My Ex Everyone has an ex. Spill your guts, search your soul, and submit your story. en-us Copyright 2017 Larry Smith RSS 2.0 generation class <![CDATA[ It’s been three weeks and I sometimes think I’m fine. I’ve joined clubs, learned how to make sourdough bread, and started exercising again. If anyone asks, I’m doing great. But it’s the simplest things that bring me back. I want to call you and bitch about my job and say how I understand why you always needed a drink after work. I hear a song and I get pumped up about the music festivals that we were going to go to this summer. It was going to be such an amazing summer, full of music and sunshine and love. Love. How can I tell you that I still love you, but things are just not working right now? How can I do that and make you understand how I feel, so that you can move on, but not be hurt? I wish this didn’t have to hurt.<br /> <br /> I keep coming back to when we first met. It was the most unlikely of circumstances, we were both at a show, me with my boyfriend, and you, alone. I never talk to people at shows, but I talked to you because of your kind eyes. We bonded over music and trees and vegetarianism. Even though my boyfriend was there, I asked for your number. I couldn’t risk never talking to you again and leaving it up to the universe, I just had to see you again. On the walk home, my boyfriend was upset with me, but my mind was full of possibilities and hope. Over the next year, we met often over coffee and talked for hours. I didn’t want to admit that I was falling for you, so I kept on telling myself that we were ‘just friends’. <br /> <br /> We had a happy first year, for the most part. Things were stressful and chaotic, but we were in love and we could support each other. But when my fourth year of school rolled around, I changed. My expectations started to cripple me; I felt that I was never enough. You always made me feel like I was enough, but your need for me was too much. I lost contact with friends because of our necessity to see each other. I tried to convince myself that it was just temporary. While I was crying in the practice rooms every morning, you were sleeping late, avoiding the world and yourself. I told you to work harder and just deal with the inconveniences of life, but you never changed. I begged you to see a psychologist, but you said that it wouldn’t help. When I asked you if you were suicidal, I knew a line had been crossed. This was too much, you had a plan and I was so scared. When you started seeing a psychologist it didn’t seem to help. I know it’s a process, but how was I supposed to wait? I loved you, but you also made me desperately unhappy. Good times were farther and farther apart and when you were upset about my lack of sex drive, I didn’t know how to say that I felt like I had become your mother, your caretaker. I knew something had to give, but I was afraid to break up with you. I waited for things to improve, but it was becoming harder to hide my ever-distancing feelings. With all the energy I put into school and you, there was nothing left for me. I wanted my life back again, but I didn’t want to risk losing a life in the process.<br /> <br /> When I told you it was over, you begged for me to reconsider. You said that you couldn’t stand to lose me right now. I wanted to give you another chance, but I already knew that I had given you too many. I was finally making a decision for myself. Three weeks later I have not questioned my decision, but I worry about you. I love you and you’re still my best friend and I still can’t imagine losing you forever. Chad, I love you, but you need to learn to love yourself too, and so do I. ]]> My Ex by Aleah Aleah SMITH <![CDATA[ I guess you can say I knew it was over when I borrowed his leather jacket and found the court documents in his pocket. He neglected to tell me that he and his buddies decided to drink too many tequila shots at the bar and then ransack someone's trailer. The paper went on to explain the damages done,the upcoming court date, the felony charge of breaking and entering. I and he devastated by a night of "fun with the guys," All I could think about was that this would be my life. After four years of true love and pleading, I could not go forward. I had to be strong. Looking back it was one of the hardest choices I have ever made. Many years later I ran into a friend who told me you were working at a local liquor store. . .fitting career choice for a super smart drunk with a rhetoric degree. I drove by that store six times without ever walking in to see you. You did look me up many years later. I agreed to meet you at a coffee place near the store. Yes still working at the liquor store. You looked so broken. You looked so swollen. You were wearing that flipping jacket. . I knew the that I had made the right choice. ]]> My Ex by JJnoodle1 JJnoodle1 SMITH <![CDATA[ I should have known there would be trouble when I met him in a bar nicknamed The Dirty Bird, and the first thing he did was guide my index finger to the crease between his nose and cheekbone, where I discovered a set of screws holding his face together. Dubbed Lucky 13 by his hockey buddies, he had broken his nose multiple times and crushed his face with a jet ski instead of going to Hawaii with his water polo team—hence the titanium mug his parents paid for when he was 16. <br /> <br /> Sometime during the course of our two-year relationship, he managed to skewer both his front truck tires—simultaneously—while driving over a pile of nail-ridden firewood in our desert campsite; he later totaled that same white Ford F150 while we trudged up Big Bear Mountain, skidding on black ice into a camper van in the dark because he couldn’t find parking to put on chains. Then there were countless nights of alcohol-fueled mayhem, one ending with his vomit dripping from the vents of my dashboard. <br /> <br /> Even his good luck started as bad luck. His favorite pair of red metal Spy sunglasses flew off his face into three feet of fresh powder during one of his snowboarding “yard sales”; later, they became wedged between rocks at the bottom of the swift-moving Colorado River. While losing the expensive glasses in the river, he lurched to save his precious Coors Light, yelling, “My beer!” Twelve hours later, he stood up from our late-night campfire and boasted, “I’m gonna go find my glasses.” We told him he was crazy. His glasses had reached Parker Dam hours ago, but five minutes later, he walked up with his glasses back on his face after scanning the bottom of the murk like a crime scene investigator skimming for dead bodies. Somehow the glasses survived the harsh mountain elements and rocky desert without a scratch, but every time a puck flew within two feet of his face, his nose was broken.<br /> <br /> One particular night, I was the DD again: the Designated Dumbass driving the 23-year-old home from the Liquid Lounge again. Only this time there’d be a stop at Del Taco on the way because we were was famished. (Why did we always only crave Del Taco late at night?)<br /> <br /> After we placed our order, a small car pulled up behind us. It teemed with kids, the driver most likely the only one old enough to have a license. They were giggly. With the windows rolled down, I listened to them tease each other.<br /> <br /> Unexpectedly, one of the boys jumped from the white beater and skipped to the front of my Integra. While we stared at him perplexed, he pulled his shorts halfway down his backside, exposing a shimmering crescent moon. He bounced onto my hood and smacked his baby butt three times, pulled up his pants and hopped back to his friends, where they all laughed and high-fived each other. <br /> <br /> My boyfriend and I laughed at their innocent dare, and as I drove closer to the window, already putting their antics behind me, the imaginary light bulb dinged above my companion’s head.<br /> <br /> “Watch this!” he said eagerly.<br /> <br /> “Oh no, what are you going to do? Please don’t.” I knew his retaliation wasn’t going to be either a) appropriate or b) guided by a clear, sober mind. My pleading was lost on him, and the door was closed before I could make my case for sanity. <br /> <br /> As he jumped out of the car, instant silence fell from the car behind us. They expected an angry adult. What they got instead was much worse. <br /> <br /> I cautiously turned my head to see what he was doing, gripping the steering wheel, hoping for something less disturbing than what I imagined. I was wrong. Lucky 13 bent over like a gymnast—head to knees—pulled his boxers to his ankles and began to shout, “Ya like that? Ya like that? Welcome to the Patch, Mother Fucker!”<br /> <br /> Squeals emanated from the car behind me. Arms flailed out the window. Girls shielded their eyes in horror. Boys screamed in dread for what would become of their bodies in less than a decade. This tall, gangly nightmare gave them a full view of his twig and giggle-berries in their headlights. Worst of all, they had gotten the Patch initiation—a tender moniker bestowed on the forest growing between the two now-spread cheeks my boyfriend’s saintly mother gave him.