What I Left Behind

Home life and “nesting” have always been hugely important to me. From a young age, I  always decorated my space. Starting with my bedroom at age seven, which I painted myself and chose the window coverings and bedspreads (both had a Mickey Mouse pattern, my mother sewed the curtains herself). My childhood bedroom underwent more makeovers in my high school years than I did, and my college dorm, in an old brick “castle” in Upstate New York, was likely the most sophisticated, grown-up space on campus. Making my space beautiful has always been one of my closest-held hobbies, so it was no surprise to my family when, after years of struggling and not knowing what I wanted to do, I became an interior designer.

Three years ago, I met a handsome French guy and we fell in love. Or at least I think we did. You can never really be sure what’s going on inside someone else’s head. The more I date, the more I start to question that I know anything about what’s going on inside my partner’s brain and heart. We’ll call this guy X (trying to do my best to be respectful, as you’ve probably guessed this story is about a breakup). Initially, I kept him at arm’s distance. I’d just been through a horrible breakup, the first time I’d ever actually been in love with someone, and I was devastated. I lost parts of myself in that first break up that I’ll never get back, vulnerable aspects of myself, trust.

I didn’t really want to jump into a relationship with someone so handsome and fit as X. A fun fact about me is that I’m an FFK (former fat kid) and while I’m pretty confident in my talents and emotional intelligence, I’m incredibly unconfident in my physical appearance. Why I choose to fixate on this, I have no idea. I don’t consider myself a superficial person, but am haunted by the most incredibly superficial bullshit. And it affects all aspects of my life, especially relationships. I’m bringing it up here because it explains a bit about how I went into this relationship, fearful of being hurt, worried I didn’t measure up looks-wise, scared I’d be left behind once again.

Despite my attempts to guard myself from pain and vulnerability, love took its course. Or I think it was love, at least on my part. WHO REALLY KNOWS ANYTHING ANYMORE??. X and I started dating, almost immediately doing that thing where you sleep over every night. Half the time we’d be at my place in West Hollywood, half the time we’d be at his place in Silver Lake. If you know Los Angeles, you know that a West Hollywood – Silver Lake relationship is basically a long-distance relationship. Getting to his place at rush hour often took an hour. I’d show up, flustered, being like “WHY DO YOU LIVE SO FAR AWAY???” It’s a miracle we even made it through that two year, long-distance trial period.

It got to the point that I didn’t know where any of my clothes were because half were at his place and the other half were in mine. When you sleep in the same bed every night, splitting time between two apartments across the city from one another can become taxing. So, after approximately two years together, we decided to move in together. Before that could happen, there was the question of his dated 1984 condo. He’d purchased it five years previous just after he’d moved here from London, always with the intention of renovating it. Since I was renting and he owned his place, there was never a question of where we’d move. But before moving in he wanted to remodel so we could stay in my place and not have to live in the construction mess.

I didn’t anticipate that this renovation would be the project of a lifetime. This was my first time designing a space, from the ground up, starting from scratch. I love designing for clients, but there’s a certain push and pull, dealing with their budget, figuring out what they like and dislike, that doesn’t exist when you’re designing for yourself. I’m much quicker designing for myself than for other people. The process goes something like this: “I like that, I’m going to install it.” I just choose stuff and move forward without the preciousness involved in working with clients, who need to be convinced at every single step that they’re making the right choice (sidenote, to everyone: there a million correct choices for every design decision, stop thinking there’s going to be ONE right answer). X let me do pretty much whatever I wanted, so this was a designer’s dream come true.

Designing a place with a partner is one of the most joyous, optimistic activities I have ever undertaken. Every design decision feels like a little shot of confidence in your future together. Adding a wine fridge, imagining all the dinner parties you’ll host, creating a cozy layout for the living room where you’ll curl up in the winter next to a fire and read, building a TV lounge where we could snuggle up together to watch “Search Party” (Have you seen it? So amazing). All of these choices, from the cabinet hardware on up to the bedding you choose, are, in a certain sense, a way of fantasizing about the future. Imagining what  you’ll do together in the space, the experiences you’ll share, what your life will be.

The condo took about six months to renovate, and was relatively free of terrible, HGTV-style “THERE’S TOXIC MOLD ROTTING THE CEILING BEAMS!” kind of surprises. X and I would head over together a few times a week, schlepping to Silver Lake to check on the progress. I’d stand in the framed out shower, wondering what it would be like for me to be in there while X was in the adjacent bedroom. We’d tape out the size of the refrigerator, trying to feel out how much room we’d have to cook together in the kitchen (I need lots of room in the kitchen and get very claustrophobic when someone else is in there). We checked the color of the flooring in the space to make sure it was the perfect, ashy mid-tone color I wanted. We were, essentially, playing house. Before the house was even constructed.

In the years we dated, X got to know my family, we traveled up north to Sonoma County for holidays and long weekends. We went off to Europe, I got to see Paris and Barcelona for the first time, I met his sister but not his terrifyingly traditional French parents (red flag?). He’s from Paris, so he showed me around and told me about how the city had changed over the years, showed me the playground park he frequented as a child. I’m not a huge traveler, mainly because I’ve never had the time and the money to do so simultaneously. More than anything, I like traveling to places where people I know are from. Whether they’re in the United States or elsewhere. X took me all over Europe, to the most romantic places on earth (Saint-Tropez is a cliche but it is the most gorgeous place I’ve ever been). I’m a firm believer that traveling with someone intensifies your love for them.

