January 18, 2020

The Man Who Used to Be My Wife

“He walked through the coffee shop door and scanned the crowd. A familiar smile bloomed as he recognized me, despite how my appearance had changed over the years. I’m bald and bearded now, and heavier. I wear an extra decade on my face, and I’m more careful about how I dress. I was almost late as I settled on the right shirt.

The change in his appearance was far more drastic and deliberate than mine. But he was unmistakable. I recognized his wave and his walk. I thought back to a morning years ago, when we were still together. After a long night, I was so hung over I could barely stand. I kept up appearances while bowling and eating breakfast with his parents. But I dreamed of escaping to the back seat of our car, to put blankets over my head and shut out the world.

And that’s what I wanted to do now, in the coffee shop, as he closed the distance between us. Escape, alone, to sink into my grief like a hot bath.

His hug felt surprisingly familiar. This was the first good thing that happened at our reunion.

He was dressed as I remembered him — flannel shirt and jeans. Except the familiar wardrobe was draped over a man’s body now. The message of the clothes had changed from “tomboy” to “I.T. guy.””

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