It all began with the photographs we’d taken. On film. That’s how long we were together. When we first started dating I didn’t have a cell phone or a computer. I had given him my phone number on a piece of paper. And when we had our first real conversation it was over a telephone with a cord.
There was still a huge box of photographs to go through since I moved out after our break up. A lot of them were of him. Even more were of us. I decided it would be best to rip it off like a Band-Aid. And that’s exactly what I did.
Over a weekend I took all the photographs out of the box and went though them one by one. Each one brought me back to a time, to a place and to a feeling. Wow, look how young we were. Look at all the phases that we’d gone through. Fifteen years’ worth. Yes, it was emotionally draining, but surprisingly it didn’t make me sad. Instead, it actually made me…happy.
Nearly every picture of us together brought me joy. I suppose it’s because you only take pictures when you’re having a good time. But still we looked so happy, so in love, and when I look at them now I still feel that way.
I knew he’d want to see some of them too. So, I reached out to him on my cell phone, through Facebook.
“If you’d like to stop by for some wine or some coffee that would be nice,” he replied. “But I’m dating someone and we live together. So she’ll be here.”
Yes, I already knew they were living together. I saw it on Instagram.
“You’re really taking the high road,” my friend said when I told her I was meeting up with him, and with her too. But to me it didn’t feel that way. To me it just felt like this was the natural progression of things. Like it was the next step in our relationship, only our relationship was different now.
The following weekend I went over to their apartment, which used to be my apartment. And I played with their cat which used to be my cat. For a moment I thought to myself “wow, their place looks really nice”—and then remembered that I had done all of the decorating.
It was little bit like being in the Twilight Zone too. Everything looked mostly the same, but a few things stuck out of place. There was a new coffee pot I didn’t recognize, some forks I wouldn’t have chosen, and a guest room that looked like a real guest room. But some things never change—like the bottle of Jameson on counter, along with the old fashioned crystal glasses I bought him for his birthday. Only now she was pouring the drinks.
Her name was Sherilyn—and she was at least a decade younger than me. But in more ways than not we were similar. And the truth was that I liked her.
I pulled out the envelope with the pictures from my bag.
“Give them to me!” She interjected and tore right into them.
It brought me delight to see her face at the sight of us fifteen years younger—him without tattoos, me with blonde hair. And I enjoyed re-discovering my relationship and my ex-boyfriend along with her. Yes, that was my man. And now he was hers.
Don’t get me wrong—it took me many years to get to this point. The point where I am to look at my relationship objectively and see that changes that happen though painful, are always good. It is a testament to our growth as a individuals as well as a couple that we realize while we don’t want to be together anymore, we also don’t want each other to be miserable. For me, this is enlightenment and ultimately I know that being happy for them is being happy for myself.