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December 27, 1999 e-mail e-mail to a friend in need


Breakup Girl presents:

Volume IV.

Again: unlike last-minute bunker-builders, BG is devoting these few weeks to the opposite of hoarding -- that is, I'm eschewing my usual opening themes in this column so as to get right to as many of your stockpiled letters as possible, quick, before your relationships/the world end(s). You think all those computers have dating problems?! I've got to fix all of yours, pronto!

But first: BG took an hour or two off this weekend to hit the slopes; here's a quick ski lesson for you all.

1. You are what you ski. For years, I was An Intermediate Skiier. Competent. Went a couple times every winter as a matter of course; in New England, after all, it's transportation. That was me on the blue-square slopes; those were my friends -- the ones whose parents lettered in something other than band -- on the black diamonds. That was me ... until I met: "L.L. Bean:" my nickname for a delightful, remarkable boyfriend who could pitch a tent in a blizzard, fix his transmission with twine and Bazooka, find the restaurant by squinting at the constellations. He always had a flashlight; I believe his skin was Gore-Tex.

L.L. Bean skiied like the graceful snow cheetah. And he took me with him. To the head of an expert trail. "Oh, I don't ski those," I said.

"No," he said, "you haven't skiied those. But now you will." And he taught me.

Now, though my snow cheetah friends still need to wait for me at the bottom, we still start the same trails together. Because what L.L. showed me -- other than how to bend around a bump -- was how narrowly I'd cleared my own trail. It wasn't that I considered skiing black diamonds and decided not to; it was that it never occurred to me in the first place. Blue squares were who I were. Until someone suggested otherwise.

Take that to the slopes, take it to your Big Life Goals; heck, take it on your dates. This means you, Been Played, and all you other blue-diamond daters saying, "Oh, I don't do great relationships." Right, you don't. Until you decide -- slowly, turn by turn, bending around the bumps -- that you do.

2. You are your ski instructor. After all that, you may ask, why is my last name still Girl, and not Bean? Well, those details are farther up Mount Personal than BG is ever willing to go. And they're also beside the point. Because -- and this is why I yell at you when you talk about good-but-over relationships as "wasted time." Oh, no. How many of you have taken a trip, learned a skill, changed a view, made a mark, because of someone you loved and lost? That is what boy/girlfriends are here for; the forever part is the bonus. These are my props to the Ones who are not The. Because that is what they give us: props. Stuff (as opposed to baggage) that we take along with us. Ideas, interests, different ways to move; new bulges packed on like handfuls of snow. They're the folks who help us assemble our not-so-still lives. We grow whether they stay or go.

So think about this in the last week of the year: where will you ski? Who will you learn from? Know a magic bean when you see one, and it'll be all downhill from here.

Coziest, cocoaest, toewarmerest wishes for the year 2000 from the entire Team BG.



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