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Living Out Loud: : Dear X

Running into the past

By Heather Y. Miller · March 9th, 2005 · Living Out Loud

Dear X,

It was an uneventful Saturday night. We were taking a family trip to the mall to do a little shopping, to pick up a few things we needed and drool over the cool things we can't afford. But then suddenly the night wasn't uneventful. As soon as we walked into the mall entrance, there you were.

You stared at me and I stared back, completely unsure of what the social protocol dictated. After all this time, I didn't know if I'd even recognize you. After all, it's been seven years. But I knew you right away and you knew me.

I wasn't prepared for the physical reaction I'd have to seeing you. I felt paralyzed. Every breath took effort. I stood there, solidly grounded in 2005 with my new husband and new baby and faced 1998 -- my first husband, my first divorce.

I always pictured myself being much cooler in this situation.

I had this odd little fantasy that I'd just saunter over to you, totally casual and say something like, "Hey, weren't we married to each other awhile ago?" I'd smile and be nonchalant about it and we'd both laugh about the past.

But there was no grace, no casual attitude and no witty remarks. Welcome to reality and a pitiful display of me staring, mouth hanging open in shock, fighting the urge to turn and run. I scurried away into the nearest store like a frightened animal.

I kept close enough to watch you for a few minutes. When did you start shaving your head? You didn't look like the guy I married in 1996, in appearance or demeanor. You looked intense and unhappy. I didn't see a shred of the fun-loving man I use to know. I chalked it up as your reaction to seeing me, but I've now heard through the grapevine that you're in the middle of your second divorce. Maybe when we met you were showing the wear and tear of yet another court battle.

It's strange to have been married to a man who's now a stranger. We were both young, incapable to take on the big issues we were facing. In the end, I know I made the right decision to leave you, but I still wear the scars of divorce.

And over the years, I've had this odd desire to ask you if you got through it O.K., to ask about your take on the whole thing. But I don't know exactly how to start that dialogue.

"Hey! Remember me? From divorce count? Sorry my dad had you thrown in jail."

Sometimes things are better left unsaid. I think I'll focus on the present and leave the past to heal. One of these days, maybe in another seven years, I'll have the courage to say hello.



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