A few weeks ago I received a text on my phone, of course there is nothing unusual about that, but when I saw who the text was from my jaw dropped to the floor. There I was in my office in San Francisco, sitting on the sixteenth floor living my dream. The dream I had as a little girl, to be a career woman, and in my face flashed a name of the past; someone who I loved, who if I hadn’t stayed with could have changed my present life in so many ways.
I sat there in my office and looked out the window into the San Francisco city skyline, one that I never got sick of looking at, and asked myself “What was about to come back from my past?” It was a past that I could hardly remember in my daily life but on my screen with his name flashing it all came flooding back. Every memory. Every tear. Every moment of those five and half years came rushing back to my mind.
After a few moments of hesitation I took that fateful swipe left to open my phone and reveal the message. What did it say? After four years of not speaking, on the terms we left things, what could he have to say? “Can I call you sometime?” it read. Again a flash of heat went through my body. What did he feel the need to tell me? He was engaged to his older girlfriend (who I always thought of as a sugar mama trading the comforts of her lifestyle for his youthful and very attractive looks)? Or maybe they are expecting? She is in her mid thirties so her clock is ticking. But then I sat there and asked myself why would he feel the need to call and tell me anything after all of these years? He was living in New York and me in San Francisco. The only connection we had was one that was severed quickly many years ago.
“What could he want?” I asked my co-worker and hilariously witty friend. She replied “He’s probably going to tell you someone died”. “No!” I quipped back, “We didn’t share any mutual friends or family that he would feel the need to call and share with me.” The adorable gossip queen that she was told me when she left the office that evening “Tell me what he says tomorrow!” I laughed and replied with a reluctant and curious “Don’t worry, I will…”
That evening he had text me to ask when he could call and I let him know that I was working late and tomorrow evening would be better. That was a total lie. I was sitting at home with a glass of mine mulling over the potential conversation. I wasn’t ready to face the emotional baggage from what felt like a lifetime ago. He, who I refer to as my EX-EX, was my first long relationship that lasted from my teens to my twenties. We were best friends true and true, he knew ME, well the young me. The me who had been navigating life, but hadn’t quite found herself. The me at my core, yes, but not the grown up version. I needed some mindless TV and a night to sleep on it before I was able to listen to whatever news he had to share.
When he called the next night, the word awkward described a good portion of the conversation. It was like talking to a stranger that you felt like you knew your entire life. Everything about them was different yet oddly familiar and comfortable. We spoke for a good 45 minutes, catching up on life, work, our relationships (mine lack thereof) and then he finally got to the point. The reason he wanted to talk.
It’s not so black and white though. It was much more of a gray. He and his girlfriend (the one I called the sugar mama. Though in her defense if I met her I would probably like her- She was a lot like me, motivated, smart and career driven- she could very well be me in ten years) had broken up and he wanted to talk to me. Apparently his girlfriend and his mom (whom is comparable to a Saint) had some sort of falling out and well, it caused a major rift in the relationship, one so large that it ended their 4 year courtship. This was shocking to me. One that they had broken up, I mean they moved across the country together and two, I always sort of thought he would marry her. So this gray, he wanted to talk to me about my relationship with his mom. Had there ever been any sort of tension between us or any reason for me to be upset with her? Well above I referenced her as a Saint so my answer was definitely no.
So then what, what else did he want to talk to me for? Here comes that blur of black and white again. He wanted to talk to someone that really knew him. It sounds like somewhat of a contradiction to say that right? I did just say we didn’t really know each other anymore. But as we sat on the phone, while he talked and I listened, I understood it all. We did know each other.
Although years have passed and we have grown and changed in so many great ways, I was still that 16 year old listening to my 18 year old boyfriend. When I say that I don’t by any means mean feelings of puppy love overwhelmed me, I just mean I went back to somebody that I used to know. For some people, and it’s not all, years can pass and although you see and feel the changes in people, you can also at the very same time feel like a day hasn’t passed -and that is exactly where we were. We ended the conversation and although awkward described most of it the other part of it felt nostalgic and right.
A few weeks later he let me know he was going to be visiting our hometown for the night and would like to get together to catch up if I was free. Many people would think, and they did, that “Oh well he is single now” and “He is probably going to try to make a move” but no. That wasn’t what it was. I knew that, so I agreed to make plans and was really looking forward to it.
The whole afternoon before we met up my older sister’s boyfriend (who has remained close friends with my EX-EX) kept making jokes and asking stupid questions like “Oh so are you guys going to kiss?” or “So do you think anything will happen?” That is always the assumption with exes isn’t it? Well, while it may be the assumption it is not in fact always the result.
We spent the better part of a Saturday hanging out and the overall sentiment was that it was just really damn good to see him and to spend time with someone who you once loved and shared so many years with. Without resentment. Without anger. Just each other’s good company and humor of ridiculousness from the past.
We were able to talk for hours about things from years before and just what we learned from many of those experiences. How we have grown. How we have changed. And in the good ways how we have remained the same. I can happily say that today I am able to call my EX-EX a friend, and for many years after our breakup I wasn’t able to.
A lot of our exes will forever be just that, just men or women of our past. Most of them will leave us, when reminded of what used to be, with feelings or emotions like; anger, jealousy, resentment, sadness, depression, happiness, love, regret, wonder or even just nothingness. However for some of us when life is busy happening and we have moved on, we are lucky to keep some of those great memories intact. Exes aren’t always bad and they aren’t always hexes and nightmares of the past. Like this one, they can sometimes be wonderful additions to your life many years later.
“Some people don’t realize what they have until it’s gone, but that does not always mean they are supposed to get it back.”
― Stephan Labossiere
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