After six years of dating, after your fourth breakup with Tall Glass of Water, the water heater explodes and floods your things, the things you have finally moved from your coveted storage unit into his condo at his insistence.
Tall Glass of Water believes you can only show your commitment to the relationship by planting your belongings from your 8,000-square foot previous home into his 1,400-square foot condo. His thinking: You won’t look like you’re on the run. You can’t skedaddle at any moment. He wants your permanence. You + your things = you can’t as easily leave him.
Not even a week after you empty your storage unit, the water heater floods the garage where your belongings currently are because guess what? Your stuff didn’t fit into the condo.
Beds, couches, family photos, everything wets and within almost minutes begins to mold. You fight with the insurance company. And then with Tall Glass of Water. It all becomes too much, so one day, when he’s at work, you secretly hire movers, remove your artwork from the walls, return your stuff to the rusty, trusty storage unit, and leave the condo and him.
You’re headed soon to Los Angeles anyway. What do all of us, okay, most of us do after a breakup? Do we drown ourselves in sorrow? Ha, no, we drown ourselves in Bumble.
You’ve been accepted as a writing fellow and live at your mom’s until you leave for L.A. You’re using travel mode on Bumble when you virtually meet the Olympian. You message until you meet IRL in the courtyard of the University of Southern California’s dorm complex, where your fellowship has arranged your housing. Yes, you’re 46 and staying in a dorm.
The Olympian is big. You expected him to be large, but what you didn’t and couldn’t have anticipated was the size of his calves and thighs, the biggest you’ve ever seen, the biggest anyone’ll ever see. He’s a former freakin’ bobsledder for Team USA. His legs have to be humungous to push the almost 500-pound sled. His shoulders are ginormous too.
You spend every day of your eight weeks in L.A. with the Olympian. He even moves into your dorm room. You eat almost every meal together. You pile high beets, alfalfa sprouts, and peas from the salad bar in the USC cafeteria. You forget Tall Glass of Water.
After Los Angeles, you return home to Tucson. You plan to spend the academic year in Tbilisi, Georgia, where you’ve accepted a teaching position. The Olympian intends to join you. He says he wants to spend his life with you.
You’re in Safeway picking up paper plates for an impromptu family barbecue. Your mom’s waiting in the car as you dash into the store. You whip through the automatic sliding glass door; cool air slaps your face as you’re leaving. Then boom. You run smack dab into Tall Glass of Water. You haven’t seen him in four months.
He’s a former basketball player. You’re 4 feet 11, someone chosen last for team sports. “Hi,” you say, looking up, surprised as hell. He reaches down to hug you. You wrap your arms around his hips, where they reach. He’s wearing a suit and tie, and after a long day’s work, he smells vinegary with hints of lingering bar soap and baby oil. You plan to meet again.
You’re together at a burger joint the next day, eating a vegan patty and sweet potato fries. That night, you’re back at the condo. The following day, you’ve moved out of your mom’s house and back in with Tall Glass of Water before leaving for Tbilisi.
The day after you move back into the condo, you text the Olympian, who you’ve been texting daily, no hourly, since leaving Los Angeles. “Just an FYI, I will be MIA for a while.” You have no idea what a while means other than probably forever. You’re back with Tall Glass of Water. You won’t desire the Olympian again.
Tall Glass of Water kisses you the day you leave for Tbilisi. He says, “Your home is always here. I’ll be waiting for you.” He ghosts you two months into your yearlong stint abroad.
You spend months in agony dealing with the treacherous breakup with Tall Glass of Water, which hurts like a mother f’er because you’re alone and far from home—also, you’re lightyears from Bumble. Dammit, Tbilisi doesn’t have the app. Then, you text the Olympian.
Is he still interested in visiting you in Tbilisi? The Olympian responds and says he “loved” you in the past tense and was willing to move across the globe for you, but you bolted with no explanation. He writes, “Sorry, I can never trust you.”
You finish your year in Tbilisi. Dateless. Heartbroken.
A year after returning from Tbilisi, it’s almost your 47th birthday. Every darn birthday, you think of Tall Glass of Water. You reminisce about the birthdays you’ve spent with him.
On one of your birthdays, you get out of bed for your midnight tinkle, and in the few minutes you’re away, Tall Glass of Water surprises you with a chocolate cherry cake on your bedside table. Sparkler candles sizzle and dazzle in the dark bedroom—the space smells of matches and melting wax. A plush pink unicorn awaits you on your pillow.
A few weeks before your birthday, you do what every relationship coach warns you against: you text Tall Glass of Water. You write, “No birthday is the same without you. Can we meet for brunch?” Sunday brunch is your favorite meal together.
Tall Glass of Water hasn’t responded to your previous texts over the past year, but he responds to this one. “I’m in Alabama. I’ll text you after I get back into town.” You wait and wait but don’t hear from him. You finally give up after weeks of anticipation. By 10 p.m. the eve of your birthday, you call it a night and fall asleep.
