The Dreaded “Dear John”


I’ve never been the recipient of the heart crushing “Dear John”, but I can say that I was the unfortunate messenger years ago. It was Singleton times. I had finished my retail shift and was unlocking the apartment door. I looked down and noticed a sad, lonely envelope. I felt an immediate lump in my throat. “No way”, I thought. “This is going to be brutal.” And it was. It was brutal and heart breaking. Sad and confusing for my friend. I couldn’t believe he chose the letter route. It was a movie moment…in the worst way. Stop now and wipe away any pity you might be feeling. It didn’t take much time for my friend to pull herself out of the breakup abyss. Today, she is happily summiting every mountain in her world and life has turned out great. Every once in a while when the subject comes up, we have a good laugh. Time has that magical ability of erasing pain and if you’re lucky, it will even sprinkle a little humor on the memory.

So as I went on about my life, thinking I was immune to a “Dear John” drop…bam. One hit me. My current lover is Mr. 1955, and while he’s still my dreamboat du jour, circumstances surrounding him have been less than dreamy. There have been architectural delays, inspection road blocks and resubmittals galore. Stand offs, no shows and surprise scenarios that snuck in. A vaulting must, rewiring essential and another air conditioning unit please. Look, this is why I love a good renovation. They’re challenging. And if I’m being completely honest, I actually get a rise making my way through all the obstacles.

These renovations are like a 1,000 piece puzzle. You see it on the shelf and think to yourself, “I can do that!” Then, you get home, dump the box onto the table and sink in your chair. “What in the world have I gotten myself into.” That’s all
that comes to mind. The sky is impossible. Is there a single cloud? The greys into more grey and more grey after that seem like they’ll never come together. But one by one with patience and a little time, the puzzle starts to make sense. You can see it take shape and you know you’ll finish it. There’s not a single person on this planet that can tell me looking at a puzzle you put together (with a little help from some friends) is not the best feeling ever. A sit back, hands above your head and kick up your feet kinda moment.

So back to the bomb, or shall I say “Dear John”. It was this past fall and I’ve been so crippled by the “Dear John”, post mess clean-up ever since, that I’ve been paralyzed when it comes to writing. I have to be inspired and somewhat happy. I have to be clipping along with romantic purpose. Crossing off lists and accepting deliveries is what really gets me going. Millwork picks, paint swatches and cabinet deliveries is the ambiance for me to get out a reading-worthy post. Ironically, when the “Dear John” dropped I was on a high. Perfect timing, as it’s not really a “Dear John” unless you’re totally blindsided. The pure shock of a DJ is what makes it legit.

The scene starts when we finally have approved plans (for the second time) with the city. This meant we could move forward and finish Mr. 1955! I left a message for my contractor telling him the good news. That’s Day 1. Day 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 pass with zero response. No call, text or email back. Darkness. Being the naive and trusting type, the thought actually crossed my mind that he must be gravely ill. By Day 5 I was thinking it had to be worse, tragic in fact. This was not like him. He was responsive and professional. By Day 6 I had moved passed upset and angry…kind of…and Plan B was in full effect. You can’t wallow when something like this happens. The show must go on. Yes, every house is a massive love affair for me, but this is also business. I lined up three great suitors to take my MIA’s place, and after a serious round of contractor speed dating, I had my pick. He was ready to ride up on his white horse…I mean truck…and finish the job. But first, it had to happen.

It was a modern “Dear John”. The kind that flashes across your phone so you can happily hit “decline”. The call came in and I didn’t give it a second to ring. I hit that red button so fast, it was a visceral reaction. Then, the voicemail notification. Brutal. I had to listen. It was like opening the letter. I pulled the car over to focus, took a long, deep breath and ripped it open hitting “play”. It was simple and to the point. No reminiscing. No prophetic apology. No thank you for the referrals I had sent his way. Not a single beat around the bush. Chilly with a hint of embarrassment is how I would describe the tone. “I’m too busy now to finish the job. Best of luck to you.” Delete. Damn, delete feels so good sometimes. Like erasing a whiteboard. And poof. It’s gone.

So I was “Dear Johned”. It happens to the best of us. We’re going to be dooped. People are going to shock the hell out of us and let us down. We’ll be sideswiped and even swiped left. We’ll be stood up, walked out on and left with unanswered bewilderment. But for all of you out there who have had the unfortunate DJ, remember that the Dear Johner just did you a giant favor. Who wants a wimp as a sidekick? You deserve better. You deserve someone willing to talk face to face, look you in the eye and at the very least have a civil conversation. Letter drops are for losers. I mean, were we all not scarred watching what happened to Noah? If “The Notebook” doesn’t set the world straight, I’m not sure what will.

But if it happens that way, and you are shocked by a drop, pull up those boot straps up and jump back on the horse. I’m happy I did. I wrangled in a new stud. We’re blowing and going and Mr. 1955 is almost ready to face the world. He’s handsome beyond belief and has a killer personality. It’s practically a known fact that the most interesting people you’ll meet have faced quite a bit of adversity. And in the construction/renovation world…my guy has been through the ringer.

So here’s to all the men and women who have survived the “Dear Johns”! May we all have brighter sunsets, happier moments ahead and a hell of a great story to tell…once we’ve pulled ourselves up off the floor.



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