The streets of Annapolis are haunted.

Filled to the brim with urban legends, myths and a good amount of truth too. Ghosts, apparitions, ghouls, goblins and body-snatchers, all roaming and lurking  the the end of dead-end dark streets with no signs.

Around every corner, are the ghosts of penises and pussies of the past.

Attend a local event and you’re bound to see your entire former starting five. Your first. Your last. The one who got away. The one you gave away.  And my personal favorite, the one who refuses to go away.  Growing up in small town USA comes with its pluses and minuses. The plus – everybody knows everybody. The minus – you guessed it, everybody knows everybody.

You could stretch 25 miles north or south and still come across a person who knows someone that you know. Annapolis, Maryland challenges the theory of six-degrees of separation. It’s more like two. It goes a little something like, “that’s my cousin” or “We went to school together.” And this classic, “We use to talk/he tried to talk to me.” Mmmhm, that part.

Gather a group of women for happy hours and paint-and-sips, and after a few rounds of shots and a decrease in common sense, we start spilling the beans and swapping notes. Slick notes. Comparing ghosts.  Meeting someone with no ties in a small city is indeed a rare find. We have one high school for crying out loud. With all factors considered, I’ve seen all out royal rumbles occur because someone started dating the ex of an acquaintance.

The nineties were the era of OPP.  Naughty by Nature created an anthem and we were all singing and screwing along. Creeping and skating, wearing side chick labels proudly.   Main chicks waiting with gelled ponytails,  tightly tied tennis shoes and crews knocking on doors ready for battle. But why? Back then, we were immaturely attached to people who were immature, so it was more of a perpetual game of chase than an actual relationship.  But we grew up.   We said peace out to the game and drama (most of us).  Started having babies and moving in, creating families, taking last names.  When it didn’t work out, it was devastating.  There was nothing immature about heartbreak and disappointment.  But we moved on and our exes did to, and most of the time it was with someone we were familiar with.  In most cases, it didn’t go well.

I can remember being sucker-punched in the face by my bonus daughter’s mom.  I knew of her but we ran in different circles. She was a few years older and I had never so much as exchanged a hello with her.   The two of them had parted ways but he was still playing all up in her face unbeknownst to me.

She had confronted me at the mall and asked if we were dealing with each other.  I had just started dating him and nothing was official so I told her that we were just friends.  She said she didn’t care because they were no longer together.  Her not caring resulted in my senior prom being the scene for a knock-down drag out between him, her and her big brother (RIP Vernon! xoxo)  and a punch in the face at a basketball game.  I didn’t see her coming towards me.  Not at the game and not in life period.  I couldn’t understand why she was so angry with me when weren’t acquaintances.  It wasn’t me though, I later realized. I represented betrayal.   I wasn’t privy to their private moments and the game that he was running on us both.  Over twenty years later and she’s not only a friend, she is family.  Our families are families.  Growth changes things.

But sometimes there just ain’t enough growing and maturing to prepare you for those grown decisions our exes make to date whomever they want.  And it’s someone we know.  What’s that sting about?

I had to dig a little deep with this one and answer the question of why by first asking myself.

When I found out that my son’s dad was engaged to a former friend, I felt so betrayed. The betrayal train kept right on rolling, another high school friend married my daughter’s dad.  I remember thinking Gotdamn! Are these bitches in cahoots??! I wore my anger and entitlement like a tattered badge from war.  I hadn’t been in contact with either of them for years but I was wounded and I shared with every listening ear my devastation.

“How could they do that to me!” Oh, this was personal. We were friends, although former. I felt like there was this invisible line that you just didn’t cross and they had.

I could always tell when someone was dating one of my exes. The “heeeey girrrrrl!” becomes a tight, quick smile.  Most times, they purposely avoid eye contact so that they don’t have to speak.  I can dig it though.  You never quite know how it’s going to be received; dating the ex of someone you’re fairly cool with is sticky.  Past penis and past friends, that’s a recipe for a good category five hurricane.  Beefs that had been settled in high school hallways get new life when the person starts sleeping with your ex.  Again, I asked myself why?

