If you’ve been single for more of your life than not, you, too, probably have collected some things you’re not sure you need. Like the pile of expensive lingerie resting in your bureau, several pieces of which you don’t have the guts to wear, except perhaps in darkness, under a hoodie. Like the small army of five-inch heels lined up in the closet, begging to be chosen for that next over-six-foot-two date. Like the small gathering of men—and I use men loosely—that hover over you like a pesky pack of gnats. You have no idea what they’re after, they never use their words. They just hover and whiz around you until you’ve no choice but to give them your attention. And what do they do once you’re locked in their gaze? Nothing. This, of course, annoys you and propels you to whack away endlessly at them, occasionally taking one down with a lucky swipe. And if that one manages to limp away, he always seems to return fully regenerated, begging for more.
So it is New Year’s Day, and I’m lit as bright as a bulb. Little Ms. Sunshine herself, bubbling at the brim with all her New Year’s intentions front and center. “Happy New Year”-ing everyone, as if I was a professional greeter at Neiman Marcus. Yes, I was shopping. Naturally, keeping the good karma flowing forward. I’m radiant, the racks of heavily marked-down Jimmy Choos and Blahniks are filled with my sizes, plus my Amex has room to spare. Life is good… that is, until I glance at the iPhone. And there it is. The text that could blow up the sun and blind the brightest. The one from the ex. You know: “THE EX.”
I close my eyes to allow myself a moment. I take a peek with one eye to make sure it’s him. A tiny bit of me is excited because—well—it’s him. Let’s be honest, I wanted him. But the other eye opens, and that fuzzy feeling is quickly trumped as the rage of hurt I locked in a box deep within me tries to David Copperfield its way out. To the amusement of the saleswoman, I say out loud, “Are you freakin’ kidding me? Good lord, universe. Today?” I’m barely up for four hours, not even 12 hours into the brand spankin’ New Year, and already, I’m being tested? Determined to stay even keeled, I try to refocus on the task at hand, but even the added 25% off on an already half-price pair of black suede Calzature Donna Miu Mius can’t shake the image of that gnat and his silly text.
Him: Happy New Year! [insert three consecutive noisemaker icons to indicate bliss without me!]
Ugh! Noisemakers on steroids! I hate those icons, especially when being overused by a man over 40. I quickly thumb through our last exchange of text messages. My memory was right. It ended on a rather sour note. I ended it with a scalding text that said, and I paraphrase here: “Get the BLEEP out of my life!” Yet, here he is again as if the lapse of a few weeks wipes the slate clean, giving me temporary amnesia and offering him a vulnerable moment where he might sneak back in. Here I am, considering which way to go. I know ignoring him and the text would be best, but in all fairness, he is sitting on my nose and my hands are itching to swipe at him. Not a good way to start the new year. I latch onto the concept of indifference. It is as close to forgiveness as I can get and I finally bounce back the reply.
Me: Same to you! [noisemaker icons not included]
I’m proud as a peacock for my will and my elegance—for a moment. Because I know there will be more from him. With his silly icons and generic texts. I already know he has no new strategy for the new year. If he did, he would be in front of me, using his words. Swoosh, whispers my phone. There he is. Texting me. Again.
He: I was thinking about you. [insert three smiley faces!]
It takes no time to dream up a quick ten ways to emasculate him via text. But my higher self knows I must now choose to ignore. He’s baiting me, and the universe is putting one of my New Year’s resolutions to the test—the one about exercising more grace and patience. I suffocate an impulse to strut on over to the bar where I know he’s camped out, demanding, “What do you freaking want? Clearly not a relationship because if you did, we would have been…” blah, blah, blah. I look at my smartphone, feeling rather dumb, willing “Siri” to spit out the perfect 140 character text that could encapsulate all my emotion and knock some semblance of sense and sanity into him. I work myself into a tizzy and thank goodness, I catch myself. I smile, and the ever-patient cashier replies with a matching one and hands me back my Amex. She’s been there, too. I admire the beautiful black strappy heels Neiman Marcus practically gave to me and swing one heel swiftly in the air. I muse at how nicely they could take out a gnat or two. I commit to wearing them around town, with or without that perfect over-six-foot-two date. The lingerie will probably continue to pile and lay dormant, but that’s fine. And today, I resolve not to slaughter any gnats.