This past Thursday I got a text message from ex-boyfriend #3. It’s been six months since he called me, or answered my phone calls. The last time he called was Election Day. He lives on the other side of the country, in one of those blurry, backward states close to Virginia or something. The last time I saw him was June, when the roommate and I went on a cross-country road trip
And ex-boyfriend #3 is the big one, the one who makes me do completely irrational things, things I would never do for anybody else. If he asked me to walk on water, I’d probably sprint the English Channel—twice, just in case he missed it the first time.
And it was a Thursday, which is nearly Friday, but not close enough to bring you any comfort when you have to roll out of bed at five-thirty in the morning, or when you slog through your three-mile run and get home to find there isn’t any coffee left. Or toast.
So it’s eight-thirty, and I have a nine o’clock with my boss, and I’m cranky as hell, and then I get this text message: “Hey, stranger, how you been?”
For the first few seconds I was blindingly furious—as if I had been the one who was hard to get ahold of, as if the six months of him ignoring my calls and texts were only a week of him being busy—but my rage subsided rather quickly into the usual mental lust I feel for this man, so of course I responded, and we had a nice, short, flirty text messaging session before I skipped off happily to my meeting.
But then there is the Saturday morning coming down.
My mother is in town, and we were out shopping on what should have been a lovely excursion, but something was nagging at me the whole time. I was in a dressing room at Target and I sat down for a moment to have time to think, and I realized: I am still waiting for him to text me again.
I had just gotten used to the idea that he would never call again, but Thursday morning he scratched open that scab and I have been living in a constant state of hoping to hear from him. And he has made no promises, and I have better things to do with my time, but still I feel what I feel and he knows that he does this to me. Maybe I have the right to indignation and anger, but that’s not what I feel. I am just so terribly sad. It could be wonderful; it could be so fulfilling, the relationship we have, but we won’t let it be—he won’t let me get close enough and I have never set any boundaries at all.
So I sat down in that Target dressing room and composed an obnoxiously long and serious text message, telling him that I really cared about him, but that unless he had the intention of really putting in effort to be my friend, please not to call me any more.
The nasty thing about ultimatums is that you have to be prepared for the other person to make exactly the decision you don’t want them to make. I learned that the hard way a really long time ago.
Of course I have not heard from him, but I am only twenty-three yet, and I need to believe in something better than phone calls from the East Coast every six months. Good fences make good neighbors.