Thursday, November 29, 2007

out of the blue

The subsection of etiquette that applies to elevators requires that you keep your eyes fixed on the floor, so, after the door opened and I stepped out, it took me a moment to see him standing in the hall, talking quietly to someone I didn't know. His hair was thinner and the folds at his jaw hung more loosely. A pair of ridiculously large glasses obscured his eyes. He kept talking as I walked by, kept gesturing with his big hands, palms turned upward. I pulled at my ponytail and closed my eyes. My face burned and, somewhere under my ribs, my heart thrashed like an animal in a trap. Some things don't change.

Still, despite appearances to the contrary, I'm not asking for sympathy and I'm not feeling sorry for myself. Not at all. In fact, pretty much exactly the opposite.

25 comments:

Lori said...

Hmmmm. More, more info!

Who is this man to you?

Are you feeling sorry for HIM?

Amelie said...

I know this feeling well. It is so weird that it still comes up, when all the reasons for it are gone. Sometimes moving far away is not such a bad idea.

thrice said...

This happened to me once, but it was my father. I hadn't seen him in over 15 years.

I wonder who this man is to you.

Julia said...

Would it be fair to say "better him than her?"
And what the hell was he doing there? Doesn't he know the territory is yours and is clearly marked as such?

meg said...

I know this feeling. It's why I moved across the city and avoid certain places...but this sounds like it happened to you at work? That puts the fear in me and makes me want to pack up and move to Europe. Or further away.

S. said...

A few years after the friendship ended in a nuclear phone call, I discovered that my ex-friend took a train that I sometimes took. There were times, after this discovery, that I chose to sit in her car, so I think I understand why you don't want sympathy.

It's better if you can be forewarned and forearmed, though.

slouching mom said...

was this the steve of sarah-and-steve fame?

Beruriah said...

Maybe this sort of encounter is why I move so often, even before my career necessitated it.

Zee said...

Ex-lover? Ex-best friend? The mugger who once held you at gunpoint? I hope you were able to get away without having to actually engage in conversation. Whether or not you even wanted to speak to him, it sounds like the emotional reaction wouldn't have allowed you to do so in a calm and collected manner. (Unless you're a MUCH better actress than most--which may well be the case...)

Eva said...

There are cities, even a country, that I avoid for just this kind of reason.

niobe said...

Yes, it was Steve, my ex-boyfriend. I worry (as I'm sure I've said over and over again), that I don't feel things deeply enough -- or as deeply as other people. This kind of encounter reassures me that, in certain situations and with certain people, I have no trouble feeling just as fully as anyone else.

Aurelia said...

Ouch, this is why I hate elevators.

I'm sorry you had to see him, but at least from what you described, he didn't seem to confront you or say anything awful.

Breathe--it's over.

thailandchani said...

I can understand why that would have made you feel awkward! But as someone said, at least it didn't get ugly.

By the way, I'm not sure there's a continuum on feeling.. although I admit to having wondered the same thing at times.

Tash said...

I read a great OpEd about how the first line in a novel really says it all and that should be enough to make you want to buy the book. That said, if this were a novel, I would buy it immediately. Thankfully, I live a country away so I'm not very much worried about the elevator, but occasionally my subconscious works it's own elevator, and that is uncomfortable.

LawMommy said...

Nothing like running into your ex unexpectedly. I have often wondered what it would feel like, to see mine again, just for a minute. (Probably like running a shiv through his priest's collar, to be honest.)

Why do I have that old "Met my old lover in the grocery store, snow was falling Christmas Eve" stuck in my head, now?

Lori said...

I have almost no chance of running into my "ex" as he lives several states away, but I can only imagine how I would feel if I did. I don't miss him, nor regret anymore how things turned out, but I know my heart would still beat faster and I would turn a crimson shade of red.

Artblog said...

oooh, definitely breathe now, he didn't notice you, that might have been even more traumatic. I'm glad I live this side of the channel, I get to avoid "them" all!

X

Which Box said...

And another piece of tile is laid in the mosaic. I do enjoy a tantalizing tale.

Bon said...

one of the most complete and yet succinct posts i've ever read...tantalizing, as the above commenter said.

and...for the part of it that exists beyond the page, i am glad. that you are free, or freer.

LAS said...

Oh good - I am glad you said who it was - even though I don't know the story - because I was going nutso with wonder! I worry about running into a certain someone when I go home...the guy I married when I found out I had breast cancer, and then divorced. The AA community where I am from is smallish - so I am always nervous. I have a feeling he would ask me for money if he saw me - if you can believe that. Anyway, I always love your posts - I always feel like I'm right there with you.

Carole said...

I second what Tash said...I would buy your book anyday...
~Carole

christina(apronstrings) said...

oh, that must have been awful. i'm glad that you felt the opposite of feeling sorry for yourself.

I know you can hear me... said...

I have to agree - what a stellar and completely intriguing post. I rarely run into people that I would like to avoid (and consider myself very lucky for this) but I am quite sure that if I were in your place I would not have been nearly so graceful about it.

On a completely separate note, you were the answer to my lab final this evening. oil of niobe - who knew?!

Pamela Jeanne said...

It's weird isn't it when the past inserts itself into your present?

cinnamon gurl said...

Ok, I'm so glad you provided more info in the comments, because I was dying to ask but felt it would be prying... great post!

I haven't seen one of my ex-boyfriends since before I met my husband, back when I used to harbour the hope that my ex and I would end up together. Although I know I'm far better off without him, I think I would react the same way as you if I saw him again, especially if he caught me by surprise... luckily, last I heard he was on the other side of the Atlantic.