11 Minutes

I pulled into the parking lot and felt at ease.  I know what this meeting should be and I am excited about positive closure.

I had no idea what AJ would be driving, so I didn’t linger in the parking lot, I just went inside to order a coffee.

He must have seen me pull in because he came in immediately after I had.  I acknowledged AJ with a head nod and greeted the barista to place my order.

I waited at the end of the bar for my warm, spiced coffee.  AJ walked over to me while he waited for his drink.

“I forgot what I liked last year, so I ordered an eggnog latte”, he said nervously.

“You liked the creme brulee”.  It came out of my mouth before I even realized I said it.  Of course I remembered his order.  I remembered everything about him.  The “him” he showed me.

He asked a few “small talk” questions, which I answered with short, one-word answers.  We are here to put a punctuation on the end of our relationship… we are not here to be friends.

The place was rather busy, so we sat outside in the cold.  It seemed like the appropriate setting.  My heart didn’t warm at the thought of him or reach for him like it once did.  My heart didn’t feel anything.

I had been the one to reach out initially.  I contacted him about two weeks ago with the idea to meet, have a brief conversation and come to terms with being nothing more than part of one another’s past.  We live in the same area, we attend the same church, we are bound to run into each other at some point.  I’m at peace with our ending, but I’ve been uneasy about seeing him again.  I’d rather be able to control the setting and the dialogue.  That way, we can move forward (separately).

Our previous meeting was not a positive one.  The last time I saw him, he came to the house to get the remainder of his things.  I hovered over him like a police officer, vetoing and approving the items as he went.  Then I left him to take a few items from the shed but before I left, I asked him a question – “You always said our communication was so great and that we never needed counseling.  Now you claim my communication led you to cheat.  Were you lying then or are you lying now?”.  His broken answers and defensive response upset me.  It wasn’t pleasant.  I wasn’t okay then.

I was still somehow tied to the idea that the “old him” or Dr. Jekyll would reappear.  Maybe…

But I finally accepted the facts, which led to this coffee meeting.

I said, “Well, I’ve already told you what I wanted from this.  I forgive you and I wish you well.  However, given that we live so close to one another, I’d rather tell you that in person so that when we see each other in the future, you and I know there is no awkwardness here.  You and I are a part of each other’s past.  And that is all.”

AJ said he agreed and was glad we were meeting face to face.

His beard was short.  After years of wearing this long, straggly beard, he cut it short and it looked more maintained.  Must be a new girl.  He was wearing a hat I had bought him as a “just because” gift.  I thought that was a strange selection.

I didn’t comment on any of that.  I didn’t need to.

After a few more minutes of meaningless conversation passed, he said, “You don’t need to worry about running into me for much longer.  I’m moving.”

“Oh, well good for you, AJ.  Then this conversation is pretty irrelevant.”

“I’m not going back to Charlotte…”

“Okay, well, good luck to you, where ever you are heading.  Again, you and I are a part of each others’ past.  I do not need to know anything about your move.”

After seeing him become a stranger, I still knew enough about him to know that he wanted me to ask where he was going.  Probably somewhere great.  Maybe with another woman.  Who knows… but more importantly, who cares?

Not me.

It was a powerful moment.  I genuinely could not care where he was going and who he’d be going with.  I felt entirely free from his manipulation, gaslighting, blame…  It was a big moment.

I felt so empowered that I thanked him.  I thanked him for messing up.  His actions that were so severely wrong, shed light on the many other things I was settling on.  AJ forgot my birthday every year, and I told myself that he had a hard time remembering dates.  AJ never helped bathe the dogs, and I told myself that I enjoyed it, so it wasn’t a big deal that he never even offered to help.  The list is so lengthy that I honestly wonder why I loved him as deeply as I did.

I settled for someone who didn’t regard me as highly as I regarded them.  I am truly thankful I see that now.  I know what not to explain away and I know what I can offer someone and, most importantly, what I deserve in return.

We wrapped up our eleven minute conversation with him asking to see my dogs.  I just can’t understand the level of audacity he has to ask that.  Unfortunately, he has no comprehension of the consequences of his actions, even still.

After declining his request, I stood up and walked to my car feeling taller and lighter.  I just met with my lying, cheating ex-husband and I feel so free.

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