I grew up in California and X has only been here a few years, so I took him all over the places I road tripped with my family growing up, from Santa Cruz and the Central Coast to San Francisco and Ojai. I grew in inside Yosemite National Park, in a house a half mile away from Yosemite Falls, which rumbled the windows of my childhood bedroom (which had a prime view of the falls). In order to live in Yosemite, you have to work there. And while X I were together, my parents retired and had to move out of my childhood home (hence the move to Sonoma County). We visited my childhood house a few weeks after my parents had moved out, it was an empty shell of the house I remembered. And as we drove away I burst into tears. I think most people feel this connection to home, to spaces they’ve lived. Saying goodbye to home is like saying goodbye to a trusted family member, someone who saw you grow up, who sheltered you. Saying goodbye is truly impossible, you don’t really get over it. No one else was there for that moment, and the person I shared that small, personally-historic moment with is now out of my life, the only person who can affirm that memory, and thousands more, is now gone.

The condo’s construction was supposed to take two months to complete. I always tell my clients, “take whatever number your contractor gives you and multiply it by two or three.” I was pretty much right here, as it took about six months to complete everything. But we weren’t bothered. We weren’t living there, amongst the dust and construction. We were enjoying each other in our little West Hollywood spot. This is another tip for couples renovating a home: try not to live there, it’ll drive you crazy and you’ll just end up fighting a lot.

X was really pleased with all the changes I made to the condo. He loved the new bathtub in the guest bathroom (Euros love baths, it’s an actual fact). He loved the smooth white walls (formerly orange peel textured), the cozy, large bed in our bedroom. He loved the bright white kitchen, with gorgeous handmade tile from Fireclay, a small company based in Northern California. He loved the modern crown moulding I’d added to the bedrooms. It felt like the place he’d wanted it to be when the realtor showed it to him years before.

As a designer, I’m constantly changing things out. So the next year was a rotating door of furniture, until summer, when I finally felt like everything was as it should be. We enjoyed having people over to our building’s pool, constant dinner parties, and, more frequently, enjoying the space with each other. Reading, snuggling to watch TV. For how we used it, the space was perfectly designed. I guess I didn’t really know that until I moved out.

As I said before, you can never really know what’s going on in someone else’s head. But from my perspective, the years X and I spent together were really great. We traveled together, we hiked the mountains on the outskirts of Los Angeles, we took road trips to Joshua Tree. He loves back massages, and I gave them willingly as we watched TV, until my hands were tired and sore. Our relationship was nice. I felt a lot of love and did my best to show it.

Which is why it was such a shock when one evening, X told me he didn’t want to be together anymore, that it wasn’t “working out.” This was news to me. The explanation went something like “I’m not attracted to you anymore, I just don’t love you, maybe I’m not built for this.” That was kind of a surreal moment. Like what do you do at this point? My first response was “I’d like to work on this.” But he didn’t. So what do you do? Do you fight for the person you love? Is that just something people in movies do? Do you turn your heart off, get out as fast as possible? HOW THE FUCK CAN I TURN MY HEART OFF???

I had to respect X’s wishes, there was no way around losing him, so I let him go. And with that, my heart was ripped out of my chest, put into a blender, mixed with battery acid, and then put back into my chest, leaving me a depressed maniac with glazed eyes, in a quiet funnel.

I remained in the condo we shared for almost a month. This happened during the holidays (awesome timing, the holidays are depressing anyway, even without having your heart broken), so I was visiting my family for a portion of this, while he went on a vacation with a group of perfect-bodied gay men (which wasn’t threatening or disturbing to me at all, JUST KIDDING). I have to say, I don’t recommend cohabitation with an ex. But I was kind of bound, the Los Angeles rental market skyrocketed since I moved in with X. I finally found a place that was available in January, so I made plans to move there as soon as I could. Unfortunately, they were resurfacing the exterior walkways at our condo so there were only a few specific days I was able to bring a moving crew in.

So I found myself, on a January morning, alone in the condo (X was still on his Mexico, probably hooking up with hotties), looking around at everything. Each little design element I noticed felt like a little piece of care I’d given to the space, a small offering of love that was now being rejected. I say to clients all the time that creating a beautiful, comfortable space is a way to show care for yourself and care for others. So on this lonely January morning, staring silently around the condo I was about to move out of, against my own wishes, I felt a cascade of rejected offerings shower over me. Will what I offer ever be enough? Will I ever be what I need to be to not lose the ones I love? Will I ever measure up? Will I ever have a body that deserves to be loved?

The worst part of a break up is losing the history you’ve made with someone, the investment you’ve made in creating a future together. I have this paranoia that I’m missing my shot at meeting someone who can help me tabulate my own history as I’m living it. Someone who will remember my parents as the with-it people they are, before they get too elderly to be real representations of their full, youthful selves. I worry that years will be lost, I won’t be able to say to someone “Remember when we were 25 and ______ happened?!?” In every lost love, is the loss of a future filled with memories currently being created, someone to corroborate the story of your life. It goes without saying that love and companionship are also lost, but for some reason this time I’m concentrating on the history lost. How to create history with a new person, yet again? I can’t. I have no desire to right now. After six years and two consecutive relationships where I knocked on emotional doors, only to have them ultimately slammed in my face, I’m done.

So what did I leave behind in the condo? I guess I left behind optimism. And hope. I left behind the confidence that someone who says he loves me truly means it. I left behind the belief that showing love and care for someone is enough. In some certain circumstances, nothing will be enough. You cannot know what anyone else is truly thinking, ever, or how they truly feel.

I also, of course, left some furniture. I’m only adding this because a lot of people ask about it. We basically split things up based on what made sense for him to keep and what made sense for me to take to my new place. He paid me for the stuff he kept. It was very transactional. It turned my act of care (designing the condo) into a business exchange. It cheapened everything.

