When I break up with a guy, I pretend he disappears, never to be seen again. Upon those rare occasions I do bump into an Ex, I do one of two things: Act like I don't see him or give the "Hey, What's up" nod and go about my business. On the very, very rare occasion I have to actually speak, I make sure I get something into the conversation about how busy I am and then I run off like a big wimp. Confrontational I'm not.
My last serious Ex before TH was my high school sweetheart. Chris and I had met the summer before my senior year after being introduced by mutual friends. He was five years older than me and had a "rebel without a cause" way about him that thrilled my little high school heart to no end. We dated exclusively for 4 years - save for a 6 month break up where I dated more than half of the men on Cape Cod - and lived together for most of that time. Although we had loads fun together, we were oil and water wrapped in dynamite. Our fights were epic; fueled by my insecurity and jealousy combined with his impatience and temper. I still don't remember what prompted me to break up with him on that snowy February day, but I think I saved both of us.
I didn't have to worry about bumping into Chris or pretending he disappeared to the Planet of Lost Men. He moved to Florida shortly after. I had dated a few losers and was on to building a relationship with TH. Chris and I shared a mutual friend and I after a few years, she began feeding me tidbits of information. I was happy he was settling into a new life as I was building a wonderful new life for myself, going back to school and falling head over heels with TH. There was one scary moment when Chris got hooked on prescription drugs and I was almost called in for an intervention. But, he fixed himself up and my presence was not needed.
For a few years, I thought about contacting him. After all, we had been really good at being friends. But, I'd never been friends with an Ex. I didn't know how to go about establishing a relationship. According to our mutual friend, Chris didn't even want my name mentioned. But, it had been 9 years. We both were happily embedded in new lives. Hell, I was a married woman and a totally different person than I once was. I was willing to be he was different too.
I already had his email address. Our mutual friend was forever sending emails to her entire address book without hiding the details. So, I sucked it up and sent him a quick note. For a week and a half there was no response. Then, one day there was an email waiting in my Inbox. He had gotten my message and (shocker!) was happy to hear from me. From then on, we sporadically traded emails back and forth and even talked on the phone a few times. We easily fell back into our old ways. But, the added stress of having a doomed relationship was gone. We were just friends.
A few months ago, I was sitting in my office and got a text from Chris. "Coming up North to do some hiking and planning to stop on the Cape. Do u want to meet up." Meet? I thought he was kidding. This was a man who didn't want my name uttered within a 100 mile radius a few years ago and now he wanted to have drinks? I was excited at the prospect of seeing him again. But, I faced two problems: Insecurity and TH.
The insecurity was easy to conquer. Everyone wants to look good to their Ex. I was hoping that the 10 years hadn't done too much damage to my face. I wasn't concerned about my body. I practically live at the gym. My optimism was short lived as I woke up on the morning of the meeting with a enormous zit on my chin.
TH was a whole other issue. I wasn't sure how comfortable he would be at my meeting up with an Ex. I know I wouldn't be. In fact, I would be hell bent against it. If the situation was reversed, I would be so furious at the idea that I would have made his life miserable. But, Big K is a nicer person than I am. He wasn't thrilled with my plans, but he begrudgingly accepted them. It is during these moments I have to admit I have the most amazing husband and you all should be very jealous.
So, last Thursday, my zit and I met up with Chris. For 3 hours, we talked and laughed. We chatted about old times and the most common response became "I know" or " I remember". There were no awkward moments. Just two old friends having a good time. I even asked him if he was nervous about meeting up with me after such a long time. He said not at all. Of course, he didn't have a zit the size of a volcano on his chin. We hugged goodbye and that was it. He started his drive back to Florida and I brought pizza home to TH.
The relationship myth that you can't be friends with an Ex is just that - a myth. In a world as small as ours and in a place that you're only six degrees from Kevin Bacon, (I can do it in 2 degrees) it is inevitable that you are going to run into one of those people from the Lost Planet. If they are a friend, it will make it that much easier.