An Audacious Autumn – Essays from a breakup

Intermission: noun, a pause or break (or weekend getaway upstate).

I Am a Beautiful Butterfly

The morning of our trip, I made the decision not to go.

I could hear everyone in the other room. It was 10 AM and I was still in bed. Several times, I attempted to text them that I wasn’t going, but every time I picked up my phone, I set it down again.

In a way, the trip came at the worst time. The reality of my relationship ending set in, and all I wanted was to cocoon myself in my best friend Jack’s Green Lantern quilt, hoping to emerge as a butterfly and not a fatter caterpillar with baby wings (like in A Bug’s Life). In another way, this trip came at the best time: when I needed to force myself to get out of bed, whether I was ready to fly like a butterfly or drag myself along like a fat caterpillar about to topple a leaf.

“Someday, I will be a beautiful butterfly, and then everything will be better.” I decided to get up and take a shower.

Art for Art’s Sake

We made a pit stop at Magazzino, an Italian art museum in Cold Spring, for Jack’s boyfriend Teddy, who works at a gallery in Chinatown.

There was a particular piece I was drawn to, a large muslin-like canvas covered in writing. Close-up it was just chicken scratches, but from farther away, it looked like dozens of pages, lined out in pencil directly on the canvas, filled with writing. Like a journal, I thought, or maybe a manuscript.

I should be writing more.

Mystery of the Single 30-Something Gay

Before arriving at the Airbnb in Saugerties, the four of us stopped in town for a little retail therapy.

I wandered into Pop Vintage on Main Street, knowing exactly what I was looking for. When my parents got divorced and the weekend trade-offs ensued, I was collecting Hardy Boys books. Over the next few years, I found every single one of the original blue-bound books, some at flea markets with my dad and some at used bookstores with my mom. They coordinated with each other to make sure we didn’t get any duplicates, and to this day they are my shining example of how a breakup should go.

A year ago, I’d suggested to my (now ex-) boyfriend James that we do the same with Nancy Drew. The only rule: We couldn’t buy online, we had to find every last one in person at hole-in-the-wall bookstores and small-town markets.

Sure enough, the detective in me found the yellow-bound clue easily: Number 31, The Ringmaster’s Secret. I told the clerk the story of my parents and The Hardy Boys. “I started collecting them with my ex,” I told her, shrugging. “But it was my idea. The Hardy Boys are my memory. So I’m going to keep at it on my own.”


El Tango de Roxanne

When I first entered the bedroom, I was surprised at how big the bed was, then remembered it was meant for two.

I put Moulin Rouge on my laptop and scrolled through Instagram without looking at any of the images. I should download Grindr, I thought, immediately deciding against it. I wonder if James is on Grindr already, I wondered. I was spiraling fast.

I shifted my focus to the musical at hand. Will I ever find my Nicole Kidman? Will we sing to each other on a rooftop? (Will he die a tragic death in my arms?

I moved the pillows to the middle of the bed. You’re single now. Spread out.

When I woke up, I’d shifted all the way to the left side of the mattress in my sleep, hugging a pillow. “One day, I’ll fly away, leave all this to yesterday…”

The Road Also Traveled

Before everyone else woke, I put on a pair of shorts and went for a run.

Saugerties is beautiful, each house unique and bursting with personality. Every person I passed waved and said “Good morning,” and I suddenly felt like I was in Knoxville, Iowa, where I grew up. I caught my breath at a stop sign. A spider had woven an intricate web between the sign and the post, adding storybook small-town charm. (I half expected “Some Pig” to be written in it, though I would have taken offense.)

When I got back to the house, my friend Mallory was sitting on the front porch. “It’s so weird doing this,” she said.

“Doing what?” I asked, sitting on the chair next to her.

“Sitting on a front porch.” She sipped her familiar tea from an unfamiliar cup. “Maybe it’s because I had this life, when raising the kids in Colorado. I had the house and the neighborhood and…”

“The front porch?”

“Yes. And when we moved to New York, I was so certain I didn’t want this anymore.” She smiled. “But this is nice.”

“It is.”

“I guess we’re always changing.” I found that comforting. Always changing, always evolving. Always finding ourselves.

Good Vibes Only

While searching for a cute place in town to lunch, we couldn’t help but notice butterflies everywhere.

Not actual butterflies–metal ones, about the size of watermelons, displayed prominently on each block. I took a closer look at one. It turned out they were for sale, each painted and modified by a different artist. This one was purple with mosaic-inspired wings, a plaque proclaiming the title “Good Vibes.”

Good vibes. I smiled and hurried to catch the others a block ahead of me.

For Crepe’s Sake

We landed on Ohana Café, not because Ohana means family but because they had crepes.

I ordered a “Crepe-ing Me Crazy,” their twist on a Monte Cristo. I had one small bite, tasting ham and turkey and Swiss and raspberry compote. Then I had a bigger bite. Then another.

I finished the whole thing in five minutes flat, realizing that it was the first real thing I’d been able to eat since the breakup.

Alma Mater

We had started the trip with a pit stop for Teddy, so it was only fitting to end that way as well.

We parked the car and walked around his alma mater, Bard College. While touring Blithewood Garden, I found a small caterpillar, fat and beige and fuzzy, crawling along the garden wall. Surely, he’d be making a cocoon soon. When he was ready.

We’re doing our best, I thought. One leaf at a time.

Ian-Michael Bergeron

Iowa-born writer Ian-Michael Bergeron has written his weekly column in Get Out! Magazine since 2015, as well as editorials and interviews. He lives in New York City in a one-bedroom with two cats, Alexander and Thomas, and spends most of his income on shoes.

Related post