This post is part of “Getting Over Maggie,” a series about a guy whose girlfriend has moved out.
You swore off eating donuts after Maggie left, not because they were bad for you (at the time, you couldn’t bring yourself to care about that) but because donuts were a With-Maggie Food, a With-Maggie Experience.
Every Saturday morning during the summer, the two of you had walked to the farmer’s market to buy donuts from Joe, the friendly dude from the donut shop.
This went on for three years before Maggie moved out on a heat-soaked Wednesday. You holed yourself up in your room (her room—it was her room, too—or at least it had been) and cried and slept and cried.
When Saturday came along, you were able to get out of bed, which was good, and you thought about going to see Joe and getting a donut.
It would probably be a good idea to have a normal human interaction, your first since The Event. You hadn’t left the house since you helped Maggie carry her computer to her car. You cried on her computer and tried to use your shirt to wipe up your tears.
You took the next two days off of work and had spent them sitting in bed with your cat (at least Maggie didn’t take him), considering the new sad state of your existence.
Maybe talking to another human at the farmers’ market would be a good thing.
You got as far as putting on jeans and brushing your teeth (Maggie had taken the toothpaste, so you had to use a trial-size tube you’d gotten from the dentist a long time ago) before you stopped and sat down on the floor of the bathroom.
If you went to the farmers’ market, Joe was going to ask where your girl was, just like he’d done every other time you’d appeared without her. Each time, you smiled and said she was visiting family or friends, and he nodded and handed you your change.
But this time, she had fully evacuated your life, and she had not given very good reasons why. If you talked to Joe, you’d have to lie, or tell the truth, and you couldn’t decide which would be worse, so you stayed home.
Kevin brought donuts into work the next week, and just looking at them made you sad, so that was when you decided that you would never eat another donut. You were rallying against the injustice of a world without Maggie.
But it wasn’t a whole world without Maggie, it was just your world, and she had chosen that, and you still couldn’t quite believe it, and so you refused to eat donuts, or do anything else that reminded you of her, which meant that you weren’t doing much of anything.
You would prefer a whole world without Maggie, one where you and she had never touched, one where Maggie had never entered your life. But everything had seemed so inevitable at the time, so exactly what you’d been looking for.
That writer that your sister likes said that every relationship ends in a breakup, divorce, or death. Nothing is forever; it’s the natural way of things. You are Maggieless now, and had she not broken up with you, you would most certainly have been rendered Maggieless in one way or another at some point in the future. As though that is supposed to be comforting.
Five months later, you visit your sister, and her husband brings donuts for breakfast. Your nephew offers you a donut from the box, and when you say no, he looks at you so nicely and says “Please” in this very sincere way.
It’s almost like he knows what the donut means to you. He is an eight-year-old sage. He offers the box of donuts again and you cannot believe the incredible kindness (life has been so hard lately). You decide to eat a donut.
He holds the box up as you consider your options. This choice seems very important.
- Powdered (does it have jelly inside, or vanilla custard, or creme? too chance-y)
- Coconut (weird)
- Cinnamon (boring)
- Blue icing with rainbow sprinkles (too festive)
- Maple glazed (disgusting)
- Blueberry cake (Maggie’s favorite, and therefore off-limits forever)
- Or: a plain cake donut with chocolate icing
The last one seems like the correct choice, and so you take it. Your nephew watches you as you take the first bite.
You chew, and at first you want to spit it out. You almost start to cry because you are thinking, “This is a Maggie Experience; I don’t want this experience; this experience reminds me of Maggie.” Of three summers spent eating donuts from the farmers’ market at the kitchen table that Maggie took when she moved out.
You are ready to throw away the rest of the donut, but your nephew is sitting with you, steady in his way.
Just then, your niece, who is four, walks up, grabs a donut (the powdered sugar one) and asks where Maggie is for the third time that weekend. You must have been sending out weird Maggie vibes.
“Maggie is not visiting this year,” your nephew says, plainly, matter-of-fact. You’re not sure he knows what happened, if he would be able to understand, but he has been treating you so kindly this whole weekend. Catering to your fragile state.
Everything has been weird since she left.
You expect a chorus of endless “Whys?” to spring from your niece. Because that is how you have been feeling, too: why couldn’t Maggie stay with you? How could she find it in herself to leave?
Miraculously, your niece just says, “Oh.”
You finish your donut. After a while, you realize how much you like donuts and how much you have missed them: how many perfectly lovely experiences you have been denying yourself, as though these sacrifices might change Maggie’s absence or somehow prove to anyone, other than yourself, how deeply it has affected you.
You are only hurting yourself.
P.S. More posts about Maggie are coming. To make sure you don’t miss them, subscribe to my newsletter.
P.P.S. Four Women Who Are Not Maggie.