I had lunch this week with my ex-boyfriend. It’s been almost a year and a half since we broke up and since I started my new job, in close proximity to where he spends his days, we’ve taken to having lunch together every couple of weeks. We typically spend the hour catching up on the people we were fond of in each other’s lives, but to whom we weren’t close enough to stay in contact post-breakup. This time, when I asked him how things were, he said, “Well actually, I just started seeing someone.” I kept smiling as I assimilated this news, and was able to ask all the right questions, but I definitely experienced a wrenching sensation in my stomach. I understand his right to date, I’ve done my share in the last year, and yet, it felt like a final break, another ending in the series of endings I’ve experienced with him.
Friday afternoon I went to my drycleaners to pick up my dress for my friend Lara’s wedding on Saturday. I had told the Korean couple who own the shop that the dress was for a wedding when I dropped it off a week previous. When I picked it up, they were feeling chatty, and so they said, “Oh, dress for wedding? Are you married?” With a smile, I said no. The woman then said, “boyfriend” with a question in her voice. I shook my head no, but said that I was kind of looking. They exchanged a look, and the man said, “You bring in picture, I put it up on wall here,” indicating the wall next to the cash register. He concluded by saying, “we find you man.” I smiled and thought that the little Jewish grandmothers in my apartment building have nothing on these two.
Saturday night, as I was walking home from the wedding with my friend Una, I noticed a familiar shape walking down the sidewalk in to my left, smoking a cigarette. It was Ben, a guy I went out with three times in March. It ended when I got a cold from spending one evening in his excessively smoky apartment and stopped returning his calls. I said hello to him as he approached, and after his return greeting, the first words out of his mouth were, “I have a girlfriend now.” I offered an automatic “congratulations” and thought it odd that that’s all he had to say to me.
I’ve been feeling extra single lately and these little encounters have done nothing but encourage that sensation. I had a dream the other night that my mother gave me a diamond to use for an engagement ring, and all I could think was how insane she was, because I didn’t even have a boyfriend (not to mention the question of why my mother would be giving me a diamond). Normally I like to count myself in the “strong, happy, single” category, but I have to say, it is getting really old. I’m ready for the excitement of infatuation, and the shivers of a first kiss. Of walking with my hand tucked into someone else’s warm coat pocket, fingers tangled. And so I ask, where are you?