On my scroll, where exists those things that I never thought I’d do, I recently added driving to my ex-boyfriend’s ex-wife’s house to see their son, and my Girlfriend Mom son. I’ll give you a minute to digest that.
Ever since the break-up heard around the world, it’s been difficult coordinating visitation logistics, so the majority of my communication with the GM son has been through texts. I’m proud to say that he actually writes back in full, ‘text lingo’, sentences, which is a small victory. He’s fifteen years-old, and as he texts me, he’s probably texting fifteen other friends, and playing X-box while lifeguarding.
Back in February, I was really missing him, and with no other option, I decided to take action. I was working in his neighborhood, so I texted my ex-boyfriend’s ex-wife (I got her number from the GM daughter because I was tired of putting her in the middle) and asked her if I could stop by.
My relationship with the ex-wife went from friendly to zero contact, and back to being civil, yet detached, on the rare occasion that we saw each other. I took all of my cues from my ex-boyfriend.
My phone rang 30 seconds later. I felt like a kid who had just made a crank call and now the target was calling me back to chew me out. It was surreal to see her phone number on my phone. She said that she’d be home soon and nonchalantly instructed me to go through the garage and let myself in if she wasn’t home by the time that I arrived. Wha?
I walked in and met the GM son at the door and gave him an embarrassingly large hug. I didn’t want to let go. I held him tightly and kissed his cheeks. I released him, only to grab him again. It had been 4 months since I’d seen him. I followed him into the kitchen where his mom was standing over the stove, steaming broccoli. Of course she was.
For the next half hour we caught up; just me, him, and his mom. She wouldn’t leave. And I don’t know why I expected her to. Perhaps it was more comfortable for them this way. What about my comfortable level, which had taken a dive. I was in the middle of what felt like a supervised visit. Very bizarre.
Even under these conditions, I was happy to be with him. So what if the ex-wife was steaming her leafy greens and intermittently interjecting her opinions? I was making contact.
I marveled at how much the GM son had grown in a short amount of time. The manly hair on his legs made it seem like years had passed and I didn’t like it.
In an effort for my visit to appear normal and familiar, I sternly (but with a humorous tone) told him to put his cell phone down and pay attention to me. He did and we both smiled.
When I sensed that his attention span was waning, I stood up. He gave me a hug and then raced upstairs to take a shower. I don’t think our talk and his need to clean himself had anything to do with each other, and I didn’t take it personally. I was growing accustom to not taking any of this mess personally.
And then there were the exes. Alone. In the kitchen. Where, oh, where could this possibly go?
We started chatting, like friends, which I hadn’t anticipated. Then again, I never saw myself standing in my ex-boyfriend’s ex-wife’s house in New Jersey either.
I thanked her for having me over and she said that she was sorry for my break up. She made a few comments about our ‘ex’ but as angry and hurt as I was at the time, I didn’t want to play in that sandbox. I steered the conversation back to the kids.
I told her how much I adored them and how good they were. She thanked me for being in their lives and invited me to visit anytime. Oh, yeah, it was a friggin’ love fest, yo. And why not.
Before I was out of the driveway, I was in tears. I kept shaking my head, because even though I had a new best friend, I doubted that I was going to be able to do it again.
But I did.
Somebody in my building was selling an autographed Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh Penguins) action figure in a light box and I knew that he was the GM son’s favorite player. I hesitated.
Was I buying it because I thought he’d like it, or because I’d look like a hero to him, or because my ex would find out. (it’s not lost on me how this sounds) In the end, I bought it because I knew he’d like it, I love him and that’s what I do.
It was Easter Sunday and as I drove to New Jersey with Mr. Crosby in the passenger seat, I noticed that I was feeling less anxious this time around and slightly more confident.
I rang the doorbell and the ex-wife greeted me with a friendly hug hello. Huh? O-kay, I thought. This display of physical contact was both organic and awkward.
The light box was a hit, as evidenced by his, “Wow, this is sick.” The visit was shorter, and the ex-wife again hung out in the kitchen. No vegetable steaming. She was sitting at a table, studying for something.
I tried not to think about the space that was growing between the GM son and myself but it was hanging in the air nonetheless.
I bid the ex-wife good-bye without touching, and the GM son walked me to my car. We hugged and, once again, I drove away in tears. I wondered if this was ever going to get easier.
As I drove to my 5×10 storage unit, to pick up boxes that held contents of my life, to take back to my apartment, I cursed my ex-boyfriend because now I’m forced to hang out in his ex-wife’s kitchen if I want to see the GM son. C’mon, that just ain’t fair.