Ahhh. Proximity can be a good thing, right?
I live in a suburb which sits literally on the edge of Minneapolis. I see the pretty, twinkly skyline when I drive to work (well, not now but after daylight savings time I will again). The city I live in is a mere stone's throw from just about anything we could want or need. There are Targets in all directions, Trader Joe's just up the highway, miles of beautiful walking/riding trails and so many restaurants I could eat out every day for the next decade and would still miss a few.
My ex-husband is also nearby. Less than three miles away, to be precise. This would be a good thing if circumstances were different. Let's say, for example, if the kids spent time with him. If he and I were one of those former-couples I so envy who are able to be something that resembles friends.
It would be a good thing if seeing him didn't make me sad.
Last night was one of my late nights at work. Every week I have two of them, days where I could potentially sleep in, where I can take the dog for a long walk in the morning or just get putzy stuff done around the house before heading out for the day.
As quitting time drew near, my thoughts turned to that place they often do: dinner. I'd taken some beef out of the freezer that morning, visions of tacos dancing through my mind. But as 6:15 crept up, the idea of standing in front of the stove, browning meat and warming up tortillas and chopping up lettuce and olives didn't sound so fun. You know what sounded like fun? Putting on pajamas, having a glass of wine and falling asleep on the couch. That sounded like heaven to me.
So, I decided to get a pizza from Costco. Easy peasy, right? The tacos could wait until the next night and I'd be that much closer to pajama time when I got home. Luckily for me, Costco is also just across the way and within fifteen minutes of leaving work I was all checked out and making a hasty exit, pizza in hand.
As I walked towards the exit, I saw a man trying to shove several large cartons into the back of his vehicle. I'd recognize the back of that head anywhere. It was: HIM (cue the Law and Order music right here). It was the man with whom I'd created four babies, the man who now spends approximately four hours a year with them. He was struggling, mightily, to get those unwieldy boxes into the back of his Jeep.
Now. What would you do? I think most sane people would have just waltzed on by with that pizza, not giving the guy in cool dad distressed jeans a second glance. Some people would have stopped and said hello!
Have we met? I am not most people. Here's what I did: I spun around like Kristi Effing Yamaguchi doing an icy pirouette and quickly surveyed my escape options. The only clear way was to go through the liquor store, which I did, clutching my pizza and averting my eyes. I did sneak a peek at the Jeep Stuffing Saga and saw a little one, bouncing excitedly inside the vehicle and then feisty Wife Version 2.0 getting out to help her hapless spouse. Part of me hoped whatever shiny new object they'd purchased wouldn't fit and when they tried to shut the door it would snap off and there they'd be, stuck forever at Costco with a broken door and a hyper kid.
Part of me, though, felt sad.
It wasn't the kind of sad you feel when you see a lost love and get all feely. Nor was it the sad one feels when seeing the person who took a giant dump all over them and then walked away. It wasn't even that icky, jealous sad. The one where you catch a glimpse of "what could have been"- where a lady might look at the janky car she drives, and the pizza purchased with a gift card from a stranger and wished she was the one playing car-Tetris with something bulky and expensive under the parking lot lights at Costco.
Nope. As I turned the key in the ignition and backed out of my parking spot, all I could think of was my kids. I thought of my 15 year old who missed his bus earlier this week and tried, over and over, to get a hold of his dad for a ride. No response, not even a follow up text or call to see what he needed.
I thought about my four children and what awesome, kick ass humans they've turned out to be. And how much they deserve more than just me. More than a tired cranky mom who brings home pizza at the end of a long day. I thought about how cool it would be if they had someone else they could call, could rely on, could just shoot the shit with as they unwound for the evening.
This is the kind of thing that happens to me every so often. And I'm always afraid to talk about it with anyone other than my friends for fear of being labeled as one of those "bitter bio moms" or "angry ex-wives". But I know there are others like me out there, living in these bizarro-world universes where you bump into someone you once shared a home, a bed...a life. Someone you once knew better than anyone else on the planet, and now they are nothing more than a harried-looking stranger in the Costco parking lot.
Luckily the blues only stayed a short time. I spewed out a boo-hoo text to a couple friends, removed my sensible school secretary outfit and in no time I was in my comfy place: pajamas, kids around me, dog and couch.
And you know what? They ate that pizza. The dog rested his head on various laps with a super hopeful look in his beggar eyes. We talked about our days and we laughed like we always do and I decided that while my kids really do deserve more, I am enough. I'm not perfect. I get sad sometimes and I'm definitely not mother of the year.