Man Was I Glad to See You Again
By Heather Reddy of Sorry to Be So Heavy
I tried to be Facebook friends with my exhusband. I really did. I felt like I was Over It. In retrospect, I guess it’s not so strange that, when feelings are gone, pettiness remains. I would look at his profile often—the odd thing was that he kept a photo of him that I took as his profile picture, so I always felt silently present when I looked at the details of his new life: jobs, grad school, party photos. It would always stun me: it was me who was looking at him, there, in the photo that represented him. When I took it we were staying in an expensive hotel in Chicago and I had a fancy new camera. We were about to miss a Mogwai show.
Once, I let my eye stray to his Facebook wall and saw this:
of all the people i’ve run into on here in such a short time…you may have made me the happiest. 🙂 I have missed you terribly. You stick out in my mind as possibly the kindest person I ever met. I miss when you used to come over and lay around with me. And such a great conversationalist…but suffice it to say…man was i glad to see you again. loves and kisses xoxox
I felt something resembling panic and didn’t know why. It was written by B. Facebook told me they had become “friends” two days before she wrote it. But I knew her from before. He was sort of dating B. when we got together, in 2000. B. was everything I definitely wasn’t back then: polished, reckless, sexualized, stupid, self-confident, a third wave feminist. She was so much of a third wave feminist that she was a stripper—something I found (publicly) disgusting and (privately) slightly enviable. She made me squirm when we ran into her. His arm was around my shoulder and she flashed a wide, taunting smile at me. “Hello, Heather,” she said, with vague, almost absent-minded disdain. “I’ve heard about you.”
He didn’t tell me until we were living together that he’d been a virgin before me. He never even kissed B.; she was too coked out and he was too shy. That he never kissed her made me feel so much better, less stung by his infidelity. It hurt that he’d withheld the solace of that tiny detail because he wanted to brag about sleeping in her bed.
What made me sure I couldn’t continue to cringe at his facebook status updates was being riveted back to jealousy from the beginning of our relationship so long after its complete end. I haven’t figured out why I had such a reaction to seeing this girl’s post: I am not jealous. It’s just weird. I live in Oregon, he lives in Connecticut, B. lives in Michigan. He and I were together for five years (married for a small fraction of them). She remembers him before he met me. And, still, I took the picture she used to find him. (His name is very common and he’s not living where he used to.) A couple hours after I took that picture of him, our friend showed up with his goth girlfriend and we went out for sushi. The whole thing isn’t much of a story. Or not one I have a hold on, anyway.
I mean, I can hold dissonant images in my head: how when I moved out of our shared apartment, I wept uncontrollably at the process of packing things and made him leave so I could do it alone. How he picked me up, in town for only 12 hours, and we had this calm meal at an Outback Steakhouse next to the airport, deciding—with Big Person Bravado—we needed a divorce and that was okay; lots of people get divorces and it’s okay. I remember how I first noticed his gray-green eyes, eloquence and half-tucked shirt at a philosophy conference. He held his unruly hair away from his face to talk to me that afternoon. Years later, we walked a long way to our car after we talked to the midwife, wondering whether we should have a baby right then or wait until his second year of law school.
Last summer, I got an email. Subject: Fair warning. He was coming to the west coast, he said, to Portland of all places. He couldn’t meet with me or anything, he’d “be with lawyers 24 hours a day.” I told him he could have my city: I was going to Alaska with my husband that week. No chance we’d run into each other.
When he calls, we talk about mob television and the weather. I usually let him talk long enough that his cadences regain familiarity, but grow weary quickly after that. He doesn’t know many people in the city, he said when we spoke recently, and his sister broke up with that guy a couple years ago. I seethed at him a little but felt warm at the same time. He asked about my headaches and had a frantic loneliness in his voice that was, I guess, always there. We are nothing so simple as people who share a Facebook Alumni network, though I guess we do.
When I reached my tolerance with our conversation this past time, a day or two ago, I said I needed to go let the dogs out. I stared at the phone and then my knuckles, wondering if maybe I should care more, before I picked my book up. I removed him as a friend a couple weeks ago. There is no real etiquette for disasters. You just click the remove friend button at the bottom of the screen. Sometimes you just need to end a story if you haven’t figured it out yet.