I dove fully into the condo renovation, even giving the condo its own name, “Orcondo.” I did this for a few reasons. Firstly, because I love puns. Second, because it made it easier to talk about on my various online outlets, a funny, flashy named shortcut for “my new apartment that I live in with my boyfriend.” When a friend of mine found out I’d been dumped, he texted me “Ooops!” about my naming the condo, “Orcondo.” He thought I’d jumped the gun.

I don’t really feel like it was a mistake to jump in and go full force, naming the condo after myself. Would I do all of this again? Absolutely. Of course I’m in the depths of the shitty, post-break-up part right now, but it was worth it. Regardless of how pessimistic I’m feeling right now, I’m ultimately an optimist. You have to try things out and see if they work. At the beginning, I tried my best to guard myself from being hurt emotionally, holding X at arm’s length and making him make all the first moves before I was convinced he actually liked me. I was worried I wasn’t physically attractive enough for him. And guess what? Ultimately I wasn’t and he told me that. My worst nightmare came true, even though I tried to avoid it. You cannot truly protect yourself from the painful aspects of life. Unless you want to close yourself off to love and relationships completely.

This is why you shouldn’t be afraid to move in with someone. Sure, it could lead to a painful and inconvenient move in a few years. But you’re also missing out on all the fun of domesticity. You’re missing out on intimate moments you and your partner will share living together. You have to be a bit vulnerable to experience the full riches of life. And who knows? Maybe you wont have your heart smashed repeatedly like I have! Dreamz…

After weeks of searching, I found an old-Hollywood, French Provencal style building in West Hollywood and moved in in Mid-January. It’s a mess. I had them rip out the kitchen and I moved in right after they’d gutted the bathroom. Everything is still under construction. All the ugly lighting has been ripped out of its sockets. Of course, the day I moved in the ceiling in part of the living room caved in because of rain, but that’s on the mend now. Having this project has been the perfect distraction from the sadness of the breakup with X. I think about him every second and it’s terrible, a little pin sticking into my heart, making me feel mentally ill, but being in a new space is somehow refreshing.

One of the most startling aspects of a breakup is how it can make you question reality. “I was in this relationship over here, in love and enjoying you. And you were in that relationship over there, not loving me and not enjoying me. WHAT WORLD ARE WE LIVING IN? MINE OR YOURS?” For this what-is-reality conundrum, moving helps. Distracting yourself with design helps. It allows you to proactively create your own new reality, regardless of what was going on with the old one.

So here I am, in my new space (which I’ve named “Chateaulando,” sadly nothing will ever be as catchy as “Orcondo”), trying my best to move on and create a happy new life. The past few  incredible years I spent building a home with X are over. And now, before I can return to full life as an actual human, it’s time to start building on my own.

To see before/after images of the space I’m talking about, click here.

EDITOR’S NOTE: I wrote this about a month ago and sat on it for a while because I had so many conflicted feelings about sharing it. I ended up deciding to share because it is my belief that through sharing our personal, vulnerable stories we can help other people get through their struggles. It’s TMI and navel-gazing, but the point is to make sure I’m sharing a realistic portrait of my life, not just the good stuff. People only sharing the good stuff is what leads to other people somehow like their lives aren’t as blessed as the ones they see online. 

Photography by Tessa Neustadt courtesy Homepolish



92 thoughts on “What I Left Behind

  1. I don’t know if this helps, but I’ve always thought you were a hottie and lamented that you weren’t straight! Hang in there – I am sure brighter days await you.

  2. I hope you feel just a little stronger each day. We all have been thru these hard times and hopefully you feel supported after sharing your story. Sending you positive joo joo.

  3. Dude, this was beautiful. I have loved following you over the years, and your transparency and optimism continue to shine through despite your crappy new circumstances. It totally sucks, but know you have readers who are rooting for you. Hugs!

  4. You are SUCH a good writer and you clearly have a high emotional intelligence! You articulated so well the thoughts, questions, feelings that surround a tremendous heartbreak. Thank you for sharing this. Thrilled to see what you do with Chateaulando. Hoping you find peaceful days ahead. xoxo.

  5. True story. I read your posts on Emily’s site. When I started following you on Instagram, and first saw you, I remember thinking, “Hey, he’s really good-looking! Funny, he doesn’t WRITE like a good-looking person.” What I meant, I guess, is that your voice doesn’t reflect how gorgeous you are. Have faith honey. Now, I’m just a 60-year old woman, but I have a gay son so beautiful people have told me it’s hard to look at him, and if he brought you home, I’d be like, ‘Well DONE!” FWIW:).

  6. Ugh grrrr break ups are the WORST. I am so sorry. If it helps at all, I also think you are a total hottie. I am a straight girl, so I am not sure how much my opinion counts. But I totally crush on you. Thank you for sharing, this story, and all the other parts of yourself you share on the daily – your humor, design, compassion. You are amazing, and someday the right dude will realize that and not want to let you go. I know it isnt the same as the love from a relationship, but I totally fan girl love you.

  7. Thank you for posting this. I really appreciate your honesty — it’s easy to be honest when things are going great, but takes much more courage when they aren’t.

