Last night, before meeting up with the good man I have been seeing, I parked my car at a fancy lot downtown. The valet took my key, and trying to determine how deep in the lot he should park my car, he asked how late I'd be. I did a little math. A quick drink, the movie, probably some food afterwards. "10:30, or maybe a little later," I told him.
I ran into the good man on the way to the bar, we kissed, and walked in together. Within 45 minutes, he had broken up with me in a good and honorable way. I didn't cry in front of him, nor did I cry in front of the valet who asked why I was back so early.
"I thought it was going to be a late night, but I was just broken up with instead."
"Seriously?" He scowled at the concrete beneath his feet. "You deserve better."
I didn't cry until I was almost to my friend's house, where I had headed straight from the parking garage. When I got there she held me. But it was just tears of sorrow, not those of fear, feelings of betrayal, hopelessness, or worry.
A year and a month ago, my tears were very different. This morning, even though I am sad, I'm also deeply happy. My community here in San Francisco is a messy bouquet of delightful people, and I value each of these relationships. These local friendships, the friendships I have with my other scattered people, and the love I have from my family were great buoys to me in the struggle. However, I am also proud of myself. In this year, I eschewed anger. I embraced a new reality, a new career, a new city, and a reimagined financial future; I bought a house, and though wiser than before, have kept my heart open. I've done this pretty cheerfully, too.
The loss of all I appreciated in the good man makes me sad, but if he doesn't appreciate me as a good woman, then that parking lot valet is right.