I got a nice little email from my ex-girlfriend Julie asking how things were going. Julie doesn’t usually email me out of the blue unless there’s something very specific that she wants to talk about, but this email contained nothing urgent nor any questions. It was an update of what was going on with her (mundane stuff, no new job or boyfriend) and a question at the end asking how things were with me. I would bet $1,000 that if I write her back, she will not respond unless I ask her specific questions, in which case I’ll get a concise answer and a promise to write more later, which she never will.

The only times she writes when she doesn’t have anything urgent are cases where, for whatever reason, she wants to re-establish that we are still friends. Actually, “whatever reason” isn’t accurate. She has a very specific reason for this need.

To test my theory, I shot an IM to my friend Tony and asked if he’d spoken to Julie lately.

“Yeah, actually, we got the car title stuff taken care of.”

I asked how it went, he replied: “She showed up, pulled out the papers and I signed them. She obviously wasn’t interested in any banter, but I tried to remain friendly and asked her how she was doing and such. She was brief in her answers, I told her it was nice seeing her again and said ‘okay’ and left. Probably lasted less then a few minutes.”

Julie hardly ever talks to Tony anymore. She never even told Tony about Ohki’s death, even though Tony was Ohki’s step-dad for longer than I was. Sometimes something arises, though, where they have to talk. Such was the case with the car title debacle (which I’ll write about at some point). Also, from time to time, Tony will email her to hoping with futility to mend some fences to subconsciously convince himself that he’s really a good guy at heart despite hurting her.

Whenever she is forced to talk to him, Julie starts talking to me. She used to do this because she pined for him or was really angry with him, but she’s mostly past that now. Now she does it to justify my anger. Julie doesn’t want to think that she’s the kind of person that can’t stay on good terms with her ex-boyfriends. She likes to think she’s above the anger and pettiness that accompany heartbreak, but she’s as flawed as the rest of us are.

So she emails me I think as some sort of subconscious reminder that “See? I can be friends with exes. Tony is just a doodoohead.” As long as she and I remain friends, that means that she is not the problem when it comes to the fact that she and Tony never talk anymore. She can attribute their breakdown as something unique rather than that she’s human and talking to a man that she loved devotedly for 5 years still hurts after nearly three years apart.

Despite the fact that I know that she won’t respond to anything I write back, I’m still going to shoot her an email. She’ll read it, her virtue will be validated, and I will have served my function.

Several years ago, she did something similar for me. After she and I broke up and she and Tony got together, I embarked on a pretty rocky path dating Evangeline, being rejected by Evangeline, being dumped by her, trying to date other people and failing, dating other people and getting dumped, and so on and so on. That’s not to say that I was some pathetic mess, a victim of mean women, because I gave as good as I got. But it was those times when I was getting dumped on that I most needed Julie’s services.

Whereas Julie emails me periodically as an affirmation that she can be a good ex-slash-friend, I needed affirmation that finding love was possible. By keeping in contact with her, despite the fact that we didn’t really have all that much to say to one another, I was reminding myself that I dated this beautiful girl for nearly five years and that I could have married her if I hadn’t left her. I didn’t want to go back to her or still be with her, but I needed to know that whatever option had just been closed off wasn’t the only option I’d ever had.

It sounds pretty melodramatic, but at that point she was the only serious girlfriend I’d ever had. She was the only proof that existed. It wasn’t even a conscious thing that I was doing. I learned of my motivations in retrospect, reading over some of the emails, remembering how I felt, and remembering how being in contact with her helped me feel.

Julie indulged me as I now indulge her. The emails more-or-less stopped when I met Clancy. Clancy was never jealous or anything like that, it was just after meeting Clancy my pointless conversations with Julie were finally completely bereft of point, consciously or subconsciously. Though I continued to try to keep in contact for a little while once Clancy entered the picture, when Julie didn’t attend my wedding I shrugged it off completely.

Category: Coffeehouse

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One Response to Lend Me Your Ear Just One More Time

  1. Spungen says:

    I’m pretty impressed you’re still in touch with any exes, actually.

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