Of course it happens this way. I’ve been wondering for years what it would be like to run into my ex. The one I dated on and off in college. The first solid Christian guy I ever liked. The only guy I ever dated that I was friends with first. He’s working at a fancy hotel, come to find out, the one Ted and I had our special Christmas martinis at.
Ted and I were fighting. I felt insecure about my glasses and had said I wanted to get new ones. I felt like he was mocking my vanity when he said no I couldn’t get new ones, but we had to go to Warby Parker for his glasses anyway, so the topic couldn’t be dropped. It’s always more than simple materialism with me, I don’t know about you. Am I still the girl you fell in love with, Ted? Even though the sleepless newborn nights dim the twinkle in my eye, and the depression clouds the smile you loved so much. Am I still someone you like to talk to about the whole wide world even if my right-now-world weighs 15lb and can’t walk?
But, of course, these aren’t the questions to ask when the baby is fussing for dinner and it’s rush hour in Meatpacking. And you’re scanning stores for hot water to make a bottle for the subway home and scurrying about wondering if the man who gave you your wedding ring is even still attracted to you when it suddenly starts to hail and the baby is in the front ergo. And you duck under a small awning and physically bump into the last ex you dated. The baby the husband made in you is strapped to your chest and makes all the physical contact. But you can’t really move because the sudden hail storm confines all four of you to two square feet of dry, safe sidewalk.
We stumbled and shuffled and muttered apologies before I exclaimed my ex’s name out of sheer shock and recognition. He stopped and looked and smiled at my newly short hair and no make up, and then he saw my new little baby. HI! How are you? What’s his name? Oh that’s perfect. Hi, Ted! What are you doing here? Oh, I work right over there. Wow, this hail is nuts. Baby cries. We have to go. Me, too, I’m late. Have a good night! We run in opposite directions for the next oasis of scaffolding and awnings and that’s that. First time in years, and probably the last for several years to come.
I’m mortified and confused and insecure and still mad at Ted. The Caitie who was so lost during college peeks out above the baby strapped to married Caitie and feels the residue feelings from a troubled time in her life. But Ted loves me and kisses me and makes the baby a bottle at the bodega I didn’t realize we had stepped into. Sure, it’s been years since I last spoke with my ex. And all is well and fine, and cleanly over. He’s a great guy, just not mine. But I don’t know how to interact in the present with a history that still feels uncomfortable. Especially in the hail, with my husband, and my son, and my glasses that I can’t see clearly about.