An Unexpected Encounter

She stood at the bin squeezing the avocados. One by one; squeeze, handle, and replace. Her fingers moved from one to the next quickly, she furrowed her brow in concentration. The little lines above her nose wrinkled in a twist. She was looking for a ripe one, and she really had no idea how hard, or soft it was supposed to be – hence the disturbance of her features.

I boasted a little knowing every expression, every concern, and every move about her. She was my ex after all. The love of my life. We were together six years, but I hadn’t seen her in several. She looked older, a little more worn, and mature. Her hair was darker underneath with blond streaks dispersed throughout the top. She had gained some weight, but then again, she was too thin the last time I’d seen her. She looked good.

The punch of sorrow to my gut surprised me, because I realized, I still missed her. She was still my one and only. The rawness of our dissolution opened like an old wound. I felt my eczema flare up and burn. My heart thumped wildly. Then, the anger began broiling up (as it always did). I pressed back the floodgates of memories and looked at her again. My heart softening once more.

She had a plastic vegetable sack holding one avocado by this point. She was still digging through the selection. A sliver of hair freed its self from behind her ear and fell across her hazel eye and cheek. She didn’t bother to tuck it back. It swung softly over her eyelashes as she moved from one side of the bin to the other – searching as she stepped and leaned forward.

She finally pulled her hand up to tuck the stray away. That’s when I noticed the ring. A wedding ring. Platinum and sparkling, it flashed in my face. It flashed me back. It illuminated the storm inside. The anger, pain, and memories bubbled over. I clenched my fist, and grit my teeth. Burning as the floodgates opened wide.

I saw her – staring at me from inside her car. The garage door hung by one hinge, the rest of it crumpled by my explosion of fury when I saw all the furniture removed from the house. Everything gone in the two hours I had left to go to the store. The flurry of activity, her friends, and co-workers standing by, eyes boring into my skin like leaches, like I was a leach. How dare they.

The rage was a towering inferno and I glared at her. My eyes piercing and dark. Not once did I look away as she pulled from the driveway. I wanted that to be her last vision of me. To know how much I despised, and hated her for leaving me hanging like the garage door; crumpled and broken.

In an instance, it all came back, filling the emptiness of my soul with outrage. I wanted to let my temper take over. I wanted to rankle her fluid life. Stun her when I appeared, to remind her of what she did to me. I seethed, the ever present heat inside, as it was back in those days. The softness for her – gone.

As much as I wanted to face her, to look her in the eye, and see her fear of me. See the pain of me. I couldn’t move from my place of voyeurism. She had moved on (of course she had). I debated following her, finding out where she lived, and what he looked like. I wanted to quell the ignited blaze. Maybe knowing was my extinguisher. Was that stalking? Jesus, what was I doing?

With a last glance, I backed behind the shelves, expelling a rush of air too full for my chest. Turning down the aisle, I stepped hard toward the exit.

Write a short piece of fiction about seeing an ex in the grocery store from the first person point-of-view. Instead of writing from the female perspective, we want you to write from the male perspective.

This is my first effort at fiction since last year. It might be a little rough, but I needed the practice. I hope you enjoyed.

I am also being featured over at The Scoop on Poop today. If it’s not up yet, you can keep checking back. I’ll be there today and tomorrow. Click on the link or picture. Happy Friday!

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Braving love again-The Meet

*warning long post ahead, grab food, water, a tent?*

On a snowy day in April, when my life changed for good. I took upon myself a time of reflection, a time of healing. Much of my time was spent reading books, Boundaries by Henry Cloud, Beyond Co-dependency by Melodie Beattie, Controlling People and Verbal Abuse Victims Speak Out by Patricia Evans, Adult Children of Divorce by Jeffrey Zimmerman, Adult Children of Alcoholics by Janet G Woititz. I went through DivorceCare class twice. Basically, anything I could get my hands on, that would help me understand what I went through, why, and HOW it possibly happened.

