Today, toward the very end of a frenzied afternoon, our office door opened and a guy with a handtruck of boxes came in. (I work in publishing; this happens a lot.) “Hey,” he said.

My first thought was, hey, that guy is pretty cute.

My next thought was, wait, he’s familiar.

My third thought was a clenching in my chest.

It was F, coming to bring me boxes of things I had left at our apartment.

I know this sequence must sound terrible, but it’s true. In my defense, I have a weakness (bordering on a disability at certain really awkward times) in trying to recognize faces. Furthermore, he had lost a lot of weight–maybe 15 pounds, or more–since I last saw him two months ago, and cut his hair very differently, and shaved all his facial hair. In his defense, he had told me he was coming and there was no reason I should have been so taken off-guard.

He was very polite, rather well-dressed–my boss speculated that he had “tried”–and he dropped the boxes and left in a hurry. I tried to stop him in the hallway, ask if he was okay, how things were going, but he was very sad and in a rush to some unspecified place.

It all must have all been glyphed across my face because when he was gone my boss came over to my desk and said, “You’re going to feel sad now, for a little while, but then you’re going to remember all the reasons you made the right decision. It will all come back very clearly and you’ll feel so much better you’ll be surprised.”

I mean, she’s right. It’s been a couple hours now and she’s right. But the moment was hard and surprising.

I guess this is what it means to have an ex. How strange, though, to be experiencing all these streams of emotions that fill other people’s cliches. It hurts to watch him hurting, because I care about him. And I have been so happy alone, working on finding myself. How come when I can’t see him, I feel so secure, but seeing him rattled me so deeply?

Yes, all cliches, streaming streams of cliches. At least I know why they are.

Luckily somebody was waiting in the lobby of my office building with a pint of green tea ice cream, all of which I ate like a creature in a RomCom.

Now, I am at home by myself in my new space, watching a favorite Chinese movie, blogging a little, maybe (later) choosing to treat myself to a glass of wine if I’m in the mood. And feeling very happy to be here.

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7 Responses to shaken

  1. LindaS-W says:


    it is those little jolts that get you. hang tough, play your violin, drink that wine, give yourself a pedicure. you have funs out the wazoo, and family too. let them love you hard. peace….

  2. Ello says:

    Oh that’s hard. But it’s gonna take time. And your boss is right. And it will eventually all become a lot easier.

  3. JES says:

    Maybe 20 years ago, recently divorced from my second wife, I was on my way to the office of the woman I was then seeing, just for a visit because I was in the area anyhow. I got in an elevator at the gigundo office building where she worked and saw someone rushing to get to it before the doors closed. So I stuck my hand between the doors and held them open.

    My fellow passenger was my FIRST wife. First time I’d seen her in, well, a long time anyhow. I’d heard through an extended grapevine, just once, that she worked at that building, but I can’t tell you how weird and surprising and (yes) shaking the moment was.

    Presumably she recognized me; I don’t know. I was too busy staring straight ahead at the elevator doors, and wishing they’d been made of some material a little less reflective.

    It does get better. But it will quite possibly never stop giving you a little jolt.

    (And btw, those opening one- and two-line paragraphs in this post: masterful. Took me, too, completely by surprise.)

  4. cindy says:

    aww, this made me sad too. =( so disconcerting and…
    hard. i’m so glad k was there was yummy green tea ice cream.
    much hugs! i’m sad i won’t see you again this year. i have GREAT
    fotos of our brunch together and i’ll post it on my blog!!

  5. Ouch ouch ouch. That must have been so confusing and hard in that moment! I don’t know how you managed to get anything done the rest of the day. Thank goodness for friends and ice cream and good movies and nice bosses.

  6. Briony says:

    Eeep. Thank god for icecream delivering friends. *hugs*

  7. Wendy says:

    Well, you now lived through it. An ex sighting. The next one won’t be so bad.

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