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  • Writer's pictureBrit Victoria

Patio sets and positive vibes

It’s been a little over a year now since I was unceremoniously thrust back into the single world. To recap for those unfamiliar, I was engaged as of last April 3 … and not by April 4.

One day I’ll do a stand up show about how the whole thing went down, but, until then:

Boy fell for girl; girl eventually fell for boy; girl dated boy for two years then proposed to boy; boy and girl lived together for a year then boy brought in his aunt to move out all of his belongings and his mom to break up with girl.

Needless to say, it was traumatic. As someone who suffers from anxiety and depression, that event in my life just short of broke me — temporarily.

For about four months I had a good (eh), long wallow, as prescribed by the queen of sarcasm and singlehood, Lorelei Gilmore. And I emerged a better, somehow more confident version of myself.

I was a motherfucking phoenix.

When I look back on that time in my life it really does seem like I almost overnight went from “Why doesn’t he love me?!” to “Fuck him. I’m super excited to be single again AND eventually I’ll find someone soooo much better. I can do anything.”

But, duh, it wasn’t literally overnight.

Upon further reflection, that bout of depression forced a lot of life lessons and changes for me.

Ironically, that probably is what led to the near cure of my anxiety around driving.

For much of the time I was “wallowing” (in my own way, sans ice cream and Kleenex) I was spending as much time as possible avoiding my apartment. Our apartment.

When Mr. Undecided took off, he left me not only with a broken heart, but with an unbreakable lease.

I was forced to live surrounded by memories in the place we’d lived together, the place we’d fought, the place we’d loved, the place I’d attempted to kill myself, the place he’d convinced me not to end it … the place I came home to on April 4 to find him leaving without a word.

Living there for four months alone was almost more traumatic than the actual breakup.

So I didn’t spend a lot of time in the apartment. It didn’t feel like mine, no matter how often I’d paid the lion’s share of the rent. And it definitely didn’t feel like home.

So I went to work early every day and I’d find any way possible to stay out late. That usually meant I’d have to drive, and I did. I frequented TJ Maxx and Portland Nursery more in those four months than I have in the year since.

I had to. I couldn’t be there. So I became better acquainted with the ins and outs of navigating SE Portland and Clackamas via Crosstrek. When neither my budget nor brain could sustain the faux vagabond lifestyle anymore, my mother visited and we set to work making that apartment feel more like my space, even if only for another few months.

My mother may not totally understand what I need when I’m having a panic attack, but she knows how to bounce back from a breakup. She’s probably one of the strongest women I know.

First was a trip to Portland Nursery to get some seeds and pots to garnish my balcony. Then to Fred Meyer (after going ANYWHERE else) to get a patio set.

That was where it became obvious that I’d begun to harbor more of a general resentment toward men.

We picked one out. A yellow, blue and red tile topped table with little black metal chairs. It was perfect.

The customer service was not. I’m not usually one to be a royal bitch to people in the service industry. I’ll tolerate some extreme levels of incompetence or absent-mindedness and still tip 20%, but this was something else.

We went up to the cashier in the garden center after searching the entire section for where the patio set might be in a box to no avail. He said he’d have to go look in the back.

He left for what felt like an eternity and came back empty-handed.

“That’s the last one,” he said pointing at the floor model. “Sorry, ma’am.”

And that was it.

“Soo…” I said inquisitively. “Can we buy the floor model?”

He looked at me like I had a third eye protruding from my forehead.

“You want to buy the floor model?” he asked.

“Yeah, but you obviously don’t want to make a sale very badly,” I remember thinking, second only to the thought of “Dude, I’m on my period, my fiance just left me and I haven’t eaten today … I’ll fucking end you.”

He rung up the set then went back to pretending to do something of utmost importance on the computer.

We stood there for a while plotting how we’d get the set to my car, which was in the parking lot on the other end of the store. The table was much heavier than anticipated, and none of the male employees within a five-meter radius of us offered to lend a hand.

Finally my mother made a point to ask a guy to help and he begrudgingly assisted her in carrying the set outside while I ran to pull the car around.

We left with me liking the male gender even less, 100 or so fewer dollars and this material for my then non-existent blog.

On the bright side, I was thriving off of the positive vibes from my pretty new balcony almost long enough for me to find a new place to live and a new real estate romeo — my current closet.

Though I don’t consider myself shallow, I’ll admit that retail therapy has a hell of an affect on my mood.

I got into a car accident my junior year of college. I got new shoes. My fiance left me. I got a new patio set.

And I also got much more.

I got the real, FULL me back. I never really thought while Mr. Undecided and I were together that I wasn’t myself — bouts of suicidal depression aside.

But, honestly, being with someone who doesn’t love you right does change who you are.

I could be fabulously decked out in my favorite dark-wash jeans, that one great-fitting blouse and wedge heel sandals, but in the presence of such negative unlove I wasn’t living up to my full potential.

Even now that I’m dating someone new I can see the difference. I don’t know that he loves me or that I love him yet, but I know he respects me and I know I’m being truly me.

It’s a fantastic feeling.

So, if you need me, I can be found with a notebook and a glass of rhubarb wine from Buddha Kat Winery (product placement) sitting like a queen on my balcony.

A hell of a lot can happen in a year. And breakups can be traumatic, but this bitch for one is happy to have been traumatized.

It just reminded me how strong and amazing I am. And no one will ever again convince me otherwise.

xo B

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