When I was 24, I broke up with a man-boy because his lifestyle of vanilla piousness was at odds with my lifestyle of blackout drinking and recreational shoplifting. He called me a “hog” and a “slut”—which was really weird since I was 103 pounds and really not that much of a whore.
Another spurned lover hid in the Azalea outside my apartment, scream-blubbering that I “really blew it this time” and I had to apologize if I wanted him to take me back.
Breakups are messy.
I haven’t had another *parting of the ways* in more than 20 years—so I thought I’d be safe until the distant future when my husband would at long last kick the bucket. (And that doesn’t really count as a regulation breakup, anyway.)
And then the other day, my sister severed our relationship in two short texts.
The first gave me her new address.
The second, sent 17 hours later, read, word for word: Not sure how I don’t rate an answer from you but that’s your choice. Mine is to delete you.
My default when rejected has always been to take to the couch, swaddle myself in fuzzy blankets, then tacitly catalogue my shortcomings, sins, and regrets. I would emerge days later with snarled hair and crumb-encrusted sweatpants, reluctant but ready to end my sloppy sabbatical from life.
This time, though, was different.
For roughly an hour, I experienced a complicated mixture of confusion, heartache, sadness, self-doubt, and anxiety. And after that? Some of those emotions lingered—but they were accompanied by an unadulterated and giddy relief.
Perhaps my reaction strikes you as odd. But consider: this is not an unprecedented move on her part, and I’ve been half-waiting decade after decade for history to repeat itself. It’s been like tiptoeing through life, dodging falling anvils and sinkholes. You know, eventually, you’re going to be crushed or swallowed up—you just don’t know when.
Plus, I was deleted because I didn’t meet an arbitrary, not-even-a-full-day deadline—and nobody even told me there was a deadline!
I’m not going to hide in the shrubs or name-call, but I do have some questions:
What if I had responded within 16 hours and 59 minutes? Would I still be deleted?
I don’t have to buy you birthday or Christmas presents anymore, right?
Is this a lifelong deletion—or do I have to renew it every year like my National Geographic subscription?
When can I start telling people that I have two sisters instead of three?
What exactly does it mean to delete a person, anyway? I know you blocked me on Facebook, but are you going to photoshop me out of pictures too?
Wait a minute. YOU’RE NOT GONNA RUB ME OUT, ARE YOU?!!
In the end, I sincerely don’t want or need any explanation or answers. Because breakups don’t always have to be messy. Sometimes, just sometimes, they are pretty cut and dry.