I haven’t gotten a chance to be upset about our breakup last month. Maybe it’s because we ended things so nicely this time. Maybe it’s because the long distance relationship was driving me insane. Maybe it’s because there’s so much shit going on at school the passage of time is a concept I’ve practically unlearned. Now that I’ve got a text from her saying she’s back from Halifax for the holidays and would like to hang out, I can take some time to reflect on the fact that, holy shit, I miss her.
We’re sitting on the sectional sofa in the sun room at the back of her house. I’m not sure why, though. Her family’s not home, and even if they were that never stopped us from hanging out in her room or even the basement. Granted, those spaces represent a lot of intimacy for us, and there was nothing about her invitation that implied sex was on the table today. I start to realize that packing a condom in my jacket pocket was the result of baseless optimism.
She asks if I’m seeing anyone. I laugh awkwardly and counter with another question: what if we just keep our current relationship statuses a secret? It’s not something we need to know. (By that I mean, it’s not something I need to know, because I haven’t met anyone and if she has then I might jump into her kitchen’s garbage disposal.) We change topics.
Conversation is uncomfortable and sparse. She’s very quiet. It’s hard to maintain conversation with someone who seems more interested in reservedly observing me than in actually saying anything. I pick up a magazine from the coffee table and flip through it, looking for something interesting we could possibly talk about. There’s an article about “30 Rock”. I’ve never seen the show, but I do kind of have a thing for Tina Fey. They have an interview with her…
I accidentally read the interview in silence for way too long. Instead of saying anything my ex sits there, watching me read as she smiles a sad smile I can’t decipher. I apologize for spacing out and put the magazine down.
Eventually conversation picks up and the atmosphere in the room relaxes. It no longer feels like we’re holding a small funeral for our failed relationships. Instead it feels like two friends hanging out. It feels nice. I lie down on one corner of the sofa, fully embracing the relaxed vibe. It’s almost like we’re in high school again, watching movies upside-down. That was fun. Being near her is fun. She’s not upside-down right now, but she is sitting right beside me. There’s always a weird, exciting energy in the air whenever she’s this close to me.
I look up at her and sigh.
“Hey,” I tell her, “I know I said we shouldn’t tell each other if we’re dating other people, but I want to put my head on your lap. I figured I should make sure if that’s okay first.” I don’t look at her. Instead I stare up at the ceiling. Hung on the wall beside me is an enlarged photograph of antelope being chased by some predatory cats I can’t identify.
“I’m seeing someone,” she says.
“Okay,” I reply.
I don’t put my head on her lap.
She lies down on the other side of the sofa. Now it’s even more like our upside-down movie watching days, only I’m trying hard not to be upset. I don’t know if it’s working. We continue talking as if we’re just two friends hanging out. She says or does something that prompts me to playfully tell her to fuck off.
At least, I hope it came off as playful.
I eventually leave and, aside from a few messages on our birthdays, we don’t speak for the next three years.
Way It Was is a writing project and ongoing attempt to work through a lot of relationship related shit. Find out more about it here.