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  • Robert Farago

How I Broke Up With My Last Girlfriend

First, let me tell you about my favorite moment together...

Linda (not her real name) was a voracious reader. She didn’t just read books, she inhaled them. Good books. Serious books, from serious authors. 

One lazy afternoon, Linda sat on the end of the couch, her nose buried in a book. I stretched out and lay my head in her lap. As she read, Linda scratched my head. 

And…. that’s it. I know it’s not dramatic. Not a Hallmark Hall of Fame story. But at that moment I felt a sense of peace, of wordless connection, that I’d rarely felt before. And haven’t felt since. 

Don’t get me wrong. Looking back, there are dozens of happy memories tugging at my heartstrings.

Shooting. Archery. Travel. Meals. Movies. Sex. Singing in the car. The anticipation of seeing her. The joy of reuniting.

That moment lying on the couch stands apart for its tranquillity. The feeling of being outside of time, soul-to-soul with a human being who genuinely loved me. Whom I genuinely loved.

So, the breakup…

Linda was making breakfast at the stove, her back turned to me. Down home cook that she was, she was frying bacon and eggs in a cast iron skillet.

I said something to her. I forget what. Nothing critical. Linda snapped at me, her exact comment also lost in the mists of time. 

“What’s up?” I asked. “You never snap at me.”

It was true. Our relationship was full of love, laughter, passion and not much else. She was kind to me and I was kind to her. Then again…

Once, on a plane waiting for takeoff, Linda told me to stop being so “forward” with strangers. She was an introvert, uncomfortable with my gregarious public persona. I toned it down.

That was the only time I was aware of serious friction in our two-year relationship. From the way it ended, I fear my memory may be clouded by narcissistic nostalgia.

Linda paused, put down the spatula and turned to face me.

“We need to talk,” she said.

No we didn’t. Linda didn’t need to say a word. I saw our fate in her face.

I wanted to know why she was leaving, of course. But I was in shock. Worse, I knew it was pointless. 

Worse still, I knew if we got into it I’d lose my shit. My dignity. My self-respect. I’d end up on my knees, begging.

After she dropped the bomb, I told her to go. Just. Like. That.

Later, on the phone, distraught and confused, I asked Linda why she dumped me. She said I wanted her to leave her children. WTF? I would never ask a mother to leave her children. Never in a million years.

It took me about that long to get over her – if I ever did. And not just because I lost love. I lost something else…

Linda wrote poems. I’m not a poetry guy, but I was fascinated by her take on a biblical passage.

I suggested she expand the poem into a novel and set it in present day, tapping into her experience with fundamentalism.

The result was beyond imagination. Linda had a literary voice to rival anything I’ve ever read. She’d been blessed with a monumental writing talent. 

Her characters were as vivid as any you’ve seen in the best movie you’ve ever seen. The first chapter literally made me cry. 

We set about creating an outline – index cards for every chapter. The plot was full of dramatic tension and cinematic surprises. The story arc was compelling, important, perfect. 

When we broke up I asked Linda: will you finish the book? 

It was a more than slightly selfish request. Linda’s book would have made our time together meaningful on a cosmic level. 

Aside from my children, giving the world Linda’s literary talent would have been one of the greatest legacies of my life.

Would have been. Linda never finished the book. 

You never know what gifts – and sorrows – the future holds. When we lose the one we love, it’s hard to regain our faith in what the world has to offer. The strength to face the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. 

Equally, we lose a part of what makes us, us. We struggle to reinvent ourselves, as we wait and hope to be reunited with our better nature. 

I like to think a part of my mind is still on that couch. A place where all is right with the world. 

Maybe someday I’ll find my way back, with someone else or on my own. Maybe Linda will finish the book, or write another one. I can only hope.

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