About The Ex…

I did it. Lending your favorite book to someone in the middle of your breakup is never a good idea. But, I finally did it. Four years later and I ordered a new copy. I’m onto e-books now, but I still purchased the hardcover version I’d owned. It was sort of this symbolic gesture, I thought. Acknowledging and accepting that I’ll never be getting that book back from him. We haven’t been in contact for nearly four years now, and I prefer to redirect my thoughts to something else if he ever crosses them. So, I haven’t really thought about him in quite some time. Then my phone rang the other night and I didn’t pick up…

No, it wasn’t him. It was just some kind of telemarketer, so I enter the password to my voicemail to delete the message, when I suddenly lose service on the train. My voicemail box has been nearly full for about seven years now. If I don’t delete a newly saved message that comes in, I can’t receive any new messages. I didn’t know who some of my saved messages were from anymore, but I knew there were some I didn’t want to hear. They’re messages that I wish I could add to the box at the bottom of my closet that I never open, but also don’t plan on throwing away entirely. If I hang up in the middle of checking my voicemail, the message gets moved to my saved voice messages, and the only way to delete it is to listen to all the saved messages that come before it.

I take a deep breathe. The first message is from a guy named —- But I’ve dated so many men with that name, I’m not even entirely sure who it is. I figure I’ll feel nostalgic over it at a later time and save it again. Then I start to sort through the rest of the messages, deleting some, and re-saving others. Random friends I’ve missed calls from over the years chime in with 2am drunken rambles, birthday wishes, accidental “I love you, bye” messages, and then my ex’s voice comes on. Did you know there’s such a thing as instant nausea? I imagine it’s like getting punched in the stomach, though I’ve never been hit. It’s sort of like when you see the car crash and you know you’re going to see something upsetting, but you just can’t look away. So, I listened. I made observations about our relationship from his tone and what he said in each message, sort of as an outside observer now.

Then I reached the message that must have happened right after our break-up. He was explaining why he wouldn’t be able to use the internet immediately and begged me not to delete the pictures of us on FaceBook because he liked them and wanted to save them before I did. I wasn’t feeling great by the time I got up to my most recent message. I remembered why I didn’t listen to those messages, open that box in my closest containing mementos from our relationship, and had blocked him and everyone he knew on FaceBook, four years ago. But, this time, listening to his messages, I remembered the break-up more than the relationship. There was more exhaustion than love in his voice in these messages. I was feeling like we’d never been right for each other listening to his messages, yet simultaneously it felt incredibly difficult to hear his voice. In my mind I had revisited the circumstances in which we’d broken up. Who tells someone they love them for the first time while dumping them, anyway?…

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