The relationship went down in a blizzard of “f-you!” texts and my ultimately blocking him on my phone. Now, two years later, in the lobby of the building that houses my therapist’s office, there he was.
“Hey! You gonna walk by and not say hello?” he demanded.
I was hoping to slink by unnoticed, but Frank caught me in a hug and kiss.
Frank was the impetus for my getting my ass to AA. Spinless when we dated, I allowed myself to fall into a vortex of excessive eating and drinking. By the end, I was a fat, sloppy mess and couldn’t stand myself.
My breaking point came during a respite weekend hosted by the Hole in the Wall Gang for parents of special needs children. Frank, who went as my guest, spent the entire weekend holed up in the room drinking and watching football. One of two events he attended was a sit-down dinner. Midway through he excused himself to go to the bathroom, only to never return and leave an entire table of people trading looks. I later found him at the hotel’s bar.
The dinner incident was another “what-in-the-f-am-I-doing?” moments. I realized the relationship sailed along provided we were engaged in Frank’s favorite pastime: partying. I ended it soon after.
Now, it was as though the nasty comments and accusations we once flung at each other never happened.
“Yea, I got married and divorced in less than a year,” he said coyly, reverting back to the sweet teddy bear who persuaded me to date him.
From Facebook, I knew he had a short-lived romance with a Brazilian woman.
“It was stupid and everyone warned me not to do it,” he said. “I was scammed.
The story is he came home from work one day to find she had left without a trace. The night before they had a fight over her refusal to work.
“Hey, I can’t believe how big Savannah got!” he said changing the topic and outing himself for Facebook stalking.
I wanted to hear more about the Brazilian con artist. I wondered if the blow-up that preceded her leaving involved domestic violence.
“Karen my sister was talking about you the other day. She really liked you.”
The relationship was a wired ball of toxicity. The sweet cherry in the middle was his big Italian family who embraced my daughter and me as one of their own. I was particularly close with his older sister who volunteered at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
God, I missed that.
We had moved the conversation outside. Standing on the sidewalk in the morning sun I realized that it would be easy to slip back into the abyss. Relationships, even bad ones, can be comforting on some level.
“I don’t drink anymore,” I said, afraid he was going to suggest we get together.
“Ah, you’re boring now!” he joked.
Inebriated during most of our relationship there are huge blocks of time I can’t recall. In particular is a vacation to Key West, where Frank drank to excess, starting at breakfast. At least I saw Hemingway’s house.
It felt good to finally push the past behind us and to end on a good note. I wish there were more exes about whom I can say the same. However, I know that sobriety means avoiding people, places, and things. This is one of them.