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Why didn’t any of the guys you dated love you as much as I do?” my boyfriend asked.

The question hung in the air like foggy breath steaming up a cold windshield. It’s one of his favorite questions to ask. To him, it’s a mystery why other guys passed me over. It’s a riddle I love him for wanting to solve.

“I don’t get it,” he said.

“Me neither,” I shrugged.

These are the kinds of conversations you have four hours into a five-hour road trip, after you’ve listened to a Lorrie Moore short story on The New Yorker Fiction podcast and gossiped about people you know and stopped at an abandoned McDonald’s with one, lone carousel pony on display in the dining area. The pony looked out of place — like it was in search of its missing carousel.

 

Carousel-Pony
For some reason the pony reminded me of a guy I dated a long time ago. He had a son who I suspected was on the autism spectrum. The kid loved horses and hated being touched, he said. I recounted this broken, pointless tale to my boyfriend. Because … we were in an empty McDonald’s somewhere in Connecticut waiting for a combo meal. There is never a better time to share your inner monologue than late at night, while sipping a flat Coke.

“Why did that guy break up with you?” he asked, getting preemptively defensive of my honor. He likes to protect me.

“I have to pee,” I replied.

“I’ll stand guard while you pee,” he said. “Just in case.”

He was trying to make me laugh. He loves to make me laugh. But, he meant it. The unlikely prince waiting to carry us away on his carousel pony. We galloped back out to the car with our Quarter Pounder and fries.

“It must be hard to have a special needs child,” I said, shoving a French Fry into my mouth. “There was a character with an autistic child in the book I just finished and he admitted to not being sure if he actually loved his son.”

“Did he break up with you or you with him?” he asked, still stuck on it.

“Oh, I don’t know. He was too preoccupied to love me, so I broke up with him, I think.”

My boyfriend looked over at me, wounded at my wounding, and squeezed my leg. It was meant to be a gesture of comfort. But I didn’t need comfort. Sitting there in the passenger seat, looking out at the pitch-black highway ahead of us, I could barely remember that guy’s name. Had I cried over the breakup? Probably? I don’t know. I’m sure I did. All the breakups that came before this relationship accumulated until they were an entire ocean of rejection. It was hard to separate them. They were one body of water now. This feeling of being unlovable, which once felt so big, had receded from my consciousness. I don’t think love ever makes pain disappear. But without me realizing it, the pain had simply … dried up.

“This is the only thing you need to know,” I told him. “The others were like grains of sand and you are like the whole beach.”

He looked at me, swelling. That came out more poetically than I meant for it to. But it was 100 percent true. It’s hard to make him understand this because he has one important ex, and I have thousands of not-so-important ones (with a few significant ones here and there). Well, not thousands, but lots.

Before the boyfriend, I would hear from the exes regularly; like clockwork, one of them would pop up every few months on the street, on Gchat, on Facebook, via text. Even if I was dating someone, exes would swim to the surface of my life like whack-a-moles, like they instinctively knew I was still looking for something. I thought they would rear their heads in the same way once I was in love and I’d finally have the satisfaction of bopping them on the head like I fucking meant it. Go away! I don’t need you. Strangely, since the day my boyfriend and I met nearly eight months ago, not one ex has slunk around. They all seem to have received the psychic message that I am no longer interested. For real.

The day after the road trip, the first, not-so-important ex resurfaced. He IM’d me to say, of all things, “Hello.”

“Hey,” I replied distantly, trying not to assume he only wanted to talk to me for romantic purposes. Maybe he just wanted to say hi?

His questions rolled on and within moments, he was asking me to give him life updates over coffee. I knew I had to whack him, but when mallet-came-to-mole, I retreated. Nobody would forbid me, per se, from having a cup of coffee with him. But at the same time, I couldn’t think of single reason I should. In the past, I would havefound a reason. Any reason.

“You haven’t heard from me in a while because I have a serious BF,” I wrote.

He responded simply with a smiley face emoticon.

“I am happy,” I replied.

