It's Halloween, and with it, the cold weather, an abundance of candy, selfies of friends in costume, and talk of ghosts.
At some point or another in our lives, we find ourselves haunted, whether it's by something we saw, something we did, or someone we used to know.
Haunting doesn't have to be an inherently spooky thing—I think fondly of my first dog, who loved chasing tennis balls, whenever I see a fuzzy neon Wilson on the floor of my parents' house. When I roll the the ball and it moves a little farther than I would expect the laws of physics to carry it, I joke and think it's the ghost of Ziggy.
Preparing for the holidays that follow Halloween, though, I am haunted by something less innocent than my childhood pup: the ghost of boyfriend past. I'm in a great relationship now, and I wouldn't trade it for what I had. But I'd be lying if I said I wasn't still haunted by the one that came before.
The breakup happened suddenly the Sunday night after Thanksgiving. He moved out of the apartment we were living in together two days later. I lived in that apartment for another three and a half months alone before I moved. I switched floors but still live in the same building.
One night lately, when I was really out of it, I hit the button to my old floor. Another time, on my current floor, I put my key in the door of a unit on the other side of the hallway, where my old unit was.
Walking one way to my new boyfriend's apartment, I pass by a restaurant and the hotel bar we visited on the last night before he ended things in November.
When I walk to my gym after work, I pass by the venue where we ran into each other at a startup event. It was the night after we'd broken our lease in March, a night that came as close to what I imagine a divorce would feel like.
Walking another way to my new boyfriend's apartment, I pass by the hotel where he, drunk and uninvited, crashed an event I was attending there with some girl I had never seen before. It was barely a day after he had woken up in my bed and we had discussed couples counseling and all the ways we would "make things right" this time around.
For both the startup event and the hotel event—I didn't know he would be there. I don't know if he knew I would be there. He later called it the universe bringing us together. I called it my angels warning me to stay away.
En route to the gym, I also pass by a bar where we met up in February when we were trying to work things out the first time—he mentioned something about how cute our kids would be, I said something about wanting to have a clean slate and discussed dates I had gone on during our hiatus (in hindsight, didn't owe him any of that).
I walk through the North End during lunch sometimes and pass by the fountain where I chewed him out for the rent money he owed me for months. I got my first third of what I demanded that night as I climbed the 3 flights up to my improv class on Hanover Street.
He always wore suits, or at least a pressed collared shirt. I now work in the Financial District, where almost all the men I see who aren't tourists dress this way. Whenever I see a man with dark, straight hair in a suit of a similarly slim build, with a similarly slicked-back side part hairstyle, I experience a moment of panic. Even though the chances of seeing him during my workday are slim to none (he lives and works in Brighton and his client base is heavily suburban), I have a mild heart attack. After all, it stands to reason that one day he could be in the neighborhood to meet his little brother, who interned for a company in my building, for lunch.
Today, Facebook showed me a picture of myself in costume as Audrey Hepburn. I can't see myself in that costume without thinking of him and how he did my hair and how pretty he told me I looked. Humorously, though, I still haven't seen Breakfast at Tiffany's (though I have read it).
I haven't seen him since a dinner in August, which I believed would give me closure and allow me to move on. But the I have moved on, but I haven't forgotten that pain, especially as I hit its anniversary this November. Perhaps, with the passage of Thanksgiving, it will go away and lose its power. I hope so—otherwise, more time would seem to be the only way to break the spell and ward away this ghost.
I can only hope that I, too, haunt him everyday.