It’s an age old problem. Bumping into ye olde ex. Now, I consider myself more than adequate in dealing with social situations: strangers, men, my friends’ mums- you name it. I’m quite skilled in the art of conversation and have fine tuned the ability to feign interest when there is none.
When it comes to an ex, however, it’s a no-go. Years of socialisation into a fully functioning human being go out of the window. This person that I spoke to every single day for years is now a stranger. This man who knew my deepest and darkest secrets is someone I cannot converse with.
I saw him as I got on the train. Bloody freezing, minimal makeup due to streaming eyes and carrying enough bags to make me look like I was running away from home. Safe to say, I looked dreadful. I was buying a train ticket when I saw him. This would be the day I didn’t have my debit card to hand or a ten pound note lying about so, I had to pay with coppers. There I was counting my coins like some bloody freak. Not to mention the fact that it took forever. TYPICAL. All things considered I kept my cool.
I then waited on the platform for (what became a very delayed) train. We stood maybe a metre and a half apart and said nothing. I pretended to text ferociously. Anything to not to have to look across or catch his eye. The wait was painful. Every five minutes a voice boomed on the tannoy- updating us freezing passengers on the delays we faced. I wanted the ground to swallow me up.
Finally the train came. Rather symbolically it’s very presence blocked “the light at the end of the tunnel.” I had pined for the train as my get-out escape route, but it was a prison that trapped me.
My ex and I (due to standing so close to one another) got on via the same set of doors. It is at this kind of moment that you wish you were more nimble than you are. That you imagine yourself elegantly departing from an ex, ballerina- style. This was not to be my fate. Instead my eagerness to get away from my ex- cost me any elegance and class as I trapped myself in the train doors with my bags. My wheelie suitcase caught itself on the tiny train step, my overnight bag jammed against the door and my other arm- clutching onto my Mulberry handbag for dear life- flailed in the air hopelessly. My ex had to help me get on…if only to get on himself. Awkwardly I tried (and no doubt failed) to laugh it off.
He winked at me. (SLEAZEBALL who the hell winks nowadays?!?) He also asked how I was- I gave him some empty response as I politely reciprocated the question. The whole time the two of us continued to walk down the corridor of the train as more passengers piled onboard.
The prospect of sitting beside him for the next forty five minutes did not appeal. It was also sort of inevitable seeing as politeness prevails. Really rather cleverly I spotted a woman sitting by a window and whilst looking at my tickets pretended to my ex that the seat beside hers was one I had reserved. YES. It worked. He sat elsewhere and bid me goodbye.
Due to his seat facing the opposite direction to mine we could look at each other with ease. For the entirety of the journey I made a conscientious decision to not catch his eye. Instead I preoccupied myself with my phone and a lengthy act of searching for something in my handbag.
I was smug, I shan’t lie. My quick wit had saved me what would otherwise have been a hugely looooong and awkward journey. It was all going well. Until two stops before mine. A mere two stops, an elderly gentleman came up to “my” seat to claim it as his own reservation. He even had the ticket in hand as proof. So ideal that this man was a little deaf and decided to show me up with his painfully loud voice.
I moved elsewhere. My dignity in tatters. I was a liar. A socially awkward ex-girlfriend and my ex knew it.