There was the brusque one-armed pseudo salute of someone who once told me they always wanted me as part of their life, no matter what. Which I understood. I’m not his favorite person anymore – and sometimes we make promises we intend to keep but cannot. Twisting was added to my ribcage a few days later when I realized he’d avoided a wordplaying shindig based on my accepting RSVP.
I know that his decision had nothing to do with me. But it felt like it did.
There was the attempt to not see me as I walked by, each of us on a lunch time stroll. Me with my coworker, he with his growing family, the glare of his partner.
I know that these actions had nothing to do with me. But they felt like it did.
And there was being confined in a small space with a tattooed newly-wed surrounded by his BFF and spanking new wife. Knowing his preference that I not exist for him, I looked forward only to find him whispering and behind a pint of beer, staring and smirking. My friend curiously looked at me as we walked out. “Know them?” he asked. I explained what amounts to only an ounce of the story, eager for the past to stay that way, afraid if I said more I’d turn around and say something we’d all regret.
I know his response to my presence had nothing to do with me. But it felt like it did.
I’ve pondered why these moments have a sting that lasts, flaring up like a pesky spider bite just when you think you’ve healed. To be looked through instead of at, to be mocked when another option is simply silence, to be passed by like leftovers that were only good warm – strikes a nerve. Younger me (like pixie-cut, five-year-old me, and hippie-dreaded, fourteen-year-old me, and long-bobbed, new-grad-student me) remembers being blocked out like that by those close to me before. Younger me remembers a certain sarcastic tone, questions unanswered, and sneezes unblessed.
And younger me remembers wondering if this time, this time, is the time it doesn’t end and I disappear somehow inside the door, never on one side or another.