Next One’s Free

“Would you like to become a member of our rewards club?”

I cock my head to the side, holding my response for a beat while pondering the wisdom of joining a liquor store rewards club as I stand at the counter looking down at the two bottles of wine I’m trying to purchase so I can slink back to my house and, um, drink them over the course of the next few days. Would getting that punch card filled while in my current state of turmoil be a practical thing or a very sad thing?

I take a breath and smile at the man, “No, I’m good. Thanks.”

I’m trying very hard to make semi-good choices these days and count this as a success. It’s only wine, and except for that year I worked as a sixth grade teacher, I’ve never really been a drinker. I don’t think there’s any real danger, but they didn’t call them winos for nothing. Just saying.

I pay cash and select ‘no receipt’ when the keypad prompts me for a response.

Evidence? I think not.


So why I still have a room down the hall. I’m sure that must seem bizarre to be living with someone you broke up with six months ago. The thing is, though, that he doesn’t live at his house full time. He works about four hours away, and I live in his house while he’s finishing up his contract there. He comes home every three weeks or so to mow the lawn, clean the pool filter,.. you know, maintenance.

The crazy thing is that we get along a lot better now that we’ve broken up, which is how we ended up in the same bed the other night. Confusing much?

I don’t think it’ll happen again, and I think we’re both clear on the moving forward front. This current state of semi-cohabitation is not without its challenges, but it is temporary. I’ve been half-heartedly searching for a place, but it makes sense financially for both of us that I stay put for the next couple of months.

It took a while for us to get here.

We’d been living apart for about a year before we actually broke up. I’d moved back so that I could accept a too good to pass up job last December. We’d rented out his house here two years before when we’d moved four hours north for his job. We both preferred this area, which is closer to the beach, so the choice to return hadn’t been a hard one.

He’d been driving back and forth on the weekends for an entire year while I tried to become accustomed to the job that had separated us and nursed our dog, a diabetic and geriatric Labrador Retriever through his last few months. Our fur baby passed in May, five months into this new phase, and I’d been so depressed after his death, I just threw myself into work. Emotionally, I was no good to anyone for a longer time than I would like to admit. I seriously don’t remember entire months of the period following his death. It wrecked me.

Instead of crumbling at this next setback, I took the break up was a wake-up call. I threw myself into self-care with a cleanse and a recommitment to yoga. The first time he came home after the break up, I really felt like I had my act together. I’d said to him, “Look, I’m fine with it. I’m good. I hope we can be friends.” I think he was mildly surprised and super impressed at what a fantastic breaker upper I am. The truth is I was seriously pissed and not about to show it. If he didn’t want to talk about it, there was nothing to talk about. Still, there’s a part of me that thought we were just on a break. The stress of everything – living apart, the loss of our dog, the new job – was too much and we’d spend some time apart and find our way back to each other.


We had a garage sale about a month after we broke up. It had been planned and was one of the commitments I’d requested he keep. It was not an ideal situation and I ended up crying through much of it while he moved the heavy stuff around and, to me, seemed as though he could not get out of there fast enough. By the end, he’d sold some expensive items of his own and told me that we were splitting all the proceeds down the middle. I told him that he should keep his money and jokingly said, “You know, you can’t make me take your money. You’re not the boss of me anymore.” Which caused him to get pissy and that made me cry – again.

Break ups really are the worst. Between losing our dog and losing him – basically both my best friends – all within less than 12 months, I think my punch card’s already been filled. And, yeah, it’s a very sad thing.

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