Take Time

Sometimes the only thing for it is to contact an ex. “I’m about to walk into a bank,” he said. “Cool,” I replied. “So . . . now’s a good time for a long conversation about rim jobs, then?” “You can talk about rim jobs all you want,” he said, “But I will be responding like a person in a bank.”

“That’s not actually why I called,” I said.

I said, I’ve been realizing some things, about anger, and sadness, and power; and you were right, I said, about what I should have done when we broke up. I should have taken some time to be alone. That should have been the whole point. I said: it was so self-righteous, being angry with you, that I felt like nothing I did after that could be wrong. That anything that made me happy was good and right, and as long as I was honest with everyone along the way I couldn’t take responsibility for consequences. But now I see the part I played, and not just in the most recent ending.

Emotions have momentum that way; they barrel through the present and scatter into the past like buckshot, lodging into that time you kissed on the porch while another waited for you at home, that time you didn’t respond to the letters (you rarely respond to the letters), that time someone pushed you away and got into his car, leaving you wobbling there, sniffling (things you said). Suddenly you’re standing under a constellation of regret.

“So how are you doing with that lately?” he asked. “Are you okay?”

I knew he wouldn’t receive it like the trophy it could be, so I told him the truth.

“Rough, rough, rough,” I said.

Photo: Found in a folder of images I’d taken in November of last year. The stone is fake, a costume engagement ring my great-grandmother used to wear. (What’s the story on that, anyway, great-grandma?)

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