  8. Great and moving essay, glad you shared. I just want to give you a big hug. – Sharon

  9. Thank you for sharing your heart Orlando! I can say with confidence that most of us have been there, and you’re not alone. You are so right that vulnerability is the only way to experience the riches of life, and your vulnerability here is a beautiful thing. I so resonate with the “losing history” part of breakups. I am in the throes of splitting up with my boyfriend of 5 years, and we were together when my sister died a couple years ago. Forever, when I think about the pain of losing her, I will think of the moments when my heart was broken and he comforted me. People become a part of our story, and we have no way of knowing what the future chapters will look like. It helps, for me, to think of past lives whom I had similar experiences with and how I’ve healed from those. I was with a guy who had a heart attack at 23, and I vividly remember driving him to the emergency room and sitting with him in Cardiac ICU. I recognize how my heart has kind of “scabbed over” so that those memories feel so much less sharp and painful. I have confidence that, in time, the same will happen with these fresh wounds. Sending you so much warmth and love… you deserve to be with someone who loves you so fiercely and expresses it so openly that you have no doubts. You are a national treasure, Orlando. <3

  10. Thanks for sharing your/our story. Details may vary but we are all the same, perfectly imperfect and raw and vulnerable and human and soo00 loveable exactly the way we are. I could share similar stories and yes my heart was broke 3 times in a row (7-3-4 years each) but I continue getting up although these days i am a bit less trusting i must say. I am a designer too and throw myself into my space and making it my own. Self love and marrying yourself first will be the magnet that draws to you what you what you so richly deserve and will get!
    Love your space!

  11. So beautifully well said. Thank you for sharing such a vulnerable side of yourself. Can’t wait to see what comes of YOUR new Chateaulando. Keep the sun on your face, even if it feels like you’re standing in the dark.

  12. You articulate this so beautifully. I believe you will find love again with someone who cherishes and deserves you! I finally found love with someone better than I dreamed in my forties, after many years of searching. You are funny, incredibly handsome, talented, smart, and charming! It only takes one more person to recognize that.

  13. I’m sorry this happened. You made a beautiful space with love – and love and beauty are never wasted. Be kind to yourself during this tough time. (Asprin can really help with emotional heartbreak.)

  14. Thank you for putting your heart on a platter and sharing it with your readers. I can feel your pain through your words and my heart hurts for you. Your talents go far beyond design as your words captivated me and allowed me to feel your raw emotion. I am a firm believer that things happen for a reason and someday I hope you will find that true love that will make you look back and realize how they were Mr. Wrong. Hang in there!

    P.S. You are super handsome. Never doubt that.

  15. “If your heart is never broken there’s no joy on the mending.”
    Sharing your story was brave and touched me. As I recovering broken hearted person, I appreciate you and your honesty.

  16. 1. You are hot as hell, and that can’t be all photoshop, so if you can take any superficial solace in that, I am sure your readers will confirm.
    2. I’m so sorry you are going through this. I can tell from reading along with you that you put your whole heart into the relationship as well as the renovation, and though you can’t spackle one as well as the other, I hope that you will put the pieces back together in a way that both makes you happy and leaves the possibility for a better fit with someone who deserves you.
    3. As beautiful as the Orcondo was – and it really was amazing, I pinned the shit out of that place from your blog and Emily’s, I am sure that the Chateaulando will be wonderful too. A clean slate that may be old-Hollywood but new-Orlando. I can’t wait to see it, and may you have much happiness there.

  17. I love that you shared this and love EVERYTHING about you! Your writing, your sensitive soul, your talents and self-perceived flaws… you’re perfect the way you are and I can’t wait to see Chateaulando blossom!

  18. I just adore you. I have since you first appeared on my Internets as Emily’s design assistant. It astounds me that someone could not appreciate how lucky they were to have you.
    I hope your heart heals soon.

  19. Sending you love and light Orlando. Continue to share and shine — your beauty isn’t bound by just your physicality.

  20. Think of it this way…you put your heart and soul into decorating that condo and now he sees it everyday. He is surrounded by your designs. You got to start fresh. Really fresh. make this one all about you. You seem kind, funny, very gentle and loving. And you are clearly gorgeous. Do not let that little voice inside tell you that you deserve anything less than the exact same in return.

  21. As someone who reads far too many blogs I don’t often take time to thank all of you for laying your lives bare for my enjoyment. So thank you. You are beautiful inside and out.

  22. You are so talented and handsome and such a wonderful writer and bring so much joy and beauty into the world! And I don’t even actually know you! I can only imagine how great it would be for the people who have you in their daily lives, so I am looking forward to someday reading a post about how you’ve found someone who really appreciates and admires you and makes you feel whole rather than doubtful about yourself. Sometimes that feels impossible, so thank you for writing about that so honestly. I know your heart will heal, even though it might not seem like that’s possible, and I can’t wait to see the incredible home you are creating for yourself. You’re awesome.

  23. I’m so sorry this happened to you again. You are deserving of a partner who knows your worth and appreciates your gifts. Thank you for writing so honestly about something so painful. On a separate note, geez! Gays, man. It’s hard for me to imagine a reality where YOU are considered unfit and unattractive. RIDICULOUS. You are so beautiful inside and out. That guy is a fool.

  24. You’re an exceptional writer, and incredible interior designer. You’re also handsome and charming and X is a big old moron. I really hope you get through this. Break-ups are hell. But it always feels good to get out on the other end of it all.

  25. You’re awesome and very handsome, Orlando! Thanks for sharing your life with us along with your design!

  26. The hardest part of my (recent) breakup was to stop projecting a wonderful future onto the relationship. It was almost as hard to give up hope for a person who I loved as it was hard to hear him say he didn’t love me. UGGGHHHH.

    That said, I’m looking for the bright spots in life (which, nowadays, is hard–I know). I’ll share one I just came across and it was from YOUR Instagram! I just went on there to see more pics of your designs and came across a picture of a unicorn pinata that Minted sent you last Valentine’s Day. Of course, I clicked on it because: Unicorn. The last line you wrote on that post said “LET THIS BE A LESSON TO ALL OF US TO SHINE BRIGHT BEFORE SOMEONE RIPS OUR HEADS OFF TO EAT THE CANDY THAT LIVES WITHIN US.” It made me laugh. I’m gonna do your advice one better, though, and shine bright even while I feel like my heart is being chewed up my ex. Life is hard enough without those bright spots!