I found myself eating crow when I did it.  I felt like such a hypocrite.  Here I was, toting and sorting this betrayal bag but I tossed it quickly when it came to me.  Oh see, I wasn’t like them.  I didn’t go into it without considering how my former acquaintance would feel when she found out.  The heart wants what the heart wants.  They hadn’t been together for years.  And shit, their kids were grown.  And I hadn’t approached him.  He hadn’t really approached me.  We were out.  We spoke.  We conversed.  He laughed.  I laughed.  He bought a round of drinks.  I bought the next.  We talked. And talked. And talked. We didn’t mention her.  We talked.  We exchanged a “hmmm, interesting look.” We agreed that exchanging numbers was harmless.  Dinner, man no big deal.  The after dinner walk by the water.  The unexpected kiss.  The sex.  Good sex too.  Bitch, it was great.  Amazing!  We connected, deeply.  But I wasn’t like them, right?  I had put them in the category of cold-hearted whores and closed them behind a door.  Here I was, knocking at the door, telling them to scoot over and make room.

That’s when the guilt crept in for me.  His response was simple.  “So, you’re willing to sacrifice possibly being happy for the rest of your life with someone who loves you because of some shit that didn’t work out with me and my ex?”

Yes.

I wasn’t that type of person.  Yes, I was.  And yes they were.  What we weren’t were women who sat and wrote down the exes of former friends, put their names in a hat, cackling with evil laughter when we picked one.  We were women who felt guilty about falling for someone who had fallen for someone else once upon a time.  The only difference was that I allowed guilt to shadow love and they hadn’t.  Respect.

Please don’t read this and think that I’m a proponent of ex swapping.  You have women and men roaming these shadowy streets on a mission of whoredom, honey.   If it winks, blinks or stinks, they want it.  I am however, a proponent of love.

When there is truth in love, there’s truth in everything.

I was dating this one guy a few years ago. His ex wife was a good acquaintance, had been to my home once or twice and I was good friends with her brother.  While I only saw her as often as I saw Christmas, when I started dating her ex and it became increasingly serious, I reached out and told her.  Her response was priceless. “This why I will always fuck with you, Janell. Thank you for telling me and I hope you have better luck with his ass than I did.”

I didn’t. No more luck than my former friends had with my exes. They were both separated and divorced in a little over a year.

I thought I’d be on my nanny-nanny-boo-boo shit. I wasn’t though because when I stepped completely out of that bitter space and remembered who these women were, I felt bad for them.  I felt bad about the picture I had painted of them.  I can only imagine how many times they had been judged for the choice they had made to be with those bastards in the first place. Only for it not to work?  The audacity.

I knew they felt that way because that’s exactly how I felt.  Willing to move mountains to accommodate a forbidden love, only to find out that it was bullshit all dressed in love.

We can’t help who we fall for. In love or casually. It happens to the best of us.  I despise walking into party to slick stares from former lovers.  Eck.  But what I hate even more, is walking into a room of former associates, people who you once shared laughs with and looking past them.

When you step into big girl situations, you put your big girls drawls on and handle that. Now unless you two were besties, dressing alike and god-parenting children, there’s no beef.  That sting you feel is your business.  Now where the problem comes is when women (and men too) start throwing rocks and hiding hands.  Any person who would talk down about someone they use to be friends with, I have not a shred of respect for them.  Don’t try to get yourself in by making me into a bad person.  My daughter’s dad debts that shit at the door.  He tells his next’s that when it comes to his children’s moms, he doesn’t care how upset he gets with us, that’s between us and they aren’t to involve themselves in anyway.  Respect.

Isn’t that what it’s about at the end of the day, though? Respect.  You don’t have to like it but it goes a long way.  That’s your ex for a reason.  Let him be her next, however that looks.  It no longer concerns you.  And I don’t care to hear about you having kids with him and needing to be mindful of who he has around them.  That’s their dad.  If you don’t think he’s capable of protecting his child as much as you, you shouldn’t have had children by him. Those are his babies too.  As far as her, if she wasn’t a bad person when you were cool with her, I can guarantee that she isn’t now.

If it’s still a problem for you, maybe you should do something about those feelings you still have for him.  You do know that it’s okay, right?  You all had an experience.  Feelings don’t just go bye-bye.  For me though,  I feel indifference.  Not hate. Not love.  Nothing at all.   I could walk through a door and see my ex-husband passionately kissing someone and I’d say “Oops! Wrong door!” and not feel a damn thing.

Let them be. You got your lesson, let them get theirs. Who are we to judge when our graveyards are filled with bones that no one knows about?  Take it on the chin and wish them well.   And lastly, to the “I use to mess with him” types, stop.  Because I’m judging you.  And I’m an asshole.  You’ve “messed” with most of Anne Arundel County, dearheart and no one knows but you and them, and I’m quick to point it out like, “Well, why ain’t nobody know but y’all?!”

Not our business, I guess.  No more than the next’s of our exes are ours.

Happy Humping!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s