Here we go eh? With a title like that you’d expect me to really stick the boot in. Have a good old gripe and whine about past encounters that have gone wry. Friends relationships that have gone sour. Marriages that have gone down the toilet. Lord knows I could write a book about it (and I probably will), but this little gem of a museum, tucked away in a corner of Zagreb, is surely one of the most uniquely uplifting experiences you’ll find hidden among countless galleries loaded with crucifixion daubs. A breath of fresh air, literally, figuratively, spiritually…
I’d heard a lot about the museum, and with sufficient past heartbreak of my own, I was keen to see what it was all about. The collection has been growing since it began a number of years ago as a traveling exhibit, and it shows no signs of slowing down – such is it’s evident power to heal. People from all over the world have donated trinkets, clothing, toys, artifacts, letters, and memories, all woven together with some incredible stories as to how or why that relationship ended. The idea being that letting these items go would provide a sort of comfort or closure. Some of the entries will make you cry your heart out, while others will have you in fits of laughter. Like the frisbee that was given as an anniversary present. Or a pair of horribly fake boobs a woman was subjected to wear during sex because hers weren’t big enough. Or the gift of a fluffy red lobster. A particular favourite of mine was someone who had been cheated on, and every single day their adulterous partner was away, they took an axe to a piece of their furniture. Upon returning, said cheat found all their chairs and tables neatly stacked up as firewood. Needless to say it was the axe that was donated to the museum – or as the writer so eloquently put it – a “therapy instrument.”
I rue that I wish I’d kept my old guitar. Well, the remnants of my old guitar at least. After writing a song for my ex girlfriend on it, I played it to one of her friends while she was away. Thinking I would win praise in proving my love to her and her alone, I told her I’d played the song to her friend. She went ballistic. Psycho ballistic. Screaming and wailing ballistic. “Don’t touch me” ballistic. Getting her friends involved ballistic. The first time I met her sister I was crying through the letter box as I was thrown out the house. Several whiskeys later, I smashed my guitar to pieces on my bedroom wall. I’d just put new strings on it. It would have made a fine exhibit. It was a small reminder of how fucked up that girl was – and how blinded I became by what I thought was love.
And so naturally it brought me to thinking what I could actually donate, and I settled on three items. A poem that I wrote for my dad, a poppy to represent my mum, and my dog Jack’s old collar. It is the story behind them that makes the exhibit interesting – and I think I’ve got a pretty interesting piece there! The three represent more heartbreak than a stupid ex girlfriend could ever hold over me, but they also symbolise a new beginning. I remember the day dad passed (a year to the hour that I was dumped by phone) and I never wasted thought on her again. It was like he took it all away. I don’t need to donate something here for closure, or to mend my heart. I’ve shed my tears; and my parents, dog and I do not have a “broken relationship.” They are always at my side and he is always at my heel. But if someone else could find comfort and solace in the tale, then I’m more than happy to tell it.
By the time you’ve wandered round and read every entry (and I recommend reading them all), you’re starting to get a real idea of solidarity. Broken hearts are nothing new, but people sharing their vulnerability like this gives it an interesting perspective. A previously unseen insight into how others deal with the same things most of us have been through – or are going through right now. You are not alone. What a marvelous idea to bring people together with a common heartbreak denominator. You leave not upset or depressed, but with a new-found feeling of hope. Now I just have to remember to stash away that frilly care bear tat from my future ex-girlfriend.