<br /> <br /> By this time, not only did I have a death grip on the wheel, I hung my head out of sight and was saying the prayer of the mortified agnostic: “Please, please, please let there be a great force in the cosmos who will slap sense into my inebriated boyfriend before he causes any further damage to these poor children’s psyches. Help me, won’t you?”<br /> <br /> After effectively ruining what formative years the kids had left, my boyfriend jumped back in my car, totally amused with his inner exhibitionist, ready to feed the beast a Works Burrito. I, however, was not nearly as pleased. I was livid. I gave him the “you-could-have-gotten-arrested” lecture. My goal at that point was to grab our food and get out of that drive-through as quickly as possible. <br /> <br /> “Oh, come on. That was hilarious!” he said.<br /> “No, it wasn’t. You totally disturbed those kids!” I replied. <br /> “Whatever. They started it.” <br /> “They had probably never seen a grown man naked before, especially not one so hairy,” I said.<br /> <br /> He laughed, and I quit talking. <br /> <br /> After we had our greasy grub and were cruising back to the main road, I peered into my rearview mirror to watch the teens screech away, turning the opposite direction from us. They high-tailed it the long way through the parking lot, bounded over a planter like the Dukes of Hazzard, and unabashedly crushed flowers and bushes, leaving a plant funeral in their wake. <br /> <br /> More than a decade later, he and I are good friends again, and not surprisingly, his drive-through mooning days are ancient history, but I can never see that Del Taco without thinking about the night those poor teens picked the wrong car to mess with. ]]> My Ex by ChewyD2 ChewyD2 SMITH <![CDATA[ I don't want to disappoint you, but this is not a bitter rant about an ex, if that's what you were expecting to find here. As a matter of fact, since we only dated for a few months, I'm not sure the man I'm writing about even qualifies as an "ex" considering the short duration of our "relationship," which consisted mostly of sex and joking around with each other. My ex and I met in a bar that I frequented when I was in my early twenties, and he had such an original pick-up line that he delivered with such un-self-aware charm that I couldn't help falling for him. I think he fell for me too, or maybe we fell for each other right away, even though I don't think either of us would have called it that at the time. I think we knew there was a special connection between us, but we never figured out what to do with it. I do remember that he sent me many letters (ours was a long-distance relationship), many of which I still keep in a box in my basement as proof of his undefined but undeniable feelings for me. I think I fell more and more for him because of those letters he wrote, which were simultaneously loving, lusty, and fun. The letters he wrote me, which I read and re-read as if they were lines from a play to be memorized, made the relationship feel like an old-fashioned courtship in a way -- only this was the 1980's, and in the '80s, sex came first, and the letters followed. <br /> <br /> Looking back now, the warning signs that our relationship was doomed were all there, right in front of me, right from the very start. For one, we met in a bar. How many relationships ever work out where the first meeting is in a bar? Oh, and then we went and slept together the first night we met. Plus, he was in the Army at the time, which meant I would only get to see him when he wasn't away on some secret GI Joe mission which I didn't really care about, except that it kept him away from me. Oh, and did I mention that he was in the Army? And that I was very anti-war back when we met?? I can see clearly now that we were not meant to last, despite my misguided belief as our "relationship" continued that he was the One for me. The writing was on the wall, but it must have been in hieroglyphics because I sure didn't understand it.<br /> <br /> The sex we had was awesome, which was a good thing, because neither of us had the greatest conversational skills at that time. I don't honestly remember why I thought the sex with him was so great; I don't have any memories of multiple orgasms or all-night sex marathons with him. But he made me feel sexy, and that was a great feeling, and one that a tall, thin, almost-flat-chested young woman like me didn't experience very often.<br /> <br /> In retrospect, I think I was more obsessed with him than in love with him. However, I was totally in love with the drama of him coming and going in and out of my life. His going away for Army duties, sometimes out of the country, kept things exciting, off-kilter, unpredictable, and ultimately. unsatisfying. Our relationship was like sitting down to a four-course meal in a great restaurant and then having the waiter clear the table after we'd only had a chance to eat the appetizer. We never had a chance to get to the "meat" of our relationship. (Hmm, could that explain why I'm a wanna-be vegetarian?)<br /> <br /> And yet, despite the brevity and the shortcomings of our relationship, he is and will always be one of the great loves of my life. I think it's the unrequited longing for someone, even someone terribly wrong for you, that makes them ironically more desirable and more unforgettable. This was certainly the case with my ex. I naively and stubbornly believed that my being in love with him would eventually override any distance and differences between us. And when that didn't happen, I became even more determined to believe that it would if I was just patient. I told myself over and over that he would eventually love me the way I loved him, even if I had to wait my whole lifetime for it to happen. Looking back now, I see that I probably pushed him even farther away from me by indulging in those thoughts. I held on when I should have let go. Silly, stubborn, selfish me. <br /> <br /> Today, I am in my early fifties and I'm married to a man who really and truly is the One for me. But I have to admit, I still think about my ex from time to time. I guess I will always think about him, and how he was part of that wonderful/awful time in my life when anything was possible if I wished for it hard and long enough. I'm happy to say that I'm no longer waiting for my ex to show up at my door with a bouquet of roses to tell me he's in love with me and wants us to spend the rest of our lives together, After all, he's married now and has kids (I learned this from --where else?-- Facebook), and I hope he's happy. No, really, I do! The way I see it, as long as I have his letters in that box in the basement, I can always travel back (in my mind) to a time in my life when my knight in shining armor wore Army camoflauge and I, his princess, wore leggings and put gel in my hair, and we danced to the sweet sounds of "True Blue" by Madonna on the radio -- a time when I truly believed that I, the girl who didn't get asked to the high school prom, might finally, at the ripe old age of 23, have a chance to live Happily Ever After. ]]> My Ex by l8leigh l8leigh SMITH <![CDATA[ Girls are notorious for dramatically hating their exes. And every girl has a similar reason, all of them stemming from one main reason:<br /> Boys suck.<br /> They lie. They cheat. They pressure you. They ignore you. Confuse you. Do things that make you so angry your hands shake-but then they make it impossible to stay mad. They are the lowest, most vile, sorriest creations on the face of the earth.<br /> So how on earth did I become one?<br /> Ok, so that's an exaggeration. I'm still a girl, with a vagina and everything. But when did my morals change to those of the worst player?<br /> <br /> These are the thoughts that were racing through my head as the bus rumbled through LA. At least, those were the thoughts I was forcing through my head. You know those things you make yourself think about, to distract you from what the part of you with a conscience knows you should be thinking about?<br /> I should be thinking about my wonderful boyfriend, back home, probably sleeping, and sleeping with a smile on his face because I would be home in just two days. He was perfect, and completely oblivious to what a slut I was being. How badly I was betraying his childlike trust as I laid back in another guy's arms, another guy who was already working hard to get his fingers inside my shorts. <br /> I had become a guy.<br /> I was a cheater. I had someone faithful and supportive and wonderful waiting for me at home, but that didn't matter to me at all as I eagerly explored new boundaries, not caring at all about the mess and hurt this would create.