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Over the last twenty-plus years of dating and breaking up, I’ve repetitively been given some version of the same advice between boyfriends: make a list of what you want in a man so that the Universe is clear and can deliver. And, although I legitimately believed at different times in my life that making a list would somehow help to manifest (cringe!) my dream man, I never actually made one until I moved to the Bay Area two years ago after a couple of horrid breakups that made 2010 the biggest asshole ever. The highlights of my list were as follows:

  1. Funny
  2. Creative
  3. Smart
  4. Tall
  5. Hot
  6. Lives within three miles of me, because I can’t be bothered to drive more than five minutes to hang out*

Those who heard my list all agreed that numbers one through five were completely reasonable.  And they also all agreed that number six was completely absurd, considering the demographics of the San Francisco suburb in which I reside. Mill Valley has a population of roughly 14,000 people, more accurately described as 7,000 married couples. So, when Single (also on my list) Mill Valley Guy ended up in one of my best friend’s bands, I was pleasantly surprised, to say the least. He was many of the things on my list, and more.

We dated for about six months before going our separate ways. Although I knew it likely wasn’t going anywhere long-term, based on a few conversations we had over the duration, breaking up still hurt.  Because that’s what breakups do: they fucking hurt.  Suddenly, someone disappears from your life, leaving a gaping hole that has to fill with something. And in my case, that something is typically a painful combination of relentless scrutiny, self-doubt, and regret about some of the choices I’ve made over the last thirty-nine and three-fourths years. But that’s not the way it used to be.

Just a little trampoline.

Twenty-three and a naive little trampoline.

In my twenties, with a lifetime ahead of me, I rebounded from most disappointments relatively unscathed and quickly moved on to the next thing. I could always get up, dust myself off, and try again and again, because the remaining time available for me to have the life I wanted seemed limitless. Unfortunately, two decades later and two months shy of my fortieth birthday, that’s no longer the case. Time no longer seems to be on my side.  Because of that, resilience in the wake of heartbreak no longer seems to be, either.

* Once a hot guy hit on me at the local post office and I blew him off after Googling his address while standing in line next to him (It was clearly written on the package he was holding in his hand, y’all.) when I discovered he lived four miles from me and on the wrong side of Mill Valley.  In retrospect, maybe I was being a squeak rash.

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