It took me quite a long time to get to where I am now.
And it took all my strength and willpower to decide to move on quickly after Dave decided that it’ll be best for the both of us if we broke up.
I still remember the first day after Dave left. Saturday morning, we could have been having breakfast together but instead I was drinking coffee while sorting through his things, putting all his stuff in a big box marked with a green Post-it, some items went to a box marked with an orange Post-it, things that we bought together, stuff that needed thorough discussion on who gets the ownership. When Dave selfishly decided for the both of us that it is best for us to end the relationship, I took it upon myself to decide how it’s going to end, and I want it to end as facilely as possible, like stripping off a Band-Aid, quick and painless as possible.
I knew how to move on. I’ve done it a couple of times before and just like any other life experiences, you’d get the drill eventually. It’s a process they say; I wanted to make it a science. I wanted to show Dave how it was so easy to forget him and all the things we had and did together.
I filled my iPod with my go-to-breakup-anthems; Hey Monday’s Candles, Cher’s Strong Enough and Wilson Phillips’ Hold On were on constant repeat. Moving on is a mind game, you have to trick the brain in believing that everything is fine, that everything will be fine.
I went all out to get myself busy. Took up a lot of extra work, went out on coffee dates with friends that I had not seen in a long while. Moving on requires filling up your brain with other stuff, making it busy with other things, making it forget what it shouldn’t be remembering.
I cut all my communications with Dave and anyone who’s directly connected to him. I deleted all his contact information, phone number, email address, blocked him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, an update on him and his current relationship, if ever he has one, will just devastate me. I know that for a fact.
I surrounded myself with friends. Well, I have three, Andrew, Jasper and Mandy who literally surrounded me during that time. Andrew is the listener, Jasper is the advice-giver and Mandy is the comic relief. Anyone who’s going through a heartbreak or similar situation should have these three types of friends; it’s a fool-proof support system.
Maybe, that’s how you move on. Convince yourself that everything will be better, be busy with making yourself better, stop thinking about him and have an amazing support system. A year has passed and maybe I have moved on. I no longer have those sleepless nights where the memories of all that has been and all that could have been haunt me like a resident ghost inside my bedroom. I no longer feel a twitch inside my heart whenever I see or hear something that reminds me of Dave or the times I was with him. I managed to pull myself away from him, away from all the memories, away from all the could-have-been of us. I have moved on, easy science.
But science requires evidence, something measurable, and something observable. Processes needs experimentation and testing before it is deemed effective and true. So, how do I really know I have moved on?
I needed not to wait that much. The test came a 2 years and 7 months after Dave and I last saw each other.
Tuesday morning, I was at the Starbucks across my new workplace, getting my usual cup of Americano when I saw Dave enter the coffee shop, I was startled to see him, it’s like seeing a ghost, or someone you are forbidden to see or even look at, his eyes went straight at the line of people in the counter, checking how long it is, looking and searching to where the line ends.
His wandering eyes stopped to where I was standing, it all happened very fast that I no longer had the time to hide or even stray my eyes away from his, he looked at me surprised. He finally found what he’s been looking for, the end of the line, which was me.
He approached me with an awkward smile.
“Hello Rob, how are you?” He says, his voice trying to get a grip of the situation.
“I’m good… Good!” I nervously replied with a “faked-excitement” tone. In my effort to move on and forget, I forgot one of the most essential weaponry that you have to have ready at disposal at any given time, your witty comeback, if ever you bump into an ex and he had the guts to ask you, how you have been. So, I got stuck with “Good!”.
“That’s nice to hear.” He replied.
I smiled back.
There was a minute long awkward silence. Both of us were studying the menu above the counter, which was pointless for me because I already knew what I’ll be getting.
He suddenly broke the icy awkwardness, “You know what, this one’s on me… Americano, Venti, right? And one sugar glazed donut?” his eyes looking into mine. For a split second, I gaze at his face, he still looks handsomely fresh, and he still has those charming smiling eyes. Nothing much has changed two years after we broke up.
“What do you think?” he asked again, he might have noticed that I was in a trance for almost a couple of seconds.
“Are you sure?” I mumbled.
“Of course, for old time’s sake. You can get us a table, then.” He replied.
“Sorry, but I’m having mine to go, I actually have a meeting in ten minutes” I quipped, pointing at the building across the coffee shop.
“Ooh! Sure, that was awkward, I thought you’ll be staying for your coffee, that’s not a problem, but can you save me a table, while I order? I still have an hour to burn before my appointment.” He replied.
“Sure!” I said, as I went around the coffee shop looking for a vacant table.
I got a table near the entrance of the coffee shop; I waved at him to let him know where I was. He smiled and then proceeded to talk to the barista.
I finally found the time to digest everything that happened in the last five minutes, he still looked good and smelled just like how he does when we were still together, he still remembered my staple order when I need to get breakfast from Starbucks, and he still knows I hate waiting in line.
I started to feel a twitch from my heart, half a twitch actually.
He is still that guy I fell for before.
He came to the table bearing my coffee and doughnut and his breakfast fix, which I assume is also Americano if he hadn’t changed how he wants his morning coffee and a bagel with cream cheese.
“Here’s your coffee!” he smilingly says as he handed me my coffee and doughnut. “I guess, we don’t really have much time to chat since you have 3 more minutes before eight o’clock, right?” he says, smiling again.
“Yeah, I think so. Thanks for the coffee and doughnut anyways. I really have to rush now.” I replied, as I stood up and prepared to leave.
“There’s always a next time, I guess. It was nice seeing you Robbie.” he said, and I felt that he truly was happy to see me.
“It was also nice seeing you, Dave.” I replied.
I offered my hand for a goodbye handshake; he took it and pulled it closer to him to give me a quick hug. I was stunned. I felt all my blood rushed to my head, he let go of the hug and held both my arms tightly and said “I’m glad that you’re okay.” His smile reflected all the sincerity that accompanied his words.
“Thanks! Me too, I’m happy that you’re doing great.” I said, with one last smile, I went straight for the door.
As I was walking away from the coffee shop, I contemplated on looking back to check if he was still looking at me as I walk away, I decided not to, the twitch in my chest grew stronger, and I know that glancing back and not seeing him still looking at me will turn that twitch into an uncontrollable jerk.
So it all comes down to this, it’s like preparing yourself for a major examination for over a year then failing. The science, the process flew out of the open window. I knew what my heart was feeling, it’s all too familiar not to recognize. All it took was a few minutes of proximity from him and everything is back to zero.
I went straight to my office desk to get some of my stuff before going to my meeting, as I enter, Andrew, my friend and a colleague, was at his desk doing something on his laptop while playing some music .
“Good morning, Robbie!” He greeted me, with his usual smiley face.
“Morning, Drew.” I greeted back. “I just need to get some papers on my desk, I’m so late for my eight o’clock” I continued. I hurriedly went to my desk and picked up the folders I needed.
“See you later then!” Andrew replied.
I threw him a smile as I sprinted off.
Some line from the song playing on Andrew’s laptop echoed as I walk out from our office.
“Remember those walls I build baby, they’re tumbling down, they didn’t even put up a fight, they didn’t even make a sound….”
And right there and then I knew.
It took me quite a long time to get to where I am now.
An inch and a half from where I used to be.
Two years and seven months, for a tiny budge.
That’s how far I’ve moved on.