<br /> <br /> That was a few weeks ago. My prince charming and I are over now. He was a gentlemen, but I know what he thinks of me. The few experiences I've had in my teenage life have taught me to recognize what people really think about you. You can almost always see it in their eyes. <br /> The boy from the bus is nothing to me. Just a bit of fun I wanted to have 3000 miles from home. <br /> It's an interesting thing to become worse than your worst ex. It's as if one day I woke up in a closet, and found I was the monster haunting another innocent's dreams. <br /> There really isn't much else to say about our story. You were a gentlemen; I was a whore; he was convenient. And to my very favorite ex, I have just one thing to say:<br /> I'm so sorry. ]]> My Ex by SGSD. SGSD. SMITH <![CDATA[ "I'm so over it" became my mantra while I collected many fabulous reasons why I shouldn't love you. Why I don't even care. Why our love was never true. Then yesterday I'm walking to my new job in my new clothes, new hair, new punctuality, and I see you turn around. It wasn't you, because you're 3,289 miles away in Coral Gables, Florida probably thinking about how much I suck. This dude doesn't even look like you, so it must have been a trick of the sun, the light off his face, that expression of surprise and delight. We started slow, we took walks, you gave me an album, I made you a cake. The nail in the coffin was you washing my dishes on that summer night. My knees actually went weak and I sat in the other room, petrified. There were fireworks on the 4th, a sunset on the beach, skinnydipping in the hot tub and still nothing. Inexplicable. Your friend pulled me aside, "You have to make the first move." Terrifying. Late, stuttering, shivering I Like Yous. Then the best two weeks ever in human history. Six months flew by. Midnights at the radio station, dinner parties at our friends' houses, photoshopped pictures of our prehistoric safari, meeting family, exes, professors. My life edged in on us. My writing, my radio show, my fabulous cooking, my section of the newspaper, my volunteer hours, my jobs, my friends, my house, my totally overwhelming brilliance. You faded. Did you know I was always proud of you? That I loved it when you were around? We made lots of plans, then destroyed all of them. We cried on each other, and then separately. You were gone. I didn't know what to do. So I said goodbye. And then that wretched night one week later when we hung out like adults all civilized and understanding. You were so happy. Happier than I'd seen you in months, maybe even a year. But that was when we met. And then I realized it was me. You were so good for me, and I so bad for you. I'm sorry. But none of that means anything when I have to walk to my job in the morning, past you and us. I'm too proud to admit I'm not over it. Maybe that's why I'm pouring my feelings into an empty box on a website two years later and praying you'll read this. So over it. ]]> My Ex by Misscohan Misscohan SMITH <![CDATA[ It took me twenty-two years to find a woman who I wanted to share my bed with. Maybe thats a lie. Maybe she was the first person to invite me in. Regardless, I spent two of the most substantial years of my life with my hand in hers. I also spent those two years believing that the anniversary cards would only stop when they rested six feet below the engraving. I was comfortable with that understanding, with the only constraints in growing old, being our growing physical distance. We spent seventeen of our twenty-five months on the telephone lines that connect the world. If we had met in the centuries prior, we would have had a similar ending only years in advance. It spoke to me about the honest power love has to overcome reality. I put everything my uneducated heart had into trying to make that girl smile every second she was awake. Looking back now, I see more times spent in anger and disagreement then embraced with the opportunity our youth provided. I took for granted the conversations about how often our tenses would change. I believed, in full ignorance, that our promises were stronger than my mistakes. I refused to believe that the most beautiful girl I had ever met actually wanted to spend her time wrapped up in my arms. Even after years of never missing an opportunity to spend her nights caught up in my conversation, I was paranoid that I would never be good enough. It took my patience by the wrist and put it on the train back home. I fully believe that if I were to have had any other relationship, my fatal flaws would have been figured out years in advance. I miss the elegant curve of her hips and the way her soft lips felt upon my neck. I have not found a way to replace those sensations, I'm not sure if I want to. Sometimes I wish that I could be sitting here in some different skin. On the loneliest of nights, I long to be the kind of person that has the resources and ambition to open up my life to a stranger, simply to fill the void. My heart won't allow for that kind of sin. Instead, I find myself curled up to the loneliness that often leaves me in tears and miles short of the confidence needed to move past this cave. It has been eight or nine months since our third to last phone call, the one that left me shaking with the tears that shattered my heart in a high school auditorium. It feels like it never happened while also feeling like it was just this afternoon. There are days where I forget it ever happened. On those days, it's comfortable to be me. Then there are the minutes, sometimes hours, where I can not figure out how to stop living in the memories we once made our everyday. They engulf my every sensation and make my hands shake with nervous disbelief. I can feel each and every step it took to get from our bedroom to her car on the rainiest of summer mornings to give her a kiss good-bye. I can still smell the most unimaginably awful odor her dog brought into the house after it rolled around with a carrion by the road. The worst is when I can never seem to forget the words she spoke before she hung up the phone. Every memory brings with it a placard with her words, "I can see us getting back together someday." If I could figure out how to cover up those eight words, or even disconnect them as a whole, then maybe I will have a shot at moving on. I reside my advice in friends who have lost their love, only to find it stronger after time apart. In my situation, that is unrealistic. I should listen to those who lost their world, never heard from it again and found a more envious scenery on the other side of the plane. I can no longer describe my feelings towards her, however, I am aware that they exist in some form that my body refuses to reject. I try to sit back, give her the space she demanded and let her live her happier life with her new love. I know she will gaze into his eyes forever, or maybe somebody even better than my first replacement. I want her to have that, I want her to be happy and in love for the rest of her life, because she deserves it. That sounds like a Hollywood cliche from the stereotypical nice guy with a broken heart. So be it, if I love her this much, I must prove it by letting her go. That picture she gave me on my twenty-fourth birthday will always hang on my bedroom wall. The notebook she bought for my twenty-third will always be filled with the words I wrote her, collecting dust in the bottom of her closet. As hard as it is to accept and understand, I realize she did me the most amazing thing possible for me, because she truly loved me. She got closer than anyone has ever dared to step, and she saw the reality of the unhappiness that I had buried beneath layers of avoidance and misinterpretations. She tried for years to pull the truth out of the shadows so that I could figure myself out, but I got lazy within the concept of the future. She had no choice; the only way I would ever be able to find and defeat the demons in my bones, was to get to a place so lonely and desperate that only I could be my savior. My whole world would have collapsed around me at some point if I kept living my life for her, all the whilst, thinking everything was okay. I wasn't even close to okay, and my biggest flaw was the way that I love. It made it easy to ignore the problems I kept buried deep into my pockets. They were always there within reach, but without the ability to see into the darkness, they were just a part of my negative space. I needed to hit rock bottom, and I needed to do it alone. I was a sinking her ship, and I was doing everything possible to pull her down with me, and to me, our reality was just a dream. I don't know how some of these days turn from tomorrow into yesterday, but I fully believe that this will end up being the most important year of my life. I had my breath taken right from my lungs by the hands that made me a man, and I survived to be me. I don't think I will ever see her again. She will never call me her baby, because she won't call again. After enough patience and time, the distance will lay out its cards in a way that brings me to ease with the situation. I have a feeling I will fade away and become forgotten until she walks back into her childhood bedroom and my letters fall from the highest shelf onto the floor our cat always peed on. It's hard to understand why you have to lose so much in order to grow up, it's hard to be forgotten. I was once her best friend, but to this day she is still mine. I know that will eventually fade to the past tense, and I am excited for the opportunities I have before me. The walls are covered with the blood the crept from the cracked skin on my hands as I frantically tried to claw my way out of this. I want to learn to relax, to keep her in my heart but out of my head, while learning to finally be happy. I have to trust in very being, that I will some day be the kind of man that an inspiring young woman wants to share her life with. I owe it to her, part of me still wants it to be her. I don't know