Trying to move on from his ex, Jamie Reidy finds himself constantly running up Turkey Hill.
It’s Wednesday, August 3rd. For the past two months, I’ve looked forward to today like it was Christmas, as if I were a 10-year old boy who knew Santa was bringing him a B.B. gun.
I didn’t expect to get over her quickly. Or easily. But, of the eight weeks post-breakup, the past four have burned like acid. I know I made the right decision for me—for both of us, actually—in the long run. But in the now? I feel like I underwent open heart surgery and the surgeon left me with no chest sutures.
Obviously, I knew the normal things would cause emotional pain: catching our song on the radio, reaching into the closet and coming out with a shirt she bought me, passing the restaurant where we met. I’ve developed an emotional flak-jacket for those things.
But July brought sniper fire that snuck between the cracks.
Like, her birthday. It was yesterday, August 2nd. She turned 40, a milestone that I had spent a lot of time thinking about helping her celebrate. But, post-breakup, I would not be popping out of the cake. So, I tried to simply put that date out of my head. I mean, why would I ever hear anything in July about the nondescript first Tuesday of August?
Thank you, Congress and your Debt Ceiling Crisis. August 2nd, August 2nd, August 2nd. John Stewart may have done a mashup of that, or maybe it was just my brain on repeat. Either way, today’s 24/7 news cycle was not exactly an aloe/Lidocaine salve for me.
But, no matter. I’d simply avoid TV news, NPR, HuffPo, The Daily Show, and The New York Times for an entire month. “You can do this!” I assured myself.
And that’s when I started hearing a fowl voice inside my head. Gobble, gobble.
She and I were supposed to go to Turkey together at the beginning of July. I’d never once even considered visiting there, but she really wanted to go. After I did some research and spoke to friends who’d been, I got excited, too. What a cool, unique place! My breaking up with her cancelled my portion of the trip—leaving me with 1700 reminders to always get the travel insurance when booking internationally.
I knew her travel dates, of course. And I knew the time difference over there. Which meant I probably knew exactly when Stella would be getting her groove back. Vomit. Turkey, then, was not a popular thought source for me.
Now, in addition to August 2nd. I needed to block out all things that rhyme with “lurkey.”
Suddenly, every lunch partner started ordering a turkey sandwich or turkey salad. Vegans, guys with turkey allergy bracelets … didn’t matter. Thank God Benjamin Franklin lost the fight over the national bird; it would’ve been years before I’d be able to put a quarter in a parking meter again.
The 80s band Naked Eyes wrote a song called “Always Something There to Remind Me” in which the lead singer bemoans the fact that it’s impossible to escape memories of your ex in your town. That guy was right. Heeding that wisdom, I swapped my town south of LA for a hug from my mommy in New York.
This was a smart move, as July 21st marked the two-year anniversary of my ex and I reuniting. (Yes, we’d broken up before.) Hanging with my folks, though, I felt like I was gonna emerge from my week of hiding with a renewed strength.
One night, my father suggested some ice cream, and I volunteered to fill the bowls. I opened up the freezer door to find a stone cold assassin lying in wait for me: Turkey Hill ice cream. It was like a scene from a cop movie, “We have a breach in the Safe House! I say again, WE HAVE A BREACH IN THE SAFE HOUSE!”
Turkey Hill?! I’ve scarfed a lot of ice cream in my day, but I’ve never even heard of this brand. Do we need to discuss how stupid a name that is for a dairy product? I am fairly certain turkeys don’t frolic on hillsides. And turkeys definitely don’t make milk. Talk about false advertising.
I decided to seek solace in the place that has always brought me comfort: the sports world. You never hear anything about Turkish athletics, so I trusted I’d be safe within the warm electronic confines of ESPN.com. The first headline I saw: “Turkish basketball officials confirm contact with Kobe Bryant.” I’m not even a big NBA fan, yet the fucking lockout nearly brought me to tears.
A few days later, I left to go to Boston with a college buddy. In 2008, Mosco took me on my first trip to Fenway Park. I fell in love with the place—well, except for all the Red Sox fans—and it replaced Wrigley Field as my favorite ballpark. I had such a blast that we decided to make it an annual event. In 2009, we fulfilled that promise. In 2010 … not so much. But, once again in sole control of my calendar, I got the tradition back on track this year.
Dad dropped me at a rest stop on the Garden State parkway where Mosco would pick me up. I stood in the parking lot, psyched for a road trip with an old pal. What better way to get my mind off of her, I thought.
A rare break in morning traffic left a lull, allowing me to notice a loud humming against the building behind me. I turned to investigate and found myself face to face with an iced tea vending machine from … Turkey Hill. What. The. Fuck. How/why does this east coast corporation hold a monopoly on my misery? Is the CEO related to her or something? Turkeys and iced tea have no reason to be connected. I simply do not understand.
After the Red Sox game, Mosco and I bounced around a few bars. We ended up getting pizza at some Italian place. At least, we thought it was. On the walls were not one, but two framed posters of stunning cliff sides in … Turkey. I nearly slashed my throat with my pizza crust. I asked the teenager behind the counter to explain the presence of posters promoting a Euro-Asian, largely Islamic country in a restaurant located in an American, largely Catholic city. He shrugged. “I think the owner wants to go to Turkey or something.” Yeah, I hear it’s nice this time of year.
Monday the 1st, back in Manhattan Beach, my printer ran out of ink. So I decided to be proactive and replace the cartridge. Not that I had anything to actually print that day or the next or the rest of the week. But I ran the errand anyway.
I was 25 yards into Best Buy when I found myself passing through the photography department. Screech. The calendar in my brain clicked and I realized I’d been shopping in that section exactly one year ago to the day … for the camera I bought for her birthday.
It’s like I’m standing across the cafeteria buffet from the lunch lady of life. Despite my repeatedly tapping the glass at the steaming tray of sweet distractions, she keeps ladling my plate with bitter reminders.
But I made it to August 3rd! I’m totally safe now. Right?
—Photo Matthew Straubmuller/Flickr