"Oh no, I'm your country time booty call, aren't I?" I said, as he relaxed into my red velvet chaise longue. I livein the country, where we met. He lives in San Francisco, where we broke up. But before we were over for good, he bought the country house we got engaged and planned our future in. We were only renting it then. He showed me the completed escrow paperwork on Valentine’s Day. I had no idea.
I don’t live in that house. By silent, mutual agreement, my little barn cottage, three miles away, was where the hot ex-on-exaction happened when he came up from the city. “Is that what this is now? Is that what we are?” I asked. He was quiet. Just because I couldn't fathom where ex-fiancé and booty call met, didn't mean he was the same.
"It's different for men," he said."I am very busy," he added.
On that same birthday he also mentioned, “I’m not a good person.”
My first impulse was to console him. I resisted. It was one of the only impulses I resisted on any of his almost regular visits for almost nine months. The hugeness of what I still felt for him took me by surprise each time. It kept me in orbit. In its way, it was more comfortable than “putting myself out there.” That phrase made me throw up in my mouth a little. Every time I thought we were closer to getting back together. Every time I was wrong.
One night, he let me know he was coming up from San Francisco. I asked if he wanted to go dancing. He texted back, “If you promise you don’t cry I will consider it.”
He not only considered, but accepted, then, at the bar, sulked. He told me he was tired and I offered to drive him home. He told me to stay out, have fun. He could take a cab. I insisted on driving him home. I wanted to see what it felt like to be with him in that house, formerly your house. I shivered and he gave me his jacket on the way to the car. This did not mean we were getting back together.
Maybe this is weird because we still love each other.
Maybe this is weird because we never really did.
Maybe this is weird because everything that happened here was a lie.
Maybe this is the worst idea ever.
Even awkward sex will rid your head of thoughts like those.
We looked into each other’s eyes for an extended moment only once. He finally looked like a stranger. He shut his eyes and I stared at the world’s ugliest ceiling fan. The one I vowed to replace when we first looked at this house five years ago. Vows mean sh-- here.
“Cuddle time,” he said, when it was over, like he always had when it was time for sleep. And, like always, our bodies fit together perfectly. We still had this. I almost wished we didn’t. Almost.
When we woke, he seemed surprised to find it was me he was holding. “I should just sell this house.” He said, facing the bookshelf.
“I wish you would.” I said, even though it didn’t matter anymore. Still, my eyes filled.
“You’re ruining this.” He said.
I put my new pink dress back on while he showered. I made two cups of coffee. He took a sip and said, “That’s a nice dress.” And then, “I should say, you look nice in that dress.”
“That’s better.” I said, and smiled. And it was. I forgave him. I forgave us both.
We're not going to be friends. Not for years, at least. I am not going to live in that house and marry him in the meadow and raise our kids. It's entirely possible that was never going to happen. It’s entirely possible I didn’t really want that either. It's entirely possible that he just wanted someone to come home to while he endured the stress of launching his startup. Or he loved me, as best he could, dispensed in teaspoons.
Forgiveness doesn't mean he stays in my life. Forgiveness means I found a nugget of “no” in a big mound of “yes.” It took me longer than it should have, but I’m going to opt out of being ashamed of that. If I hadn’t experienced the hot ex-on-ex action with its marginally hotter postgame tears, the letting go wouldn’t have had the chance to become as easy as it did. I would have wondered. I would have yearned. I would have been really pissed off. Instead, I’m actually approaching the dirty hippie point of thanking him for this opportunity to let him go completely. I mean, those words aren’t going to be said aloud to him or anything. I’m just going to keep them here in the barn, where they belong.
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