how big that part is, it seems childishly romantic. It's as if I'm watching a movie on mute so that I can make the script myself. If I trust in time, and I remember to breath, I think I'll be okay. ]]> My Ex by Chrisjayhill Chrisjayhill SMITH <![CDATA[ He was my poison. I knew it, but I found it easier to be in the relationship if neither of us spoke of the obvious. Not out loud, and definitely not to each other. It got to a point where we even had a fighting routine. On Monday He did something stupid. I got angry. We exchanged nasty remarks. He would not speak to me for 24hrs. He would buy me something nice. I accepted. He apologized. I melted. By Sunday we were good again. But sure enough, Monday would be back, and the process would start all over again. My friends told me it wasn't healthy, and I’m sure his friends said the same things, but I could not bring myself to leave. My head was screaming at me: "leave! Get out and never look back!" but my heart was stuck on love. He was my First love. And until now, I thought that was what love was supposed to look and feel like. At times it would hurt, and at times it wouldn't. <br /> <br /> It took three years for what I had convinced myself was a "loving" relationship to result in me and my first EX. One night, our anniversary to be exact, we were to meet at the restaurant where we had our first date to celebrate three years of a relationship, tumultuous as it was. I arrived early, went there straight after work, took a seat at our reserved table and ordered a glass of red wine to pass time as I awaited his arrival. 4 glasses later, my waiter came to me and asked me if I would like to move to the bar, it has been a couple of hours and they have to seat more guests. I looked at him as he spoke and never answered. Even if I wanted to, I could not say a word. It felt like everything came up to my throat and then got stuck there. Perhaps he saw it on my face, or felt sorry for me, or saw a tear run down my cheek, but after a few minutes of silence, my waiter simply touched my shoulder and said, "I'll give you some more time". Soon after he walked away, I picked up my clutch, left money on the table, and exited the restaurant. I think, at that moment, my brain finally got through to my heart. Or maybe, my heart was to broken to fight the facts. But, I finally repeated the dreadful words out loud and into his voice mail; "this is no longer healthy for you or me. I can't do this anymore. We’re done."<br /> <br /> I wish the breakup was simple, quick and easy, but it wasn't. After a nasty argument and senseless excuses, he cried and I cried and we swore to never speak to each other. The pain was unbearable. There were days I though I would not make it. My lungs were not taking in enough oxygen and each breath was heavy and calculated. For weeks I walked around feeling this large butcher knife in my chest and it was no one's fault but my own that it rested there. I should have known better. I had all the signs and signals. I was blinded by something that was not even real. Alas, as time continued to progress, as it surely does, the knife got loose and eventually fell out. And I begun to sew together the two broken pieces left behind. Somehow I was able to live in a world that was now home to me and my first ex. ]]> My Ex by explora2 explora2 SMITH <![CDATA[ You were the love of my life. You were the reason I live and breathe. Without you, I was nothing. I made sure you knew that I was madly in love with you. Then, you traded me in for the army. <br /> <br /> That moment came in my life when I was certain that we were meant to be. You didn't have to come over and visit me, but you did. You came over and hugged me. You held me. You caressed and kissed me. I felt wanted. I, for once, thought that I was loved. <br /> <br /> We started the day off nice and simple. A good morning call and a reminder that you would be over later. I dawned a smile at the thought of you and I alone in a room. I quickly got dressed and "prepared" for your arrival.<br /> <br /> Once here, we took to the family room and shared a movie. Everyone knows that I'm afraid of horror movies, but it was the perfect opportunity to nestle in your arms. You held me so close and even covered my eyes during the scary parts. You knew me so well. I could barely even watch the movie because I was taken by your scent and just the presence of you.<br /> <br /> I wanted to kiss you passionately as I lie in your arms. The fire burned within me. I longed for your touch. I wanted you to finally make me yours. This moment, proved that I deserved to be in your world. You still thought otherwise.<br /> <br /> After the movie, we decided to take a stroll around the neighborhood. I bet the old couples envied our relationship and were thinking, "Aww, look at the two lovebirds!" It felt so nice to have your hand in mine. The kisses we snuck in between sentences were splendid. The many stares that we got as we passed through just proved that we were the greatest power couple never to be together. It was a bittersweet harmonic symphony. <br /> <br /> I loved to bask in the moment of us and our happiness. You just had to ruin it. After about 6 six hours of spending time glaring into each other's eyes, you warned me that you had to leave. What I didn't know was that you meant forever. You were leaving for the army in a few days and this was our last meeting. You failed to tell me ahead of time because you thought that I would be sad, which was true. <br /> <br /> "I'm leaving, but I'll come through to see you before I go off." You came out of the blue with the statement. "Where are you going?" I asked. In the instance that you replied, "The army," I felt the tears begin to flow. I could only hold my head down in fear; fear of what our future would hold, and anger; anger from the thought of you holding in this secret, and sadness; sadness could not even explain the unbearable feeling inside of me. <br /> <br /> Six whole hours together (Yes, I counted.) just so that you could say you were leaving me. I dared not to lift my head as these feelings passed through. They hurt my soul. They went right to the core of my heart and killed it. <br /> <br /> "What's wrong?", you asked. It was obvious that I cared and you didn't even notice. "Talk to me." "No, don't cry." "Stop crying, please." "Look at me." You continually nagged me to stop crying. "I hate to see you sad." <br /> <br /> "Then, why are you leaving me?!?" I shouted through my tears.<br /> <br /> "I have to do what I have to do." you replied. That was the worst excuse ever. You kept begging and pleading me to stop but it didn't help the cause one bit. "C'mon, look at me," I decided to abide and sneak a peak at you through my tear-filled eyes. You kissed my forhead, my cheeks, each side of my mouth, my ears, my hands, and then my lips and softly spoke, "I am forever yours." <br /> <br /> I wept more and more. I couldn't bare the thought of losing you to any war. I loved my country, but I loved you more. I was in love with you. You were my life. You were my heart and my soul. All that I did was for you and the sake of us. <br /> <br /> Thrice have I professed my loved for you. Each time did I ask you to change your mind and stay. I wanted you by my side each waking day. I needed you in my life. I asked that I hear your sweet voice on the other line of my phone as I fall asleep each night and then again when I wake in the morning. You solemnly swore to forever be mine. Then, you traded me in for the army. ]]> My Ex by PeaceLoveNPoetry PeaceLoveNPoetry SMITH <![CDATA[ A single phone call that changed my life and Hollywood couldn't have written it any better. I was listening to the voice of my Ex husband as he asked if I would be willing to meet him for dinner. He had been thinking of me and felt as though he needed to talk to me. In his dreams I was looking for him. Sixteen years of searching for someone or something to put back the pieces of my shattered heart after divorce lead me to realize we all must take hold of our destiney, tightly enough to steer it in the right direction but loosely enough to accept what the Universe has in store. It was a long bumpy road that brought me to a place where I felt secure in my own skin and comfortable with all my imperfections. The time it took to get there was longer than I had hoped but satisfying nonetheless. I often thought how I wished he could see me now, strong, confident and happy. Just the way I had always wanted to be when with him. Many relationships had come and gone since then. It was the one piece of my puzzle still missing. Invisible ties to my past kept me from finding that elusive piece. "The Alchemist " was not wasted on me and on this day, my past revisited as if being summoned by my Universe. I agreed to meet my ex for dinner and it was the most beautiful four hours of my life. No amount of therapy could have brought me to where I was at that moment. Forgiveness asked for was granted and the tears that streamed down my face were many years over due. Across from me sat the love of my life and to me he was still my husband. Welcome home. ]]> My Ex by kswizzle kswizzle SMITH <![CDATA[ There it is, that phrase, the phrase that many of us dispute, untill one day the very thing