That’s about as hard-hitting as I get, apparently. The whacking moment was nowhere near as satisfying as I imagined. It was emotionally uneventful.

As I closed his chat box, I tossed around the idea of sitting across from him with a latte. There was a time when I would have lept at the chance. Now, it just seemed silly, like one of those nonsensical stories you write in grade school.  The Missing Carousel Pony by Ami Angelowicz.

What would I say to him? 

Suddenly, I knew what I would say. It was the answer to the riddle my boyfriend was searching for — an answer that was revealed to me only once I felt deeply enough for someone to understand it. All those years, I fooled myself into thinking that I was the rejected one — that nobody ever loved me as much as I loved them. Really, it was the opposite.

“I never really cared about you all that much,” I would tell the ex flippantly, taking a sip from my mug.

But I would never hit that hard in real life. I’m more concerned with scheming up funny ways to tell my boyfriend about the ex chatting me up. I love to make him laugh.

 

The Frisky

This post originally appeared on The Frisky. Republished with permission.

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  • Last month was my exes month about three guys I have dated in the past contacted me. Some to just say Hi and other to say we should get back together again or start dating again. The funny thing is neither had change and grown up since we were dating. My ex who is a teacher with a fetish for hood rats still won’t leave me alone till this day. He hit me up after a relationship he was in with his favorite type of women ended badly. Basically saying he had it better when he was dating me. I thought about going back but I think it’s just best to keep going forward.

  • “All those years, I fooled myself into thinking that I was the rejected one — that nobody ever loved me as much as I loved them. Really, it was the opposite.”

    THAT is awesome.

  • Blue

    “So you’re back from outer space. i just walked in to find you here with that sad look upon your face” That’s my favorite line. I read somewhere that men can sense when we’ve moved on. I suppose this has some truth to it cause as soon as I free my mind & myself from the emotional torture they left me, they come back. They find me somehow via text or social media. And there were times I would give them a second, third, fourth chance only to find that they haven’t changed. It’s usually a harsh reminder on why we ended our relationship in the first place.

  • Emma Russell

    I saw Nadezhda Vyacheslav testimony on how she got that guy to love her as she did him.Though i don’t know her, i believed her cos she said Mutton Osun a spell caster help her seen it happen. I didn’t believe her cos she used a spell i believed her cos she made mention of a mutual spell caster i know of that is mutton Osun. I have also see a lot of testimony about his work on the the internet on blog pages and so on. I literally took a lip of faith to contact him and it turn out that it paid off. In my own case i didn’t ask that him to make anyone fall in love with me or ask that my cheating wife comes back. This time i was at fault i messed up.Will really like to say it was an honest mistake or a few hours or days of weakness but then i will be insulting my wife and the love i feel for her. I was in full control of what i was doing i had the choice not to cheat but i still did. She didn’t find out by herself i told hoping if i told her how sorry i am and how much i still love and want to be with her despite my betray she will forgive completely. It was the biggest mistake of my life maybe i should not have told her, i guess she would have still found out if she didn’t catch me then i bet the other lady would have told her what was going on to destroy what me and my wife had. It was obvious my betray really hurt her i could she it in her eye and i was really sorry. That is why i wasn’t so surprise when she asked that we go our separate ways. There and then i realized that i was following the part that ruined my life and my family. I literally lead four month of my life in misery. I have never felt like i needed her like i had felt begging was not an option nothing was an option cos she was gone. It was right about that time Mutton Osun came into the picture or when i asked that he help me get my wife to love as she did before. I was able to provide the items he asked that i get for the spell and send then down to him. Like Nadezhda Vyacheslav said “the spell does become effective at once that ” she was right also cos just after i did what Mutton Osun asked me to do with what he sent me, it took 7 days before anything happened i even thought for a minute that i had met a fake spell caster but in the end i am happy with my wife again. We going to be renewing our vows on the 20th of September. I was on the edge of become a walking dead a woman with nothing to live for thank my star Mutton Osun helped. I will also leave his contact for those who thing he can help them { [email protected] }