Sunday, September 7, 2014
Breaking up is hard to do, but once the dust settles, it's sometimes interesting to take an inventory of what remains. I'm not talking about crap of the other person's you accidentally or intentionally inherited or even stuff given to you by your ex. I mean interests, habits, expressions that you tend to pick up, whether you want to or not, when you spend a lot of time with another person.
From my most recent breakup, I leave with a recipe for a Mediterranean-inspired guacamole. The ex made it for me on one of our first dates and it's just too damn delicious for me to never make again. I made it this past weekend for a friend's party and it was gone within minutes; a chef in attendance even praised it. It's not a family recipe or really all that ingenious: it's basically this, but with more garlic and balsamic instead of red wine vinegar.
I also must credit this same ex for getting me hooked on Game of Thrones (my attempts to hook him on Masters of Sex and Veronica Mars were less successful) and teaching me how to play Cribbage.
I don't know if I imparted any culinary wisdom that he will carry on with him into his future relationships. He often made fun of my creative efforts to make salad dressing (admittedly they didn't always come out as planned).
The only thing I can think of, for now, that I can take credit for is introducing him to the best Mexican place in Eau Claire: Taqueria la Poblanita. He has lived in EC for eight years and I have lived here for one, but I still managed to discover a restaurant he had never tried and convince him of its superiority over the competing taquerias. It doesn't have much "curb appeal" but it's super tasty and cheap.
I think most of my contributions in my relationships are related to food, now that I think about it. Or alcohol -- probably most of the men I've dated emerged with more knowledge about wine than before. I'm probably most proud of the ex that I got to fall in love with sushi. When we first met, he claimed not to like it and refused to eat it, but further questioning revealed that the only sushi he had ever tried came from his college dining hall. Now he's a sushi fiend, thanks to me. Which hopefully hasn't landed him in the poor house. I realize a Cup-of-Noodles habit would be more financially viable.
What did sushi ex give me? Well, he was really into reading recaps of TV shows on websites like Television Without Pity (R.I.P.). Before him, I never followed commentary about shows I watched, but now it's pretty essential to my viewing rituals and I have him to thank. Even when binge-watching shows like House of Cards or Orange is the New Black, I pause between episodes to read recaps (mostly on Vulture now that TWoP is gone). It's a weird behavior -- to read a summary/flash analysis of something I literally JUST WATCHED. But it's pleasurable, what can I say.
From the Boston boyfriend, I got a lot of music -- I was exposed to a bunch of bands I never would have discovered had we not dated. And we're on good enough terms that I can still like those bands and not, like, think of him and collapse into tears. He got me listening to Bon Iver, Wye Oak, Robyn, Lucky Soul, the Pipettes, and a whole bunch of other stuff. He also is responsible for me becoming obsessed with The Room. It's the gift that keeps on giving. He took me to my first screening and explained to me when to throw the plastic spoons at the screen.
I introduced him to the best burger in Boston:
It's at the Russell House Tavern. It's served on an English muffin. And perhaps best of all, as this picture shows, they give you the option of fries, salad or 50/50. The 50/50 option is so rad because you can feel good about eating some salad with your bacon cheeseburger. EVERYONE WINS.
When I left Boston, this ex made me a lovely photo essay documenting him eating this burger as a tribute to the impact I made on his life. It's incredibly funny and if I had a scanner at my disposal, I would post the pictures here.
Chicago boyfriend was a tech guy and helped me see the beauty in things I previously only valued for their utility, like cell phones. He had an amazing collection of sample phones and other gadgets that were sent to him to test out. He also inspired me to finally suck it up and get an iPhone and he was right, my life is better.
New York boyfriend (well, the 2nd one -- sushi boyfriend is NY boyfriend #1) helped me rediscover my love for board games. And he got me into the live trivia scene -- from now on, wherever I live, I will seek out the best bar trivia because of him (and probably end up disappointed since his caliber for live trivia was very high). He also had some handy euphemisms for marijuana ("green shoes") that I have passed on to others (though my favorite is still "tickets to the Al Green concert" which I stole from someone in college). I think I got him to be a slightly less picky eater -- I know at least he now knows better than to order meat well-done. You're welcome, future foodie girlfriends of his. I laid some groundwork, made some headway.
....That's probably enough self-indulgent reflection for one blog post. Whenever I'm newly single, I find myself ruminating on relationships past, looking for patterns. I have dated a lot of interesting people (and one famous one) and at first glance, they don't have much in common. (I used to joke about creating a reality show where all my ex-boyfriends are on a cruise together and have to figure out what they have in common: me. Not that I have enough exes to fill a cruise ship -- more like a moderately sized yacht.) But what they do all have in common is they are smart, funny, interesting, kind human beings. And I still carry a little love for all of them and always will.