When my path crossed with The Italian’s…
I broke up with Italian in winter of 2007, and I have not really seen him since, apart from a couple of isolated sightings early on when he deliberately crossed paths with me. Since he married, I haven’t seen him at all.
In 2010, I moved back to the same government department where we first met, and he still works. I knew the chances of bumping into him were quite high, and I had a playlist of how I would react if I saw him.
I always thought I would see him in one of the lifts, and steeled myself for that possibility. I would look at him coolly for a good 10 seconds, I thought, and then just look away and not say anything. Or I would say hello as if I barely knew him, or I would just ignore him completely. The quandary would always be: how do you respond to someone who you can never totally forgive or forget for betraying you?
In February of 2011, I tested my playlist. And it was the lift scenario as I imagined. Sort of. After being out of the office all day, I had to come back to work to drop off the keys to the government car. It was close to 5pm. I got out of the lift on the ground floor as a colleague was getting in, and we had the following exchange:
“It’s Friday,” I said. “You’re going the wrong way!”
“What can I say?” he said. “I’m committed!”
“Ha!” I said. “You should be committed!”
The lift door closed and I walked to the exit of the building. And so did The Italian, who was in another lift and heard the entire exchange. He would have recognised my voice – my lovely lilting tones – way before he saw me.
I think we saw each other at the same time and he gave me a strange look with a half-smile that said “I’m very surprised to see you here, and I think I’m happy about it.” He actually looked like he wanted to hug me (or similar), so I don’t think he was at all prepared for the eventuality of meeting me in this capacity, which made me think he had no idea I was back.
Hello Mr Upper Hand.
So I fast forwarded through my playlist. In the end I chose to go with a cool look that said You Betrayed Me And You Are Dead To Me, and the rhetorical and non-committal “Hi. How are you?” delivered in a monotone, as I just kept walking out the building. He said hello, but had no choice except to do the same thing. And, as I say, I wended my weary way.
So how did I feel about this? Apart from the fact that I dreamed about him that night (he was an oddly tattooed Mario Brother – I’m glad my subconscious sees him as a caricature) I was quite “meh” about seeing him. Being indifferent is the best place to be.
* This piece was originally posted to my Tumblr. In an effort to consolidate in 2012, I have reblogged it here with some minor edits.