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in. By Caleb Garling. I broke up with my girlfriend, and I loved her very much. We tried so hard. For years. Left everything on the field. We wanted it to. So as a something, I was spit back into the wilderness of singledom. I would joke darkly with friends that it would have been easier if things had ended because one of us had cheated.
But it died of cancers, not a bullet — so I was left trying to fill in the blanks. I had depended on things. I had depended on her depending on things. Assembled correctly, that balance is the elegance of a relationship. But when I first hit the market again, the teeth of my gears were spinning aimlessly. I had pizza four meals in a row. I wore my underwear inside out to avoid laundry. Yet after a five-year hiatus, singledom had new layers. I realized I missed having someone know how much I love macaroni and cheese or fly-fishing. I had trouble with the get-to-know-you questions.
I had covered them for five years, but I also saw them differently. Now I just want someone curious. Who cares where we went to college? How about, what was the last thing that made you laugh until you cried? I could quickly sniff out traits that were both familiar and safe, new and unfulfilled. I went out with girls who were put together and organized, like my ex. And I went out with girls who were off their goddamn rockers. I believed that I was operating my dating life with something that resembled intention, filling in the teeth of those gears somehow. I was also acutely aware of myself.
My typical demeanor is pretty quiet, but when you draw me out and get me going in a debate or on a topic that really interests me — music, writing, politics, the outdoors, science — I can become quite an extrovert. Guys just manifest it differently. I did irresponsible things. I did disrespectful things. I partied a lot, sometimes too much. I spent eight days at Burning Man.
Not that I was a choirboy when I was in a relationship, but again, there were new layers. My buddies were getting married. Others were having babies. We were all part of the same club, but now I found myself ignoring them. Harmless question. Full of genuine love. Then that angst reached concert-level crescendos during those in-between moments that make love and partnership so rich.
Loneliness hits hardest when it is not a choice. And it manifests in weird ways. But an important gift finally came home to roost: music. I formed a band. I started singing. For my first time in 15 years of playing, I wrote complete songs — quite a few, actually. I picked up the mandolin. And the ukulele. I would ache to get into Dolores Park and jam with my brother. My guitar became my refuge, where I did my best thinking, where I released the tensions and gave emotional tangibility a face.
My old life was over. I needed to clear myself of it. Not know that it was done but understand and feel it. Now my feet were on solid earth again. I forgot the crap about marriage and the rest of those silly pressures. So what if I was a single something? Get started.
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