Apparently one in three of us have heard from an ex during lockdown. Niamh McCollum has. Her heart was broken a year ago and now she's dazed and confused. Here's what happened when she caught up with her Zoom-bothering ex
‘I was scrolling through Twitter one dull lockdown night and came across a tweet that caught my attention. ‘Listen, it’s no longer a case of ‘did you text your ex during lockdown yet?’’, comedian Sofie Hagen wrote. ‘We’ve progressed to ‘what did you text your ex? How many exes did you text? Did they reply?’’
I smiled, feeling smug that I hadn’t succumbed to what I viewed as pure, unadulterated weakness. HA, everyone but me! Despite having my heart broken just over a year ago, I entered lockdown feeling strong, comfortable in my alone-ness, and without much desire to talk to you, ex.
You see, a lot has changed in the year since we ended things. After spending one too many Friday nights slumped under my duvet sniffling over our old WhatsApp conversations, I picked myself up and picked new hobbies instead. I threw myself into my career, swapped lonely post-night out tears for drunken belly laughs, and when I eventually felt ready, even dated someone new for a while.
So when I awoke one lockdown morning to find a, ‘Hey, fancy a chat sometime?’ text from you, I rolled my eyes. Oh God, what is the point in this? Is he that bored? Feeling conflicted, I did what every sensible girl with an ex dilemma does; I called my best friend. ‘He probably just wants to check in on you. We’re in a pandemic, after all’, she says. ‘And it’s only a phone call, if you want to cut out at any point you can.’ So I pick up my phone and type back. ‘Alright, how about 8pm tomorrow?’
Chat-day arrives and I feel pretty chill. At 7.45pm, I saunter up to my room so I can zhuzh up my bed pillows to lie back comfortably for chat, and when the clock strikes 8pm I type your name and dial. No answer. I jump as my phone suddenly pings. Hold on’, you say, ‘let me send you a zoom invite.’ My heart starts racing.
‘Sure. Just give me a sec, yeah?’, I reply ‘casually’ while un-casually rushing to the bathroom to pencil some shape into my misshapen brows and unnaturally curl my eyelashes into a natural-looking flutter. Why am I doing myself up? I return to my room, scramble to find the most flattering angle to place my laptop and click on your fucking zoom link. Here we go.
Our ‘meeting’ begins, and I notice how abruptly my face lights up at the sight of yours. Then as we check in on family members and catch up on our lives post-each other, I’m horrified to find that I’ve been stripped of my hardcore/post-break up/superpower confidence, as I nervously stumble over my words.
We exchange stories about road trips, festivals and new friendships nurtured – memorable pit stops in two separate but equally invigorating journeys over the past year. You fill me in on your plans to teach abroad when all the craziness dies down, which annoyingly sends me back in time to the adventures I’d planned when we were together. I nod encouragingly and ask more, attempting to hide the fact that I’d rather not know.
As the chat winds down, I’ve almost completely lost my cool as I conjure up more topics just to keep the conversation going, not wanting it to end. After two hours of dissecting our post break-up lives (the parts we feel comfortable sharing, at least), our chat draws to a close. ‘Let me know if you want to chat again’, you say, whilst motioning to end our ‘meeting’. ‘Sure’, I reply, despite being anything but sure.
A month has passed since our chat, and we’ve been texting ever since. Each film you’d find funny is a signal for me to type your name into my message bar, and every good song that appears on your radar is one that you want on mine, too.
As we ease out of lockdown and slowly make plans to go back to the separate lives we moulded long before it set in, I can’t help but wonder if, or when, these little conversations will begin to dwindle – and how this shift back to the life I made without you will make me feel.
Sorry for turning my nose up at your tweet, Sofie Hagen. To answer your question: I am, in fact, texting my ex, he is replying, and I have no bloody idea what it means.’