That jacket is familiar.  And the gait, chin forward, one hand in pocket, the other wrapped around her hand.  I am  startled by the sight of him and her on a post-breakfast walk, perhaps on their way to the library (?), or the music store(?).  I do not call out my salutations.  I keep walking.  I am walking to discover the conditions of the skating pond at the park for a date later which does not involve him, which involves our children, and my new boyfriend, but not him.  Or her. 

A moment ago I was happy, innocent, trying to feel good in my time alone, in my new life, a life that I decided to have, that I chose 16 months ago.  A life that I chose.  Those were the words I used then: I want to live.  I want to live.  I chose living this new life.  And he understood me right away, and we cried, both relieved for my courageous decision (desperate?), after five long years of struggle.  We were so relieved to let go.  We cried and walked together that day, the day that I said the words.

And now, we are in our separate worlds.

We are transplanted and making new lives for ourselves.

And it is good.

And it is our decision.

And we are sticking to our story.

And we still meet regularly,

at gatherings with mutual friends,

or at our Sunday changeover moments with our kids,

and we are nice and friendly and cordial

but we make sure not to look into each other’s eyes for too long

because that would compromise the transplanting process.

We don’t need or want that.

And it is all fine

and mutual

and good

and nothing

in this civilized process of separating

prepared me for the

STAB

the cutting feeling that I experienced

spotting him and her out in the world,

in my world, on my street

in my neighborhood

going for a walk

oblivious  that I spotted them.

Tears burst from my eyes as I walk.

We are no longer.

There is no more him and me.

He is transplanted and so am I.

And it is good.

And we are sticking to our story.

There was no other way–we tried them all.

Five years of relationship experiments.

They all failed.

And now there they are

and they are a couple

and they are walking

and they don’t see me

and we are no longer

and there they are

just going down the street and living their life

while I watch them, unseen,

while I try to have mine.

And I might detect a little pain,

or a fatigue in his back,

and then I try not to think about it too long,

about what he is experiencing there,

walking with her,

because that too would compromise

the transplanting process.

So I I take a deep breath

and reconnect with my own new life

my own decision.

And I walk and start to feel good again.

And hopeful.

And grateful.

And relieved.

Grateful and relieved.

And I have the thought that it is

a privilege to spot them like this.

An exquisite

painful

and liberating  privilege.