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The Bench.

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One year ago, my partner and I moved into an apartment in a new neighborhood. It was an incredible apartment in one of those too-hip neighborhoods, near a many of our close friends. It was a scenario that would have made anybody very happy. My partner was not happy. He said the new neighborhood stressed him out, he needed more trees, less pavement…the list went on. Nothing seemed to convince him we made the right decision.

On a sunny and slightly hungover Sunday morning, a light bulb went off: a project- that will help!

Before I knew it, I was buying a miter saw on my credit card from Lowe’s because, nothing would help an unhappy transition and a tense relationship quite like building some complicated hexagon shelves, the directions for which I found on a lifestyle blog (note: I wouldn’t recommend this endeavor) on a Sunday afternoon.

We finished the shelves three days later. They were slightly uneven but we were slightly better, things were looking up for my partner, and then we had a miter saw. I justified purchasing the miter saw by promising myself I would build all sorts of things after its purchase. Our next project? A bench.

Made of all 2x4s and finished in polyurethane, I was so proud of our bench.  It was strong, it withstood winter weather and torrential downpours, and it fit at least three, maybe four people comfortably. It was  the bench we built together and finished on a hot September night, toasting the finished product with cold Tecates.

Things started to feel comfortable and normal again. Throughout the year, we sat on it, our friends and family sat on it, all the while echoing “What a nice bench.”

And then the comfortable folds of our relationship started to unravel. We were engaged, and then we weren’t. We were in love, and then we weren’t. We made our apartment a home, and then it was a shell of a broken relationship.

I initially didn’t want to sell the bench, because it represented happier times: times when we loved each other, when we put our minds together, when we made each other laugh, when we respected each other.

I put it on Craigslist for $40, because I realized what that bench represented has long passed.

A girl in her early twenties responded to the ad, and showed up with her boyfriend on a Tuesday night to retrieve it. They both looked at the bench and their faces lit up: “It’s so nice! This could be a bed! It’s so sturdy!”

I looked at them both and felt my chest getting tight, sensing the promise and optimism that still existed in their relationship that I  lost long ago in mine: “It’s free.”

They insisted on giving me at least $20, which, from anybody’s point of view, is a steal. But from where I sit, $20 is too much. They paid me $20 to remove the burden of reminiscing on a future that was never going to happen, a Pinterest wedding board that should’ve never existed, and a relationship that, as I was told by my ex a few weeks after it imploded, extended itself for far too long.

It was a good bench, and I hope it remains such a nice bench in its new owners’ eyes.

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So You’re Moving in With Your Parents: a 7 Step Guide to Not Freaking Out

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  1. Don’t freak out!
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2. Go to yoga. Yoga is great!

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3. Have a giant glass of wine.

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4. Embrace the term ‘Boomerang Generation’ and  have another giant glass of wine. And maybe some cold pizza?

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5.Call your best friend to whine, then acknowledge that you are whining while drinking wine and laugh because everything is SO funny!

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6. Lay on the kitchen floor in the fetal position and ponder life’s unfairness, but only for 5 minutes.

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7. Repeat routine every day until you are officially living with your parents.

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You’re so ready, you very adult person!

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The 10 Friends Who Will Help You Get Over a Breakup

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I’ve learned that if there’s any upside to going through a rough breakup, it’s realizing who in your life is most important: your friends.

  1. The friend who threw up out the window of your Lyft.

I know this one seems oddly specific and like it really wouldn’t help, but it does. When your head won’t stop spinning around thoughts that make you miserable, like how you’ll never find another person, or how the person your partner left you for is so much better than you, it helps to be distracted from this thinking. Mourn the loss of your 5 star Lyft score, give your driver a giant tip, and embrace this moment. Also get some Lysol wipes and clean the car and this friend up pronto.

  1. The friend who hugs you and will not let you go, even when you do the Two Back Pat.

I’m not a big hug person, but the currency of a hug is invaluable when life is a pile of garbage.

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  1. The friend who offers to hack your ex.

I wouldn’t recommend taking this friend up on their offer, but it can be useful to have tech savvy, supportive, evil-genius friends.  

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  1. The friend who is the voice of reason.

OK- so you had too much to drink followed by a late, emotional fight with your ex, and ended up dumping milk all over their mattress because, whatever man! This friend will step in and suggest that although your ex deserved it, you should probably dab that up with a towel. You will thank them when you are not cleaning curdled milk and mold out of the mattress pad later that week.

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  1. The friend who comes over no matter how late it is.

Being alone can be enjoyable, unless you are a Freshly Minted Single Person. Then it is fresh hell. It’s a particularly fresh hell when you get home after all of your self-mandated social activities to find that it’s 1 AM and it’s just you and your self-sabotaging brain. Call this friend, because they love you and they’ll come over. And you’ll do the same thing for them one day.

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  1. The friend who will give you advice when you don’t think you need it.

So maybe you had a lot of cocktails, turning you into a cocktail of Longing and Poor Decision Making (with a garnish of lemon). You try sending a racy text to your ex, because when the whole world is burning why NOT add some fuel to that fire? This friend will say your name in exasperation when you tell them what you did, and when they read what you wrote, they will repeat your name in a mildly impressed way.  This is their way of saying “That was a horrible idea, but you still have game. So save that game for somebody else.”

  1. The friend who will have a third margarita with you.

I’m not saying binge drinking is great, but there’s something to be said for having a person who looks at you when the bartender asks if you’d like another round or the check, and replies “We’ll have another round.” without having to ask you.

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  1. The friend who tells you it wasn’t your fault.

I never realized how fascinating the brain really is (despite the fact I’m an academic advisor for Neuroscience students) until my relationship was completely shattered. Suddenly, I had the ability to wake up at 4:30 in the morning and immediately think of everything I ever did over the course of three and a half years that made my ex want to find somebody else: “I’m awake! My face got fat, I watched too much TV, I’m not creative enough, and I have big thighs! Good morning, self!” This friend is the person who you text at 5:08 AM “I hate myself.” and they will reply “YOU ARE A BEAUTIFUL MERMAID ANGEL AND THEY DIDN’T DESERVE YOU! YOU’RE AMAZING!!11!!”

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  1. The friend who tells you that it’s OK to not be OK.

You might beat yourself up because your ex has moved on and you haven’t. You want to be “That Person Who is Chill and OK” and you’ll tell people “I had a fabulous night last night and definitely did not dissolve into a pile of tears on my kitchen floor while my cat tried to eat my hair!” This friend will assure you that you should take the time you need to not be OK, and you will actually feel fabulous soon. Sometimes you just need permission to admit that life isn’t great.

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  1. Your best friend.

You might have one, you might have five, but your best friend is your rock. This is the person who will call and text you constantly, even if it annoys you, to make sure you are still functioning. They will help you move your stuff, declare war on your ex, and supply you with all necessary breakup supplies (booze, Cosmopolitan, cookies, etc.). They will remind you of how great you were doing before you got into your relationship in the first place and assure you that you will find happiness and love yourself and love somebody else one day. They will assure you that you won’t die alone in your apartment, only to have your sociopath cat eat your face off. They’ll send you corgi pictures and hold your hand and supply you with hoards of love, until you are whole again. This is the most important, necessary person.

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