People think I’m crazy to walk in the cold across four lanes of heavy Long Island traffic alone during lunch hour. I don’t mind. It helps clear my head, saves my parking space, gas, and burns calories.
That particular Wednesday I had brought lunch but craved a bagel so I walked to a deli I rarely visited.
It had snowed so it was a bit wet outside, snow mounds and icy cold, filthy puddles lined the sidewalk. After I crossed the busy road I stepped in an ice puddle which soaked my entire sneaker and sock beneath it.
I ordered a sesame bagel with vegetable cream cheese and grabbed some tea at the self-help stand next to the deli counter. I added hot water to my cup, some sugar. I hate when the tea bag soaks for so long the tea becomes bitter, so I stood there stared at my cup waited for the tea to steep.
Boredom grew, I glanced over to the right hand side near where I had entered, to the space where they have a cold refrigerated case with pre-made lunches. I saw a man there. He looked like a nerd. He wore glasses, his shoulders slumped forward which gave him a bit of a hunch back, especially when he bent down to grab another dish to inspect from the cold case.
I stood there and stared. Watched. Observed. Like I was lost in the middle of the jungle and a lion crossed my path.
The man looked quite familiar, I could not put a finger on where I knew him from. He had ash brown hair, thinned a bit at the top, he wore wire rimmed glasses, an off white cardigan.
I’d know that posture anywhere, that side profile, although he appeared heavier than I remembered. I tried to look at his left hand, searched for the wedding band to confirm this mans identity.
His hand not visible. I did not need to see his wedding band. I knew who it was.
This is the man I loved for a year of my life. The one it took me years to get over. The man who I had strong feelings for and eventually discovered was not my man.
The last serious relationship I’ve ever had was with this person. The last time I felt love. Five years had passed since. I have not seen him in person since we ended our relationship.
I wore a purple, lacy headband and had not washed my hair since Sunday. Gym sneakers adorned my feet along with ankle pants I wore all through the winter months. I looked in no condition to run into an ex.
I waited patiently, my legs shook, heart beat fast. I waited patiently for him to look at me, recognize me. I braced myself for a “Hello, how are you? What are you up to these days? Married? Seeing someone?
He approached so quickly, his chest, forget eye contact he was so tall. I remember looking at that exact spot on his chest so many times – first date, first kiss, laying together.
Then he was gone. He walked straight past me. Like I was no one.
A ghost of the past. A year worth of memories, of love shared between two people. Dead. Over. In the past. Like it never mattered. Never happened. Life moves on.