< by Jill >
I broke up with my college boyfriend on December 18, 2008. It felt like the end of the world — I would be alone on Christmas, alone on New Year’s Eve, and alone for probably forever. From here forward, it would be me and the cockroaches.
After a few days of mourning, I pulled myself together and headed home to Minnesota. My big sister had gotten hitched the previous Thanksgiving, and I looked forward to sharing Christmas with a happy couple.
For the next few days, I played witness to a future that eluded me. I watched my mom and dad steal kisses and dance in the kitchen. I watched the newlyweds mint new traditions. During daylight, their love gave me hope. But each night, in the pitch-black silence of my childhood bedroom, I felt hollowed out and completely alone.
When it came time to return to Chicago, my mom offered to join me. I readily accepted the invitation — anything to delay my impending transition into a bitter old cat lady. As we neared town, she suggested that we stop at Target and check the Christmas sale. In particular, she wanted a set of gilded plates. The plates had sold out during the regular holiday season at her local stores.
So we parked and headed in. The Christmas department was a disaster — candy, garland, and stockings strewn everywhere. I plucked through the rubble, clearing ornaments and tinsel when I spotted the golden glint of a plate. My heart leaped. “MOM! MOM!” I screamed, jumping up and down. “MOM! MOM! THE PLATES THE PLATES!” She hurried over and we dug out plate after plate.
When we finally excavated the last plate, we made eye contact and burst out laughing. It was the first time in weeks I had truly had fun. It was the stupidest, silliest thing, but in that moment, I felt normal again. It was the brightest spot in my darkest season.