Today was my ex’s birthday.
I forgot. I forgot until I logged into the omniscient machine that is Facebook and was passively reminded because other people remembered. I was simultaneously reminded why I have a serious love/hate relationship with Facebook.
I sat there trying to recall the date, a date I used to celebrate, a specific date. I kept thinking March — no, that’s my boyfriend’s birthday. Then I thought December — which is my brother’s birthday month. I could not recall the significance of this particular month. But it must have meant something to me, at some point. Right?
It was at this point, I began to consider the transitory state of relationship artifacts. I took the opportunity to become a bit of an archaeologist and unearth the remains of past significance. There were a lot of things that used to mean something to me:
I kept love notes from my first day of work, before everything fell apart. Before his obsession with his job took over his life, diminished our sex life, and drove us apart. When having a job and being married seemed so promising — and we thought we had obtained some semblance of the American dream.
I kept a rock from the lighthouse we visited together in Ireland. Before we got to the seaside, where he yelled at me for not being able to properly maneuver my bicycle. In my defense, the roads were very narrow and should not have been shared between cyclists and drivers. I took a picture of that moment, his angry face silhouetted by the beauty of the Irish coast. He didn’t find any of it funny.
There are so many inconsequential items, events, memories, which are now tainted by the inevitable crash; the fallout of a complete nuclear disaster. In retrospect I can see the hazy edges of each smile we shared, and I know that I can’t remember the smiles correctly in spite of the lies.
When a relationship ends I tend to cleanse myself of everything — pictures, phone numbers, memories, everything. Kind of like the flashy thing from Men In Black. When my marriage ended I found it much harder to extricate myself from the persevering legal flotsam of our combined past life. And then today I realized I had finally done it. He has finally become so far removed from my consciousness that I can’t even recall what it felt like to remember his birthday. I don’t feel anything, except numbness, apathy. I feel anesthetized, and it feels good.
So Happy Birthday wherever you are, this will probably be the last time I ever say it.