I found a wonderful Church (my first ever). I spent a lot of time with Sydney. I spent a lot of time looking inside at the ugliness, buffing it to a new sheen (or trying to). I wasn’t ready to date. I knew it might be a long time. Honestly, I wasn’t sure I would ever date again. I certainly never thought I would ever meet anyone, or be open to that scenario. *isn’t that how many people feel after divorce*

Two weeks after I moved out, I filed a notice of separation through a divorce lawyer. There is a 90 day waiting period in Texas, before you can divorce. They also need an affidavit signed by the other party, stating they are aware divorce proceedings are in the process. If you can not get them to sign it, and have it notarized, then you have to hire a Sheriff to serve them. As you can imagine, he did not want to sign, nor would he.

I had to save extra money to hire a Sheriff. Even after going through ALL that, It still did not mean the divorce would resolve. He could counter file against me, and stop the divorce. I wouldn’t know until the day of the proceeding at the courthouse. But this was my only shot.

It was my greatest angst. That I would NEVER be divorced from him. It would hang over my head, forever. I would never be able to move on, date or re-marry. This wasn’t like me. I am NEVER afraid of what might come my way. Ever. But this, this shook me.

I was terror-stricken by the very real possibility; the divorce would end up in limbo. The clock was ticking. Any day now, he’d be kicked out of his house. The Sheriff wouldn’t be able to find him. He wouldn’t be served.

I felt my faith was being tested greatly. Didn’t I trust God? Didn’t I know he would take care of me? Why would I doubt him? Maybe, I needed this fear to learn something about myself, or about my life.

It took every OUNCE of courage to stand against this adversary, and stay strong. But I am just human, deep inside, I felt the dark wanting to swallow me up. If this divorce didn’t happen, I would live with the agony of it, and who knows how long I could stand it, before I absolutely broke down.

October 18, 2007- My court date. I enter the courthouse after scouring the streets, looking for his car, wondering if he would show up, and demand I STOP. I didn’t see it. That didn’t make me feel any better.

There were 30 other clients represented by my lawyer. Yeah. 30. I had to consult one last time, so he could check and see if my husband had filed anything against the divorce finalizing. He hadn’t. I wasn’t as relieved as I thought I would be.

I still half expected him to materialize, glowering at me, and making a scene. But then again, they could repo his car when he parked, so maybe he wouldn’t show. I was still shaken by the thought.

I had a scripture book for women in my purse. While awaiting my sentence name to be called, I read this, and knew God was with me. HIS grace, HIS power (that I prayed for) held me up.

Ecclesiastes 7:8
“The end of a matter is better than it’s beginning. And patience is better than pride.”

I was number two in front of the judge. A few sentences pronounced after the lawyer and I was done. Divorced. For real. *whooooosh*

At last, the relief swept through me. The long six years of pain, ended. All the clouds lifted. I was free. It was over. It really happened. I was not stuck in a time loop of uncertainty. My new beginning, begun. I wanted to skip out of that courtroom in sheer elation. *almost did*

Despite the conclusion, I still didn’t “date”. I did become a member of CHRISTIAN MINGLE for six months. I don’t recommend the theology message board for any “new” Christians. Yeah. Yikes!

However, the other message boards were brilliantly connecting, and full of many new found friendships. I found there not a “love”, but agape love. Not from a man, but from women and men, who have a heart for others. Agape love so complete, it’s astounding.

I met so many dear and wonderful people. I even attended a retreat in Gulf Shores, Alabama. Sixty-five women and ten men (I knooow). It was a blessing that I will never forget. Walking and running on the beach, the waves crashing, as the sun sank into the water, while I raced towards it. I was breathing and talking to God. So gloriously free, happy, and forgiven.

That was February, Valentine’s weekend, 2008. What a difference a year makes. Where I was a year ago? Polar opposite of where I was this day. Oppressed, and beaten, hammered by choices that I couldn’t make. To be on the other side, it was pure bliss.

