A few weeks ago the Universe did what it is wont to do and gave me a sign that it was time to plant.
My routine changed that morning. I was driving in the opposite direction I usually go to run an errand before work. I was at the light waiting for a break in the cars so I could turn. My eyes drifted to the random people walking down sidewalks and then I caught sight of a familiar frame. He was walking across the street, sipping a coffee drink, in shorts and a baseball cap. I wasn’t sure at first but you don’t date someone for a year and a half and not recognize their gait.
He was with her, his new live in girlfriend. I know this because we have mutual friends and news like that travels. When I heard, sure, there was a bit of a tug at the corner of my heart he used to occupy. Not because I wished that had happened for us but because we used to talk like it could have and I’m a sentimental fool prone to melancholy. But the tug was fleeting because my heart has a full-time tenant named Mr. Darcy. Besides that, I’m long since passed the what ifs where this person is concerned. The clarity with which I know that we are not for each other is crisp and undeniable.
For a long stretch of time I was bitter and angry. I used his toothbrush to clean the grout of my kitchen counter. I threw away things that reminded me of him. His name would come up in conversation and a dark place inside me would bubble with righteous indignation. How dare he exist! How laughable, really. How ego-centric of me. And yet the thoughts persisted and the bitterness lingered. I knew it did not serve me. I knew I wanted to be over it, free from it. But you can’t force the moment when you are struck with readiness to forgive and forget.
Like on a bright summer morning when you take an alternate route to work and run into your ex with his new love on the street that divides your shared neighborhood like an equator. Because in a city of 563,374 people you are bound to run into him. The Universe has a sense of humor, after all. And the Universe, ultimately, wants you to feel free, wants you to be your best self, and you can’t be your best when you are twisted up inside with old anger and hurt.
I watched him cross one street then turn to cross headed directly into my gaze. My eyes darted from her then to him. I wondered how this was going to play out. I didn’t turn even though there was an opening. I held my breath and watched it unfold like a scene from a movie or a music video except there was no soundtrack playing.
He was looking around and that was when he saw me seeing him. It’d all be projection if I were to say what he felt, what emotions crossed that face I used to know every detail of. He looked at me looking at him and then reached to take his new girlfriend’s hand as they kept walking and he kept looking at me. I smiled mostly to myself to see that not that much had changed and then finally turned my car away from him and that moment hanging on Broadway and E. Thomas between traffic lights.
I let The Fella go a long time ago but that day, I planted what used to be, what could have been, all the hurt and the disappointment. Because we tried and we weren’t right for each other. Because I’m not angry anymore. Because I hope he’s happy. Not in spite of how he hurt me but because we once loved each other and I’m grateful for whatever brought me to where I am now. Because now is exactly where I want to be.
This is how I tend to the garden of my heart. I till. I plant. And something beautiful grows from what once caused me pain.
“There was no pot of gold, hardly a rainbow lighting my way/But I will be true to the red, black and blues that colored those days./I owe my soul to each fork in the road, each misleading sign./’Cause even in solitude, no bitter attitude can dissolve my sweetest find/Thanksgiving for every wrong move that made it right.” -Thanksgiving, Poi Dog Pondering