Here’s the thing about getting back together with an ex boyfriend.
You really shouldn’t.
At least that’s what I was telling myself after grabbing lunch with my ex.
The conversation had gone well, civil and only a little cold.
It was the hug afterwards, outside the BBQ joint, that confused me.
It was still warm for October. He was wearing a green t-shirt, I imagined it was soft. He opened his arms, an offering for a hug, “I really appreciate you apologizing to me. You really didn’t have to.”
I wrapped my arms around him, one around his waist, the other over his shoulder. This is a friendly hug I told myself.
We embraced for a moment, bodies pressed against each other. We both took a deep breath and released.
As I slid my arms back towards my person, my right hand drifting down his shoulder, onto his chest, and lingered there for half a heart beat.
I clasped both my hands together like a psychotic cheerleader and smiled “Yeah no problem! You deserved it. I’ll see ya around!”
And scampered back to my car, feeling like a damn fool. Why on earth did I do that? I made a perfectly normal hug slightly sexual. It was probably just muscle memory. Yeah, totally just muscle memory.
Muscle memory after two years? I guess it’s possible…but….like…. that was weird.
I shook my head and drove back to work.
I buzzed into the parking lot, checked my watch, and sprinted into the building just in time for a meeting.
The meeting was a book club/bible study, whichever makes you most comfortable to hear. It was a group of really wonderful people that met once week to watch the I am Second video series.
I slid into my seat as the leader clicked play. I slyly smiled across the table as the group rolled their eyes at my almost-lateness. I was really good at timing these things out.
I was expecting another video about a celebrity turning to drugs then finding the lord. Instead, I had my head blown off by a super relevant video on a married couple that split, spent years apart, and got back together.
How on earth was this the day we watched this video?
I dominated the post-video conversation with “Wait, does this really happen!? Do people really get back together after being broken up?!”
The common consensus was, yeah sometimes. But no one had any examples or personal experience.
I wanted to scream WAIT. ARE YOU TELLING ME YOU CAN GET BACK WITH AN EX AND IT’S OK?
Most of my life I’d stood by (but rarely followed) the advice of not revisiting old relationships. Every time I slunk back to an old boyfriend it ended with fights and broken hearts.
Before the meeting officially came to a close, I walked/ran to my desk to text my sister.
What if he and I start dating again? -I aggressively typed.
That would be cool! – She typed back quickly
Is that really a thing that can happen? Can couples do that?
Sure! What not?
I sighed, threw my phone on the desk, confused and slightly excited.
Confused because I didn’t think it was possible.
Excited, because if it was possible I could have my old life back.
I decided to keep my distance from the ex, I didn’t want to sift through those feelings. They were exhausting.
At work one day (we worked at the same company) I was zipping around his building working on a project, meeting with various people, including his boss.
I stopped by his desk and talked for a minute. We chatted about the standing desk he’d built. He perched on a stool in front of it, and I made fun of him for totally negating his health efforts.
Without any prompting – I was just chatting away mindlessly – a thought ran through my head. Ahh I’ve been missing my other half.
I brushed it off, assuming my new medicine was playing jokes on me.
I texted him later and asked if he could build me a desk, for hire, of course.
He said yes, and offered to do it at cost, if I helped. He wants to spend time with me?
I turned to my co-worker, a cute brunette with green eyes and a sassy smile, and I stated, with unwavering confidence, “If my ex and I start dating, we will be married within the year.”
The few days of building the desk served as my soap box for demonstrating all the ways I’d changed. All the ways I’d become a better person. I laid the proof before him like a lawyer presents evidence in defense of a convict.
He had a chilly demeanor. Stand offish-but friendly. It wasn’t till I caught him eyeing my posterior that I decided to make a move. It’s the little things like that.
I asked him out for drinks.
He asked me on a date.
I asked him on a walk. He held my hand.
He asked me on another date. I kissed him in the bed of his truck.
I asked him on more walks.
He asked if we were seeing other people. I said no. And we decided to be boyfriend/girlfriend. We celebrated with Mexican food.
He visited me at home after Thanksgiving. I told him we would probably get married by next fall.
He agreed and told me he loved me.
I told him I loved him back.
He asked when I wanted to be engaged. I said before May.
He proposed in February.
We scheduled the wedding for September.
In April we got tired of waiting and moved the wedding to June.
In total, we dated for four months and suffered a four month engagement.
It’s funny, I don’t recall when I stopped worrying about if it was ok, possible, or socially acceptable to fall in love with an ex-boyfriend.
At some point, I forgot what was expected. We cracked open the hurt of the break up in small little chips until it didn’t hurt so much. We talked about the future and acknowledged the past. Sometimes, when the sting was too great, we’d block out specific memories. Sometimes we’d hold each other and cry over how much he’d hurt me, or I him.
It was a new love mish-mashed with old hurts. It was sweet kisses haunted by the memory of what was before and punctuated by the promise of a future.
It was like exploring a familiar town that had evolved in my absence. Familiar roads now lined with houses I didn’t recognize.
It was different and familiar, heart-breaking and exhilarating, this true-love formed from the ashes of a burnt-out flame.
It was simultaneously slow and fast. Irrational and the most logical thing we’d ever done.
But I guess that’s how love works. It doesn’t follow a path or ask for preferences. It blows in like storm and whispers like a hushed secret. It warms your heart and leaves you weak.
It’s hard and good and scary and uncomfortable and challenging, and just so incredibly worth it.
It was worth it, on that warm October day, when I sat nervously chewing on barbecue, spewing apologies between bites.
He listened while his smoked pork grew cold. I didn’t know what he was thinking, I just knew I needed to tell him. He needed to know it wasn’t his fault. I couldn’t tell him I still had feelings for him, feelings I didn’t understand. That would be cruel. But I could tell him he was wonderful and that I had messed up. I could offer my pride and ask nothing in return. It wouldn’t fix it, it wouldn’t take away his pain, but I could try. I could straighten out the story so maybe he wouldn’t hate me anymore.
All I really wanted was for him to not hate me anymore.
I had no idea a simple lunch could accomplish so much more.