Yesterday was my birthday. It was a great day.
It began at Starbucks. My sister-in-law texted me an invite for Mickey Mouse waffles. I walked to the home in AU Park she shares with her husband and two children.
After waffles we went to a soccer field in Palisades, where her ten-year old daughter playing a game. I left at half-time to meet Caroline, my ex, and Lexi, my twenty year-old daughter, who was in town for a whirlwind visit.
After finishing lunch in Georgetown, Lexi ran off to buy a Washington Wizards jersey, part of her halloween costume, leaving Caroline and me alone. Basically for the first time since I left home six months ago.
I asked Caroline how she’s doing, if she’s taking care of her “self.”
We chatted a bit about our exercise regimines and then I said, “It seems like you’ve shown no interest in reconciliation since we split up.”
I mentioned how I asked her out on “dates” a few times, hoping we could use the opportunity to see if rebuilding was an option. And she had spurned each of my offers.
I also told her I’ve reached a stage in my own journey where as sad as I am there’s no path back, I don’t think it would work considering how different I am.
And then she said, “You’re wrong to think you’re the only one in pain over this.”
My immediate reaction, to myself, was, “Huh? Your take-away is I’m selfish and insensitive to your feelings?”
I responded quite differently. I said, “I’m so sorry if I gave you the impression I was the only one in pain. I don’t feel that way at all.”
She began stuttering an apology and then moved on to talk about her pain. She did get defensive about her unwillingness to go on a date, talking about how busy she is, recounting her hectic schedule.
Caroline’s success is a badge of pride, one she’s definitely earned. I think she also considers her work a justification for not being in the moment, particularly with me.
I expressed sympathy towards her as well as gratitude, which I sincerely feel for all she does on behalf of our family. I didn’t feel shame though. Our lifestyle was based on choices we both made.
Caroline then said something that resonated. “You’re not your best around me, and I’m not my best around you.”
I suspect it true. And, it saddens me to my core.
Before we knew it Lexi was returning to our table and we let the conversation drift into the nether.
What’s exciting is I didn’t walk away crushed. Or feeling broken. Our brief, poignant moment reminded me how far I’ve come from when I desperately hoped reconciliation was viable.
It is clear it isn’t. And I can live with that. Quite nicely as it turns out.
Stay in touch. Connect.
PS: Saturday night I had dinner with my mother, Frannie, Marty and Marty’s parents which was a perfect evening.
PPS: Watch Sixteen Candles again.