When you get out of a long-term relationship, your list of obligations suddenly bursts into flames. There's no gradual decline; it's instant.
You no longer are expected to wake your girlfriend up every morning with a phone call. You don't have to stress about getting that perfect anniversary gift (apparently thongs every year aren't acceptable, who knew?). When you go to the rental store, you can pick up Die Hard for the 3rd time in a row instead of having to take your turn by getting 10 Things I Hate About You.
I learned yesterday that although you are no longer obligated to do these things, there are certain dispositions that might never go away. Or at least take a little bit longer.
It's not old news that occasionally, my ex girlfriend's mom Andy and I will talk on the phone and catch up on our lives. During our last conversation she happened to casually mention that Lynn was particularly ill.
So@24: What? Like a cold or something?
Andy: Actually, she has strep throat. I feel bad, she's been waking up in sweats and unable to swallow anything. I'm afraid she hasn't been eating. It's hard being a long distance mom sometimes!
So@24: Hmmm. I see.
Andy and I talked for a bit longer, but when we hung up... I couldn't help but think about Lynn and her inflamed tonsils.
It's almost been two years since our relationship ended, but this nagging feeling of needing to do SOMETHING was stronger than I would expect.
There's also something to be said about crossing that fragile line into a... weird place. Lynn and I are friends; we meet up every once and a while, make each other mix cds, talk on the phone once every couple weeks. But I'd never want to do anything to jeopardize that friendship that we have worked hard to establish and now, maintain.
You don't want to do anything to make the other person think you have other motives; I certainly didn't want to give off that impression.
I grappled with an internal debate. I'm not her boyfriend anymore, I am not obligated to do anything. In fact, I didn't even do shit like that when I dated her (oops!). I should really get back to reading Shortcomings and forget about this.
But as I licked my thumb and turned a page, the visual of Lynn alone, tossing and turning in a pool of her own sweat was gnawing on my brains like a fucked up zombie.
I took my own advice. I did what I wanted to. She would do the same for me. It never hurts to do a nice thing for someone, right? It's not like I'm sending over flowers or a guy dressed up like a giant heart to sing "Oooh Baby I Love Your Way" on a ukulele or anything.
I looked up a delivery place close by her house and ordered a simple bowl of soup and a caesar salad. Girl needs to eat, right?
But I didn't give her a heads up with a phone call or a text. I didn't want her to know it was me, I'm fine with having her think that it could be any one of the dudes that might be in her life at the moment. I'm like goddamn Peter Parker, I guess.
I guess there are certain things that linger around a little bit longer.