Story by: Lisa Gordon
Photo Cred: Cory Maryott
It had been 4 years since I??d seen him, and it stayed with me like a lingering cold: I just couldn’t shake it off, knowing I’d see him eventually. There was no way it wouldn’t happen; I hung out in his neighborhood all the time (my best friend lived there also! I wasn’t being creepy!). I’d think I saw him out of the corner of my eye all the time, at a bar, on the street, on the train. Maybe in a way I was looking out for him?or wanting to get it over with. I think it’s true that I wanted to see him, but I wanted it to happen my way, on my terms: run into him completely by accident on some arbitrary corner, on my way somewhere fabulous, looking sexy and vibrant, unattainable. I daydreamed about this moment, and I know many of you have, too.
Why do we do this? What is it about seeing that person again after however long it’s been, days or years, that preoccupies us? Is it hope? Fear? Longing? Is it regret? Is it love? Lust? None or all of these things? Is it psychological, or just natural, and are those the same?
There’s always a good chance it won’t happen, and you’re left to envision it exactly the way you want. And maybe it’s better that way, crystallized in your mind??the perfect ending, or re-beginning, whichever you’re hoping for. (But also?
Also, this is San Francisco. Arguably one of the most romantic cities out there. The views, the beach, the parks, the colors, the sunsets. There??s wine country and Big Sur. There are big, wide open sidewalks along some of the prettiest homes in the area, up on a hill, and when the fog rolls in? (Fact I??m pretty proud of: having made out on many SF street corners! ;)).
But if you’re anything like me, you had to avoid certain spots for a while because it brought back too many memories. (Fact I’m not proud of: Once telling a friend I had plans with that I wouldn’t meet her at the restaurant she chose because it was too close to an ex’s house.)
Also not in your favor: it??s small. So small I made friends with a person I saw regularly on my morning commute, and he ended up becoming my roommate. So small I’ve gotten into a Lyft Line on two separate occasions with people who were going to the same obscure event as I was. So small I recognize bartenders from?other?bars they work at (fact I??m proud of). And so small I knew that it was only a matter of time before the inevitable happened.
That inevitable was this: Suddenly sweaty. Eyes clouding over. Sudden intense concern over not looking good enough. Wishing I was that superhero who was invisible??was there one??? I could have walked away and it??s possible he wouldn??t have noticed. But??fact I??m proud of??I went over to him. Said hello. Despite my heart racing so fast I??m pretty sure he felt it through our hug, I didn??t die. As I thought I might have. (Kidding. Sort of.)
This piece was originally intended to be tongue-in-cheek, a ??what to do if you run into your ex at the bar, because you know you will,?? sort of thing. But in writing it I realized two things. One, there are a million of those pieces out there in the world. Seriously. And most of them are terrible. And two, I??m in no position to tell you how to act if and when you do run into your ex. Who am I? Just a girl who??s trying figure it out, just like you, who??s had experiences, maybe similar, maybe not, to yours.
The point here is that there really isn??t one. Love and sex and dating and all that crap is terrible and frustrating and scary??dare I say, especially in San Francisco? No? Haven??t decided yet? Me either??but it??s also great. So keep doing what you??re doing. Say hi at the bar. Or don??t. Whatever you choose.. you will be fine.
For a story on stalking your ex’s new girl and getting caught: read here