I woke up Thursday filled with a sense of urgency. My niece was coming that afternoon and had lots to do. I still needed to tidy up and pick up a few last minute things for dinner. I hopped in the shower, tidied the house and ran across the street to the store to get some garlic bread to accompany the evening’s dinner.
I made way to the check out and stood behind a woman who, to spite being in the express lane, had about twenty items. I was in my own little world. I noted that I hadn’t seen the checker at the store before and that he was very attractive. Out of the corner of my I caught the rapid movement of someone doing a double take in my direction. This happens to me quite frequently so turned my head to my right to see who was checking me out. I love when men notice me and I wanted to see if he was attractive.
And there he was walking swiftly with his head turned away from me attempting not to make eye contact. My body began to tense as mind resigned itself to the fact that he was in fact on my side of town, in the grocery store across the street from my apartment. I began to feel a sharp pain in my stomach. I became suddenly aware that my heart was racing. The woman in front of me was paying for her goods. The checker gave a strange look and then a quick smile as I stood frozen watching him as he walked out of sight. The checker asked if I was okay. I told him I was and paid for the garlic bread, a process that should have only taken a moment but in my current state of shock took longer. And honestly I was in no rush to go outside.
It had been nearly three months since I had seen him last. Then he had requested we speak in private and I never showed up at the proposed meeting place. I was too willing to let him blame me for everything that had happened, allowing him to tell me I had no right to feel hurt or angry with him and how he resented that I made him feel guilty.
All of this still crosses my mind more often than I would like but it had become less frequent in the time I had not seen him. I can’t remember a time when I had ever wanted anything as badly as I wanted him. I wanted to love him and I wanted so badly for him to love me back. And that is something I have never asked of anyone. Instead I experienced my first real heartbreak. The pain I associated with this man was now represented by the searing pain I felt in my abdomen.
As I exited the store I scanned the parking lot for the black pickup I used to gleefully wait for several months earlier. I saw it across the street from the store in the parking lot of the neighborhood park. He had parked to eat his lunch. On some level I understood why he did not greet me in the store but my pride, and the poor sense of self-esteem I feel when I am near him, took me over. Why had he ignored me? He had no right to want to avoid me. I retrieved my phone from my purse and texted four words. “You couldn’t say hi?” He responded with a text inquiring, “Who is this?”
Oh yes! I had changed my number so he couldn’t call me hadn’t I? Fuck!. “Teri” I answered. “Did you see me somewhere?” he coyly inquired. He had seen me and I was certain he knew I saw him. “At Thriftway like five minutes ago,” typed with still shaking hands. He did not respond.
The truth is I would have been angry if he had approached me as though nothing was wrong. If he had tried to have a casual conversation with me my anger would have been apparent. I really didn’t want to speak to him and pretend everything was alright. I also didn’t want to see him but that had happened. So he couldn’t have acknowledged that he saw me rather than pretending he didn’t see me? The answer is no.
He did the right thing. He should have ignored me. What could he have said that would make that situation okay? Nothing. Would saying hello take away my pain? No. Would inquiring about my well-being have made me feel better? Absolutely not. Did I want to hear about his new place or how things were going with his girlfriend? I would rather rupture both of my eardrums.
What I realized is that as much as I would like to forgive and forget what happened between us, wipe from my conscious how he hurt me, I cannot. It is a scar that I will have forever. And regardless of what I want to feel for him, or how I want to see him, our time together has been forever altered. I care for him and hate myself for it. I hate that what transpired can’t be undone, that this is something that, even if he wanted to, he cannot repair. I hate that I still try to figure out if there is way to fix the situation when his sole motivation was to ensure it could not be repaired and he did so confidently knowing that I was incapable of even attempting to hurt him. I don’t have it in me because part of me still cares.
I may always feel something for him. I view it as a weakness on my part. Caring about someone isn’t supposed to cause you pain. I know that. So ultimately I should be thanking him for not acknowledging me. It wouldn’t have been beneficial to either of us. I guess I just don’t want it to hurt so much and I am afraid that it always will.