To Be or Not to Be…Friends with Your Ex
Six months after ‘Le Breakup’ he wrote me an email.
“You wanna hang out?” Okay this wasn’t really what it said.
It was much longer and more convoluted. His tricky use of metaphors twisted any real intent up so much I didn’t know if I was staring at a garden hose or a snake.
“Maybe we can be friends,” was his last line. It was the only thing in the five paragraph essay that used direct verbiage, but it was also the line that drew and quartered my insides.
Did I need another friend? Not really. Plus I already had test drove 2 ex boyfriends as ‘friends’ and it ended up with us crying in each other’s arms while naked in a post coital position.
I especially was unclear if I could maintain some platonic form of love with someone that had hurt me in the past. Friends don’t hurt friends, right?
But I was intrigued. Afterall, there is a type of conversation and level of depth you can only have with people you have been intimate with.
Somewhere in his prose he said he missed our conversations. Perhaps I did too.
Or maybe he merely realised multiple of my past blog posts referenced him and he we was concerned about his public identity. He may hope this meeting could clear his good name.
So I accepted. No expectations. No rules. Just a friendly dinner.
Or would it be? I mean how can you sit across the table and pretend to exchange pleasantries with someone whose bed you used to sleep in?
“So tell me about your new job,” I would ask while wondering who was sleeping in his bed now.
“It’s great. Much more calm since when we were together,” he’d say. And I’d get annoyed that of course his life is perfect NOW. My job, on the other hand, would be much more chaotic, filled with hacked together presentations trying to sell inspiration to overweight middle management. I would instantly compare his success to mine and become disgruntled that he had triple the amount of Medium followers even though it was I who taught him to post to Medium in the first place.
The waiter would come and we’d immediately order alcohol. We used to drink a lot together, a habit I stopped after we parted ways, but this meeting would not be the time to prove my newfound sobriety.
“A bottle,” we’d say in unison.
Once it would come, we’d stop talking about the mundane details of our lives and sit there in silence. Where we each spent last Saturday night probably wouldn’t be a productive conversation topic. The Elephant that was our past relationship would inflate and take over the entire room.
We’d stare at our plates, waiting for the other to bite first. The Elephant would flap its ears.
Unable to bear silence, I’d down my entire glass of wine and say, “You know, you really hurt me.”
He’d apologize. We’d then recount the good times and the bad times and the villain called timing that ruined our path. With ice broken we’d move onto other topics such as our families and if I’ve met my nephew yet. It would feel good to have someone that knew the layers of my life. This wasn’t a first date afterall. It was an amicable meeting after hundreds of dates.
Finally we could eat. I would devour my steak like fresh kill. Scared, the Elephant would retreat to the corner.
Bellies full, we’d relax and a second glass of wine would lace me with short term desire. His house wouldn’t be far. But something would be blocked and when the bill would come we’d split it before hugging each other goodbye. We’d say it was so great to catch up and make promises to get together again, perhaps see that new show in town. We each would know it would be a lie. There would be no reason to get together again as everything that needed to be said would have been said. There is no reason to date someone you are not dating.
You see, after reading his email fifty times and imagining our fictitious dinner, I knew we would never be friends. It’s too hard to go from intimacy to pleasantries. Someone would always want more yet life doesn’t really allow us to have what we want most of the time.
Our meeting would not be to forge a friendship, but to pay homage to the connection we once had. Like putting flowers on a grave.
“Sure let’s meet up,” I wrote back.