It’s the times when you’re unprepared that it hurts the most.

The places that are safe, or seemingly your own, where you let your guard down. Like my morning coffee shop. Sure, we’d gone there a few times together, and we had one (of the approximately 4,000) inside joke about the Lexi Martini iced pour overs, but mostly it’s my place.

I’d already had a shite morning. I forgot my towel, so I had to spend $10 at the gym to get a new one, which promptly dropped onto the bathroom floor mid shower.

I dropped my brand new $150 electronic device onto the ground when I got out of my car at work, and it promptly stopped working.

When I walked into my coffee shop, I figured the insanely good pour over would cure some of the ills of the morning and start the turn-around. I mean, shit, it’s Friday, right?

That’s when I heard Sylvan Esso.

We’d gone to a concert together, up in Portland. It was our second time together, the first time being down in LA. Everything was new, even though going back to Portland always feels like going home. She took me to places I’d never been, introduced me to people I’d never met and showed me a band I’d heard of but never listened to.

I’d always been a rake, a cad, (or, as my sister so delicately puts it, a whore), but the newest thing was that I didn’t want to be those things any more. Not with her.

The romantic part of me wants to tell this story:

Mid-set at the Crystal Ballroom, the lights bouncing off of her hair, I realized that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her. The physical connection was undeniable, but there was something about watching her, enjoying something so fully and completely, that broke open something inside of me and made it absolutely imperative that I share as many of those moments with her as possible.

In truth, the concert, while fun, was a pain in the ass. The crowd was full of drunken assholes, and the Crystal Ballroom was an all-ages venue that liked to pen off the 21 and over crowd towards the side of the stage. We were up by the front of the pen, but the view wasn’t great even though we’re both 6 feet tall. I don’t know if that was the moment I realized I wanted to spend the rest of my life together. It probably happened earlier, and that trip to Portland, as a whole, was where I began to get comfortable with the idea.

But I remember sitting in the bar downstairs, just the two of us, bullshitting and having fun. It didn’t matter that we’d come incredibly early for the concert and that most of the food on the menu would’ve made her incredibly sick. It didn’t matter that the beer was shitty and the cider even worse. We had each other, and that’s why we had fun.

I’m standing in line, waiting to order, while Sylvan Esso plays and I’m hoping it’s a playlist and not an album, because I know this song is almost over and my brain, as it frequently does nowadays, starts to think about her enjoying the next Sylvan Esso show with her new boyfriend, one who doesn’t get scared and run away, one who doesn’t break her heart and realize that he fucked up, one that realizes what he’s got in front of him and holds on as tight as he can without getting lost in his own melancholic world of worst-case-scenarios and echo-chamber thought processes, and will she lean back against his chest and feel what she used to feel with me, and will I ever feel like that again, or was she the key to unlock that place inside of me and now that she’s gone that key is lost forever, and Jesus Fucking Christ it’s not even 9am, what the fuck is this shit, yeah, OK, it’s only been a week since she’s told me she doesn’t love me anymore, but fuckin’ hell, get a grip man, it’s almost your turn to order.

I’ve had to learn to eat all of that. I fucked up first, and that played a large part in her falling out of love with me. I’ve never had this happen to me before (see cad, rake, whore from above), so yeah, I’m still learning. Most days, it’s OK. I’m still in love with her, but every day it’s been getting a little better.

I’m prepared for the feelings of loss and the thoughts of her and the images of her with someone new.

I wasn’t prepared this morning, and it nearly broke me.