Three weeks ago I got an email from my ex-boyfriend. He hoped I was well. He would love to catch up.
We met for gluten-free pizza at a loft-ish space downtown. I sipped water out of a beer glass, we talked his masters program. He asked about my play. And right when I started to think that he had nothing particular to say to me that day, right when I started to mentally outline a blog-post in my head about how crazy it is that there used to be a third on these dates (Our Relationship), and now its just walls and individuals and space, for the first time in four years, he started talking about Us.
We never spoke about our break-up. I expected us to. I assumed some further discussion would occur when he got home from the Dominican Republic, but there was none. Just a sterile g-chat conversation, and some passive-aggressive facebook statuses. We broke up while he was away, and never looked again at it, which I accepted it because I was forced to. When he got home he wouldn’t go into it with me, and left to my own assumptions about his feelings, I eventually stopped needing to hash it out.
But there he was four years later, earnest, hair grown-out, watching me across the table and saying “I want to talk about what happened.”
Which is so funny. Because I had forgotten that it had happened to him at all.
Ben had become part of my mythology. He had become a story that I tell; a part of my life that I only share when you get to know me better. I talked about him in hot-tubs, and on camping trips. I talked about them in therapy, and with my new boyfriends. I knew about our break-up. I knew it in-and-out.
But he wanted to talk about it now, too. I didn’t know what to feel.
That night, he sent me an essay he wrote about us. About being alone in Chile on the night Obama was elected, and ending a 15-month relationship from thousands of miles away. It was being published. He thanked me for reading it.
There was my name in the third person. There were the excerpts from our g-chat break-up. There was the talk of the girl that came right after. I imagined him writing it. Talking to friends. Comparing our sex to other sex with our people. Talking about me in hot-tubs, and on camping trips.
I didn’t write him back, because I didn’t know what to say. But the next week I took him out for his birthday, for the first time in four years. Because somewhere in there was gratitude, to be shown that I’m not only author of this.