A few months ago I met a new guy.
It was Sunday morning, late December and I was ordering a latte at my coffee shop.
"How was your Christmas?" I asked the barista.
Out of nowhere, the guy sitting next to the counter asked me, "How was your Christmas?"
Shit. This guy was cute; Great smile, good style and reading a book titled What is Contemporary Art?
Our exchange went something like this:
He complimented me on my Mets bomber jacket and my pants (high-waisted mom jeans embroidered with fast food). I asked him about his book. We talked about my passion project. I gave him my business card.
I left the coffee shop thinking, I hope I see you again.
A few days later, I received an email from him:
This is the guy from the coffee shop, like your project, side note, would you be interested in getting a drink some time? Ps: for clarity's sake, this is me asking you out.
(Men, take note -- directness is indeed a turn on.)
We made plans to meet up after New Years but texted daily in the meantime. He seemed witty and curious. We texted a lot, which was exciting but also strange. I was skeptical of what it would be like in real life.
A few days later, we met up in person. He was shy, intelligent, different. Just as good looking as I remembered. He talked about his Southern upbringing, his photography, his work as an art handler. I thought, this could work.
He and I hung out for a few weeks. Then, out of nowhere, he ended it one night while we were hanging out: "I think you're wonderful but I'm just not ready for this."
I was surprised -- I mean, a guy hadn't broken up with me in person, in forever, and we had just met. Did it even warrant a real ending?
On one hand I was grateful he took the time to be honest and tell me in person. But on the other, I was completely caught off guard. I could barely say anything and started off on a rant about what I consider the difference between men and women.
As I arrived home, I ran up the stairs and into my apartment with tears streaming down my face. I felt a whirlwind of emotion: Sad. Humiliated. Angry. Rejected. Disappointed.
I jumped in the shower with my mind on autopilot. What just happened? I thought. Sitting at the bottom of the tub with the hot water pounding on my body, I breathed in the steam and then, a wave of relief came over me.
Thank you, I thought.
I got out of the shower, ordered a grilled cheese and just like that started writing a poem:
Thank you for noticing my butt.
Thank you for picking me up at my coffee shop.
Thank you for inviting me over to your place to see your hammock.
Thank you for introducing me to coconut oil.
Thank you for letting me borrow your Steven Alan sweatshirt.
Thank you for making me feel warm and fuzzy.
Thank you for telling me you are emotionally unavailable.
Thank you for challenging me to see things differently.
Thank you for running away when things got good.
Thank you for not being the person I wanted you to be.
Thank you for breaking up with me in person.
Thank you for ending it before we even started.
You're stuck in your past, but I see our ending as my new beginning.
P.S. I genuinely mean all of these thank you's.
Getting the words out felt fantastic!
I texted my friend Lizzy, "I just got broken up with haha," and sent a screenshot of the poem. "Anyways I wrote this poem to cope."
Then I wrote another one about a different guy. And another. And so on. Then Lizzy started writing her own poems. For hours the two of us created and exchanged poems about past lovers. Not only was it entertaining and fun, but I felt completely liberated and empowered. With each poem I wrote I came to better understand my past relationships and I even felt some closure.
At the end of the night, I had ten pages of poems about several guys I had dated. Lizzy and I decided, let's open this up to other ladies. Let's take submissions. Let's create a space where we can be real and brutally honest about our dating experiences.
Now, we're starting It's Not Personal, But You're Not My Person: A project in which we will be collecting art and writing inspired by the female dating experience. Lizzy along with my friends Vanessa and Jillian are working with me on INP and already we've received some amazing submissions! Honest, raw, powerful, and beautiful work with so many strong, diverse female voices shining through. I'm beyond excited to help get these women's words and experiences out there.
We will be collecting submissions for some time, with the ultimate goal being a zine or a book later this year. We would love to hear your experiences so send us* anything raw, sexy, emotional, funny or honest. Don't hold back any details -- whatever you got, we want it!
* Submissions should be sent to email@example.com