth the wait though. Grow and know yourself and you will attract someone perfect (although never perfect, so don’t be fooled. It’s all for our personal growth, every bit of it. He IS out there. Get comfortable in your own skin. Too many times, like 50% of the time it is just hormones driving us to reproduce and we don’t see clearly. You can have it all and will.


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