Maybe, that is when my heart finally opened up again. I became less guarded. I began reaching out to people I didn’t know. I was confident that, I could discern the good, from the bad. Plus, it was fun and interesting. I love meeting people and learning about them, those like me, and those unlike me. I was still “afraid”. I won’t minimize my misgivings. But at least, I was receptive to the potential.

Before my membership on Christian Mingle expired, I did venture a date. He IM’d me and we began talking. He had a great, funny personality. He was adopted and raised by Christian parents. Also, going through a separation/divorce. We met and got along great.

There were some red flags (that got redder). He moved WAY too fast. I didn’t set up boundaries like I should have. I went to St. Louis to work for two weeks, and he moved on to another whirlwind romance. With someone who liked to party and go bar hopping (so, that’s what was missing). *Thank you GOD*

I chalked it up to GREAT experience. I had another “experience” with a man from Facebook this time. He was JUST like my second ex-husband. I was saved again. Enlightened quickly. I really was honing my skills and testing myself, in regards to who, and what type of person, I was coming up against, and how I reacted. These two “learning” experiences convinced me, I was no where near ready for anything remotely serious. I prayed fervently, for wisdom in my future choices. *fix my picker….PLEASE….fix my picker*

In the meantime, I was enjoying Facebook more and more, and their crazy applications. Friends for Sales. Pets. Gardens. Flirt. It was silly. It was fun. It was exactly what I needed at the time.

One of the flirty ones was called, “Are you interested?”. Over 8 million people from all over the world had this application. What happens is you click through profile pictures that Facebook gives you from users with the same application. Either click YES, or NO, on someones picture, that you like, or don’t like.

They know you clicked yes, and if you click yes too, you are a match. If you’re shy, you could be anonymous, but then they might never know you clicked on them. And what’s the point in that? I wasn’t shy. Most days. I, typically ran through Texas only pictures. I didn’t need any new friends from Turkey. I made friends with some neat people along the way and some not so neat (married guys pretending to be single-ugh). Good news, more experience. *yay me*

Well, one day, Jason’s picture came up. I remember exactly which one it was. It was just his face, and he was smiling. I remember thinking, my ex-husband, NEVER smiled. Certainly not in pictures, anyway. He actually had a very handsome smile, but it didn’t matter. He just wouldn’t. So here is this man, who had a smile from ear to ear. Of course, I clicked YES. I HAD too. I am sucker for smiles. Wouldn’t you have?

So…….he clicked yes too, and we were a match. Then, someone added someone to be their friend. I’m not sure who, neither of us can remember, doesn’t matter, it happened. We would comment or message each other through our pages, after a status update, or what not. He was going through a divorce. My heart broke for him. I had just crested a year of separation. Six months of being divorced myself. Divorce is the ugliest, most hurtful act in the entire universe, regardless of who wants it or why. My Divorce Story

A month later, I was a little more confident, but still wary. Jason posted an update. He asked if anyone was interested in Radiohead concert tickets. Well, I wasn’t, but I WAS interested in why HE wasn’t interested.

So, I sent him a message (that I still have). I knew one Radiohead song. CREEP. The only reason I knew that one, because performers would sing it on the reality show, ROCKSTAR INXS. I searched youtube and heard KARMA POLICE, oh yeah, I sorta knew that one too. I might have come across, to Jason, as knowing more Radiohead than I did? Oops. My bad. Turns out, he decides to use the tickets and take me. *woohoo*

We met Sunday, May 18, 2008 at his house on the driveway. I can still remember, distinctly, the look on his face, as I saw him standing next to his Jeep as the garage door opened. I was actually surprised! He looked better in person. He was over 6ft tall. I had thought he’d be short. Facebook doesn’t give you stats you know? I was wearing high heel wedge sandals. I was no where NEAR looking down on him, like I thought I would be, which is why I wore heels. *okay, okay, so I still had some guy issues, cut me some slack*

We talked the whole drive to Dallas and an HOUR waiting to park. It was madness. We had good seats under the awning at Super Pages. We were not extremely far back. The concert was AMAZING. I can’t describe it. I’ve tried. The lights, the lasers, the media, the songs, they all added up to an unbelievable stage show. I wasn’t a Radiohead fan. NOW I am. These guys were incredible. No wonder they sell out concerts.

