Dear Neighbor Lady,
My ex-boyfriend just moved into an apartment three doors down from my apartment. I saw him moving in at the end of August, but as far as I know he hasn't seen me yet, and I don't think he realizes he moved in next to me. Of all the apartments in Somerville, why did the apartment gods have to move him onto my block?
We dated for almost three years, but we haven't been in touch—other than occasionally on Facebook—for over two years. I think we've both "moved on," but it was kind of an emotionally messy breakup.
What should I do? I'll run into him one day, and I'm sure it will be awkward. Should I proactively say hi? Should I ignore him and try to avoid him? Should I move to Jamaica Plain?
Putting the ex in nEXt door
Dear Ex Next Door,
Back in the (dark) days, I dated a juggler, who broke my heart. Silly me, it took me years to recover. Poor juggler—it was really not his fault. Breakups happen, you know, but I took the dramatic route. I wrote lots of bad poetry and told everyone who had ears about my deep and sorrowful suffering. His ears must have been ringing around the clock. That was over 20 years ago now.
And yet! Just this past year, I was walking deep in the guts of Boston when who should come up to me but the juggler. He addressed me by my maiden name; we shook hands and said a quick but polite “how-do/toodle-loo” to each other and then he split like a banana.
I said to Mr. Neighbor Gentleman, who witnessed the awkward, stressful, albeit seconds-long, interaction, “That was the juggler.”
He said, “I had a feeling it was.” Then he held my hand just a little bit tighter.
All this to say, sometimes even tons of time does not heal the entire wound. Sometimes old stuff lingers, you know, but you don’t always have to take the dramatic route.
If you run into aforementioned person of your past, you can just say, “how-do/toodle-loo” and then toddle along your way. You do not have to pay homage to the relationship that had been once upon a time and dump any more emotion down the drain—at least not in front of him.
When you get home, you can pound your fist into the pillow or rip the phone book to shreds, if you must, or you can just work on writing your novel and then fuhgeddaboudit.
And who knows how likely it will be that you will have these dread encounters, anyway? Certainly they will not be so often as to cause you to defect to Jamaica Plain.
I mean, I am heartily married to and live in the same house as aforementioned MNG, for crying out loud, but sometimes in the thick of the school year with work and violin lessons and YMCA visits and Zumba and all that is scheduled in our lives, MNG and I can barely manage to wave a how-do/toodle-loo to the other as s/he peels out of the driveway.
I have even said to him, “Hey, Handsome, I like the new goatee!” And he has responded, “This is weeeeeks old.” Now that is awkward.
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