Having dinner with your ex is pretty interesting. Had I known this I might’ve done it sooner.
Instead of a fresh-faced coincidental run into each other over the weekend, we had to settle for the low hum of after-work. We were a bit drained mentally but the novelty of the situation had us intrigued about what was new.
In short, nothing. Nothing was new. Like the new fall lineup of shows, it’s nothing you haven’t seen before. But it’s packaged in a new context so you think it’s fresh without it being too alien.
Familiarity in a certain context can be a very dangerous, regretful thing.
We spoke about our mutual friends that we hoped would get back together. I grew reticent on that point, explaining that I wasn’t sure that they had escaped the reason they broke up in the past. And if they hadn’t changed enough, then what would be the point of them getting back together?
However, I knew my dining partner had changed a bit. Aside from what she told me about quitting her job, she had become more outgoing. She drinks! Socially, but still. She never used to drink except if there was rum cream and a really good excuse.
But that was always my thing with her. It was very clear who she wanted to be but it was as if she would never give herself permission to be herself.
I blamed it on the dogma of femininity, family and faith.
The conversation turned morose when she told me that someone I had gone to school with had died. It was particularly chilling because only a few days earlier I had heard that another schoolmate of mine had passed. Both were tragic.
Her brother dated the widow of one of the dudes back in the day. The world isn’t small. It’s just rude and interposing.
I expressed my concern about a friend of ours who is in an abusive relationship and that no matter how many times people have talked to him, he finds himself back in the relationship.
She shared the same concern about her own friend. No argument was sufficient enough to get her to walk away from the abuse. She asked me why.
I told her that people can’t help but choose what they grew up thinking love was. Everyone wants the same things in love but you only ever get what you fear love is.
With time you expect things to change. I expected the way she looked at me to change. I expected a beaming interest that was only there because of curiosity, not the look of half our lives ago.
I was happy to see it but also upset. A look like that makes it hard to move on, but you don’t have a choice because she made her decision a long time ago. You just have to honor it and love her from a healthy, respectful and sobering distance.
Our hug goodbye was too long. Or maybe it was long enough.
Days later, I found out that her boyfriend of several years is a couple years older than her. I laughed. “Her parents have a sizeable age difference too.”
I wondered if there was a chance. I wondered why she’s never spoken about him.