  27. I wish I had some grand advice for you, but I don’t. However, despite your world falling apart, I have a sense you’re going to be okay. I’ve only meet you once, but you have so much to offer someone. I think you’re as cute as a button, and while it’s hard to believe in our community, it’s really whats on the inside that matter. As cliché as that sounds. (At least that’s what I tell myself as I have many of the same insecurities.)

    Anyway, just felt the need to comment. Sending lots of love your way as you step forward. You got this.

    xo Michael

  28. I appreciate what you wrote. That is real life – not an Instagram snap put through a filter. And I am so sorry. How unfair, and frankly, cruel, in many ways. To have been hit exactly where you are most insecure and while in a home you’d created so that you would feel secure.

    We always want to jump ahead, to reassure someone that they won’t always feel this badly. What that does, in my experience at least, is to make the person in pain feel dismissed, ignored, as if one’s pain is bothersome and inconsequential. So I will just say, I’m sorry. I’m sorry you are in pain. It’s real and it’s huge. And I wish you the best.

    1. This is so true. Real empathy is being willing to sit with someone in the darkness and pain, no matter how uncomfortable. Bravo to you for recognizing that.

      Loving this outpouring of love and solidarity that’s happening here, but the truth is: Breakups suck and there ain’t no way around it.

  29. Thank you for sharing – I don’t know you, but this makes me proud. It’s such a well put description of an upside down period we’ve all been through. I’m sorry for what you’re having to go through, but I agree with your thoughts that being more careful doesn’t guarantee any outcome, so continue being brave and don’t lose heart. ❤

  30. I am so so sorry that you are going through this. I so appreciate your openness and honesty about this awful heartbreak. But with respect to the pain you’re feeling now, the quickest way out is through.

  31. With my last breakup, I learned that relationships are worthwhile even if they don’t last forever. They come into our lives to teach us something (about ourselves, priorities, boundaries, etc) and we are better for it. This is my first year being single on Valentine’s Day in over 16 years. I’m the most content I’ve ever been though. One day when I’m open to being someone’s home and she wants the same thing, that will be wonderful, but so are all the days in between and during and after.

  32. To echo everyone else, thank you for sharing and many virtual hugs your way! If it’s any consolation, don’t forget that you have (what sounds like) an amazing group of friends. Yes, certain pages of your history are lost, but not the whole chapter. Your friends can fill in a lot of the gaps (this metaphor is getting away from me, but I think you know what I mean!). After my sister broke up with her fiance of 8 years (8!), I had to gently remind her that she had not lost her mid-20’s/early-30’s completely. I had been there and so had many others and we would reminisce with her whenever she needed. So pop a bottle with friends at your new place and toast the fun times that they shared with you over the past few years.

  33. My gosh, you are one of my favorite internet people! You are incredibly talented, funny and also cute. Sometimes I think people are completely out of their minds. I’m so sorry.

  34. I’m so sorry for your loss. All of the losses involved in this break up and move out. I wish only the best for you.

  35. Oh, Orlando. You said “hello” to me on a happy hour phone call once, while I was with a few fellow homepolish designers. I told them how much I loved you and they dialed you up for me, and I went home and told my husband all about it. I also told him that as much as I loved him I wish I was a gay man so I could be with you forever, because I think you’re hilarious and talented and SO FREAKING HANDSOME WITH REALLY GREAT ARMS (just so you know). I’m glad you published this because I couldn’t agree with you more–we could all use a little more honesty. I wish I could shed light on this for you, but since I can’t, I will be sending you a lot and lot and lot of love and support. <3


  36. love to read your posts, Orlando. And always find you so good looking! but you know what? I was just talking today to my daughter, who is getting into a beauty crazy, that if you are not good and not have a beautiful heart, there is nothing that can save you to end up alone. I am sorry for X but I can’t see a good end for his story if he is only fixated in how a guy is on his outsides. Keep being the wonderful person you are and your future will be bright, with someone that truly deserves you and have the same dreams and values as you do.

  37. I am so sorry. big fan for many years since the Emily TV days. thank you for sharing. i lost my husband a few years ago, and while that is completely different, i also expressed the sadness over the shared memories. nobody left to remember that time with the thing at that place, when he’d know exactly what i was talking about.
    But you forget one thing, Orlawndo, you also shared things with us! like how to pronounce your name. what the snow/leaves/waterfalls look like at yosemite. how sad it was when your parents moved. we will walk down memory lane with you anytime.

  38. You are such a beautiful human, inside and out. Thank you for your honesty and sharing your heart in such a raw state. Wishing you only brighter and better things to come. Xo

  39. Your style – both in the design realm, writing realm, and personal realm – is impeccable. You are true with your words, and I am thankful that you trust the universe/your readers with them. I am sorry that you are going through this. I’ve followed along on your coverage and updating of the condo and it has been spectacular. I can’t imagine walking away from that, and from a serious relationship. Not that you walked away from it, but that it’s not a part of your life. I am truly sorry.

    I am not a Churchill person, but this quote always resonates with me: “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”

    Keep going. You’ve got your readers, your friends, your incredible talents, and yes, your incredible good looks.

  40. Man this is great piece. Everything I could say about it can be summed up in this alone: Thank You. Oh, and three cheers for including the last note… yes, yes, yes.

  41. I hardly ever comment but your words touched me so much, not everyone can express their feelings as well as you have and that’s a wonderful gift. I am sorry it didn’t work out but keep the faith in yourself whether you choose to be alone or be with someone. I followed you after seeing your posts at Emily’s. I am so happy I did. I look forward to seeing you transform Chateaulando.

