Does anyone ever truly let go of an ex? Maybe you haven’t thought about your last ex in weeks. The ice cream tubs have long been discarded, and maybe you can even watch the occasional rom-com. You’re finally on the train back to Your Regular World, Sans Heartbreak. But then a relic of the relationship reappears without warning.
It’s the moment you’re innocently cleaning out your bedroom: everything’s humming along, the waste basket is full of old shopping bags and junk mail, clothes are being folded and put away, old college photographs are being hid in closets… and then you find something of your ex-boyfriend’s.
There you are, sorting through a pile of papers, thinking nothing of it… and then suddenly the next envelope you flip over in your hands screams out a name you haven’t read, seen, or heard in two months. You freeze.
It’s like a train wreck. You can’t look away.
Without meaning to, without even wanting to, you read the whole message on the front of the envelope.
“Nice job!” the message says in loopy handwriting. “Daniel Harper, AM Host, 11/16/14”.
Before you know it, a flashback takes over. You’re waiting in the Olive Garden parking lot, Hozier is on the radio. He returns to your front seat with his tip money envelope in hand. Ripping it open, he pockets the cash and carelessly throws the envelope into your backseat. You chastise him jokingly for littering in your car, and soon forget all about the envelope. A month later, when you are performing your annual winter-cleaning routine, the envelope gets mixed up with other papers you bring into your apartment from the backseat of your car. You smile at it, leave it on your bedroom floor, and forget all about it once more.
And now here it is, months later, sitting in your hand. You flip it over and look at the jagged remains of the seal flap where he ripped it open. Half a year ago your ex-boyfriend touched this envelope. It’s a weird thought. You feel weird looking at a past you’ve blocked out of your memory. Such an insignificant object, yet it’s stopped you in your tracks. Just how “over it” are you?
What should you do with it? For some reason a part of you wants to keep it. But for what purpose? It’s just a dumb piece of paper. You wonder if he remembers that day. You wonder what he did with all that tip money. You wonder what life is all about.
Should you keep it as a keepsake of that relationship? No, you don’t need that reminder. Should you at least take a picture of it to remind yourself of that day? No, that’s not healthy. But you don’t want to just dump it in the trash.
You sit on your bedroom floor and let memories wash over you. You wonder what he’s doing right now. It’s so strange to think that everyone you know, including him, is literally doing something right now. Maybe he’s sleeping. Maybe he’s working. Maybe he’s on a date with a new girl…?
Maybe you should text him. Maybe it’s time to try to be friends. Maybe you just want to see how he’s doing. After all, you haven’t talked in how long?
Then your phone buzzes. It’s Jack, the cute new guy at work.
You think about how far you’ve come since last November.
You’re amazed at what good friends you and this ex-boyfriend were, not just lovers, and how much it sucks that all that is gone.
But in a single empowered moment, you get up and toss the envelope into the trash, releasing a small sigh.
Then you sit down at your laptop to write this. You have to at least record the moment.