Coffee with My Ex

I had coffee with my ex on Monday. Actually she had wine and I ordered soup. It was 4 o’clock, and raining in New York. We hadn’t seen or spoken to each other in seven years. Seven years, people.

I had coffee with my ex on Monday. Actually she had wine and I ordered soup. It was 4 o’clock, and raining in New York. We hadn’t seen or spoken to each other in seven years. Seven years, people. We had a bitter break up.

She was my first girlfriend and long term relationship, and we were together for six years. When we met back in the mid-90’s, she was straight-ish, and I was closeted and still questioning. We came out together under difficult circumstances; no queer community (very few lesbian friends to speak of), no support of women’s studies class, or a rainbow alliance at a progressive university. We basically came out by sheer force of will, white knuckling it in front of our parents because we were in love. The world seemed absolutely straight and hostile to me back then.

We went on to do everything that two lesbians in love do: have a lot of sex, buy sex toys, u-haul it, lesbian process, throw dinner parties, find other nesting gay couples to hang out with, struggle financially, bicker, eat hummus, eventually contract LBD, go to couples counseling with a lesbian therapist… We did it all, short of having cats and adopting twin girls from China.

Through all our ups and downs I knew unequivocally that I was in love and loved her. So when the end came and she called it, I was shocked. Somewhere down that windy road she had lost it — love, desire, hope, I wasn’t sure which.

You know how they say there is that one break-up that crushes you? Well, this was mine. I could never quite reconcile my love for someone who stopped loving me. I hated her for that and harbored anger over it for years.

Our lives diverged dramatically; she got married to a bio-man and left New York City. And I, well, you pretty much know what I’ve been up to. I discovered my queer community in and out of bed. As one beautiful lady aptly put it after our first date, which ended under her sheets the next morning, “This is one of the better ways of getting to know someone.”

At some point last spring I woke up and realized I didn’t feel the need to refer to my ex as a four letter expletive any longer. But it took me untill the end of the summer and a glass of wine with my neighbor down the hall to finally reach out and contact her after all these years. My neighbor, a filmmaker and acting coach, told me something very wise that she teaches her students — I’m paraphrasing here: all people need is permission. Being right or wrong doesn’t matter, we just need permission to act — to do something. In the exploration of that action is the Truth.

I imaged that the first time I’d see my ex after all this time would be cathartic. Strangely it was really just a matter of fact. After we got the small talk out of the way we got down to the brass tacks. She said she felt guilty about the way she left me. I told her it was shitty. She asked me why I thought she had left. I told her it was because she made an unconscious calculation (if the unconscious calculates) to benefit from hetero privilege in order to enhance her career (which is in a public field). She looked indignant, and responded that she had felt emotionally suffocated at the end of our relationship. She recalled a dream she had in which she saw me as an immobile emotional invalid. Yeah, it was harsh, but actually quite civil. It seemed as though we needed these additional seven years to mature enough in order to say what needed to be said, and actually listen to the other person without running screaming out of the room.

I can see now how differently we wanted to live our lives. She lives peacefully in a progressive almost Southern town, in a real house with a yard. Her husband, who I haven’t met, seems to be a low key easy going guy, much more suited to her temperament. Their careers overlap and enhance each others. I still live in the loft she left me in, three roommates and two cats later, at the swirling center of a very queer Brooklyn.

A couple weeks ago I was driving my car over the Williamsburg bridge, and when I looked to my right there was a femme on a motorcycle. She had on a helmet with the dark face guard pulled down. Her long brown hair streamed out from behind, and she was wearing a tight-fitting baby blue suit. She sped off in front of me and I tried to keep up behind her. As I caught up to her she raised her black-gloved left hand in the air and started waving it like she was feeling the air pass by. She then kicked up one leg and stretched it out revealing her beige high heels. I kid you not. I was so mesmerized I thought this was perhaps the Goddess incarnate sending me a signal.

My motorcycle lady shot from by blackberry with the goddess Lakshmi in the foreground.

The very next night I was out at an art opening after party. A red headed bombshell sat across from me and we started flirting. I leave the rest to your imagination.

My loves, crushes, and hook-ups have been exhilarating and painful, full of unexpected twists and sometimes even forgettable. And my life at the heart of lesbian media with all of you continues to be profound and meaningful —  I wouldn’t trade any of it for anything. There is no other life that I would rather lead, and for that I must thank my first ex for opening up that closet door and letting me out.