I didn’t plan to post today.

Really though. I originally had ambitions of posting something thoughtful today, and then I couldn’t pull myself together in time to write the draft (it’ll go on Monday PROMISE). I thought today would be a good day to hold on posting in favor of waiting until I had something really interesting to write about, like what I’ll hopefully be posting on Monday. And then I started reading this article while browsing the interwebz at lunch, and a line gave me so much pause that I did something unthinkable. In this article on xoJane, the writer mentions a one-sided romance she had before meeting her fiancé, and says this: “The cliff-hanger ending of that story rattled me deep.” Almost immediately after reading that, I had this ridiculous impulse to click over to Facebook, take a deep breath, and type The Child’s name into the search bar.

What was I thinking? Why am I doing this? All questions that were running through my brain as I lightly pressed the keys, finding a small bit of amusement in how I couldn’t recall exactly how to spell his last name. I wasn’t expecting or wanting to see anything. I wasn’t looking at him because I missed him or because I wanted to know about his life. I literally had no reason to be clicking on his profile and yet even in my small hesitation as I went to click through, I couldn’t stop myself. And then all of a sudden there I was, looking at the same face that broke up with me over a text message and then strung me along for a few months before he left Manhattan for good. I felt nothing as I looked at him. Pity, maybe, that he has to keep living with himself, and his self is not a good person. A flicker of nostalgia for a time where my weekends were late nights with R&H, where I had three tattoos and long hair, where I was thinking maybe this yoga thing was something to explore. But mostly? I felt nothing.

Why are we compelled to check-in with people that break our hearts? In the two years since he came crashing into my life on that cold subway platform, I’ve moved jobs, cut off all my hair, gotten three tattoos (nearly four), received my yoga teacher certification and found someone who could really be someone. Nearly everything about me has changed, save for my apartment and morning commute; and yet even with all of this, a single line in an article can bring me back to 2014 LB who was curious about a cute stranger on a train. I’ve long since stopped being angry; I haven’t cared about him in years, and I knew that looking at his face from behind a social media profile wouldn’t change any of that, and I didn’t want it to! So why the fuck did I feel the need to do it.

What is it about exes that keep such an odd hold on us? I suppose it’s not all exes: the big Ex and I have maintained a friendly relationship since we fell apart, a testament to his maturity and how much we really did love each other while we were together; when he pops up on social media I feel that little pinch in my heart that calls to the piece that will always love him. But I don’t “check in” with him ever, really, because if I really wanted to check-in with him I’d text him to make plans for coffee. Frankly, I don’t know that I’ve been compelled to “check-in” on any ex, whether we’re officially ‘exes’ or not, and yet despite having not thought about him in months, reading that one sentence today brought my thoughts immediately back to that person. Both people, I suppose: who he is and who I was when he knew me.

Is there a conclusion to this post? Not really. The whole story is no more than “I thought about a stupid fuck of an ex for the first time in months today and figured I’d see if he changed his profile picture and he didn’t.” Barely an interesting sentence, let alone a full post. Perhaps there’s something about being in a not-so new-anymore relationship, where you’re still learning about each other but you’ve settled into a comfortably boring and perfect routine, where you’re making plans for the immediate and distant future like they’re one in the same; perhaps there’s something about that which calls to mind what it took to find that person and that point of happiness. I kissed a lot of toads and one whopper of a snake before I met a prince. Maybe that’s the lesson learned in all of this: people shape our lives for specific reasons. The surest mark of growth is looking at a face that once made you swoon and sob at the same time and feel absolutely not a damn thing.

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