we dispute smacks us right between the eyes and then gushes into our hearts. Love at first sight. Well I was young. . I still am young but one thing is for sure. . When love hits you. . .you sure as hell know about it!! <br /> So we met on a horrible dark rainy day in a coffee shop, I was just a giggling teenager completely unaware that my life was going to drastically change within the space of a week. He was shy and I had a boyfriend, his best friend of course, so for some reason for the whole day we managed to avoid eye contact, untill he went to leave and I handed him his jacket. In unison we looked up and our eyes met, now I'm sure to this day, just as he did back then. He would probably deny that it was love at first sight. He can deny all he wants and we'd both know deep down it was untrue. <br /> <br /> That night I dumped my boyfriend and contacted. . . lets call him Jude. Within a few hours of talking he invited me to his house. Then within a week of that we were a couple. Absolutely inseperable!!! It was by far the best two years of my life. <br /> <br /> Unfortunately one day my biological mother contacted me, a woman who had abandoned me, cheated on my father, kept my older brother and vanished from my life at the age of three. Little did I know it at the time, but this shook my whole world!! She turned out to be everything that I never wanted to become, I quickly realised that I deserved better and infact I already had it in the family that raised me.<br /> <br /> This feeling of deserving better quickly deluded every aspect of my life, though I did not realise it I became restless and took it out on all the wrong things my college work, my friends, my boyfriend. .. I began to question everything, "is he right for me?", "Do I love him?", "Can I do better?", "Does he love me?". <br /> <br /> Due to the rocky patch I had been going through we were starting to have more fights, which gradually got louder, angrier and longer. One day I convinced myself that the only way to find out what to do would be to see if I could have feelings for another man. So I gave it a go, I started talking to another really great guy and flirting with him. After a few drinks he managed to charm a kiss out of me. That was the end of that. Though I had no feelings for this other man, whatsoever, it was the end of me and Jude too. I left my phone out so he could easily read the messages, knowing that it was him infact that deserved something better. . much much better. Of course the relationship ended.<br /> <br /> I did many things to try and forget, none of my methods worked, Ieven sent him an "I miss you" message, then scorned myself for not staying out of his life. To ths day I have managed to keep myself out of his path and let him thrive in life. Whereas I have become an emotional wreck, I am plagued day in and day out. When I close my eyes at night I see him whenIi am out walking he is running up from behing and embracing me, when I watch tv his arm is around me. Most of all in my times of despair I am alone. . .No matter the countless times I have tried to move on I have learned to accept that. . For all my sins. . . I am suffering. My air grows thinner and thinner and my entire self deprived of light. Well. . he left, and I have been drowning on dry land ever since. ]]> My Ex by behindthelense behindthelense SMITH <![CDATA[ He was my best friend. It was weird. We barely saw each other, yet I told him more than people who I see every day and trust with my life. Then it happened. He did the unthinkable. Not even a week into our relationship, he committed a crime that tore us apart. It wasn't violent, no, but the emotional scars from it will never go away. I tried to understand. I tried to believe he did it because of the addiction. A year past and we didn't speak, and not a day went by that I didn't wonder why. Finally, he admitted to me that he regretted what he did, and that he was the one who in fact did it. I knew he did it, he just never admitted it to me. I started to speak with him again, thinking he was a changed man. I was wrong. Six months went by after his second big lie, and I finally got him on the phone. He wouldn't admit he lied, he acted like I was the wrong who did wrong, speaking crazy. I yelled at him. I finally yelled at him. I let all my emotions out. It's over forever. ]]> My Ex by Momofsho Momofsho SMITH <![CDATA[ He said he could read fortunes in coffee grinds . He is my cheating lying ex boyfriend but at the time I didn't know that. It must have been funny to "read" my fortune in the coffee grinds and not tell me that he was sleeping with the fifteen year old neighbor. ]]> My Ex by Ruby777 Ruby777 SMITH <![CDATA[ I had three boyfriends in Orthodox Jewish preschool. Jonathan Berry was my favorite because he had a red convertible car bed. Call me superficial, but I learned early on (from my mother) that a car indicates what's in a man's bank account. The added benefit of being with a Berry was that his mother packed the best Purim baskets, filled with quality Kosher cookies and Israeli chocolate. Plus, I got to ride his huge swing set weekly (this is a literal statement). One day, while hanging out at the Berry household, I remember seeing a Hebrew sign on his bedroom door that illustrated his morning, afternoon, and nighttime rituals and for some reason, brushing teeth was illustrated before eating breakfast. That immediately bothered me. "What about having fresh breath?" I thought. We never actually kissed, so I never got to test out this theory, but I'm sure if we had done so, his morning breath would have been less than favorable. Being an Italian Jew with no hope of ever becoming Orthodox or learning Hebrew, I later learned I was incorrectly reading the Hebrew sign from left to right. My illiteracy clearly indicated that our relationship was going nowhere fast, despite the fact that we had played husband and wife in numerous Shabbat ceremonies. It's just too bad I didn't try harder with Berry. He was an excellent tap dancer. <br /> <br /> Unlike Berry, Elliot Siegel was less than graceful. He was my least favorite boyfriend in Orthodox Jewish preschool. I just didn't see potential in the guy. He had no talent other than an ability to scream loudly. To be honest, he was the boyfriend I had around just to increase my numbers. I was not interested in his actual personality. I'm sure he had ADHD, because he pulled my curls often (DURING PRAYERS). The only upside to being with him was that he had one of the largest trampolines I've ever seen, and I have yet to see a larger one in my adult life. Siegel did not invite me to his house often, so I never got to know his parents intimately. It was a shame, because if he had been a little more polite, we would have been together for more than two weeks.<br /> <br /> Unlike Siegel, Jonathan Braun was an average guy and sometimes, settling for the average guy is really all you need in life. The Braun family owned a company that manufactured shavers, but I knew Jonathan was destined to be a dentist. He was kind, quiet, and enjoyed mathematics. We read a lot together during story time. We even went to day camp together. And then, one day, he really ruined our magic. During lunch, as we sat in the grassy field, under the bright bright sun, he had found a piece of dog poop in the field at camp and proceeded to pick it up with a stick, then run around, waving it in everyone's faces, including mine. I let go of my peanut butter and jelly sandwich (an unfortunate waste), and immediately screamed that we were OVER. No man of mine would fling poop in my face!<br /> <br /> When preschool ended, I was relieved that I could move on to more sophisticated men. Older guys seemed to be what I needed. The more educated they were, the better. I fell in love with kindergarten classmate David Manheim and instead of cultural differences, rudeness, or poop to get between us, it was I who ruined the relationship. During class, while Mrs. Knowles was teaching us basic grammar, I took a flirtatious peek at David and immediately started to pee. I was forever considered the pee-girl after that. Fortunately I can control myself now that I am older (who knows what will happen when I turn eighty), but at the time, it was devastating and I had a hard time finding boyfriends after that. <br /> <br /> Fast forward to my 20s and I've found a wonderful guy after numerous mistakes and terrible choices. We have three cats: Hunter, Max, and Princess Bunny Buttons and a dog named Maude. But enough about that. He's not an ex and I don't see him ever becoming one. ]]> My Ex by Alessandra_Rizzotti Alessandra_Rizzotti SMITH <![CDATA[ I was cleaning out my car and I found a tool box I forgot I had.  I never liked this tool box.  The box itself had an awkward clamshell design.  The tools were stored in the top and bottom lids of the box and most of the tools would just fall out when I opened it.  I decided I didn’t want it and I threw it out.<br /> One more thing about this tool box.  It was a gift from my ex-boyfriend. This made the decision to discard it even easier. <br /> <br /> This was not the only tool box he gave me.  He gave me three.  Yes, three tool boxes on three separate occasions.  I guess nothing says “I love you” like a plastic box full of tools from Sears.