The Pied Piper of the Broken Hearted
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. A very appropriately named band.
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. A very appropriately named band.
Many years ago, I was shattered after a relationship had ended. As I sat in front of my computer, with my then-new kitten, Lulu, I thought to myself: “Well, she won’t leave me.” And she hasn’t yet. I’m not saying she wouldn’t leave if I let her out of the front door, but she’d probably go far enough to chase the birds.
Lulu and I have that in common. We both chase birds, albeit different species, and for different reasons, the results are the same — we both end up alone, listening to all kinds of sad bastard music.
Currently spinning on the digital, Wurlitzer is the master of romantic verisimilitude, Tom Petty, and his appropriately named Heartbreakers.
I recall the break-up as not being entirely definitive. She said she would “think about what she wanted.” I foolishly believed her. But I knew in the back of my head her truth was stated in what she said, not in the tears she tried to force:
“You’ll never be what I want.”
The truth is I never will be what she wants. Not out of malice or stubbornness; it’s just that the ideal person for her, or anyone, doesn’t exist. Maybe it does for some, but I’m not a believer in “the one.” And she’s chasing that unicorn of “the one.”
You either love the whole person, or you don’t. She doesn’t understand that … yet. She will someday. I hope.
“They call you the wild one, said stay away from her
Said she couldn’t love no one if she tried”
The Wild One, Forever
I met her at a friend’s birthday party. The funny thing about the party is that I knew no one. They were all up-and-coming comedians. I wasn’t. I had been drinking …a lot by the time I had shown up. And I had forgone dinner in exchange for a few more pints of Guinness at the bar.
I had spent most of the night talking to one girl, thinking I could sweet talk her into coming home with me. It became clear that wasn’t happening when she flatly told me she would never date a white guy.
She looked irritated when I said: “Who said anything about dating?”
I’m nothing if not a charmer.
It was about midnight when we finally met. How? I have no clue, other than it was a small apartment. That said, I DO remember three things:
My buddy, whose birthday we were celebrating, called me over and said: “be careful with that one, dude.”
I recall drinking scotch on the roof and smoking a cigarette with her.
Going to some dive bar and closing it.
We’re all adults here, and I think we can piece together what happened next. In the morning, I tried to sneak out because … that’s what you do, but she convinced me to stay …well into the afternoon.
When I eventually left, I got her phone number and wrote it on my hand because I had not yet grasped the idea of putting someone’s phone number DIRECTLY into my cell phone. Suffice it to say, by the time I got home, it had smeared.
I knew we worked for the same company, so I looked her up. I also did a little internet recon and Google searching. Finally, I threw caution to the wind and emailed her. She replied, and after a few witty emails back and forth, we agreed to have dinner.
Although she would come to admit it later, she almost stood me up.
We fall in love, and we move in together, we fight, she asks me to leave, I leave … it ended poorly. All of this happened in the span of 14–15 months.
Another 14–15 months go by, and she initiates contact with me again after seeing a photo of me with the girl I was then dating … actually, not even her, just her hand. You see, while she may not have wanted me, no one else could have me. The relationship (or whatever) I was in was fine, even if I knew it would go nowhere. I think she and I were killing time, but I’m a forward-facing guy. I just wasn’t interested in looking backward, so I shrugged my ex off.
Recalling both my friends and Tom Petty’s advice: “Stay away from her.”
However, my ex was nothing if not tenacious:
“Let’s get coffee.”
“What time are you taking the train?” (we lived by each other).
“Do you want to get lunch?”
In what will come as no shock, the girl I was dating and I ended things …poorly.
“Baby, time meant nothing, anything seemed real
Yeah, you could kiss like fire and you made me feel
Like every word you said was meant to be
No, it couldn’t have been that easy to forget about me.”
Even the Losers
My ex, now current girlfriend, attacked this second round of the relationship with a ferocity I didn’t know she had in her. We talked openly and honestly about everything. I don’t think she withheld too much from me. It was good, and more often than not, it was great.
I bought it hook line and sinker.
We talked and determined that the only way forward was, to be honest … and we were. She talked about kids, and we talked about places we would go, things we would do. We made love, and we had sex, and we fucked. We laughed, we cried, we sat in silence. We did things, and we didn’t do things. We had a relationship.
Sadly, we had two different relationships.
I’d be lying if I said it was all great. It wasn’t. We fought, sometimes viciously, but we always righted the boat. We would clear the air by clearing the head and putting perspective on what the real problem was. Intelligent discourse is something I can get on board with, even when it comes to emotions.
But after about 12 months, there was a shift in her. After a few blistering fights about really dumb shit, she said what it was: “You’ll never be what I want.”
You may think that’s hard to hear. Yes, it stung at first, but I had a few years on her. While I knew that was the truth, I also knew that no one would ever meet 100% of what she wants 100% of the time. She still believed that existed. But that’s a dragon you’ll chase forever.
“I‘ve given up, I’ve given up
I’ve given up on waiting any longer
I’ve given up, on this love getting stronger”
Don’t Come Around Here No More
Everyone has “the one that got away.” I’ve got mine, you probably have yours, but there is a reason why everything ends. Time may cloud those reasons, and, in fact, it may not have been “the one that got away” and may have just been the one that ended before it got tragic and sad.
I don’t mind ending up as some story my ex may or may not tell her kids about. She’ll tell her girls not to make the same mistake. And they will.
She’ll tell her sons to be kind, and they will. And then they won’t. And then they will again.
The circle will never be broken.
It’s the way of this sort of thing.
Love is what it is, just a word.
It’s the feeling, emotion, and action behind, in front of, and within the word that defines it. Unless you can wrap your head around all of what is encoded and embedded in the word, then love is just that, a word.
Love is the easiest part of any relationship.
Something tells me Tom Petty had some hurting in his life — “Stop Draggin My Heart Around,” “Don’t Come Around Here No More,” “Straight Into Darkness,” etc.
Sex and drugs aren’t the fuel of rock and roll …if you think hard enough you’ll realize that the real fuel is love and broken hearts.
Life is about choices, and it’s statistically impossible to always make the right one. And with love, you may always doubt if it’s right, but you’ll definitely know when it’s wrong.
I never said my ex was the right one for me. I knew I loved her and wanted her. I never promised I’d spend the rest of my life with her, although I would’ve liked to try.
Love has more to do with work, compromise, acceptance, understanding, hurt, empathy, respect, pain, tenderness, support, understanding, laughter and sacrifice, and so much more.
And any of those can change on the drop of a dime.
When you fall in love, and I mean true love, you strap yourself in, put your helmet on, and go along for the ride. Sometimes that ride stops short of its destination.
While it hurts, you do the only thing you can do — take a breath and let it go.
“ But remember, good love is hard to find, good love is hard to find,
You got lucky babe
You got lucky babe when I found you.”
You Got Lucky
Thanks to Paul Combs for the motivation.