  42. Orlando, I suspect you didn’t write this to be showered in platitudes or pity, but to find some level of catharsis or reason or closure. While you may never find it, you have revealed to us that introspection and realism are your greatest strengths. We can never know what anyone is thinking or feeling, but strive only to know ourselves—every strength, every weakness, every insecurity. Embrace who you are, put it out there, and never be ashamed. Because the next person who gets to say to you, ‘I love you’ will see you truly and love you completely.

  43. You are so handsome, smart and witty! You haven’t found the right one just yet, but you will! I love your blog, you make me laugh all the time. Keep moving forward and I can’t wait to see your new place. xoxo! Keep your head up and post more beautiful design places. Love you!

  44. This was such an amazing post- thank you for opening up. I love everything about you and I can’t wait to see you with the love of your life!!

  45. I feel that you completely underestimate how handsome, sexy, nice, intelligent and hot you are. I appreciate your story and send love and hugs! The day will come when that warm, wonderful person comes into your life to stay. xoxo

  46. O – first off, I’m so sorry! This sucks old man balls! Ack! I’m just so sorry you’re going through this and don’t even know what to say except I am hearing and feeling you and this sucks old man balls.

    But this beautiful essay. Good lord! It is everything. It made me remember an old writing professor constantly declaring that “happy is boring!” She was obviously and unfortunately right.

    This is selfish of me but I wanted to tell you some things I took from your essay. Things that give me hope. I’m sorry! In no particular order….I want to fall madly in love one more time before I die, breakups and all….give everything even though you may regret it later….pour love into your home and decor because it must be so powerful…even people you think are so hot have body image issues….everybody sucks…everybody is awesome.

  47. You are da bomb. Not anything that I would expect to read from an interior design blogger, but there’s never been a doubt that you are unlike the rest. Your wit, taste and your savvy – and now your heart – on full display. You are a complete joy to watch and follow from afar – I can only imagine the magic you are in the flesh! Sending you cyber hugs. I live in Napa so next time you’re visiting your parents CALL ME so I can take you for a drink and remind you how freaking amazing you are ?

  48. Thank you for this. Thank you for sharing yourself throughout all of the journeys. You are gorgeous and witty and your loveliness absolutely SHINES through in your work and in your writing. I know we can all tell you this, but it will take someone you love to really tell you this until you believe it. Love is out there for everyone, and not to get all Charlotte York on you, but you just have to believe it. Hugs times a zillion for you. Hang in there, even if for right now, hanging in there just means binging on Netflix whilst under a blanket. ❤

  49. You are the best. You made that condo beautiful and you slay on instagram. Can’t wait to see the new place once it’s done (or close to it—nothing is ever finished). 🙂

  50. Thank you for this honest and heartfelt post. You are an extraordinary talent and one of my hands-down favorite people to read online—on any topic! Thanks for being your wonderful self and sharing it with all of us. Can’t wait to see the new Chateaulando adventures… and I’m glad you don’t regret pouring your whole self into past projects and past relationships. It’s the only way to live, even if it hurts like hell sometimes. xo

  51. I just want to say, I love you, man. I wish I could give you a hug and a case of wine and then drink it all with you. Take care of yourself, you’re the very best. Wonderful things are ahead x

  52. Let’s not play– you are a straight up Hot Tea! Thanks for the vulnerable post, one so many readers can resonate with. You are wickedly funny (possibly insane?) and I so enjoy following you on Instagram. Keep up the puns and sharing your beautiful work.

  53. Ahh, Orlando … We haven’t met in person, but my heart hurts for you and I’m crying as I read your post (and I’m at work, in a super conservative office environment – ha!). I hear your sadness and heartbreak, and I empathize as I have been there. I hate the sentiment that “sadness/suffering makes for better art,” but I do want to say that I found your reflections on your journey these past few years incredibly insightful and well-written. Sending you so many good vibes for a love that is radiant, trustworthy, and beautiful. Big hugs!

  54. I can’t say better than all the other commenters have already said what a gift to the world you are, but really, in what world are you not gorgeous? I’m really curious – you are objectively extremely handsome, so is there a cultural difference in the gay aesthetic? I’m probably not saying this correctly, so forgive me if I’m being offensive, but I really don’t understand.

  55. ORLANDO I WILL NOT CODDLE YOU. i will only take care of your emotional and financial needs for the rest of your life filling you with joy and happiness. STOP BITCHING. I am going to see you in 20 minutes and we are going to KILL IT with a photoshoot. xoxoxo

  56. I watch you from afar in absolute fascination. You’re beautiful and interesting, and your writing is ‘a fleur de peau’ (sorry, I’m also French and named Edouard 🙂 ) Were I not in a relationship I’d probably be your faithful stalker- but only if you liked Calderón de la Barca, because anyone named Soria should like Calderón de la Barca. And so I leave you with Life is a Dream:

    We live, while we see the sun,
    Where life and dreams are as one;
    And living has taught me this,
    Man dreams the life that is his,
    Until his living is done.
    The king dreams he is king, and he lives
    In the deceit of a king,
    Commanding and governing;
    And all the praise he receives
    Is written in wind, and leaves
    A little dust on the way
    When death ends all with a breath.
    Where then is the gain of a throne,
    That shall perish and not be known
    In the other dream that is death?
    Dreams the rich man of riches and fears,
    The fears that his riches breed;
    The poor man dreams of his need,
    And all his sorrows and tears;
    Dreams he that prospers with years,
    Dreams he that feigns and foregoes,
    Dreams he that rails on his foes;
    And in all the world, I see,
    Man dreams whatever he be,
    And his own dream no man knows.
    And I too dream and behold,
    I dream I am bound with chains,
    And I dreamed that these present pains
    Were fortunate ways of old.
    What is life? a tale that is told;
    What is life? a frenzy extreme,
    A shadow of things that seem;
    And the greatest good is but small,
    That all life is a dream to all,
    And that dreams themselves are a dream.

