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Remembrances of Things Best Left Past

September 9, 2013

I saw a ghost over the weekend.

Oh, not the little red-haired girl my former downstairs, one of whom earnestly helped promote Colorado’s image as being an apt setting for Afroman’s “Because I Got High,” but a real one, I swear!

It appeared in the form of my ex, whose Facebook profile hasn’t changed since I dumped him. In fact, I think there’s a distinct possibility he hasn’t logged on since he declared our coupledom Facebook official.

So it was a bit of a shock when I fed my addiction to other people’s lives at 7:30 MDT on Saturday morning to find that he’d updated his city and added four new friends who were completely unknown me. So shocked I had to text my first ex-husband, whom I happen to know was hungover because I was hungover and had gotten to the point where I knew I would soon be hungover in his presence, and freak the fuck out.  This freak-out consisted of a good three or so unresponded-to texts, because unlike me, my ex-husband was doing the only sane thing one can do with a hangover and sleeping it off.

After my little freak-out, I did the only sane thing: I passed out for another five hours. Then when I got up, I checked to see if there were more skeletons waiting to spring out of my digital closet and do a striptease for all the world to see, and finding none, I assessed my options.

Obviously the only reasonable thing for me to do would have been to unfriend him and block his profile. I’ve already gone through a digital cleansing that, for all its realistic intangibility, was somehow more physical and, to this atheist, more satisfying than a spiritual cleansing: there are few photos of us lingering on my profile (the ones that are, like the one of us on Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull, only remain because my phone died before I could get a solo shot of myself at the featured location), and the only status updates that feature him also feature other people and are centered on personal victories rather than standard Facebook-couple schmoop.

After all, it’s not like it’s the first time I’ve eliminated photographic evidence as a televisual serial killer would remove DNA traces from his crime scene. To judge by the comments, I’m in the minority here, but I definitely had some sympathy for the kid in this FML:

Screen Shot 2013-09-09 at 7.36.51 PM


Yes, I agree with some of the commenters who were concerned about the “look fat” part–maybe the girl does have body image issues that need to be professionally addressed. And there are the sticky issues of who owns and retains the rights to images of a minor, issues that have already started to seep into our concerns over sharing and tagging on sites such as the almighty Facebook.

But I sympathized with the daughter’s sentiment, legally-questionable and mental-health-worrisome though it may be. When my mother died almost six years ago, one of the first thing I did was to make good on my threats from my teenage years and discard my baby pictures.

Sure, I kept a few that featured my mother, my also-dead maternal grandmother, and my father. But anything featuring me crying, eating, or wearing nothing but a diaper went straight into the trash can. And in spite of my father’s groaning, “Are you absolutely sure?” I have absolutely no regrets. Infancy and toddlerhood have no meaning for me in terms of triggering Proustian recollections, since I was too young to remember those stages, and if you put my pictures in a lineup with other mid-eighties era Polaroids of Caucasian babies, I wouldn’t be able to recognize myself–they’d all be indistinguishably freakish.

Same with the elementary school pictures. I was equally unattractive as any other young child, and most of my childhood was spent wishing I was old enough to drive, make my own rules, be my own person, and generally not be a child anymore. Why on Earth would I want to leave around the keys to a daylong, even weekslong, font of melancholy over times best not remembered?

But in spite of my relief over having that part of my life now buried under tonnes of other people’s trash, I somehow can’t quite bring myself to go totally Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and make the final cut when it comes to my ex. And I think I’ll keep it this way.

The times with him weren’t, for the most part, objectively bad. As alluded to when I discussed the incomplete removal of him from my photo albums, severing his presence completely from my saved memories would mean losing numerous positive associations from places and people that broadened my experiences and enriched my life and all that other phrasing usually best saved for cover letters.

Even if I do frown at the ex-sized blot on my warm-up for job interviews and future dating profiles, though, I can’t just make it disappear. The ex was present and influential in these events. Taking scissors and cutting an ex-sized series of paper dolls in the past seven years of my life would leave a puzzling and off-center impression of those events. Dates like my college graduation, my acceptance to a Masters program at Georgetown, and my first story getting published would be a dissembled mess with such a large shadow so obviously removed.

Perhaps I am alone in finding it easier to chuck whole portions of my life out rather than tidying up stray pieces. But it sure seems better to do a complete overhaul of something that’s overall lousy than of something that has strong attributes and can be salvaged. I could remove my ex from my “friends” (reasons for air quotes hopefully explicable), but to do so seems to acknowledge that I’d rather not remember those seven years at all.

But the next time I get a hankering for some 7:30 a.m. Facebook, I’ll try to hit the YouTube app instead. Afroman seems much more suitable for dealing with ghosts.



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  1. You are super funny. definitely following your blog.

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  1. 5 Things I Told Myself after My Breakup That Turned out to Laughably False | Not Taken, Not Available

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