as soon as my suspicions were confirmed i knew i needed to call for backup. "meet me between women's wear and..." i scanned the shelves hastily "uh, like the mops. NOW!"
i clapped my cellphone shut and scurried out into the main aisle. i needed a partner for whatever it was i was about to do, and i needed one fast.
i wasn't immediately sure what i was going to do, actually. i hadn't thought that far ahead. but i'd called it out in the parking lot when i'd spotted the old familiar car. he was there, all right. three years of fairly steady shopping excursions to target, and finally the fates had us there at the same time.
i was inside target at the same time as my ex. and the girl he left me for.
aside from maybe one glance during a completely unplanned--and most likely only noted by me--passing each other in our respective cars moment, i hadn't seen hide nor receding hairline of the guy since our disastrous final performance of "breakup theatre" back in early 2003. in fact, the last i'd heard from him had been in the form of an email, addressed to the readers of my then newborn blog, that he'd expected me to post (which is precisely why i didn't, although it was a gem of a missive, i'll admit). we even shared the same city block for a good almost two years after that, although his address had taken on a new tenant: his girlfriend.
so here i was, no longer angry, no longer heartbroken, no longer vengeful. i was just, oh, i don't know...amused. i'd practically squealed with glee when i'd seen them contemplating a liquid laundry detergent purchase.
my backup finally arrived, having ditched her red plastic shopping cart back in the toy section and done her best to decipher my frantic message that had apparently been relayed via a lousy cell signal. "they're over there!" i said in an exaggerated stage whisper, complete with an over the top pointing gesture. "go, go!"
bunny ducked down the pet food aisle and strolled right past them. she emerged out the other end and i met her. "did you see?" i wanted to know.
"yes. they're buying cat food."
"but he's allergic!"
"not anymore, it seems."
"where'd they go?"
"gawd, it's like a train wreck or some horrible accident. you know you shouldn't, but you just can't help but want to look. here they come!"
like a couple of sitcom-styled sleuths we ducked behind a rack of juniors super short-shorts.
"do you think i'd look better in the white or the olive?" bunny asked jokingly. we peered from between the hangers, struggling to suppress our giggles.
and because it was a ridiculous thing to do, and because we had nowhere else to go anytime, and because we're kind of melodramatic like that, we played the spy game while the happy couple completed their bargain superstore shopping for the evening. we had some close calls that necessitated further ducking and dodging. we were definitely being noticed by shoppers in the women's wear section, where we did most of our stake-outing. but most importantly, it was in all sincerity being done in jest. i didn't want to confront him, i have no axe to grind, no speeches to make, no issues to air out. he and i...we're done. we've been done for all these three years, and i can't tell you how lovely it's been to have moved on.
and, no, they didn't see us. we kept our distance, hamming up the hide and seek part for our own amusement. if you can believe my logic, the last thing i would want to do would be to bother them.
it occured to me, not long after we'd cashed out and resumed our non-sleuthing routine, that seeing them--seeing him--that night had served to make one thing perfectly clear: that i was happy to no longer be with him. not that what we'd had wasn't, for the most part, a lovely part of my life while it lasted, but that if they are happy together, then i am truly happy for them. what was meant to be is exactly what's happened, and clearly--yes, thankfully--i was not meant to be with him. i'd tried so hard from day one to find ways to make him be right for me, but the fact of the matter was that our ultimate incompatibility was inescapable. and if i was with him now, well, then i wouldn't be where i am right now. i wouldn't be with who i actually am with right now, and believe me, i wouldn't trade that for all the million dollar target shopping sprees in the world.
it's nice to think about a long-soured romance and be able to smile.
...well, okay, more than smile. just the mental picture of me and bunny poking our faces through a rack of mossimo tankinis like they were curtains is more than enough to make me laugh.