Photo: Frankie Shlain
My ex-boyfriend is now a male model.
Okay, he’s not like a runway model, but his picture is on photography blogs and some hipster clothing websites. My friends send me links every now and then with a message, “hey, isn’t this that asshole you dated?” He’s everywhere, looking gorgeous and tan and so different than he looked when we were together. It’s an odd feeling, because I don’t really know the guy in those photos (it’s been over 5 years since we were together), and yet, I feel something. Grappling with other people’s gains, especially when you have mixed feelings for that person, is a really hard part of growing up. And this situation is particularly hard because in all honesty, I thought this was going to be my “She’s All That” moment. Here is the backstory:
About six years ago I moved from New York to San Francisco with a skinny-fat, 5’6, handsome but wholesome, boot-cut jean wearing hipster kid. Let’s call him Michael Cera (note: this was not the actual Michael Cera from the hit film, “Juno”). Michael Cera was 25, and I was 23. We were very much in love in that young, adventurous, let’s move across the country sort of way. Long story short, not weeks (or even days) after we landed and settled into a new apartment, Michael Cera began cheating on me. The breakup was vile and messy and started what I sometimes refer to as “the most fun/most lost years of my life” (losing yourself can be an absolute party, but I will save that for another post).
A few months after we split, we would run into each other in Dolores Park, both tan and a little drunk, and we would have that awkward flirtation that you have with someone you can’t imagine not loving anymore. We got on remarkably well, considering all the crap that had happened between us. But no, we never got back together. Instead we drifted apart, dated other people, had our hearts broken by those people, got new clothes, hair, jobs, and grew up a little bit.
Five years, a masters degree, and a genuinely happy domestic partnership later, here I am. 28 years old, living in Brooklyn, and not nearly as tan as I was back in San Francisco. I am coming to terms with my pale complexion and newfound interest in productivity. I’ve made leaps and bounds career-wise, which is something I could never get a handle on while drunk in Dolores Park on a Tuesday. I am coming into my own as a responsible adult, and no one who knew me five years ago could deny that.
Meanwhile, Michael Cera is a male model.
In my dark moments, this is how I feel: Michael Cera, with his newly formed abs (yes, he is shirtless in a lot of these photos), perfect jaw-line, and crystal blue eyes is an ironic twist to the narrative of how I thought this was going to turn out. Maybe I naively thought that as the woman once scorned, I would be the one who got hotter, better, stronger, more like Beyoncé than ever. Why did he get to be the one with the tan and the abs? He’s a bad person who did bad things and hurt me! He deserves to be ugly and bald and have erectile dysfunction issues!
In my happy moments, this is my mantra: While modeling is cool, and being hot is fun and gets you attention and free stuff, I know it’s not everything. “Everything” as defined by me, at this age and the place I am now, is being the happiest, most productive version of yourself while creating lasting, powerful friendships.
And I guess I am happy for him. As resentful as I could be that he is having this bout of physical luck, I don’t really feel attached. I knew him when he was someone else, just as he knew me before I had my act together. I may not be a fashion, nude, or cover model, but I know how lucky I am in thousands of other ways. As cheesy as it sounds, that’s something you learn as you grow up.
I don’t care about my ex boyfriend anymore. I mean, not like I don’t care if something bad happens to him. I don’t care about him like I don’t want to be with him anymore and I am sure of it. I am sure that if we met right now, and we were both single, the only spark we would have would be the spark memories create. We would talk about the past, but I don’t think either of us would be too attracted to each other’s present. I know I’ve changed so much, shifted and grown into a 28 year old woman who runs her own business and pays rent on time and feels bad about wasting an hour, let alone four hanging out in a park. I have no idea who Michael Cera is now, what his career looks like, if he still talks, eats, and snores the same way. I only know one thing: he’s now a male model. Which means I dated a male model. Which is a pretty cool thing to tell people.