Tuesday, November 29, 2005

There are those rare occasions where life itself hits us with such a barrage of metaphors that we cannot escape their underlying message. Here, no dream is needed to collect our subconscious anxieties and play them out in allegorical form. And no dream consultant is needed to scratch the fabled surface to reveal what emotional tumult lay beneath.

So it was that I woke up today and exclaimed: “enough already! – I get it!”

Last Thursday I got a call from the ex.

I had ended our relationship earlier this year. It was the hardest thing I ever had to do. But I believed, and still do believe, that it was the right decision.

Our relationship ended amicably, and since the breakup we have been working on easing into a friendship. Though, up to this point, we have both studiously avoided the topic of dating and new romances. In my case, that was mostly because there was nothing new to discuss. I figured that it was the same for him. That was, until Thursday.

Ex now lives in New York. He just got a promotion. And a beautiful new apartment overlooking Central Park.

I asked ex what kinds of New Yorky things he had been up to.

Ex had seen a show.

With whom?

With new girl.

Oh. new girl. I see.

A confusing wave of emotion washed over me.

I’m happy for you. And for new girl. I’m sure she is lovely.

I think I meant that. But what was this that I was feeling? I couldn’t put my finger on the emotion, but I knew it felt bad.

The nature of this mysterious feeling was slowly revealed to me, beginning with a Monday morning e-mail from ex.

It read: “36th,” and then provided a link to a website. I clicked on the link.

Ex had placed 36th in a large American marathon.

He placed in the top 40 of almost 4,000 male runners.

Top 1%.

By any measure, he was a winner.

On my bike ride home from work that night my pant leg became dangerously tangled in the chain spokes. I yanked my leg free, swerving into the curb, and ripping a hole in my pants.

In my dream both ex and I are running in that same big American marathon. I see ex cross the finish line about three miles ahead of me and run into the arms of new girl. She puts one of those foil blankets around him and hugs him protectively. As I finally stumble across the line (in the bottom half of the pack), ex and new girl turn to look back at me. I wipe my brow and give them a meek congratulatory thumbs-up.

I care deeply for ex and I do want him to be happy. So why does his happiness and success make me feel like such a big loser?

Concerned that I was actually a terrible person, I sought assurance from my father - the arbiter of all moral issues in my family.

Nah. It’s human nature, he said.

We want our exes to be happy and successful – but not happier or more successful than we are ourselves.

So there it is. Who am I to argue with human nature? And, I suppose this all makes sense from an evolutionary, selfish gene perspective. Males dance and cluck love songs in stunning displays of virility enabling females to wisely choose their partners in gene propagation. If the female later sees that the top-notch genetic material she forewent is about to be betrothed to another female, feeling like a genetic loser would be the appropriate evolutionary emotion.

Perhaps. But this theory doesn’t sit very well with my view of human women and our role in relationships and in society at large. And in any case, I would like to think that I could transcend my genes.

So I’m going to work on it.

Maybe part of my strategy is to stop viewing the success of ex vs. me as a zero-sum game. Perhaps I can justifiably view part of his happiness as my own personal success. I think we both grew to come to a better understanding of ourselves through our relationship. And surely, that understanding must have in some measure paved the way for his current and future happiness. And mine.

Well- that is more of a long-term strategy.

As a short-term coping mechanism I have taken to daydreaming about racing new girl. We’re in Central Park. Try as she might, and despite the wholehearted encouragement of ex, she just cannot catch up to me.


Grotesquely thick and heavy ankles.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

...and perhaps just a hint of a 'stache

11:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love this. From now on, when I get insecure or annoyed, the object of my despair will immediately aquire thick ankles. Poof.

2:52 PM  
Blogger scott. said...

time for a new post, honey.


10:44 PM  
Anonymous gayle said...

i totally know where you are coming from - similar thing happened to me and i was so distressed when i realized my ex was dating again - and then a mutual friend told me she had really short hair (which he doesn't like) and she was really big etc. and suddenly i was happy as a clam - she wasn't even sure if that was who he was currently dating but it didn't matter cuz that was what i wanted to picture if i had to picture anything which is hard enough...i agree - with time we want our exes to be happy but we also want them to grieve for us so that you can feel special and like what you shared was special...no one wants to be replaceable

1:46 AM  

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