I recently took a class that just happened to be held at the Museum of Broken Relationships, in Hollywood. I’d heard the name of this museum and seen some reference to it, but hadn’t been there and didn’t know what to expect. It was fantastic and worth a trip if ever you’re able. Filled with an array of the objects left behind when a relationship ends; those that, for whatever reason, never make it into the Goodwill bag or the trashcan and still cause your stomach to drop or heart to skip when you come across them unexpectedly, in the back of the closet. Movie tickets, T shirts, mugs, post cards, belly button lint, a sweater, the list is endless and the exhibits change frequently, each object accompanied by a written story, some of which brought tears to my eyes.
As I looked at items donated by strangers, I thought about which, if any, I had personally hung onto and why. I have a few hand written letters, a small sculpture I bought in New York after whirlwind romance that ended as quickly as it had begun, a bracelet bought for me in Morocco by an ex who has since passed away, several books, and some CDs. Many things were thrown out or donated in one purge or another and what is left could easily fit into a small cardboard box.
But, what won’t fit in a box or ever be donated to a museum, are the recipes, dance steps, songs, and lessons each taught me.
I recently made a really simple and delicious meal that was made for me in January, in a beautiful kitchen in a house on a hill… Chop one yellow onion, one container of cherry tomatoes, and one block of feta cheese, toss with olive oil, salt and pepper and the juice from one lemon. Place in an oven safe dish, cover and bake for 20 minutes at 350. When you take it out, the onions, tomatoes, and feta will be steaming and warm, perfect for soaking up with warm bread and hummus.
I am in better shape than ever because of the dance steps taught to me by another. And I know something about jazz, guitars, glass blowing, and can snowboard because of lessons given by four ex boyfriends. What do they remember about me? I wonder. Do I cross their minds when they eat artichokes or smell musk? Are the books I gave them or the cards I made still around, or were they tossed years ago?
With seven billion people on the planet, how on earth do we choose and end up, even if briefly, with the people we do? Energy, karma, fate, randomness? I have to believe we find our teachers exactly when we need them and will continue to do so even as the lessons evolve and change, literally stumbling into each other and deciding to give it a go.
As I stood in the Museum of Broken Relationships, truly moved by the vulnerability on display, I began to think of the items there, as well as those in my own closet, as party favors; thank you gifts for showing up, being open, playing the game, loving, hurting someone or getting hurt, and trying again.
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