He looked the same. The part in his hair was the same, the scruff on his chin the same, his drink of choice, Jack and Coke, the same. Nothing about his physical appearance was different, and she imagined nothing about his intellect was different either. She assumed he was still the same self-absorbed, ungrateful bastard that he was when they were together.
She assumed he had learned nothing from their relationship, that he was still set on the thought that she should’ve thanked him for leaving her, that he was doing her a favor, it was for her own good, and now she realizes while at the moment of heartbreak she felt like the world was ending, his leaving was the best thing that could’ve happened to her.
When she was with him, the convenience of companionship concealed the red flags. She was blinded to the fact that he loved himself more than he loved her, blinded to the fact that his words didn’t match his actions. At that time words were enough. She only needed to hear how much she meant to him, and didn’t care whether or not he showed it, because being with someone who could proclaim love but not demonstrate it was better than being with nobody at all.
But now she was different. Now she was happy with herself, her life, and she didn’t think of companionship in terms of convenience she thought of it in terms of who she wanted to share her life with. She realized companionship was not something you should crave because you’re scared of being lonely, but something that depends on the person you’re calling your companion. She realized it was only the idea of him she loved.
And her happiness led her to stop trying, not in an ‘I give up on love’ kind of way, but in a way that she wanted to live her life searching for herself, and maybe someone along the way would make that discovery with her. And someone did.
It wasn’t love at first sight. She didn’t feel a magic spark when she first shook his hand and told him her name, it was an average introduction that turned into an intoxicated escape. A summer night of drunken kisses in a freezing pool, and innocent fondling on a less than sturdy hammock, but she loved kissing him. She loved his touch against her skin and the way he pushed her hair behind her ear. She loved the way his earring felt cold against her chest as he kissed her neck.
She was happy now, happy with herself, and the people she chose to include in her life, she was in love. In love with this boy who showed her love and didn’t just say it. And when she felt love with him she realized that this person from her past sitting across the bar was not someone who mattered, he was the shell of a person she used to know, used to share her life with, and while she wished she had never met him, he lead her to her current happiness.
She hadn’t seen him since the breakup, since he asked if they could still be friends and she told him no, since he told her that she wouldn’t realize it now, but eventually she’d thank him. And standing in that bar where it felt like two worlds were colliding, where the boy she thought she loved from her past was in the same room as the boy she currently knew she loved in the present, she thought of everything she wanted to say to the one who left her, the one who hurt her.
She was angry, angry that finally when she stopped thinking about him, finally when she was happy with someone else, happy with herself, when he was no longer in her mind, he somehow found a way to pop back in. She hated him for that.
When he left her she repeated over and over the things she would tell him if she ever saw him again. Words filled with fury, sadness, pain, words she didn’t know she had in her, but would feel so good to get out. But she hadn’t seen him. She hadn’t been given the chance to purge her pent up emotions, splatter them across his face to see how he’d react. She never called, she never texted, she let it go, but she waited for the day when she’d run into him, the day she could say the things she felt would give her closure. And it never happened. Until now.
She felt like the universe was trying to tell her something. That her ex was in this bar with her and the boy she currently loved because the world was trying to show her some type of metaphorical venn diagram. That the universe was telling her to think about the terrible way her ex treated her and how it was so wrong compared to the boy who currently treats her so right. And she wanted to storm up to him, this ghost from her past and say all the things she felt inside, but she didn’t want to hurt the boy who stood beside her. Didn’t want him to think she was holding onto something. But she knew he was confident in her love, and she was confident in his. So she did.
She approached her ex who stood across the bar waiting for another whiskey. The walk felt infinitely longer than it should’ve, and when she finally stood behind him, she downed the remaining tequila soda in her glass, liquid courage. She tapped him on the shoulder expecting him to turn around with shock written across his forehead. When he looked at her she felt a tinge of regret. Regret for walking up to him, regret for ever meeting him, ever dating him, ever sharing a part of her life with him, and before he could even say hello, she said exactly what she wanted to say.
It didn’t sound rehearsed, it didn’t sound planned, because everything she said came out differently than she ever thought it would. It came out with confidence, with assurance that she was currently in the place she belonged, that her life was finally full of meaning,
After she flawlessly executed her impromptu soliloquy, she didn’t wait for his reply. She put her empty glass on the bar beside him, picked up his Jack and Coke, turned around and walked away. Away to the boy who currently loved her. The boy who showed her what real love is. And when she finally made it back to him he looked at her and smiled and he asked her how she felt. And she told him she was happy.
Imagining all of this, imagining her saying everything she’s ever dreamt of saying to her ex, taking his Jack and Coke, walking away without letting him say anything in return, made her realize she didn’t need to say anything at all. She didn’t need to give him the satisfaction of thinking she still cared, she didn’t need to waste her energy on someone who didn’t deserve it. She knew he was the same person who left her, the same self-centered bag of shit who hurt her, and that no matter what emotions, words, or thoughts she purged on him, would only give her temporary release.
She saw her ex standing on the other side of the bar, and she looked at the loving boy who stood beside her, she grabbed his hand and said, ‘let’s get out of here.’ She walked past her ex and didn’t say a word, didn’t tap him on the shoulder, or look into his eyes, she left. And she walked out of his life like he walked out of hers, and she was happy.