The biggest gag about having moved to San Diego is that I never wanted to move there in the first place.
Yes, yes, I totally realize that I may sound like a complete weirdo for having felt this way. I mean, who wouldn’t want to live in San Diego? The sun, the surf, the sand… San Diego is one of the many locales that people dream of moving to.
But just in case you’ve never seen the real estate prices for the area, a dream is often all that comes from their desires. The fact that I had the opportunity to move into a brand new apartment (with an attached private garage!) in one of the city’s most sought after neighborhoods is hard for me to comprehend even now.
Let’s face it: the majority of the kids I went to school with weren’t living in plush gated communities. Most of them were “condemned” to stay in the dorms. Others lived with 2-3 roommates in sardine cans parading as apartments. Of course, I knew several students of reasonable means who either rented nice apartments or lived nearby with their parents, but this was the exception rather than the rule.
Thanks to my family, I was in an extremely fortunate position and I knew it. However, something wasn’t quite right. Though I was grateful for the experience I was being afforded, I was quite sullen about the move. After all, it was my fault that I felt so unhappy about everything. I knew that too.
I still remember the day I went down to pick up the keys to my apartment. My lovely generous parents had opted to pay the rent for me, so we all drove down together. We sat in the well decorated leasing office as the sales agent excitedly rattled off community amenities I knew I’d never use— not now.
The sales agent’s overly accommodating demeanor annoyed me. Her tone was like saccharin; artificially sweet and decidedly bad for my health. It’s a miracle that I didn’t develop diabetes as I sat there. It was quite apparent (at least to me) that she’d made it a point to kiss my parents’ behinds upon discovering their desire to pay several months’ rent upfront. She was willing to kiss my posterior as well, but only as a courtesy to them. I was pretty certain that she would have never taken me seriously as a tenant if I’d inquired about the apartment on my own, which bothered me to no end.
Before long, I felt as though I was in the middle of Charlie Brown. You know how the adults always sound like, “Wah-wah-wah! Wah-Wah”? That’s exactly what I heard.
Something, something due date.
Something, something mailbox key.
Though I made sure to smile, laugh and nod on cue, I wasn’t listening at all. How could I? It had never been in my plans to transfer to a San Diego school, yet there I was picking up the keys to an apartment in San Diego. I’d ignorantly changed the entire trajectory of my life and academic career for a man—a man! I suppose this wouldn’t have been too bad of a deal had that man still been in my life, but he wasn’t. Knowing this made me sick to my stomach.
It’d only been a week since the breakup, so the emotional wounds were still red and raw. I had tried to patch things up after that pivotal phone call, but it was too late. Now Adam knew that I wasn’t sure about him, wasn’t sure about us, so this caused him to start pondering our relationship too. He said he needed “time to think”, which I knew meant “I’ll call you when I’m good and ready, if at all”, but I clung to my phone like it was life support. Every call and text I received sent my heart ricocheting against the walls of my chest, but it was never him. At least, not for awhile.
My heavily mascaraed eyes nervously scanned the office as the leasing agent leafed through the documents within my welcome folder. For some reason, I felt anxious and uncomfortable while sitting there. “For some reason”… Pfft! Who am I fooling? I felt self-conscious about the slew of criminally attractive men that were sauntering through the office. You see, the leasing office doubled as a large reception area where tenants and their guests could lounge, watch television, order coffee, etc. It also led to one of the community’s pools, which is why all of these half naked Abercrombie and Fitch models kept going to and fro.
As awkward as I may have felt, I found myself stealing a leering glance every now and again. Of course, it didn’t seem right to be ogling men that soon after my breakup. These men—with uncanny likenesses to Apollo and Adonis—were not a respectable distraction from the reality of my situation, but for the first time in such a long while, they weren’t particularly off limits either.
It was there in the leasing office that I realized the potential of my newfound singleness. I was free. Free to look. Free to imagine. Free to act upon my imaginations. Most normal college-aged girls would have taken that realization and run with it, but I couldn’t. It felt wrong, very wrong. Perhaps it was too soon to think about moving on. Bludgeoned by a pang of guilt, I immediately lowered my eyes and resumed my absentminded nodding.
I entered my apartment for the first time with the keys in my hand and a heaviness in my heart. I remember my dad asking me if I was excited as my mom spouted her decorating ideas, but it was all so bittersweet. It was my first place and my first time moving away from home. I should have been bursting with excitement, but all I could think of was how excited Adam and I had been to move there together. I walked from room to room feeling numb to the point of death. Without the ability to see things outside of the lens of what could have or “should have” been, the otherwise happy occasion was poisoned by intense regret. My regret.
I never wanted to break up with him, you know. Perhaps this much is evident. Even then, I was convinced that it had all been an awful, accidental, but most necessary course of action. It never could have ended any other way… not for us. All the same, I was sorry about it. I was so sorry and so sad. I’d have done anything within my power to change the outcome, but since I couldn’t, considering what it meant to move on made me feel incurably guilty. Of course, it would have to be done; I knew I couldn’t cling to the hope of a reconciliation forever.
Eventually, we headed home. I must have checked my phone for texts from Adam a million times during that car ride. No such luck. Crestfallen, but determined, I silently vowed to never give up on him. We’d get back together eventually. I just knew we would. No one else would ever take his place… I’d make sure of it.
As it turns out, this vow never stopped me from permitting guys to try. And try they did. My time in San Diego was just one long string of failed attempts.
I had the time of my life.
Have you ever found it hard to move on after a failed relationship? How long did it take for you to finally bite the bullet and get back in the game?
I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please feel free to share your story or comment down below.
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