The other day I made plans with some friends to meet at a park near Lake Michigan, a good 6 miles away from my house. I was told that the equipment was “amazing” and, most importantly, there was a bathroom. I was stoked driving north through Lakeview past commuters trying to catch the redline downtown. Sadie was in an especially good mood and, I don’t mean to brag, but I had packed her some killer snacks: a sumptuous mix of dried fruit, whole grain Cheerios and some pretzels.
As we turned down Marine Drive I realized where this park was located: one block from an Ex’s house. My heart skipped a few beats and I felt that flurry of anxiety in my head that is one part “Oh my God I hope I don’t see the Ex,” and one part, “Oh my God, I have on my skinny jeans, bring on all of my Ex’s.”
I was distracted while driving by daydreams and projections about what might be happening in my Ex’s life. More children? Burgeoning business opportunities? Great hair? Great skin? I wondered if my Ex still thinks about me and if so, how many of those thoughts are living nightmares and how many are pleasant recollections of the time we spent together.
Once I actually entered the park and got busy with the business of keeping Sadie from impaling herself on the truly amazing equipment and consoling her when some young boy “accidentally” dumped her snacks in a flower bed (he knew expert snack crafting when he saw it– little asshole), I forgot about my Ex for a solid 15 minutes. Once I realized the proximity to the Ex’s house didn’t mean I was destined for some awkward meeting on the sidewalk, I relaxed. I told the friends I had met that I had an Ex whose condo is “very near” to where were stood pushing our two-year-olds in the swings (and ignoring them to talk about the latest episode of Mad Men).
Is it weird that this Ex was a former female friend and our breakup was of the brutal kind that takes place between women when a friendship is no longer tenable? Of course my anxiety would have been different had we been frolicking in a park near my former boyfriends (none of whom I would expect to see at a park at 9:00 a.m. on a Thursday morning). But, I am not sure that seeing a former flame would have produced MORE anxiety than seeing a former friend whose friendship I no longer call mine. It’s just different. In front of both (ex-friends and ex-flames) I want to seem imminently well-ajusted, happy, enthralled by my joyous and well-behaved children, and skinny (hell, I want to be skinny in front of everyone, even newborn kittens who can’t open their eyes). I want to appear to have transcended whatever character frailties led to my part of the expiration of our connection. If a boyfriend said I was too needy, I want to appear especially independent and self-confident. (No one ever said that about me, I swear, but if they had would you still like me and follow this blog? PLEASE. PLEASE DON’T LEAVE ME!) If a girlfriend dissed me because I was too unavailable (with that pesky 100-hour-per-week job and my other job of chasing off boyfriends by being needy), I want to appear to have NOTHING BUT TIME for being a stellar friend to all the women in my orbit. It’s never happened, but when I run into an Ex I will be so fucking ready.
Everyone Googles her exes right? Does everyone also Google their former BFF’s? When I start to Googling people I am not longer in contact with there is the requisite list of former boyfriends whose prison records and hedge funds I check. Gotta stay in the know; I don’t want to be caught off guard at a dinner party. I also Google my therapist to see if he’s up to anything public I should know about. And, I Google my ex-BFF’s– I see their donations and their community service and their Facebook pages. (They have the good sense to block unfettered access to the public, which is where I fit in for them, the public, not a friend.)
Anyone else Google their frenemies regularly?