An Ex, An Apology and A Little Black Dress

A few weeks ago I ran into one of my exes. He was happy to see me, but I proceeded with caution due to a thick fog surrounding the details of our relationship and breakup.

Stop me if you’ve been this story.

I don’t know why my long-term relationship memory sucks. I do so well with birthdays and inspirational quotes. Maybe, though, fourteen years is long enough for someone to fade from memory, once loved or not.

Still, he was starry-eyed and way too close to me after I countered his attempted hug with a handshake. Fate, he called it after a few beats. He’d been looking for me. Had even contacted another ex to get my new phone number, who he, perhaps in some show of resentment, referred to only by his astrological sign. “The Cancer didn’t have it either,” he muttered.

The Leo, though, flexed his charm, flashed his bright smile, rolled out that deep baritone and recapped the glory days of our three-year relationship much in the slow, gentle cadence used with a recovering amnesia patient, and things got a little clearer.

Or was he trying to hypnotize me? I wasn’t sure. I also wasn’t sure why I felt so nothing about him. No goose bumps or longing, no chemical charge or romantic stirrings. No good, no bad. Flat as an empty sheet of paper.

In time, he apologized for the relationship-flu he caught shortly after asking me to marry him. It seemed genuine but generic and I listened with calm, disinterest. Something about being relationship-lazy. Something about missing me. Something about wanting to reconnect. Blah, blah, blah.

What was I supposed to do with these revelations when I couldn’t even remember his middle name or whether he was before or after The Cancer? The Leo might well have recited the alphabet for the absence of desire I felt.

“I feel complete with you,” I told him, politely firm, and he raised a puzzled eyebrow and started in again, exposing a micro-memory that he liked having his way. Maybe I should be ashamed to say this, but I was suddenly distracted by an amazing black dress a store employee rolled out. Leather bodice, small diamond cut out in back, cinched waist, pleated chiffon skirt. It was everything. With a flash of annoyance, he trailed my eyes to it as in “Damn, can you pay attention here? I’m trying to rekindle things and re-hook you my little Pisces.”

I lunged for the LBD, and later as I shredded the card he’d slid into my purse, I abruptly recalled the specific thing his generic apology was probably meant to cover. Ugh, that.

Over tea, a girlfriend listened to my blow-by-blow of the encounter with pursed lips and suggested I cut back on the tea and yoga, and work on rebooting my long-term memory so I can be more self-righteously indignant when situations call for it.

Irritated by both his nerve and my calm, she wanted to know why I hadn’t reamed him for letting me down and maybe she’s right. This was the third time an ex has admitted post-relationship that he dropped the ball, the delayed sting of which burns like no other. If you knew why didn’t you do better?

Seeing The Leo, though, affirmed that the present erases the past and I’ve moved on. Since him, I’ve required a man’s A-game because I’m bringing mine. Listening to him, I was pretty sure he was the same man, with crow’s feet, who hadn’t really wanted to work that hard when he had me, so if I’d felt spark, my rational brain would have screamed, “Girl, no!”

I hope.

I appreciate the sketchy memory that allows for finite, civil conversations with a right-for-me-once-upon-a-time ex and forgetting the last name of the one I’d really, really, really love to bump into so I can’t Google or Facebook him and find out he’s over me too. I also appreciate my saucy new LBD which I look forward to taking for a spin with New Guy, whoever that might be.

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