Dig Baton Rouge

The Bitter Lemon

By Holly A. Phillips

A few weeks ago, I was driving down Stanford Avenue, heading to work. A mess of construction kept me from my normal route, forcing me into a detour that led right past my ex boyfriend’s old house.

As much as I tried not to, I glanced over at the two-story brick home on the corner. My glance turned into a full-blown stare, and subconsciously my foot let off the gas pedal.

It was a house that held four years’ worth of memories — some good, some not so great.

The first time I went to his house, I had just gotten out of my biology lab. I was in my last semester at LSU, and it had been awhile since I’d dated anyone.

I thought he, Matt (you know I love Matts), was so handsome, with a dorky sense of humor that I admired.

During my first visit, we watched “500,” and sipped on liqueur from tiny wine glasses. And then, we kissed.

I can recall many mornings, waking up in the bedroom above the front door, hearing the faint hum of a neighbor’s lawn mower, signaling Matt to get up and get the newspaper, while wearing a hideous pair of LSU crocs.

The oven baked our casseroles on Christmas, the back stoop hung over us on Valentine’s night — it was a home that had my heart.

But three months after we broke up, Matt got engaged to his now-wife. It was a cold wake up call that revealed everything I overlooked.

And now, the house stands empty. The white paint on the trim is peeling, and parts of the garage roof have collapsed.

Seeing the house that morning was bittersweet. Our relationship has been over for two years, and it (the house and the relationship) was the source of love, but also heartache.

Before I met Matt, I had a few bad breakups, and was terrified to even create memories during future relationships for fear of nostalgic moments such as these. But I quickly learned that I’m not a robot; I have emotions.

Although I created many daydreams involving that house, picturing Matt and I, which were shattered when we parted ways, now I can see that it wasn’t supposed to work between us.

I’m sure every relationship has those little reminders. They’re not necessarily baggage — leftover pockets of emotional strife — but merely pieces of relationship evidence. It might be a specific restaurant, a picture, or a song that reminds you of a previous love.

Just last week, I went to see The Big Lebowski at Perkins Rowe, as part of the classic movie series. It’s a movie one of my exes loved, and we often drank several white Russians in ode to The Dude. Once we broke up, I never wanted to see the movie or another Kahlua cocktail again. But now? It’s old news.

And perhaps, that’s the beauty of relationship evidence. It serves as a checkpoint; a gauge of how much you still care.

Now, the construction on Stanford is over, and I’m not forced to pass Matt’s old house anymore. Of course, I know it will always be there, but I’ve noticed that time does the mind a few favors, and we forget in order to move forward.

Perhaps pieces of relationship evidence can only withhold the power we give them; after all, it’s just a building.

In a way, seeing the house that morning represented our entire relationship: a structure somewhat empty inside, and me, on the outside, attaching meaning to something heartless.

Read more about Holly’s relationship evidence on her blog, TheBitterLemon.com.



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