My mother, a lawyer, has a favorite phrase I heard many times in high school: "Are you misrepresenting the truth?" Yesterday, I would have disappointed my mother because I misrepresented the truth not only my sister and Elaine*, but ultimately to myself.
It all started with the Phillies winning the world series. Fairly insignificant to most, except to my ex-boyfriend for whom this win was more important than his birthday, Christmas and Hanukkah combined. Deciding the time had come to reach out and make a friendly gesture (we had not spoken in about four months) I sent him a facebook message congratulating him on their big win, hoping he was doing well and perhaps I'd see him around (as a friend - ok?!). He wrote back to say thank you, hoping I was well and he would like to see me around. Hmm, tricky. As much as I did want to see him and catch up (as friends!), I knew our last three meetings since our break-up had been anything but "friendly..."
I decided to talk it over with Elaine and get her opinion. "No, no ma'am. There is no such thing as a 'casual friendship' with an ex. That is a slippery slope. It is impossible to be just friends with someone you have dated. This is bad idea. I do not condone this," she said as we were lazing about last Saturday.
"I know...but...I'd like to see him. Just say hi, have a drink, catch up, and whatever..." I said, sheepishly.
"Uh-huh. 'Whatever.' Breaking up and having an ex is like getting a big wad of gum in your hair: you start out with a really big wad of gum and the longer you go without speaking or seeing each other, you are able to get more and more gum out. Eventually all you have is a slightly sticky spot in your hair that slowly goes away. Do you want that gum back in your hair???"
"You know there is a trick where you can put peanut butter in your hair to get gum out?" I joked. "Please don't ruin my analogy. I'm looking out for your best interest." she answered.
Even with her watchful eye, my ex and I made plans to have drinks this week. Monday eventually worked out to be the best day for both of us. I spoke with my sister after work yesterday; "What are your plans for tonight?" she asked. "Uh, you know, not much," I stammered. "Ok, well dinner Thursday?" she said. "Yeah, yeah," and I hung up. I knew she wouldn't care that I was hanging out with my ex, but I just couldn't bring myself to tell her. I texted Elaine*, "Meeting up with my sister. See you later." Not a complete lie -- I had possibly planned on doing that. But I still felt guilty having to tell a white lie -- it made the guilt I had of hanging out with my ex even worse. I knew I was lying to myself about this being a good idea.
I took the train to Park Slope. The whole time I was thinking, What will I say if he has a new girlfriend? How will I react? I found the possibility of this highly unlikely, but I wanted to be prepared for everything. I met him outside his apartment (safer than inside). He looked the same as I remembered: tall, glasses and slightly scruffy beard -- all his nerdiness that I had always liked was fully intact.
We walked to a bar close to his apartment, got drinks and began catching up. How was work I asked? Good, he had been promoted. How was his family? Great, his brother was going to propose to his long time girlfriend. I blabbered on about my job, friends and new apartment, all the while surreptitiously trying to draw out if he was seeing anyone. After the third drink, from the way he was looking at me I knew there was no one new. "So what else is new with you?" I drunkenly asked. "Same ole', same ole'. Nothing at all," he answered. I realized then that although all the things I always liked about him were still there -- his goofy laugh, ability to listen to my never ending ramblings, and distinct smell of Old Spice and Scope -- all the reasons we broke up were still there as well. We were still in two totally different places in our lives and no time was going to change that. As much as he did not want to admit it, I knew he felt it, too.
"Want to get out of here?" he asked, leaning across the table so our faces were almost touching. I knew it was a bad choice. I knew 85% of me would regret it tomorrow. I knew I was ruining any chance we had at being "friends." But, as Betty* has told me, "you only have one life - might has well live it." Screw it, I thought (no pun intended). "Yeah, sure, lets go," I said to him.
I left his apartment the this morning with a hangover: a real hangover from red wine, and a bad decision hangover - the worst kind. I bought a coffee at a deli to attempt to cure the real hangover, but the BD hangover is a little bit tougher to get rid of. We left it this morning with him saying, "I'll be in touch..." and me saying, "Ok, see ya." All relationships are a bitch. Or depending how you want to look at it, just a big f-ing wad of gum in your hair.