The second- or third-worst thing about heartache was the jars. For years, I hadn't opened one myself. I'd feign a twist then a grimace then hand it off to my girlfriend. Pop. They always opened on her first grab.
The first week without her, I wrung and clawed at a jar of spaghetti sauce. I used a spoon for leverage then rifled through my drawers, hoping to find that circle of friction my mother gave me when I moved west. "So you can get into mayonnaise," she said. That circle was missing now. I ate the spaghetti with butter and salt instead.
I had nothing to do with my nights, so I hired a personal trainer. "What's your fitness goal?" he asked. "I want to be able to open my own jars," I said.
He laughed. "Let's start with some pull-ups," he said.
Afterward, I used a can-opener to pry open some pickles. I slapped the spaghetti sauce against the floor. I looked again for that circle. I found it wedged behind the spatulas, hung over the back of the drawer. I wrenched it around the sauce lid. It stayed stuck.
My trainer taught me to squat 100 times in a row. He taught me to bench-press 45 and stand flamingo on one leg for a solid minute. After two months, I could do push-ups and 12 kinds of crunches. I could not open a jar.
I made do with can openers, using them like beer bottle openers to relieve the pressure from the lids. I asked a neighbor for help once. I was sheepish, but starving.
By the time I met my next girlfriend, I had forgotten the ease with which my ex had popped lids. My ways were messy, but they worked. Besides, I was an independent woman. I would not lose another relationship to dependence. I made my own money, popped my own lids. I take out the trash like the chore does not offend me. I wash the dishes as soon as I eat.
So when my new girl handed me a jar to open, I reached for the can opener, no shame.
"Oh, your tiny hands," she said, catching me in the act. "I bet you just can't get any leverage."