Julie: Breakups during this age of cell phones and text messages seem to be so challenging, trying to get away from “it.” I’m usually one second away from getting this urge to send a text, avoiding painful conversations, just to make sure that the stupid one will at least think about me for a minute. And reconsider?
Larry: Julie’s young. I’m not. At my age, it would take me a day and a half to text a former lover, so I just punch in her number on my cell phone and call the person who apparently no longer wants me to be a part of her life on the pretense of simply seeing how she’s doing. Maybe her mood has become softer somehow. Maybe I’m being missed. Maybe she wants me back. But she doesn’t. She’s moved on.
Julie: Why is it so hard to find someone not afraid of commitment? What happened in the history of us that makes us fear this ultimate power of love — something that remains one of the free things on earth, like breathing? Why do good souls get rejected? Is this the beginning of a “no love” generation? It’s funny to see guys running away as fast as they can when they experience for the first time what’s commonly called “comfort.” Oh, no, they can’t do that. You have to be old to do that.
Larry: You don’t have to be old to find comfort or commitment. I got married in my early twenties, and the marriage lasted for 17 years. Of course, I shouldn’t count the last two because we were separated, but in the beginning and for a lot of those years love was there. Things don’t always stay the same. People change.
Julie: I’m coming out of what is probably the most painful and unexpected separation of my life. It was perfect: no fights, no misunderstandings, just passion and respect.
We laughed a lot and couldn’t be away from each other more than 48 hours or it would be total despair. Then one day he’s gone. There was nothing to let me know it was coming. Now there’s no more lover rushing to me every night, no more of this comfortable peaceful feeling that was so good.
Larry: I had one of those perfect relationships, too, more than 10 years ago. There was no fighting, no harsh words and everyone thought we were perfect for one another. Then one day I walked away. Regrets? Sure. Maybe if we had a few fights and misunderstandings we would still be together.
Julie: Now my home is like a ghost town. I shared too much of my life, and now I pay. I’m running in circles, feeling as empty as a drum. Hope is at every corner, but it becomes terribly painful as I wait for a call, a text or a visit.
Larry: Breaking up is hard to do, and it never gets any easier. After my marriage ended, I fell apart — then with this breakup last year I became a mess again. But time has a way of making things better. I keep telling my young friend Julie this, but I don’t think she’s listening.
Julie: I pretend that everything is cool, pretend I’m strong and that I’m fine either way. I was hoping this attitude would bring him back. I didn’t want to show my ultimate despair of not being part of his life.
Larry: Pretending like everything is cool never works for me. With the breakup last year, I became quite childish, picking fights with my former lover in public places — like downtown Cincinnati bars — then having to apologize later for my behavior. This kind of bullshit probably gave her more valid reasons to break up with me. When it comes to love, I’m usually my own worst enemy.
Julie: The worst part of it all is when you actually start by some miracle to feel a little better about yourself. You start to get a little bit over the whole clusterfuck your life has become. Then suddenly the calls come, the text messages come, the visits become persistent. He just wants to “hang.” You become suddenly “missed.” You are needed as a “friend.” It’s like he’s an alcoholic that’s going through AA and recording sobriety time. I’m to offer him a “shot” for the sake of friendship? It’s very uncomfortable.
Larry: My ex-wife and I have been divorced more than 15 years, and after some passage of time we’re now good friends. That hasn’t been the case with other lovers. A couple weeks ago I passed my latest “failure” on the sidewalk in front of the Hamilton County Court House. We actually hugged and made small talk for a couple minutes. It was awkward as hell, but I give myself some credit as I simply went home afterwards and didn’t head toward the nearest bar.
Julie: After all of this, I can convincingly tell everyone that it will never ever happen to me again. Never. Falling in love? What for? Seriously. But I could just be a good actress. Fuck him.
Larry: That’s right, Julie, fuck him. When you start to get angry, you start to get over it. You will love again, you will try again. I know from experience. You’re young, I’m old — but when it comes to love, I think we’re both looking for that happy ending.
CONTACT LARRY GROSS: firstname.lastname@example.org