A Breakup Letter to McDonald's

You've been there for me for so long and I've been selfish. I haven't let you go because it would be letting go of a lot more -- admitting something I know I'm not ready to -- but that's not fair, and I realize that now.
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london june 22 mcdonalds...
london june 22 mcdonalds...

Dear McDonald's,

I'm realizing that we might not be good for each other anymore. One shameful morning too many, I think.

It's not even waking up to find our used wrappers in the bed. It's waking up with zero memory of how you came home with me in the first place. It's the sickening awareness that hits me in stages -- just a mouthfeel first, your salt still on my lips, but then my stomach, turning over as I remember, connect drunken dots, because then I realize you never left. My head flips over to find you there, a bit smeared and crusty at sunrise but still there, so peaceful on the next pillow, perfuming the air, pretending like the night before didn't happen -- like we didn't start in the living room and end here, naked, in bed.

And then those first few embarrassing minutes. The humiliation as we discover you stained the sheets. As I throw you out of the apartment like garbage. The hot shower I spend far too long in, washing your stink off my fingers.

The next day, nobody is happy about us. The text I send out from the pooper to all our friends who saw us go home together refers to you like a conquest but it's nothing but regret and remorse because everyone knows you're nothing but my cheap late-night standby, that we've done this song and dance too many times to count, that if we were real, we would do all this sober. We would escape our vampiric nights and maybe have an afternoon cone, a walk, some fresh air. We'd go for a drive -- not an Uber.

I'm sorry for doing this over the Internet but you must know why. There's no self-control on my side. No self-respect on yours. We both know if I came to see you, if I even stepped into your building -- hell, your block -- we'd give in. It's your scent: I'd salivate, then surrender. We'd go through our vicious cycle again, and that cycle needs to end before we destroy whatever's left of my heart.

But first: I want you know there was a time when you were everything I could ever have wanted in the entire universe.

Before I'd even go out at night, you were how the night would end on a high note. You had this unbelievable way of always making things better, whether we were fueling up for more, or falling asleep having had enough. You were my light at the end of long tunnels of work, cram sessions at the library, days working jobs I don't even put on the resume now. You're where my friends and I made the best memories we can't remember -- a time machine to when life was simpler and we were invincible. Do you remember the time we tried to eat 50 nuggets together? The time we rewrapped Fish Filets into Spicy Chicken Sandwich wrappers and tricked everyone? Our Octobers playing Monopoly? Nobody can take these memories away. There's only one place where the guys and I were refused drive-thru service because we didn't have a car, and then assembled into one -- only one place where I've ever pretended to be a left headlight with my cell phone's flash. That ear-to-ear grin as I rolled down a faux window? That is ours. Nobody will ever have it.

I want you to know I'm grateful for how you made me feel better when I was sick and how you made me feel better when I was sad. A warm apple pie, a little kid's toy -- you knew how to make me laugh, how to distract me, how to make regular days feel like special ones. It's for those reasons you will always be my sweetheart. The one I loved from childhood. The one even my parents loved.

I know I've been going elsewhere lately. I know you tried changing for me. The make-overs, the healthier lifestyle -- none of it went unnoticed. But at some point, I think we have to recognize we're in a rut, one that's been developing for years. I can't keep inviting you over at 3 a.m. and you can't be okay with me driving to you buzzed and high, luring you into a car with nothing but slurred words and crinkled ones. I'm dismissive and that's disrespectful. Our cycle's gotten destructive. It's not even the messy, hung-over mornings -- it's how the whole thing bleeds into the next day, this fog of remorse hanging over me that maybe there's a better way out there. Maybe our past isn't enough for a future. You've made it so clear you want to be considered classier, you want to be respected -- not this embarrassment I'm too ashamed to get an iced coffee with.

You deserve that. You've been there for me for so long and I've been selfish. I haven't let you go because it would be letting go of a lot more -- admitting something I know I'm not ready to -- but that's not fair, and I realize that now.

If you see me drive past and my eyes are looking straight ahead, know it's not me ignoring you -- it's me missing you. And if we run into one another and I don't say anything, if you see me with someone else, if something hits social media too soon and you wonder if I even think about you, if I ever even cared for you -- I do. I have. I always will.

It's not that I'm not lovin' it anymore -- it's that I think we might just be better off apart than together.


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