    Good night.

  57. I love your honesty, Orlando. I’m a FFK too, and I have the same body issues. If X doesn’t want to be with you, he doesn’t deserve you. At least, that’s the attitude I try to adopt in my own life. Also, with respect to “did he ever love me,” I think way more people are decent, shallow, and fickle rather than evil, calculating, and dishonest. And most people aren’t either of those (although LA might be different).

  58. For what it’s worth, I think you are a beautiful soul inside and out. You are a talented designer and are an intelligent/funny writer. No break up can take those things from you. Just because you aren’t with X anymore doesn’t diminish what you had together either. You deserve someone who knows what a catch you are! I hope your Chateaulando can be your next design project of a lifetime and give you a creative outlet for your pain and a renewed sense of purpose. You do you xoxo

  59. I’ve been there. It is so hard moving out of a place you built with someone else. 4 years have gone by, I luckily kept the dog (ugh, that would have been worse than the break up) and we have both moved on. He made me feel terrible about my body almost daily and I started to believe it until the relationship imploded. I am a much more happy, positive, and I love myself in ways I never thought I would! And now have a much more amazing, talent, attractive man sleeping in my bed every night and he thinks my body rules – hell yes!

    It gets better. There’s only up from here. Chateaulando sounds even better and I look forward to see your new home.

  60. Bless my escarole soup, I can not believe anyone would say those things to you. I’m truly sorry you have to navigate that crowd, because I really find them to be insufferable. “Here we are, somewhere fabulous, finding ourselves attractive.” OMg, shut. up. For as deep a thinker as you, I imagine they are a more difficult gang of bullies than the podunk kids you had to deal with growing up. At least the kids weren’t worshippers of self. You went from one bunch of jerks making you not feel like enough of a man to another, making you feel just the same. Forget them, Orlando- you are SO WORTHY, and I don’t mean that in the pejorative British sense. I mean you truly are. I struggle to bring to mind a someone who has more going for them than you do. It is my prayer that my children surround themselves with people as kind, intelligent, creative and beautiful as you someday. Those scary French parents have no idea what they were missing. And FWIW, I swear on my great-grandmother’s Pearsal rocker, the first time I saw a photo of X, I thought he wasn’t cute enough for you.

  61. I discovered your blog a few years ago, and I am a big fan of your style, humor, attitude — and good looks. I’m sorry for what you’re going through. You’re a catch and don’t forget it.

  62. Orlando,

    I can painfully relate and understand. My boyfriend and I were planning to forge our lives together formally after weaving the two lives through a lot of deep and intimate times. He cheated on me in some wild affair and kept the whole thing a secret from me. He didn’t even plan on telling me it happened until he tested positive for a STD. I was livid with a flaming ball of emotions. My test results came back fine. However, the deceit and risk he put me through that lingered in the back of his mind was the most troubling for me.

    You are right. It is very hard to know what is going on in another’s mind. This is where trust and faith are our only tools at our disposal to make sense of it. And when these tools are broken, it leaves us powerlessly empty. I am not trying to generalize here, but I will say there is such a noncommittal, ephemeral pervasiveness with relationships anymore. Relationships do take work. They are an art; ones that require you to unload your passions and emotions into them. I think many, including my ex, are in love the idea of being in love, but don’t really want to put the due diligence into it. It leaves you and I trying to figure out where to go from here in a fog of questions. I was (and still am) emotionally tired from the whole thing. It’s like the piece of art my ex-boyfriend and I made was smashed to bits by him, and I have nothing to show for all the time and effort I put into it.

    In the end, a good friend of mine reminded me that I still have me, the best and most on-going art form I have. I just need a bit of self redecorating.

  63. First of all, I am incredibly sorry for the pain you’re in right now, Orlando! Also, this makes me so incredibly mad! I remember your post telling us that you’re moving in with him and how anxious you are because of your negative experiences in the past. I absolutely loved what you created with the Silver Lake place (not using the catchy name on purpose)! What makes me mad though is that he had the audacity to tell you that your physical appearance was part of why he fell out of love with you. Really?! I get it. Everyone has a certain type, but you don’t talk about love, when you don’t like how they look. Not even French people. I think it’s incredibly cowardly of him to give you this reason, because he knew how to shut you up. Also it’s a mystery to me how he can go on live in the gorgeous place you built for the two of you?!

    I agree with all of the comments above, but as someone who’s been the DUFF to her circle pretty much all of her life, I know it doesn’t really matter what a friendly stranger thinks, if it’s an insecurity we can’t get over ourselves.

    I can’t wait to see what you’re going to do with Chateaulando and whoever will be worthy enough of your love in the future, sure is a lucky bastard 🙂 All the love xoxo

  64. “I went into this relationship, fearful of being hurt, worried I didn’t measure up looks-wise, scared I’d be left behind once again.”

    Words are powerful, especially the ones we tell ourselves. I hope you can banish your fear and choose some different thoughts. If you don’t believe you’ll measure up, how can you expect someone else to? Maybe it is time to not expect to be the #victim. Maybe the silver lining in all of this is that you will come to love and accept yourself more – to see what all of these nice people commenting here see.

    X sounds like a a real heartless, superficial douche bag. I hope you gave him a bill for your design fee. I think you actually dodged a bullet here. I am sure something so much better is going to come along for you. Believe it. Sometimes the universe has a life waiting for you that is better than you imagined. Fuck that #orcando. Dream bigger.

