Last week, Chris came home from work and as we sat down at the table to eat, mentioned that he had bumped into his ex-girlfriend at work.
He works for a large airline with over 50,000 employees, and is based a 2-hour drive away from where we live -- so he was obviously taken aback to have bumped into her. They had a brief conversation about what they were up to work-wise and then parted company -- probably equally as surprised to see the other after over five years.
I asked the usual questions -- "What's her job now then? Did she look rank? Is my job better than hers?" -- as that little seed of competition within me, which is completely ridiculous considering they dated on and off for not all that long and by all accounts didn't even really get on during that time, flowered.
It's funny that, isn't it? That someone that you never knew, in my case, could stir up such competition when in fact there is absolutely no reason to be bothered in the slightest. I wanted to know that my life was shinier and more exciting than hers, someone I don't even know. I was happy for Chris, that his job was going well and he could tell her as such. He's a very different person now from the uni student she dated back then. A real grown-up.
I wondered whether my ex-boyfriend's girlfriends wondered the same about me, whether they had that tiny little grain of curiosity about me and my life. Whether they'd ever had a little look at my profile on Facebook, or stumbled upon my Twitter and had a quick read. What would they think? What does my profile picture say about my life, my goals and my personality?
I then wondered about my exes themselves. What were they up to? I don't stay in touch with ex boyfriends, of which I only really have two proper ones, mainly because break-ups usually happen for a reason -- it's not always possible to stay friends, sadly. Then again, I was never friends with them before becoming romantic partners, so the idea of trying to maintain a friendship with someone you never knew as a friend, only a lover (puke, hate that word, sorry) is a bit pointless.
I did misguidedly attempt to stay friends with my last ex, six or so years ago. I couldn't really understand at the time why he'd ditched me, so thought maybe we could stay close, I could convince him that I was definitely really cool and someone he could hang out with still.
Worst idea ever -- I carried on holding a flame for him while he moved on and got a new girlfriend -- one I understand he is very happy with still to this day, which is great -- so there wasn't much room from friendship there. We cut contact with each other and I never spoke to him again, which was no loss in hindsight. I have zero idea what we ever spoke to each other about in the first place, so different were our interests and passions.
I reflected on what my life was like back then, when I'd just turned 20 and was living in a flat that was pretty much the flat that anyone and everyone went to on a Friday or Saturday night for an after-party. My life was a chaotic mess, a whirlwind of drink and parties and no sleep and arguments and nights that ended days later. I was a little out of control, unhappy, a mess. This is the person that people I knew then would think I am now, surely? They'd think I was still wild eyed, being sick in club toilets before carrying on regardless. The kind of person who might get evicted after one too many parties.
I do wonder, very occasionally, what he's up to these days. Such is the beauty of the Internet, that you can type in a few letters and pretty much find out. I had a little look, he appears smiling and happy with his girlfriend, still living in the same town and socializing with the people I knew when we were together. I think they have a cat. His brother got married recently. All very nice.
If he, or anyone I knew then, were to look at my profile, what would they take from it?
My photo on all my social networks at the moment is one of Chris and I. We are on the beach, tanned and smiling into the camera, with a newspaper flapping in the wind. So, they can at least assume I can read, which is good. I'm not illiterate. Always a bonus. If they were curious, they'd see I'd been on holiday with girlfriends recently, that I live in Brighton with my boyfriend, and that I eat out a lot. They might see the photo of us at a recent charity sports day. Not really groundbreaking.
I sat, clicking through my own profile photos for a few minutes, watching my own face whizz by. Each photo reminded me of a great day out, or a memory I was happy to relive. I sat there, reassured that yes -- my life is so much better now. A whole ton better.
Do you ever have a little check-up on your exes? Or wonder whether they have a little look at yours?
Maybe you just enjoy a little reminder that life is better now? I know I did.
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