My husband is divorced.
Not from me – that would be much bigger news – but from his first wife.
I never thought I’d marry a divorcé. Then again, I never thought I’d marry a Buddhist but life is funny.
When we were first dating, I thought about Jason’s first marriage a lot. Had he taken his first wife to this restaurant? Had he said those things to her? Had she made him laugh like I did?
I asked Jason to tell me everything about their life together. As you can imagine, this was not his favorite game but I was fascinated by the person he had chosen before me. I looked through their wedding photos, I asked his friends for stories, and more than anything, I fantasized about running into her.
I imagined how I would shake her hand and we would laugh about how funny life was, just two gals who had married the same man. I would be cool, and confident and casual.
But then I saw her at Whole Foods.
I was scooping pasta into a to-go container at the hot food bar when I noticed her. She was getting a salad.
I stopped mid-scoop and stared, making sure it was really her. She was in a summer dress, her hair was down, and her make-up flawless. I was in work out clothes and flip-flops.
This was not how I’d imagined meeting. I wanted to show her my best self and my best self was definitely not spooning up complex carbohydrates to go binge eat in my car.
She turned around and I glanced away – pretending to focus on a kale salad I suddenly wished I’d chosen.
I couldn’t believe this was happening, in a city of millions here she was, right in front of me. Before I could decide what to do next, she turned and walked away. I should have stopped there, taken my food, and gone home.
Instead, I followed her.
Past the gluten free bread, past the artisan cheeses, down the specialty foods aisle. Everywhere she stopped, I stopped a few feet back and pretended to shop – she looked up, I looked away; she looked back, I looked at her.
I was like a cartoon spy.
I couldn’t bring myself to talk to her. Instead, I hid behind a tower of detergent and watched as she picked through avocados. I feigned interest in dairy-free milk as she chose a yogurt. I followed her all the way to the checkout line and then watched as she breezed out of the store.
A woman bumped me with her cart and I snapped out of it. What was I doing? Had I really just stalked a woman around a grocery store?
I drove home and told Jason what had happened. After laughing for a solid three minutes, he wrapped me up in his arms and kissed me.
In meeting Jason’s ex-wife, I’d hoped to touch a piece of his past that I didn’t feel a part of. I thought meeting her would calm the jealous leaps of my heart when I’d remember Jason had once wanted the life we have with someone else.
But when actually faced with it, the best I could do was follow at a distance and watch.
The truth is, what Jason and I have is not about the past. It’s about right now, today, this second. I snuggled deeper into Jason’s arms and felt myself let go a little.
Since then, my fascination with his ex-wife has disappeared and I’ve settled comfortably into our life together.
But I still haven’t been back to that Whole Foods.
This piece was originally written for the Fargo Forum. You can find them (and me) here.