When you wake up on your birthday, you check your phone and see a text from Tall Glass of Water at midnight, on the dot. “Wishing you a Happy Birthday, Skillet,” his nickname for you, a nickname you never found sexy but has become more endearing. He calls you Skillet because you douse everything with hot sauce—he says you have a stomach of steel.
He ends his text with “143,” the code for I love you. 1 = I. 4 = Love. 3 = You.
You meet the following week for a birthday brunch. Then a couple of weeks later, you drive to San Diego for a weekend jaunt for his birthday. You share a salted caramel brownie sundae at Ghirardelli in the Gaslamp Quarter. Tall Glass of Water didn’t give you a present on your birthday, so he says the day the new Apple Watch comes out, he’ll get you a belated gift.
As promised, the day the watch is released, you sit in the condo and spend hours on the Apple site selecting your perfect timepiece. You choose Pink Citrus as your band color. You decide on soft silicone. A gold stainless steel case. A 44-inch Retina display for your aging eyes. You plan to pick up the watch at the Apple Store the following day.
Sundays with Tall Glass of Water are always magical. The whole day spreads like an Arizona sunset—tangerines and cotton candy pinks meld into each other, flooding the vast sky.
You eat Sunday brunch before heading to the Apple store. You’re too impatient to go home for the unboxing, so you open the case in the outdoor shopping plaza. The desert air smells like warm rocks and root beer. Tall Glass of Water straps on your watch—your wrist tingles with excitement. You feel like Cinderella when the Prince slides on her slipper.
After you get home, you lay in bed, relishing in the afterglow of an amazing afternoon. Tall Glass of Water is the techie in your duo, so he sets up the watch. He adds your email accounts, your social media accounts. He asks your weight to set up your health details, but you grab the watch and input your own poundage. He then shows you how to use the dial. You explore the face gallery together and choose several watch faces.
Tall Glass of Water then shows you the photo option, which allows you to choose a photo as a watch face. “That’s so cool,” you say. You’re stretched out. Relaxed. Life is glorious.
“What’s this?” he suddenly asks.
“What?” You have no idea what he’s referring to.
“Him,” he says, pointing at the watch face. You can’t see anything, so you put on your reading glasses. You still can’t make out the small screen, so he holds the watch even closer.
“Oh,” you say, shocked. You are staring at the Olympian with the olympic calves. The Olympian takes up the entire frame of your watch face with his gargantuan shoulders. You’re both in a gay dance club in West Hollywood. A guy in a hot pink thong is grinding a pole.
“Who is he? Where are you?” Tall Glass of Water demands an answer. You can barely speak. The cat has stolen your tongue. You’re flummoxed. Why, why now, are you staring at a photo of the Olympian almost two years later??? And why on your brand new watch?
“That’s it,” Tall Glass of Water says. “I don’t know who he is or where on earth you are, but what I do know is, I’m done. Don’t contact me again.”
He throws your Apple Watch on the bed, swings the front door open, and leaves. Thank Gawd he doesn’t jet with your beloved new toy. He doesn’t say goodbye. He blocks you.
As a rookie owner, you don’t know the Apple Watch automatically chooses photos from your favorites folder to set up your watch face. Any image is fair game. Even pictures of exes!
You resist texting Tall Glass of Water on Thanksgiving, a holiday you love sharing, but on Christmas Eve, you surrender and text, “Let’s have dinner tonight.”
Surprisingly, he responds immediately. You meet at Cheesecake Factory, sit outdoors, and order the Impossible Burger with melted vegan cheese. You creep back into the condo that night and survive just past Valentine’s Day, when he ghosts you again.
You haven’t spoken in nearly two years. Your 50th birthday is coming up in a couple of months. This is your last hurrah in your 40s. It’s been 12 years since the divorce from your husband and 11 years since you first met Tall Glass of Water. You don’t have plans for your birthday, but Thank the Lawd, you’re finally content to be single.
You happily live alone. Maybe too happily. You love eating Sunday brunches with tofu scrambles, home fries, and gluten-free toast alone. You have dozens of hot sauces on a Lazy Susan turntable in your kitchen, on your kitchen table that you inhale by the bottle. You watch Julia on HBO Max at 3 a.m. because you can, with tears streaming down your face, your heart bursting because you love Julia Child. You prefer this new life where no one can witness your insanity. You are free to be you: quirks and all.
You’re finally in charge of the tick-tick of your clock. In this second half of your life, you’re open to possibilities, to miracles. You’re excited what you’ll discover next, whom you’ll meet, where you’ll travel, what photos you’ll snap—how time will magically unfold, on your terms. You never needed the Olympian. You never required a Tall Glass of Water.
Duh, you only ever needed yourself, silly.