I had a meeting today at work with a new boss. I’m teaching a course in a new department and she wanted to go over some details with me. When I arrived at her office, she asked me to sit, then asked me to wait a second while she fetched “the other professor.” Apparently someone else had been a new addition to this department. Then this someone else walked in the room.
I may have mentioned before that the universe, given her exquisite sense of humor, saw fit to have my ex and I both hired at the same college right after our breakup. In the same department. Our whole first year there, we shared the same desk for office hours (not at the same time…mostly. When we were there at the same time, it was usually polite. Sometimes very polite. But the one time it wasn’t polite…oh, man).
I don’t hate my ex and I don’t think she hates me. But you can’t spend 2 years together, living together the whole time, raising a child together the whole time, then do the predictable hook-up-for-a-few-months-after-breaking-up thing, then have that unilaterally broken off, too, and have everything be hunky-dory. The shift from being the everyday center of each other’s lives to no longer mattering at all’s a bumpy one.
At this point it makes me laugh. It’s too funny. It doesn’t hurt anymore. Doesn’t sting. She doesn’t look the same to me. I’m grateful for that. The first few times I saw her after our breakup, she still looked beautiful to me. Now she looks older. Smaller, somehow. I’ve become grateful for the forced proximity. I think it’s the universe unfolding in a way that guards against scapegoating her or creating a too-cynical memory of what happened. I loved my ex. For a year and a half, it was an awesome relationship. I probably had as much fun with her as anyone I’ve known. When it went south, it was because of both of us. There’s shit I’ll always hold against her. Que sera, sera.
When she walked in to the office as “the other professor,” I hope she saw me and laughed inside, too. As she sat next me, the two of us cramped so close in the tiny room we were almost touching, our new boss asked if we knew each other.
“Yes,” we said, in atonal unison.
Later in the meeting, our boss decided we should meet every Friday during the semester, the three of us, to talk about how things are going. Friday was my only day off this semester. Now…not so much.
At this point, it makes me laugh. It’s just too funny.
Have you ever had an awkward post-breakup experience with an ex? Ever shared a workplace with someone after dipping your pen in the company ink? How does the universe use you as a punchline in its jokes?