<br /> The second one of these is not really a box.  It’s more like a portfolio that opens up to reveal a screwdriver, knife, tire gauge, pliers and a wrench.  It also has a tool with multiple heads that I had no idea what it was until just now.  I took a guess that it was a socket wrench, Googled that and sure enough, that’s what it was.  If I didn’t know what it was until now, I know I have never used it and chances are I never will.<br /> <br /> The third one is a small black plastic box with pliers, a screwdriver, a wrench, and assorted tools and hardware left over from assembling futons and furniture from Ikea.  At least I’ve used the tiny tools that came with the furniture from Ikea.  <br /> <br /> So why did this person, someone I was involved with for such a long time, give me tools?  I can assure you I never asked for tools or indicated any interest in tools.  Using my astute 20/20 hindsight, I think now it was a sign that he just didn’t care.  At the time I thought it was funny or quirky or something.  Hm, yeah, not really.  I think he was detached and I didn’t want to admit it.  I can also look back on the birthday card he gave me at my 50th birthday party.  He didn’t sign it.  How thoughtful.<br /> <br /> When I did ask for something, he usually didn’t get it quite right.  I love dark chocolate and I told him so several times.  During the last few years I would say, I like my chocolate dark, like I like my Presidents.  YES I KNOW THAT IS TERRIBLY INSENSITIVE AND INAPPROPRIATE BUT AT LEAST I THOUGHT IT WOULD HELP HIM REMEMBER!  What would I get?  An assortment of dark and milk chocolate.  I think I finally got all dark chocolate for my 53rd birthday, about a week or two before we broke up.<br /> <br /> I’m not sure how to end this.  I could say, what did I expect from dating such a tool?  Groan.  Or, now I know better and I have the tools to deal with relationships.  Yuck.  What I can say is, I’ve moved on and I am sure that I won’t be getting any more tool boxes as gifts in the future.  That’s better. ]]> My Ex by JHaus52 JHaus52 SMITH <![CDATA[ It all started out so normal; I was a shy girl who met an outgoing boy. Eventually, we married. Over the next ten years, our roles as husband and wife morphed into brother and sister. Inevitably, we divorced.<br /> Then my ex-husband met another outgoing boy. They moved in together. Soon they became neighbors with me and my mom (who was battling stage IV lung cancer).<br /> Eventually, I also met a boy, who thankfully prefers girls.<br /> A few months ago, I, my mom, and my new boy celebrated along with my ex-husband and his boy as they became husband and husband.<br /> A few weeks ago, my ex-husband, his husband and my boyfriend were there with me as I buried my mother.<br /> This is my life. There’s no playbook to tell me how to handle it, but I think I have a pretty good handle on it so far. ]]> My Ex by flikchik flikchik SMITH <![CDATA[ I never really went to college. My body attended classes, I graduated, but my spirit was with Matt. Matt was twenty-one and I was sixteen when we met. At eighteen, when I was supposed to go away to college, I could not handle the thought of being ripped from my father figure and thrust into the scary world of other people and opportunities. I was determined to stay with the Siamese twin who owned me.<br /> <br /> Matt was a short man, owned guns, hated people of color (even though I am one), hated people in general, shot animals for fun, but he professed that he loved me. <br /> <br /> When it was time for me to depart for college, I chose a school as close to home as possible. I wanted to move in with Matt, but since I was still financially dependent on my parents, I was ‘forced’ to live in the dorms.<br /> <br /> Matt informed me that every person I’d meet in college would be an untrustworthy idiot. I believed him. He had told me my mother was a prima donna, my father was an asshole, and my sister was a twat. I believed him. <br /> <br /> A few hours after I moved into the dorms (thirty miles away from Matt), he drove down to pick me up. We sat in his truck drinking beers. I was petrified of the threat of my new experience, as was he. As we blasted Judas Priest on the car stereo, I howled as if I were a fetus being ripped from her mother’s womb. I sobbed uncontrollably for at least two hours, determined to stay attached to this man and his way of life. Matt victoriously comforted me, telling me no one would ever come between us; he’d make sure of it.<br /> <br /> I made no friends in college; they threatened any potential time from my Matt. I did not participate in any activities either; every moment out of the classroom was spent off-campus with Matt, drinking beer in his truck, listening to Slayer, Judas, and King Crimson, and talking about how much we hated everyone in the world.<br /> <br /> To be owned by someone may seem oppressive, but as an insecure child, it felt comforting. I didn’t have to be me, which felt even more daunting than being figuratively attached at the hip to someone else. <br /> <br /> I did, on a whim, attend one college party. Matt accompanied me, of course. It was in a rented-out basement with a garage band and many drunk co-eds writhing to the music. I danced with other women and men, while Matt watched, fuming. I was so drunk (as was he) by the end of the night, I don’t remember what we argued about driving back to his apartment. I do remember screaming, crying, and thrashing, as he pushed my face into his mattress. The following day, I had four purple finger marks on the side of my face. <br /> <br /> Since I had no friends in college, no one asked me about those bruises.<br /> <br /> I actually suffered more emotional than physical oppression, and I stayed with Matt eight years in total. I had minimal contact with my family and no friends from the ages of sixteen to twenty-four. <br /> <br /> I would love to say there is some lesson to be learned in all of this. That I am an idiot? That teenagers are naïve? That from the beginning, my parents should have had him arrested for statutory rape? That insecure girls are a target for Napolean-esque angry cavemen? Perhaps. <br /> <br /> I’ve spent the past fifteen years trying to forgive myself for giving eight years of my life to Dr. Evil. It hasn’t been easy. Whenever I read about of a hate crime or of a death from domestic violence, I scan the page for his name. <br /> <br /> About five years ago, I ran into Matt’s parents in an airport somewhere in the middle of the country. I had always liked his parents, and to this day cannot figure out how they spawned such a person. As I exchanged typical small talk with them, his mom spontaneously broke down crying. I never knew why; we were all late for our flights and had to separate. <br /> <br /> Maybe that is as much of an “I’m sorry” I’ll ever get. I'm sure his poor parents (he had punched his father in the stomach before he ran away from home a year before I met him) had an idea of what I'd been through. Perhaps he has changed. Perhaps he now listens to Bob Dylan and Cat Stevens. Maybe he even donates to the ASPCA or a Women’s Domestic Violence Shelter, to make up for his earlier years. But I cannot, for the life of me, hear Judas Priest blaring on someone else’s stereo without wanting to hide my cats, dogs, family, and run for shelter myself. My apologies, Judas. ]]> My Ex by Kelster69 Kelster69 SMITH <![CDATA[ We arrived at the house upstate, just as her friend and his three house guests were about to sit down to dinner, just as the night took over and the surrounding woods came alive with sound. <br /> <br /> My head ached the dull constant ache that to me was the pounding incessant emptiness of New York City as we all sat around the table on the back porch at the bottom of a wide stretch of grass, a lone candle flickering in the midst of the food and a bottle of wine. The conversation weaved its way around the unfamiliar faces as someone mentioned the Chelsea Hotel. "Oh, we were just talking about this last night," she said perking up, glancing quickly at me and then at the others. "I've slept with three people at the Chelsea Hotel," she said beaming, as though proud of herself, and I shifted uncomfortably in my chair as something withered inside of me. "Four," I injected as my ears rang and the others stared blankly ahead or looked meekly toward me. "Depending on what you consider sex," her friend said to no one in particular as she smiled into the prolonged silence that followed.