Look Back in Anger

I feel like I’m kind of a rational adult these days. I don’t feel angry at the world, or at least I’m not anywhere near as angry as I was when I was a 17 year old punk.

Except that the other week, a friend of mine who is a writer published a list of his top ten favorite music tracks for the last year. It listed a song from my ex-boyfriend’s band. I dated him when I was 19. I’m almost 38. That was literally half of my lifetime ago.

As soon as I read that band on the list, I felt a wave of rage rush over me. I wanted to smash the world that had let such a crappy person enjoy even a modicum of success. These feelings, after all this time, shocked me.

I remembered the feeling of being in my studio apartment in college after we broke up and how I lay in my bed thinking about how from this day on, his life would definitely be headed in a downward spiral while I was about to launch into unperturbed ascendancy. It’s pretty embarrassing but I bet most people have felt this way about someone.

The imagined scenario at the time went something like this; one year it would all come together for me. I’d win an Oscar and a Pulitzer. And maybe The John Steinbeck Award. You know, something little like that. And also I would have gained notoriety in the press for not only winning a silver medal in the olympics..for like..say…slalom skiing. What?! Give me a break. I was working on my Pulitzer winning novel and directing an Oscar worthy film. Gold?!!! What do you think a am, a superhuman?

Anyway, the New York Times Sunday Edition would have written up this whole piece on how, even though I was a medal-winning Olympian, I had vociferously refused to any sort of commercial deals.

“I’m not a sell out, okay? I’m not going to be the new face of Subway Sandwiches, no matter how much you pay me!”

So after all that, I would be just walking down the street one day, looking beautiful and with all sorts of people trying to take photos of me and what not, and then I’d see him. I’d barely recognize him at first, but it would be obvious that he’d had a rough time since we broke up. His teeth would be brown, and there would be a molar or two missing. He’d also have, I suppose, weeping sores, and it would definitely look like he’d spent the last eighteen years in a fetal position, just rocking back and forth.

And I’d say, “Oh hey there. Look at you. How are you?”

He’d just look back up at me and start sobbing.

I’d pat him on the shoulder and give him $20 bucks, and gently direct him to a nearby cafe; suggest that he get a salad and maybe some hot tea.

And then he’d see. And then he would truly rue the day that he was a crappy boyfriend. He would actually admit at this point that I was always smarter. Always more talented. Always out of his league.

So, at close to 38 years old, I am just gobsmacked with the realization that I still had some lurking feelings about this in the back of my psyche.

I’ve had successes. I’ve done well. I’m happy with the choices I made and the person I married. I have NEVER wanted that person back. He was the worst (and ugliest!!!) boyfriend that I’ve ever had. AND he dropped out of college because an undergraduate degree in Sociology was “too hard”. Just saying.

But I did want to show him. At 19, I wanted to PROVE that he never deserved me.

It’s so stupid to realize that some perceived “success” for someone else, so far removed from me, could elicit that much feeling.

So I just let go of it. I did a spiritual wtf shrug. I’m laughing it off and laughing at myself. Do well You! Don’t! Whatever! Onward me!

But anyway, I bet he still has webbed toes, so ha!

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