Steering Clear of Relationship Roadkill

When a relationship ends, a woman usually loses more than just a partner. She often has to rid her life of tiny yet potent pleasures that cultivate unwanted memories. In my case, the Alicia Keys' Diary CD had to go. So did Tuesday nights at the Jazz Lounge. And forget about West Indian food. Just the smell of curried chicken makes me involuntarily tear up.

Yes, picture me on a night out with my girlfriends at a Caribbean restaurant, crying into a bowl like, "Wow guys (sniffle) this chicken is so good (sniffle)."

It's true, what they say about scent triggering memory.

In this case, it's very vivid memories of my recent ex, Andre in the kitchen of my apartment singing some Bob Marley song while he cooked for us. I used to sit at the table just a few whimsical feet away and work on my senior thesis - half concentrating and half fantasizing about delicious dinner, even more delicious sex and everything else wrapped up in my relationship illusion.

Unfortunately, along with all the beautiful things came some ugly drama, and as my relationship crashed and burned, I had to trade in some of my very favorite things in order to salvage my sanity.

Which leads to today, after 7 months of officially being single, I still switch the button on my car radio to another preset channel as the beginning melodies of an Alicia Keys song creep up. I've made a lot of progress in the past few months, but I still can't go there. It's not even about crying anymore (I've run out of tears); I just hate mentally traveling back to a place where I know I cannot physically venture.

So I listen to something else. It's just that simple. Or is it? There are constant reminders of past passion everywhere, and sometimes I think I'm being tested.

"Time heals all wounds," my best friend Ann tells me. She's got more pseudo-wise proverbs than a truckload of fortune cookies. Even though I'm living a particularly exhilarating part of my life, I would appreciate a fast-forward button so that "time" could heal a little quicker.

Of course, the closer of a relationship you had, the harder it is to exterminate all those little reminders of him from your life. And me and Andre were pretty tight so you can just imagine all the life cleansing I had to do. Throw out all the teddy bears, give the t-shirts and soccer jerseys to Salvation Army, put the pictures and cards away somewhere forgettable (I couldn't bring myself to throw them away), erase all his numbers, his mom's number, his sister's number from my phone - yes I was thorough.

But a woman's gotta do what a woman's gotta do. And I kept my game face on through all of it (except for the pictures - I'm only human!). Damn though - if the first step of recovering is this exhausting, I'm going to need a trainer for the next.