Two months earlier…
Mr. Ex and I have been talking on the phone regularly since the time I cried at the club (long story, felt like no man could ever love me- beginning with my Ex…Mr. Ex.). In a wildly frantic moment, I texted Mr. Ex that night. Since then, we’ve kept in touch. At first it was a call once a week, then a couple times a week, then every couple days. This is all harmless, especially since he lives out of state and is much further than an Acela train ride away. Oh, and he knows about TLA.
I was on the phone with Mr. Ex one night and he kept grunting.
“What the hell are you doing?” I ask.
“Breaking down the bed,” he says like it’s most the natural Tuesday night activity in the world.
“What are you doing that for?”
“It needs to be moved.”
“I’m selling it.”
“Oh.” Pause. “What are you going to sleep on?”
“I have two bedrooms.”
The next week, I’m on the phone with him at work, talking about everything and nothing and he cuts me off.
“Mel, I have something to tell you,” he says urgently.
I get a feeling of what Christopher Moltisanti once eloquently described as “impending doom.” I literally freeze, bracing myself for the worst. I don’t say anything.
“I’m moving back to New York.”
“What?!” Pause. “Why?! Why are you coming back here?” I’ve gone from lackadaisical to hysterical in under two seconds.
“Oh… kay. That’s not the reaction I was expecting.” He goes on to lay out the practical reasons.
“Oh.” It’s all I can say.
“I just found out. You’re like the second person I’ve told.”
“Okay.” One-word responses are the best I can do.
“That’s all you have to say?”
“Yes.” I regain my words finally and claim I have work to do so I can rush him off the phone.
I stare blankly at my computer screen for 15 minutes. F*ck! I’ve known for years this was going to happen. I would meet someone, be head over heels, and he would return. I told myself whatever relationship I was in would be okay, because ever since I laid on the couch and cried so hard that I thought I was breaking in two when Mr. Ex and I ended for good, he’s been all out of my system. I spent a year making sure of it until I was better, stronger than before. And with us speaking now, we are finally at the point where we can be friends again, just how we started. So why did I just freak out when he said he was coming back?
I call Mr. Ex then, and tell him that I’m happy he’s returning since I know this is what he’s wanted. I declare, for emphasis, that I am dating TLA now and while it’s fine if we (Mr. Ex and I) talk on the phone, if necessary, I am dealing with someone I care about, and I don’t think we (Mr. Ex and I) should see each other. Mr. Ex knows our pattern, which is that when we’re around each other for any length of time, we wreak havoc on each other’s personal lives. He agrees my plan is for the best.
A week later, he’s back in the city. We briefly talk on occasion, but otherwise continue to avoid each other like the cliched plague. We don’t run in the same circles (though there was almost an accidental run-in at Tillman’s) so this small country town of eight million should be big enough for the two of us.
A month later, I’m sitting across the table from him one rainy Sunday afternoon at Hudson River Grill. (Yes, I left Brooklyn on a weekend.) TLA and I had our first fight a couple days earlier (when I didn’t stay on the phone) and I wasn’t sure I was built for this relationship sh*t. I needed to vent to an impartial party (everyone loves TLA.) And too, I felt like seeing Mr. Ex. We’re friends and adults so we should be able to see each other.
We talk, mostly about TLA. I run down my frustrations with this whole relationship ish. He listens, laughs where appropriate, and points out why TLA was upset and what I did wrong. It’s only then that I realize I’m dating the same person. I do a mental run of their similarities. OMG! No wonder I’ve got it so bad for TLA. He’s the “sixth anomaly” of Mr. Ex (Cue Matrix Reloaded)
Anyway, Mr. Ex and I finish dinner, and head to Cafe Lalo for dessert. Years prior, he’d talked about taking me there several times. On the way, Penelope texts, asking where I am.
Leaving Harlem, I write back.
Harlem? On a weekend? You don’t leave Brooklyn.
I’m with Mr. Ex
WORD?!!!! On a date?
NO!! We’re friends.
I’m your friend. I’ve NEVER hung out with you in Harlem.
I don’t text her back. So she writes again.
Just friends, huh?
CafÃ© Lalo is quaint and very European, the type of place where movies about New York are filmed (A scene from You’ve Got Mail was shot here.) As I’m forking cheesecake into my mouth, I realize this is the first time in a long time Mr. Ex and I have conversed face to face with no underlying hostility, no resentment about the past we’ve so royally fucked up.
He listens, he grins. He talks. I giggle, I smile, I listen. We sample from each other’s plates and unintentionally mirror each other’s movements, both of us resting one elbow on the table and propping our chins up with the other hand. Apparently, we’re still in sync.
After dessert, he drives me downtown, letting me off at the same stop he used to come to 8 years ago when we first met and I lived downtown(the irony wasn’t lost on either of us. Oh, and since it’s before ten, we both agree I should take the train since him crossing into Brooklyn is a bad idea.) I hug him goodbye tightly.
At the bottom of the stairs, I look back up to see if he’s still there. He is. I yell up that I’ll text when I get home. I walk through the turnstile, smirking. This is the way we should have always been. For just a second, I wonder what if? And just as quickly I bring myself out of the complete insanity crossing through my head. Mr. Ex still has the same issues that we fought about for 5years (I think). And I’m still not willing to compromise on them.
Plus, I have TLA.
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