Now that it’s officially summer – aka the season of summer love – I thought it was high time to bring back our semi-regular relationship series. And this go-round our love guru Megan McCarty is tackling a topic we can all relate to – how to divvy things up after a break up. There’s the dividing of belongings, perhaps the question of who gets the apartment, maybe even pet co-ownership, but what about your favorite haunts?
I’ll let Megan explain – I strongly suspect you’ll understand where she’s coming from!
Somewhere along the way, probably between the day my braces came off and, well, yesterday, I learned the difference between for now and forever. Most relationships come with an expiration date, and I get that, so I’m fairly rational when it comes to breaking up. No long-winded, wine-fueled texts. No begging for you back. No bashing you to my friends.
However, come my next “this isn’t working for me,” I’ve considered setting one little ground rule that may seem less-than-rational: a certain restaurant – the one I’ve worked at for years – is now off-limits. I get it, I get it. The brunches are Insta-worthy, that shrimp dish is truly life-changing, it’s a go-to for a late-night sip of something.
But when a man I dated a couple years ago came waltzing into my work on a bustling Friday night, his seemingly lovely girlfriend on his arm, my eyeballs just about popped out of my head. WHY. It felt alarmingly akin to him barging into my home and then expecting me to serve them dinner.
He has every right to go there. But why would he want to? There’s simply zero zilch no way he thought of going to this restaurant out of all of our city’s James Beard-y restaurants and didn’t consider the possibility that I’d be there.
Did he not think it’d be a big deal? (We ended things on a good-ish note, after all.) Was it his girlfriend’s idea and he didn’t want to make their date night awkward by saying no? (“Who’s Megan? You’re over her, aren’t you?”) Did he cross his fingers that I’d have the night off? (Not the worst strategy.) Did he want to show off his new girlfriend, like a prideful peacock? (Yes, she’s very pretty, we all see.)
I put on my big girl pants and said hi, how are you, you like the wine? and other chit chatty baloney. Thing is, I don’t expect us to tip-toe around each other forever. Even the biggest of cities can turn into the tiniest of towns once there’s a collection of ex-boyfriends to avoid. Inevitably we’ll brush shoulders at the same crowded concert, or our mutual friends will get married or I’ll pop into the grocery store after a particularly hot yoga session and we’ll bump into each other in the ice cream aisle, because the universe finds that sort of thing hilarious. It’s bound to happen and that’s fine, because we’re grown adults who can be kind and civil, particularly to the fellow grown adults who have seen your behind-closed-bedroom-door faces.
But why would he purposefully put himself (and his sweet, innocent girlfriend!) in that awkward situation? I surveyed friends. “That’s how you know they’re still hungry,” said the ultra-wise Nora Purmort. “They are like, ‘Megan, look how good I’m doing’ *dying inside.*” A guy friend, speaking from experience, concurred with Nora. I still think he was just trying to stick it to me somehow.
Nearly every day on my way to work I drive past a coffee shop that another ex and I would crawl to most mornings while we were together. I miss it, sure, mostly for nostalgia’s sake and partially for the chai, but I would never ever ever (ever ever ever) go in. That’s his coffee shop, he won custody of it in the breakup, and I can take my caffeine-deprived self to literally dozens of other ones. And how stalker-esque would I feel if I ran into him there?
So tell me, though ultimately it’s still our city, is it fair to assume some custody: my restaurant, your coffee shop? Or am I less of a breeze than I like to think I am?
photography by daniel faro