Here’s a funny story about me and my boyfriend – he used to be my boss.
If you’ve seen my stand-up you know that’s one of my go-to jokes: I’m 26 and my boyfriend is 56. People ask me — Kate, are you with him for the money? Uh, hello. Of course. He also used to be my boss, which begs another question: Did you have to sleep with him to get your job? I would never do that! I had to sleep with his boss to get my job.
Jon and I got together not long after my ex Jacob and I broke up. We didn’t plan it, in fact I fought really hard against it because, hello, he’s 30 years older than me and he was my old boss (literally and figuratively). But soon we were in a Bachelor-like romance – trips to exotic beaches, flying in little Piper single engine planes, having cocktails out of really fancy glasses. He was 56, sure, but not to me. He was funny, smart, adventurous, cool. I liked being around him. I liked knowing he liked being around me too.
About a year ago he asked me if I wanted to go to Los Angeles with him. I really, really did. I wasn’t happy at my job and I wanted to make a change – a big change. I wanted to break into the entertainment industry and follow a wild and crazy dream, a dream to be a comedian and a writer. So I said yes.
Here’s a funny story about me and my boyfriend – we both pictured a life so much different than the one we got. At least, the one we got in Los Angeles.
Ex-boyfriends come in all shapes and sizes. With the exception of my ex Jacob, all of mine are assholes, for a variety of reasons. To be honest I was not always a prize to be won myself. Despite my cool exterior, I can actually be quite high maintenance. In my younger days, I used to pick fights on purpose with my ex-boyfriends just to get a rise out of them. Why? I was bored.
Whenever we leave someone, we have this tendency to resent them. Rarely do we hear about nice breakups. It’s not the nature of a breakup – people don’t leave each other on a handshake and well wishes. They leave each other through screaming or tears or tragedy. Movies and TV shows paint breakups like these seismic shifts – the ex is either the enemy or this person who, after they leave the protagonist, becomes a better human being.
Jon and I are neither. We are not giants. There are no speeches, no letters, no nothings. It’s like the ending to an amazing party. Everyone is lingering around and you know you have to go but you wish the good time didn’t have to end. Reality hits tomorrow, you tell yourself, this will just be a memory to file away somewhere. A cherished, beloved memory, yes. But a memory nonetheless.
I won’t go into why Jon decided to go back to Florida – that’s his story, not mine – but health issues and homesickness were a huge part of it. I knew he wanted to go. He loves his home and is ready to just settle down, to live a life that isn’t fast and loose. He is 56. I am 26. There are 30 years of life between us. Thirty years of partying, regrets, one too many margaritas, outfits that show just a little too much, responsibilities that are hard to stomach, choices that need to be made, relationships that lived and died, people who lived and died.
“I want you to live your life,” he told me one day. “I want you to be 26.”
Jon and I came to the decision we needed to break up while we were sitting on the couch in January. We didn’t scream, though there were tears. He helped me look for a new apartment, we talked about life once he’d be gone. He scheduled the movers, he took me out to dinner for my birthday. He bought me the biggest bouquet of flowers – a dozen red and pink roses – and sent them to my office for Valentine’s Day. We walked hand in hand down to Santa Monica Pier, laying down by the ocean wondering aloud what either of us was going to do when we were really broken up.
Having a deadline on your relationship is weird. Friends and I would jokingly say I should start telling hot guys to call me after Jon left town.
“Is it hard?” A friend asked me the other day. It’s harder than I could’ve imagined. I’ve had to stomach my pride, stomach my pain and realize as much as you love someone you can’t change them, not really at least. And if you can’t change them you definitely can’t change the world. You can love them more than you know how to put into words and it’s still not enough.
Because love can’t conquer all. It can’t change your age, it can’t change the things you want, it can’t change the things you need. It can’t change your health, your core beliefs, or distance. It doesn’t change time. Love can change a lot of things, this I know is true. For me, love opened my heart to not only a man who was kind and good, but to a life I never dreamed possible.
The hardest thing to admit to myself – hell, to each other – was that we couldn’t beat the world. Reality was much too real and much too difficult for us to fight. And fight we did. We fought against it every goddamn day. But one day it was just too much.
It’s funny – none of my other breakups were like this. Everyone says I’m mature, wise beyond my years – and maybe that’s true – but it’s a testament to Jon, not me. I remember once when my ex Scott broke up with me – at The Riv in East Lansing, no less – and I threw his shit down the stairs. Get the fuck out of my house! I screamed as pants and condoms and a random assortment of papers flew through the air. You are no longer welcome here!
There was the scathing letter I wrote to Zach. The deafening silence I gave to Jacob. When I saw the writing on the wall I tried to muster a little anger for Jon, but I just couldn’t. He was man who gave me more than he took away. He was a friend, a lover, a guide.
Way back when – way back when we were happy and healthy and without a care in the world – I told Jon he made me want to quit my job and do something crazy. He told me I should. So I did. And now I’m here living out a dream one day at a time. Will it be hard without him? Of course. Will I always look out from the stage to see him in the audience? Yes.
Here’s a funny story about me and my boyfriend – love couldn’t conquer all of our problems. I wish it had, I wish it could – but it didn’t.