The Ex Next Door
Scottie gets a taste of his own medicine from an ex of many years ago.
Normally, if a relationship I had invested in comes to an end, I rarely stay in contact with the other guy. Maybe that says more about me, but it’s a policy that has usually served me well. I cut them out of my life and give myself time to heal, or just to readapt to being single. Again. If enough time passes, or if the break up wasn’t too bad, maybe I can return to being friends with that guy, but that has been a rare occurrence.
I never really thought, however, that dating a guy who lived in the same neighbourhood would break through my firewalls. When we first met almost two years ago, he was so nice and sweet, and the right guy for him would’ve easily considered him to be a catch. Sadly, I wasn’t that guy, but the process of figuring that out involved breaking his heart. This time, he was the one who cut all ties, with the exception of one e-mail that showed just how scorned he was. Realising just how much I hurt him, I knew that any attempt to make it up to him would be futile, and I left him to it.
Months passed, and our lives went on. I’d see him every so often; maybe on the bus into the city or occasionally at a bar, and he’d completely ignore me. Fine, that was understandable. A few months later, I decided to spend some time away from home, and almost totally forgot about him. When I moved back home, however, I started to bump into him again. He’d still ‘blank’ me, walking past me as if I were a complete stranger. It made sense to me when we first broke up, but I was beginning to think it was getting petty.
Only last week, as I was on my way to a business meeting in the neighbourhood, I noticed this particular ex – walking on the other side of the road, going in the opposite direction. He had his head proudly upright, looking straight ahead, walking with a pace to say ‘don’t mess with me.’ So, I didn’t. I kept walking, even if I did keep an eye on him from the corner of my eye. He didn’t even flinch.
As he passed, I rolled my eyes. This is getting ridiculous, I thought. Ignoring me for a year was fine. It was understandable; we all need time to get over a bad relationship and move on. The problem was that it was now approaching two full years since we called it quits. I wasn’t expecting him to run over and give me a hug, but an acknowledgement wouldn’t have hurt. Would it?
I went to the meeting and forgot about the encounter for a while, but that didn’t last long. Soon, he was back in my mind. But why, I asked myself; why is he on your mind so much, all of a sudden? You’ve cut your ties with ex-boyfriends in the past, why is this so different? I knew what the answer was, though; I was getting a taste of my own medicine. And with that, I knew what to do.
As I got home, I went straight to my bookshelves. I picked out the book on Viking legends that he once gave me and never got back – despite my offer to give it back to him when we broke up at first. Then I got a pen and paper, and proceeded to write a letter. A full-bodied letter with the date and ‘Dear’ to set the tone. I hadn’t written a letter like that since I was about seventeen, and even though it wasn’t my intention, there was something almost romantic about it.
What I wrote probably wasn’t romantic, though. I told him that since we broke up, our lives had undoubtedly changed. We both knew who we were, but neither one of us would know who we are today. The jist of the letter was that I’d like to clear the air after all this time, but if he didn’t want to, at least he couldn’t deny that I tried.
I put the letter in the book – part of my plan was to return the one thing he never got back, to even the odds – and started walking to his house. I knocked on the door, and was surprised when his mother not only answered the door, but still remembered me. I blushed instantly once I heard her say my name. Guilt, possibly. After a bit of chit-chat, I found out that the ex didn’t live there anymore, which foiled my plan a bit. Still, I asked her to give her son his book, and said my goodbyes.
As I walked back home, I let out a sigh of relief and smiled, knowing there really wasn’t anything else I could’ve done to put things right. I tried, though, and hopefully he’ll appreciate that. Maybe he’ll write back, one day – I’ll have to wait and see.
[To read the previous instalment of Scott’s column, click here.]
‘Scottie’ Illustrations by Stephen Charlick