Tonight I stood on the subway platform and watched my ex-lover’s wife descend from the staircase. I did not immediately recognize that it was her. At first, it was a sensation similar to seeing a celebrity. The brain thinks, I know you, but how? It was only when she walked closer to me that it clicked. Her.
It was late, almost three in the morning. I wondered what she was doing all the way in Brooklyn. I know from mutual friends that she lives with my ex-lover in a spacious, light-filled apartment overlooking the Hudson River. I hear how happy they are. I stood behind my ex-lover’s wife, watching her. I did not feel envious of her life. Only curious about its details.
I wondered what this woman might know about me. Had he told her stories? It was possible—likely, even—that no he had not. It took me a long time to learn this, but I finally understand that I am not an important part of her husband’s story, not the way he is in mine. People can mean different things to one another. I can see this now.
I tried to decide which I preferred—her hearing stories about me or her not even knowing my name. I could not choose. After what felt to be a very long time, my ex-lover’s wife turned to me. I was certain she was going to say something about my ex-lover. Her husband. This man we shared like a blood type or a bad cold. But all she said was, “This connects to the C, right?” I could tell from the polite, empty look in her eyes that she had no idea who I was. “Yes,” I told her. “This connects to the C.”
I stared at her until the train came. She never looked at me again.