I didn’t know what to expect when I came back after two years, but I was excited, thrilled, nervous at the prospect of seeing my friends after so long. There was a small get-together party on the Saturday after my arrival, Nina said, and I should definitely go. I agreed.
Waiting for me there in that party was a surprise. A big one, in fact. Henry is getting married. With a baby on the way.
I was speechless when the news got around to me. Nina was eyeing me nervously, as if expecting me to cry any minute. But I couldn’t cry. I was more shocked than upset. Why would I be upset, anyway? It’s not as if I had any right to be. Two years ago, probably, I would have gone straight to Henry and screamed at him for hurting me, for betraying me…but this time, I had no right to be angry.
I left because I wanted to. Henry asked me to stay, Henry begged me to. Still I went. I went with the promise that I wouldn’t hold him back, that I was breaking things off with him so he could start a new life with someone who wouldn’t leave him for her wants and dreams, unlike me. I broke it off knowing full well that when I’d be back someone would probably have taken my place beside him.
Indeed there is someone. Her name’s Georgina. Caucasian and slim. Her brown hair goes right below her shoulder. She wore a black dress to the party. She was very pretty. She looked so well with Henry that I couldn’t help but stare at the two of them, Henry’s arm wrapped around her waist.
She knew me, of course; I could tell with her subtle side glances that she was aware of the five-year history I had with Henry. Add to that the fact that I was the only one in the party who came back to town after two years–a description that fit Henry’s ex-girlfriend qualifications perfectly.
I congratulated them with honest intentions of plain well-wishing, but I doubt my friends would have seen it as that. Tricia got me to a corner and told me how she hated Henry for easily replacing me, and how shocked they all were of the sudden marriage and baby. Nina kept pulling me away from Henry and Georgina’s crowd, as if any minute I would burst into tears and make a scene. Then there was Mike, Laura, Wes, and Tina asking me slowly and carefully all night if I was fine. I kept telling them I was. They didn’t believe me.
But I was fine. Henry isn’t a boyfriend who cheated; he’s an ex who decided to move on with his life once I left and has now begun a new life with someone else. I can’t blame him for wanting that, a new life–I myself told him to do so, because he deserves to be with someone who can appreciate him and be with him. Because he deserves to be loved. I was fine with that.
Still, as I entered our house at half past one, I couldn’t help but let a tear out. Then another. And another. Before long I was crying noisily by the door, the lights shut and my family now sleeping in their respective bedrooms.
Why had I cried? It wasn’t because Henry hurt me; he did nothing of the sort. It wasn’t because of Georgina, either; she was nothing but gracious and friendly the whole evening.
I cried because a little part of me wanted to believe that time stopped for me in New York, that by the time I came back everything would remain as it was when I left. I cried because I knew Henry didn’t do anything wrong, that I was the one in the wrong, for feeling this way when I did the leaving and walking out. I cried because on the hour I took the flight to New York, the minute I exited the JFK airport, and even the very moment I saw them at the party, I was still in love with Henry. Intensely so. Desperately so. Foolishly so.
I cried because it was all my fault. If I hadn’t left…If I just stayed…