    A friend of mine received a phone call one day from her live in boyfriend – and his secretary. You can guess how that went. When she finally picked herself up from the floor, she moved to a different city, started working for a little company called AOL and fell in love with and married her boss. They became multimillionaires and retired a couple of years later. Retrospectively that phone call was the best thing that ever happened to her.

    Wishing you a speedy recovery and all good things!

  65. Orlando,

    You are truly a gem. Not just because you have the best taste ever but because your humor, optimism and emotional intelligence shine through in everything you write. Like everyone above, I’ve had my share of heartbreak and after finding my person, there was a lot of things that became clear to me. You deserve to be with someone who is CRAZY about you. The right person is going to feel like they won the freaking cosmic jackpot that they get to make a life with you and if your boyfriend wasn’t ready for that or able to engage then in the end, his loss. I hope that this doesn’t lead to you feeling less trusting of love as you are obviously someone who is capable of a big, beautiful, epic love.

  66. Terrible break-ups in your 20s make us the people we are in our 30’s. It’s what’s made me 35 years awesome. I’m sure this will turn into a positive experience for you. You’re rad.

  67. Argh – I’ve been through this VERY SAME BREAKUP after spending months redoing the home we bought to live in together. 9mos later I was stunned to find myself packing myself up and moving out with the feeling of having been thrown out of a moving vehicle doing 60 down the highway.

    A very smart friend of mine gave me the advice: home is where you are, period. And because we are the people who are always so good at creating home, we’ll always have it.

    Time heals; it took me longer than I’d care to admit. But thank GOD; I’m in a much better place (and relationship and home sweeeeeet home) today because of it. Sending love & good juju from NOLA.

  68. Orlando, first heard you on the Throwing Shade podcast & really enjoyed your segment…you’ve articulated a whole lot of stuff that resonates with me, from design to the hopefulness piece of living with a partner, to the back rubs and hatred of potentially intimate strangers to bawling leaving your childhood home and the history thing – oh and the body issues. I sincerely thank you for writing your thoughts down. I respect and admire you even more knowing these imperfections. It is absolutely X’s loss. The effort that went into creating a world for the two of you is inspiring and I’m sure you’ll never lose that.

  69. “I don’t consider myself a superficial person, but am haunted by the most incredibly superficial bullshit. And it affects all aspects of my life, especially relationships.” The truest statement! You’re a great writer!

  70. Thank you for opening your heart and sharing your story. I’ve always loved reading your blog, and personally think you are gorgeous and X must be out of his mind. As a former fat kid myself, I totally identify with those insecurities, but am always hopeful that there is someone out there to love me. I wish you nothing but happiness and am positive that you’ll get your happy ending and Barbie dream house.

  71. I’m just sending you lots of love and hope. And I think you’re beautiful and adore your work. That’s all, hope it helps in some small way <3

  72. Though I’m not in your target demographic, ahem, straight female, I am blown away that you were told you’re not attractive enough. When I first started following you my first thought was how you fall into the population of “goddamn why are all the hot ones gay?!”

    This was beautifully written and I can practically feel your broken heart. Sending love from CT. So wish we could snuggle up with some wine and lament how guys suck. Except you of course. You, I like.

  73. Just wanted to thank you for sharing this rough patch – it will help lots of folks. Hope you’re on the mend. Hang in there.

  74. Dude hurt you because he is an asshole. You are not. As painful as it is, better now than after even more investment in an man who appears incapable of loving anyone. it’s not you. It’s him.

  75. My French bf and I spoke primarily French to each other as I was stronger in French than he was in English. One day he drove me to the train station and said solemnly in French his break-up line, “I think that Americans have a complex de superiorite.” I retorted, I am American, do you think I have a superiority complex?” He looked me in the eyes and flatly responded, “Oui.”
    I must have not shown all of the emotion that I was feeling, because he became concerned that I did not understand the (very translatable) “complex de superiorite”. I flipped him off and said, Oui, je comprend.

    I was sad, and then I remembered how his mother would constantly warn me not to get fat, rejecting my request to “pass the bread” with her defense, Phillipe does not like fat girls.

    Best of luck with your breakup. Be kinder to yourself and your body. You are beautiful, period.

  76. Time heals all wounds. I hate that he hurt you because I hold you in the highest regard. You are intelligent, talented, hilarious, and goddamn good looking. Lots of people think so.

  77. Time is your worst enemy and in some cases your best friend. Time heels, it brings new things onto your path. I worry about the exact same things as you do in terms of finding someone to share your history with. I recently said goodbye to my childhood home of 36 years and it felt like someone died. You have so much going for you, career seems to be on fire and my dear, you’re incredibly good looking. after being in LA for over 6 years in the movie business, it’s a hell hole to try and date in. Don’t turn to stone, keep Hope going even if it’s only tiny smudges of it sometimes. You will see as hindsight is 20/20 that someone who is going to dump you like that, doesn’t deserve someone who has a golden heart like you do. Find a better keeper of your shine!

  78. I admire your work and your writing is some of the funniest online. I’m sorry this happened to you, you do not deserve it. I also feel terrible that you lost the home you worked so hard on! Excited for your fresh start and to see your new place transform. (Also, I think you are very handsome)

  79. I’m sorry your heart is hurting so much. The history and future losses are what dissolve me too.

  80. I seriously love your writing, which I discovered through Emily’s blog, and I’m so happy you are sharing your life in this way. It’s brave and honest and very inspiring. Many internet-friendly hugs to you as you grow and heal! And hurray for your beautiful voice and life’s work.

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