Not only the same city, but the same borough of New York: Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
A few months ago, I told my boyfriend (who also happened to be my coworker) that I was moving to New York (we lived in San Francisco at the time), and he was hesitant about coming with me. “Maybe we’ll try long distance,” he told me. We both fell quiet and I didn’t mention it again.
A few weeks later, I broke up with him because he treated me like garbage and I moved to Brooklyn. Sounds dramatic, I know, but this decision was a long time coming. A month later, he moved to Brooklyn for work and now lives 0.9 miles from me (according to our Bumble locations, which he found me on just two weeks after I moved and told my past colleagues about). He reached out and reached out and reached out in hopes to reconnect, not respecting my space. So, I blocked him. (He was emotionally manipulative, so blocking him was warranted.)
Here’s what it’s like living in the same neighborhood as your ex:
You avoid Radegast Hall & Biergarten on North 3rd Street in Williamsburg — you heard that’s where he parties on weekends. This means walking 4 extra blocks to get around Berry and 3rd, but it’s worth it.
You hang out with as many boys (and girls) as possible so if he sees you, he sees you’ve moved on (even if you haven’t).
You don’t buy a ticket to the Johnnyswim concert even though they’re your favorite band — you might run into him because that’s his favorite band, too.
You avoid Dumbo like the plague even though it’s the most stunning neighborhood in Brooklyn — that’s where his office is. You don’t apply for any jobs in Dumbo for the same reason, even though you’re unemployed and desperately looking for work.
You meet Andrea for drinks at the Commodore on Metropolitan Avenue and go out with Alex and Rebecca at Union Pool after a local rap show, looking for him at both. You know his apartment is just down the street, and both bars are more his vibe than yours, anyway.
You go to the Westlight rooftop bar at the William Vale Hotel with Shawn, Marissa and Mickey on a drunk Saturday afternoon. The sun is setting — you’re supposed to enjoy the Manhattan skyline and the Manhattan in your hand (thanks, hot bartender), but instead you stare at the elevator and hold your breath every time someone walks in/out.
You don’t talk to anyone at your old company because you know they’ll tell you how he’s doing: waking up in New Jersey on Monday mornings not knowing how he got there, not showing up for work for multiple days in a row, and openly discussing his coke addiction in the office. He doesn’t ask about you.
You get drunk at Employees Only (a swanky speakeasy in West Village) with Elsina and on your way home, Ariana Grande’s One Last Time plays through the AirPods he bought you last Christmas. “One last time I need to be the one who takes you home — one more time.” You begin sobbing on the subway. People are staring and you try holding it in but you can’t. The L train stops at Bedford Avenue and you hope he’ll board the train and see you. Maybe everything would go back to how it was when you two were happy — but he doesn’t.
You continue tip-toeing around Brooklyn for months, terrified he’ll turn every corner.
Then you stop. You stop because it’s exhausting. You stop because this obsession is ruining your ability to be present and enjoy the moment. You stop because you’re a brave woman with too many people in your corner to be scared to exist in your own city.
Now you unapologetically go wherever you want without considering his whereabouts. Stumptown Coffee near his office is your new favorite spot. The L train stopping at Bedford doesn’t give you crippling anxiety. And whenever you’re in Williamsburg, you walk down his street, right past his apartment, because this city is just as much yours as it is his. In fact, it’s more yours.
And this is proof that you’re healing, proof that you’re growing. Proof that you’re a better person without him — “better off being a wild one” (thanks, Ariana Grande).