It took us forever til 1am to get out of there. Through the long wait, we continued to talk, and learn about each other, with no weird silences. It was very comfortable.

I really liked him right away. I could tell he was a very sweet man. A good man. He was raised the way I was, with the same values, and mannerisms. A strong independent mother like mine. He had siblings like I had. The baby of the family like me. He was raised in the Church (so he probably knew way more than me), but he didn’t attend Church the last 11 years in his relationship. She was Catholic, but not practicing. He had two small daughters, age 2 and 4. I was very impressed but, I still wasn’t interested in a relationship with him, only because he wasn’t divorced. I felt he needed time to heal (like I did).

We agreed to continue going out, AS FRIENDS only. I didn’t want to date, he wasn’t ready to date. A friendship with dates would be perfect! We could hang out, no pressure.

Our second friend date was bowling. Neither of us had bowled in years, to say it broke the ice, is an understatement. We had a ball (heh). That night, I was getting in my car to leave. I had given him a hug good-bye. We had decided to meet again for a drive-in movie that Friday. We thought that would be kinda neat. Double feature, old fashioned. Surprisingly, before I shut my door, he leaned in and gave me a peck on the lips. I drove quickly away, thoughts frantic.

I was SO confused. Here we had made all these deals to be “just friends”. Where was kissing in the equation? Friends don’t KISS. Granted, it was just a peck but still….I was mad. Not mad enough not to go to the movies, mind you.

The movies were great. We saw Indiana Jones-The Crystal Skull and Ironman. We had popcorn and snacks. We were towards the back of the lot and I could see five other screens from the vehicle. A.D.D. or whatnot, I was distracted. I keep watching people and looking around. What was I doing? Oh yeah. The movie. So, he kissed me. Not a peck. A real kiss.

After that, I couldn’t remember what I was so mad about? Worried about? Friends? Huh? Who? What?

He had me at Radiohead. I just didn’t know it. Excellent provider, sweet man (computer man like my step dad), honest, hardworking (been at his job 11years), thoughtful, caring, clean, had a black lab (like I did). We had so much in common. When I was with him, all I could think about was HOW CRAZY his wife must be; to let someone like him go. I’d BEEN in the dating world (several times). You know what’s in the dating world? NOT HIM.

Our relationship began, and it was incredible. The only thing missing was that he held back. Not by much, just a tad, just enough to keep me unbalanced. Oh, I knew why. He was still married. He is a very honorable man. As much as he loved me, he had to honor his previous commitment. He could not REALLY love me. Not the way I needed. Not until he was divorced.

He required that final closure and it was taking forever. I began, unfairly, pinning my insecurities on him from my past relationships, making it tougher. I found being treated wonderful, uncomfortable. I made things worse, overanalyzing.

Someone in my Church group felt the need to advise me. I could not date him. I could not love him. I was an adulteress. I was keeping GOD from bringing he and his wife back together (despite the fact that he had bought HIS own house and I had questioned him endlessly, if reconciling was in the equation).

I had met his children by then, and loved them too. I didn’t want them hurt. IF I WAS IN THE WAY? Maybe, I needed to move. Jason and HIS WIFE, were taking the kids to the pumpkin patch the next weekend. I was torn. Was this it? Was this when God could move mountains? Was I in the way? Was I?

It took everything I had, I broke up with him. Over something stupid. I broke my own heart for HIM. For a possibility. For his children, that I cared deeply about. For his wife, in case she knew what a horrid mistake she had made. It was devastating to me, but RIGHT.

I braved love again. I found the perfect man for me, and I let him go.

Stay tuned for PART TWO…….Braving love again-THE BREAK.