Did you have an awkward moment this week? Did you have a lengthy conversation with your boss only to discover that spinach was lodged in your teeth? Did you strut through downtown with a visible panty line? Well, internet, I’ll see your catwalk face plant and raise you one sighting of the ex-wife.
It was inevitable. We live in the same part of the city. We shop at the same grocery store. As far as I know, we have the same last name.
I wouldn’t have known it was her because I don’t really know what she looks like. There aren’t any pictures of her in this house. The few pictures tucked in Mike’s photo albums promptly became kindling. Sage was burned shortly thereafter.
When the bus rolled stopped on her street, I knew that it was her. The few details I still remembered–tall, super-short gray hair–led me to figure out that it could only be the former Mrs. H. When she swiped her card through the reader and inched her way down the crowded bus, her eyes didn’t meet mine because I was suddenly focused on the psychic ability of my iPod’s shuffle settings. How did you know I wanted to listen to Journey, dear iPod? Sing it, Steve Perry. Sing it.
I doubt she knew it was me, the new Mrs. H. The last time she saw me, I was eight months pregnant, shopping at the grocery store with Mike. That’s how she discovered that Mike had remarried and his new wife, 36 years her junior, was with child. What happened afterwards was some very uncordial talk with mutual friends peppered with questions as to whether or not we had planned our baby, etc.
Then she did the mature thing and gave us a wedding gift, a gift certificate to Eats Market Cafe and said that I looked very becoming as a pregnant woman.
Thanks to her, I had the salmon.
I doubt that would have happened on Saipan, where jealousy is common and all-consuming. That’s not to say that every single relationship is marred by competition and pettiness. I’m sure that there are couples who can openly talk about their past without one saying, “Pa-shaa!” or obvious eye-rolling. Instead of the blanket statement that began this paragraph, I’ll clarify with this: my relationships on Saipan were tainted with “who the hell were you talking to” arguments.
I was the subject of much bathroom graffiti because I dated so-and-so’s ex, or danced with someone at a club’s Teen Night. And I carried this useless habit into my relationship with Mike. I was jealous over things that had nothing to do with me and I had no control over. Her name was verboten. I couldn’t visit the places they had gone together because he was there with her.
How silly is that? To cancel out most of Western Washington because my husband was there with someone else?
And even though, I’m not that person anymore, the jealous woman who has to burn traces of past lovers and everything pre-Mona, I couldn’t muster up the courage to say hello. What was I going to say? “Hey, did you get our thank-you card and by the way, have you legally changed your name, yet?”
I kept my eyes on the shifting landscape outside the window until I watched her exit the bus. I then reached for my phone, dialed my husband at work and said, “Guess who I just saw?”