<br /> <br /> A couple of hours later I found her in the upstairs bathroom taking a bath. The house was silent except for the distant sound of crickets and someone working in the wood shop out back. It was late. I was tired. I could feel the long shadowy tentacles of New York City reluctantly letting go of their psychic grasp on me. I sat on the toilet reading Bukowski, decompressing, trying to let go of what she'd said earlier, trying to see it clearly, trying to see why it bothered me so much. I looked out the window at the night then back to her. Her opal blue eyes searched my face as she sat up in the tub, her head protruding from above the bubbles of the deep white tub. "You alright?" she asked me. "Yeah," I said, lying. "Do you want to clean off?" she asked. I nodded and put my book down on the wooden windowsill as I stood up. I slowly took off my clothes as she stepped out of the tub and picked up a folded towel that lay on the tiled floor. I watched the gentle cushioned curve of her ass as she dried herself off and I climbed into the deep warm water of the tub. I leaned back, fading into the relaxation, my mind searching for peace and calm as I watched her in my periphery as she brushed her teeth with her finger in front of the mirror, wrapped in the clean white towel. And I pictured a scene not so unlike this one with another man in the Chelsea Hotel. She had mentioned sleeping with someone at the Chelsea a couple of times before over the course of our relationship, each time seemingly pleased with herself. But it had caught me off guard the night before as we walked home together after dinner out, as it was in relation to someone who I'd never heard her mention before. I'd stopped briefly, bracing myself on the stained sidewalk in the dark asking her how many men she'd slept with at the Chelsea. Three, maybe four? One of the stories had changed. "I shouldn't be telling you this. Right?" she said, almost caustically, searching my eyes, as though if I had a problem with it, it was simply my problem. "No, it's fine," I said calmly, asking her to recount the encounters as we walked home in the gloom of the buildings, and then as we lay in bed together before drifting off to sleep, realizing that I was a masochist at heart. There was a cheapness and trashiness to it all that slightly turned me on and reminded me of the first time that we'd slept together, drunkenly, in a tarp next to a dumpster in the woods on the last night of the job that we'd met on in Texas. Now, nearly two years later, sober, after the way that she'd just so cavalierly flaunted her tacky sexual exploits in front of me - as though throwing it at me for having had the slightest reaction to it the night before - to a group of people who I didn't know, and a few who she didn't, I realized that I'd lied to myself about what I wanted in a woman. I realized that I was attracted to one thing and wanted another, and that those two disparate things were generally not found in the same person. I wanted stability. I wanted trust. But our differing values about what was okay and what was not continually left me feeling off balance and unable to emotionally have faith in her as a partner, in us as a couple. What she had said had simply left me feeling violated, feeling that what we had together was cheap and easy, nothing more. What she had said had left me feeling like she had no respect for me, or us. <br /> <br /> I toweled off and walked into the room across the hall where she lay reading in bed, the hardwood floor creaking as I did. I slid slowly across the sheets, lay down next to her and tried to read, the fan in the corner blowing warm stale air over us. "Are you okay?" she asked me, turning from her book. I stared up at the geometric designs that had been painted on the walls and ceiling trying to decide what to say, if anything at all. I didn't want to argue anymore. I was tired of voicing my problems then continually having to defend my positions. But I couldn't hold my tongue and the way that I felt. And I realized as the heat suffocated the room that this was the draining story of our relationship: she would say or do something provocative or inflammatory, completely oblivious to its effect, which I would find upsetting and would then need clarification or understanding or an apology, which would only annoy and upset her, making her feel accused and judged, causing her to become defensive and attacking, making me feel disregarded and angry, causing us to fight, sucking the life out of us both and the relationship in the process. This was our downward spiral.<br /> <br /> I stared up at the red of the room that was intersected by sharp white, black and yellow lines and I thought back to the first fight that we'd had in that Las Vegas hotel room a year and a half before where I'd foreseen this dynamic as being our doom, and I realized that I should have just ended it then, like I'd wanted to at the time. People don't change who they are, and we couldn't seem to change the way that we related to one another. And I realized that I'd had enough, that I was done with us, and that it was time for me to move on.<br /> <br /> Austin, Texas - 1 month later<br /> <br /> 'Can we talk?' the text said. I'd been anticipating it for days, almost weeks, now here it was. I called immediately as I got up from the couch, heading to my bedroom for privacy, more eager to talk to her than I'd expected, images spilling across my mind of where she'd been, what she'd been doing since I’d left her in Brooklyn. Anxiety flooded me as I shut the door to my darkened room. Crossing toward the bed I heard her voice. She sounded distant and scared. Detached momentarily from myself I heard my voice shaky and unsure, "How are you?... Where are you?" I asked. "I'm in San Fransisco," she said. "I hitchhiked here from Burning Man with some guy in a beat up old truck... How are you?" "It's been rough," I said, my voice cracking, pain and regret filling me. I wanted to hold her. I wanted to take it all back. I wanted to start over. I wanted things between us to be different than what they were – broken and wrong. "I'm sorry," she said with sympathy. "I miss you." "I miss you too.” There was a pause, then, “I feel like you can trust me,” she said. I leaned over the edge of the bed feeling sick. There was silence on the line, then I heard her crying. ]]> My Ex by DuncanDorsey DuncanDorsey SMITH <![CDATA[ I am in St Croix for the baobabs.<br /> I know so much about them I sometimes forget that I’ve never seen one in real life. I am dying to see one, to glimpse in person something I’ve been researching for so long. I’ve spent so many hours combing through articles about the tree. Articles about the medicinal uses of its leaves, about the nutritional powder made from crushing the seeds, and of course the insects. That is why I study it, for the insects. The cotton-stainer that breeds on the tree before decimating a whole country’s crops, or the bees who build nests in its hollows. In India and Africa the baobab dominates the landscape. It serves as an oasis in the dusty, dry plains.<br /> I once read about one in South Africa that had been hollowed out to make a bar— though it makes me sad to think of killing a tree just so that Afrikaners can get drunk in a novelty. <br /> I am in St. Croix for the baobabs, but I spend most of my time with the leatherbacks.<br /> We don’t have a car, and the baobabs are hard to get to. They are miles away, and Allan won’t help me. He is content to sit at the beachside hotel. Being selfish. It is what he does.<br /> I should not have met him here. I know it was a mistake, but I listened to bad advice and I get on a plane, and here I am. I don’t listen to the good advice.<br /> At the hotel we meet the kids from Earth Watch. One dedicated German and six spoiled Americans. The German is the paid employee, desperately trying to save the leatherbacks from extinction. The Americans are volunteers, who’ve signed up for the project because they want free room and board. They think they’ll get a lot of time on the islands to scuba dive. They seem silly and plastic and bored. I want to kill them. I’ve paid my way, fighting for grants and money to get here, and they are blowing it all off. <br /> Sea turtles come back to their native beach to nest. Sometimes the whole of a species nests in one small area. When that same beach suffers from over-development, it can decimate a population. When the mother turtles nest, the German finds the spots, and digs out all the eggs in a nest. He keeps them in coolers in a spare hotel room. Spongy, ping pong ball looking things, in a room crowded with dozens of cheap, white Styrofoam coolers. After they hatch he releases them on the shore, on a dark spot to ensure they won’t head toward the lights of civilization. The German asks if I’d like to help him that night. The other Americans are leaving at the end of the week and he tells them not to bother to come back. <br /> He comes around midnight. I follow him, wearing a headlamp, across a windy dune. The sea oats and grasses sway in the moonlight. We turn off our lights before hitting the shoreline. The mother turtles are enormous. Large shadows laboring down the beach toward the water. We find some nests. He points out a depressed spot, and tells me to shove my arm in.