I don’t know what kind of year this is

I don’t know what kind of year this is.

On February 1, I lost my job after four months of knowing I’d made a mistake in taking it.

I crushed my job search and ended up with three offers. I chose one, then turned a surprise equity check from my previous job into a trip to Copenhagen.

Last week my 95-year-old grandpa fell, sustaining a serious injury. He’s in good spirits; he’s lived through worse. I don’t know how worried to be.

I needed to pick the right job this time, and I did. I love the people on my team, and I’m working on something cool and innovative.  I cherish the small acts of kindness I receive at work because I’m used to being undervalued.

I ran 10 miles yesterday, and for the first time it wasn’t hard. But the sunscreen I wore on my run caused my skin to break out, alongside the eczema I have for the first time since I was a child. I’m self-conscious upon meeting new people, which is all you do at a new job.

I can afford the $50 face wash I waited in line to buy as I wrote this, and the stupidly expensive phone it was written on. The woman at Sephora was nice to me, sensing I was struggling. I didn’t cry at the register.

In January, I dealt with my impending job loss by learning how to be present, so I am now free of anxiety for the first time in my life. I now know how to access a deep sense of peace when I need it. Most of the time, anyway.

Nine days ago, the person I was sure I would spend the rest of my life with left me.

I have wonderful friends. I have a mom who will cry on the phone with me through my heartbreak. I have a brother who will buy me ice cream and try to say the right thing, and a father who has always been my biggest cheerleader even if I can’t talk to him about this particular type of devastation. I love my apartment.

I can’t stand to be in the apartment I love.

I’m surrounded by people to the extent I need to be.

I am all alone.

My dance card is full.

I have never felt less like dancing. Music, any music, makes me sick.

I turn 35 next month, which wasn’t an issue until my birthday plans got canceled along with my relationship.

Since you’ve been gone I can do whatever I want.

All I want are the plans we made.

I want to meet someone else immediately. I want to be alone forever. I want to die. I want to feel alive again.

I don’t know what kind of year this is.

The limit approaches zero

One of the few concepts I (barely) remember from the calculus class I took junior year of high school, while recovering from what felt at the time like a terrible breakup (you sweet summer child), was that the limit approaches — but never reaches — zero. Until a few minutes ago, when my friend Google led me to the Wikipedia page for Asymptote, I had no recollection as to the circumstances under which said limit approaches zero. (Dated calc; married algebra.)

A Facebook friend, recently engaged, made the observation this week that you always look happier with your next partner than you ever have before. Her point was that the human heart is resilient; it can weather all manner of abuse and rejection and, after (according to Sex and the City) half of the time the relationship lasted has passed, it can move on to someone who’s a better fit — or at least a welcome distraction. (Yes, I’m referencing SATC in 2017. As a measure of how outdated that citation is, one of the search results that came up was an Angelfire page.)

No relationship is perfect. Even the partner you look so much happier with will sometimes let you down. But finding the right relationship is an iterative process, with each relationship moving you closer to perfection. I’ll admit that my own path toward the person I’m with now — who’s an engineer and liable to be irritated with my fundamental misunderstanding of math stuff — has not been a perfect asymptote. I’ve gotten closer to zero in some relationships, and farther from the axis in others. But I’ll always remember my maternal grandmother, comforting me after a college breakup by telling me that every relationship was an opportunity to learn more about what I did and did not want, until I would eventually know for certain what I wanted and find that person.

I have no idea how she knew this. My grandparents got married when my grandmother was 19 and stayed married until her death in her early 80s. None of the experiences I had before age 19 come close to approaching anything I could learn from — not because those experiences had nothing to teach me, but because I was incapable of learning. But maybe that was the point. My grandmother was of a different generation. When she was 20, she spent eight months wondering if her new husband, who was (unbeknownst to her) subsisting on rutabagas in a Nazi POW camp after his plane was shot down over Austria, would be coming home. People who must contemplate even the possibility of such a world approach everything differently. My grandmother’s 20 was not my 20.

At any rate, her advice struck a chord with 20-year-old me, and it stays with nearly 35-year-old me. I’ve made many mistakes in relationships — both in the selection process (if someone’s nickname is Crazy [X], abort) and in how I’ve handled disagreements and disappointments — but for every failed relationship, I can name something I’ve learned. And ultimately, each time I fall in love, I truly do believe it’s the happiest I’ve ever looked. And been.