ASK AVANT: Broken Heart Surgery

Ask Avant is a series in which award-nominated internet persona Avant Garcia helps everyday people by imparting the wisdom he's received from the Council of Hedgehogs. Today's advisee is Erin, from PARTS UNKNOWN.

The woman who first stole my heart was a smiling 20-something with flaming red hair and an unbridled love of Fruitopia. I was eight years old, and she was someone who, as far as I could tell, lived in a televised paradise where good times and neon-colored fruit drink flowed like water (I assume California?).

I was a young boy in Arkansas, and she was a girl in a soft drink commercial; it should’ve lasted forever. But, like Fruitopia itself, the crush was discontinued (except in certain parts of Canada). In fact, I’m not sure I even properly recall the crush itself: was she actually a redhead? Was she even a woman? Perhaps it was Surge she was selling, not Fruitopia.

It’s strange how strong a feeling she elicited in me; now, for all of that feeling I invested, the details are murky, half-remembered at best. She disappeared from the television, thus from my memory, thus from my heart.

Love is a language, and the Book of Love, naturally, is Ferdinand de Saussure’s Course in General Linguistics. In love, like in language,  meaning comes from the interpretation of a sign; however, that sign is arbitrary, and meaning is amorphous.

Let me give you an example.

Let’s say I love Steve Guttenberg (and I do). What I actually love is the idea of Steve Guttenberg: my perception of him as an actor, lover, and fan of the Jonas Brothers. When someone says “Steve Guttenberg” to me, these are the things I think of. But my concept of Steve Guttenberg is not Guttenberg himself; he exists outside of my perception, a three dimensional being who is infinitely more complex than what my measly mind could possibly contain.

Now let’s say (god forbid) that someday Steve Guttenberg and I get into a fight. Suddenly,“Guttenberg” means something new to me: heartache, misery, and a hatred of Hallmark Christmas movies. The old meaning will linger, surely, but now it’s tainted. The heart is broken.

And, to come back to your actual questions, what do you do with a broken heart?


The heart is broken, and it hurts. But if love is a language, heartbreak is amnesia: you slowly unlearn the language of your past love. Signs that once held potent meaning suddenly become hollow, and day by day, your vocabulary shrinks, until your past is little more than a blurry Fruitopia commercial.

Mourn this loss. But as you do, surround yourself with good people and good things, new signs that you can attach all kinds of wonderful meanings to. Unlearn one love, and make room for another.

If you need advice, feel free to tweet your questions to @Queenmobs or @AvantGarcia.

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