<br /> I kneel on the ground, pushing my arm through soft sand. The sand engulfs my wrist, then my elbow, then my upper arm. I dive in to the shoulder. I feel the soft pliant eggs with my fingertips. He says to bring them up, I grab one at a time and we count. <br /> Thirty. <br /> Forty. <br /> Seventy. <br /> We stop at seventy-two. We don’t want to leave any eggs behind. I push my hand around underground, searching. It seems empty. I hope it's empty. We walk down the beach and repeat the process. Again and again. Nest after nest. Egg after egg. I hold one whole night’s generation of a species. <br /> After clearing all the nests we need to release the hatchlings. We take the eggs and the data back to the hotel room. The German puts away his notations, and searches through the coolers for newly hatched turtles. You can do it blindfolded, because it’s not a sight it’s a sound. The sound of hundreds of tiny turtle feet on Styrofoam. <br /> We open a cooler. It’s like being in the presence of miniature dinosaurs: so solid, so functional, so evolved. A hard carapace and a streamlined body but still a newborn. An adorable newborn, with tiny features and wiggling, digging, swimming flippers in constant motion. To hold it is to grasp something both fragile and solid at the same time. I pick up one hatchling and its small arms press against my hand as it desperately seeks the sea. We carry three coolers back to the ocean.<br /> At the shore we gently place them on the sand, one turtle at a time. Without hesitation they move along the dark beach to the water. They spread out across the beach, leaving faint lines in the sand that are then washed away by the waves. <br /> I finish with the German. We place our headlamps on our heads and begin to walk back to the hotel. The wind builds up making it easy to stay silent. I say goodnight and ask if I can come back the next night. The German says yes. I look over at Allan’s room and see the lights are out. Maybe I won’t have to see him again. Maybe I can spend every night with the turtles, and sleep in the day. Then I won’t have to be present to watch our relationship end. I think I’d prefer it that way. ]]> My Ex by KOwens KOwens SMITH <![CDATA[ Call my ex-housemate Dawson. I’m short but he was shorter. And tinier, bonier, thinner, with an oversized head and eyes. He told me once that he had been born with a tumor pressing on some gland that allows you to grow. That made him small.<br /> <br /> He played the theremin like a weirdo and used to hang upside down on a contraption screwed into his door frame. He liked me more than I liked him. I think he would be surprised to know I didn’t really like him. I can fake it pretty well.<br /> <br /> One time before I left our house to be with my family -- he didn’t have a family that loved him, his mother had disowned him for being gay and his father, a heroin addict, had died in prison -- for Christmas, I was so annoyed with him that I said right into his face, spittingly, with intense hatred, “You are a very small person.” He looked like he was going to cry. He probably did after I left him alone in the house.<br /> <br /> He deserved it. He was scary-smart and could be charming if he needed to, but lacked real, believable human kindness. He would do things to me like this: I once went into the office we shared in our house, all full of good intentions, and start talking about a song I liked. I had a question about it, and I wanted to ask him for the answer because he was smart. After I hummed the tune and described it, he feigned ignorance of this well-known song, but finally said, “Oh, that! That’s not a song, that’s an INSTRUMENTAL.” I said, “What’s the difference?” He said songs must have words. I said, “You knew what I meant.” He said in his usual schoolmarm voice, “I would think that as an editor you would care about differences like that.” So don’t just rebuff my attempt at conversation, Dawson, call the validity of my professional self into question, too. That’s a great way to be friends.<br /> <br /> He had a soft-brushed, womanly Southern-accented voice. Like a woman from Tennessee had trained him to talk just like her. Which one obviously had, unwittingly. His mom. He fell in love with and then doted on unattainable straight boys in that old familiar storyline in which, when they failed to love him back and live happily ever after, he had a built-in excuse (they are straight) that spared his own ego. It was sickening to watch. And he knew it, so he would talk about it constantly to me.<br /> <br /> My beloved grandmother passed away the summer of the year I lived with Dawson. I inherited a lot of kitchen implements, dishes, etc., from her. One was a gray speckled bowl, which I found broken into several pieces one day. I said, “Dawson?” I was very upset. He said it was just a bowl, and he purported not to understand the big deal. I felt like he did it on purpose to get back at me for drinking some of his beer. I was so furious I was going to kill him. So our third housemate, Sweet Angel, took Dawson aside, outside my presence, and explained what any decent person would have known: that this was a sentimental object and breaking it was a terrible thing to do, even if it was an accident.<br /> <br /> Dawson understood, I guess, and he bought me a stainless-steel bowl to replace the heirloom he had broken. Get it? Stainless steel can’t be broken. So smart.<br /> <br /> After we moved out he got in to a very good law school, in his mid-30s. I was proud of him and told him so. But then he graduated, and the years went by and he couldn’t get a job. He seems to have tried and tried. I asked him several times on the phone what the problem was, and he said finally that he thought he was too “weird” for people. But, I thought, lawyers usually have unpalatable personalities. And the kind of law he wanted to practice was more backroom, not grandstand and glad-hand. I am left with the feeling that he must have shot himself in the foot repeatedly. How could you not parlay your blue-chip J.D. into ANYTHING? Not even an ambulance-chasing job? How could you get through this elite law school, pass the bar, and then fail to get hired? For years on end?<br /> <br /> Last May, a few weeks after he committed suicide, his friend and mine (through him) sent me a message saying Dawson had died. I wasn’t surprised, given his prolonged descent and the kind of person he was. So coldly logical, so devoid of love. I can just see him wrapping up his affairs like this was the only thing to do now.<br /> <br /> His death put me in that small club of people touched by suicide. People who are supposed to then always wonder if they could have done anything to help or save the person.<br /> <br /> I called my brother who, along with my parents, had met Dawson once and had told me they did not like him. I said, “Remember Dawson, my roommate...” He said yes. I was walking across a bridge, clasping my cell phone. “He, well, killed himself...” My brother interrupted me with the words “Oh, no,” but it was not a casual “Oh, no.” It was the most serious kind, spoken in a hushed and husky voice, which means, “No, take it back and let’s make believe you didn’t just say it.” I struggled to get through the conversation, my voice kept failing when I tried to say something. My brother was upset too and questioned me: Was I sure Dawson had committed suicide? I had to admit that the friend who had told me had only found the obituary by accident, and obituaries never say “suicide,” so in fact we didn’t know “for sure” even though it was abundantly obvious to us.<br /> <br /> From inside my ambivalent but real pain, I saw the life vest my brother had thrown me. I walked the rest of the way home and got right on the computer and worked the hell out of Google. The city where Dawson lived had a police database. I typed in the date, his address. Sure enough, there was a police report from that night, with the official description: “Suicide: Not in custody.” No name, but the apartment number and date and everything was the same.<br /> <br /> So much for brief fleeting hopes of natural causes. I sat there for a bit. So small, this death, I thought. That’s it: “Suicide: Not in custody.” The last words on a life. I never did find out how he did it, and I truly don’t want to know.<br /> <br /> Every cliché and stereotype you can imagine about suicide floated through my mind over the next few weeks. I cried just once. But pretty hard.<br /> <br /> At the time he died, none of the major life slots was filled: No love interest or partner, no job, no money. No prospects. Two-hundred thousand dollars of law school debt. The panic must have been unbearable right before he decided what to do. That makes me wince every time I think of it. I know what it feels like to be down, like that, right down on the floor. But I’m sitting here typing this. I didn’t say “Fuck you” to everyone I know in the world by offing myself.<br /> <br /> The social compact demands that you keep living as long as you can. Today would have been his 40th birthday.<br /> <br /> The last time I talked to Dawson on the phone he had told me he was out of food and not sure what to do. He had been asking me to come visit him for years, but I never wanted to. I joked that we should make a “non-suicide pact.” A bit of gallows humor. Because I was very down, too, at that time. He said yes. He agreed to the pact. And he broke it.<br /> <br /> But I still have that stainless-steel unbreakable bowl in my cupboard, the one he gave me to replace the one he broke, after someone told him that was the thing to do. The day he broke it I never imagined he’d be gone just like my grandma, in the space of a few years. I use the bowl now to beat eggs. I use Grandma’s wine glasses and pans. I’m still here, trying to be a better person. _Caption: That's "Dawson" reflected in the window, taking my Halloween portrait in 2003._. ]]> My Ex by SM_Shrake SM_Shrake SMITH