The Ex Factor

Erin Britt essays

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I have an ex-husband and sometimes, I wonder what he’s up to. Not in a creepy, love lost way. Ok, sometimes in that way, but, mostly not. Mostly in the, “We were once so much a part of each other’s lives and now, we don’t exist.” In that way, I sometimes check in (because don’t pretend you wouldn’t). You totally would. It’s ok. We all belong to one another in some way.

This particular time I found myself thinking, “Holy shit, I hope he doesn’t check in with me!” because my thighs tell no secrets. They’re like, “SOUR CREAM AND FOUR BABIES, BITCHES!”

I was so young and so beautiful when we dated and were married to one another. I was also so callous and so crazy and so impenetrable. He was things too, but, I don’t focus on those. I can only learn from myself. We can only learn if we look square in the mirror.

So, I was once young. I was once beautiful and, when we drank expensive champagne with Taco Bell, we made a full recovery the next day. Now, not so much.

I had this moment;  this moment when I looked at his beautiful wife on the screen in front of me and I thought, “Fuck yeah, man! You’ve recovered from me like champagne and Taco Bell. Congratulations.”

We recovered from each other into these beautiful lives with kids and fences and great jobs and sometimes…well, sometimes…it still hurts.

It hurts that we didn’t need each other afterall. At the end of those days, there’s just the failure to deal with and old pictures. The kind you keep because, since the wedding, people have died. You keep them in shoeboxes on the top shelf of your closet, but, you keep them.

But sometimes, I have these moments: I’ll be fast asleep in a bed he never slept in and I will dream we’re on a boat. It’s always upside down in the water. He flips the boat and my head is shaved. Totally vulnerable.

It’s not that I would ever want that life back. This new person just wants to apologize and we only allow ourselves the space to move on but not to look back.

My husband is not jealous. When he reads this, he will nod his head and maybe wonder if things would have been different if we met 10 years or several bad decisions earlier.

He once had a life as a late night musician with one night stands. We’ve both recovered…yes, like Taco Bell and champagne.

It’s amazing what time will and can’t do.

This slow walk down memory lane happens when I’m doubting my abilities as a parent. I wonder if I’ll be searching the internet for glances of my kids when they’re older. Failure becomes so profound when it’s the thought of it with your children.

I wonder how often I’ll look at their spouses and think, “Fuck yeah! They survived me like champagne and Taco Bell!” and will they still call at Easter even though Easter wasn’t a big deal at our house?

I wonder.

Just like I wonder what kind of dad my ex-husband is and I bet he wonders how I turned out with age and bigger hips and perspective.

Time is gracious in this way and I hope it’s gracious in the mind of my children.

May they love me in spite of myself and may we all recover from each other…

Say it with me now…

Like expensive champagne and Taco Bell.

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Erin Britt

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