"You know, Vicki said that Tom told her 'Laurie's a great girl, we just want different things in life.' Can you believe that?" She was picking at her salad, but looking at me.
"What do you mean, can I believe it? Of course I can. It's the truth." I speared my chicken with my fork, furious that tears were beginning to well up behind my eyes.
"Well, yeah, but isn't it kind of fucked up that he would just say that?"
"I'm sure Vicki asked if we were going to get back together, and that sounded better than just saying 'no.'" I was blinking ferociously, trying to recall the tricks I'd learned to keep from crying on the job. Look to the right...Or was it look to the left? Take a deep breath. Count to ten...
"Well, if that's the case, then why did he show up? Why's he always around?"
Good question. Another good question was why was the truth hurting so much? I have spent the last three months convincing myself and everybody I know that my ex and I can "hang out" without there being any messy feelings involved. Obviously, I was wrong. Because, despite all of my big talk about being strong and unaffected, I still catch myself getting upset when he mentions how he's going to move.
"I think he showed up because he misses everybody," I offered, hoping to derail her train of thought.
"Then why doesn't he just call us instead of you?"
"I don't know why. Maybe he feels awkward." Why was I making excuses for him?
But I knew exactly why he was showing up, why he was calling me instead of the friends we spent time with, and why he's so happy to spend time with me. Because he has what he wanted all along - He has me, but none of the responsibility.
I got a comment on one of my posts that said, "Why are you hanging around with an ex anyway?" And I started to create a response comment - just a "that's a good question" sort of thing - but found that I couldn't. There was nothing I could type that could justify what I've been doing. I wrote that we're friends. That's the truth. We are. But it just seemed like an excuse, even though he's one of my best friends. And one of the biggest problems I had during and after the breakup was the knowledge that I was losing one of the only people I know who asks me how I'm doing and really wants to hear the answer. He was always the first person I'd call when something good or bad happened, the one person with whom I could share every dirty little piece of gossip I picked up because I knew it would go no further than his ears. He knew what I liked. He knew what made me laugh. He knew what made me happy. And he still does. And I'm weak beneath the weight of comfort.
But, the truth remains that he also knew what made me cry, what made me miserable, and what I hated. And I spent a lot of my time with him crying. I also spent a lot of my time with him lonely. And right now, he's as happy as a clam, because he has exactly what he's wanted all along. And I'm still crying. And it's possible that I'm lonlier than ever.
So, "Anonymous," why am I still hanging out with an ex? I don't know. I know I'm shooting myself in the foot every time I'm around him. And I don't know how to put the gun down, but I do know how to reload.