Relationships column: When an 'old friend' tweets unexpectedly

For The Baltimore Sun

It was Monday morning. I was tired and my allergies were uncivil. My body was sore from yoga the day before, and just the thought of work in a few hours intensified my aches.

From my window, I could see a dazzling red rose, flowing effortlessly in the morning breeze. I rolled my eyes at its beauty before painfully rising to begin my day. "Ow," I complained, as my body was a living example of "no pain, no gain."

I stretched long and hard, in an attempt to awaken my dead limbs. I glanced at my phone to see the time. 9:14 a.m. Pretty early. At the top of the phone's display was an icon. I had a direct message on Twitter.

I hadn't used Twitter in months so I just knew it was spam. No, I wasn't interested in any diet pills and I certainly didn't wish to see any leaked naked photos.

I clicked on the icon, and there he was. My ex.

"Hello," his first message read. How formal and uninviting, I thought.

"Wassup," I replied, trying to sound as cool as possible.

Within our short conversation, he asked how I was and I did the same. He asked about my family and I about his job. There was nothing else to be said -- at least for me.

Continuing with my day, I brushed my teeth and did a few chores. I even contemplated working out but grabbed some food instead.

I sat on my bed with a bowl of Honey Bunches of Oats accompanying me. I turned the TV on and became captivated by how Rachael Ray cooked up a heavenly meal in just 30 minutes. I nearly inhaled my bowl of cereal when my phone vibrated, startling me since I had no idea I was sitting on it.

There was that icon, again. I thought the conversation was over.

"I don't want any problems," he said, as he messaged me his phone number.

I studied the numbers like they were foreign numerals. My relationship with my ex had ended more than a year ago and since that time, K got a new girlfriend and I a new boyfriend.

K was one of the first people I met when I moved to Baltimore for college. Our bond, our friendship, our connection seemed to linger, even when we hadn't spoken for months.

So, why was I battling this? If I called him, it would be innocent, right? I mean, I wouldn't call to engage in any inappropriate conversation. I respected my boyfriend too much and didn't want to tarnish our trust — again.

My memory quickly reminded me of how challenging my relationship had become when I just couldn't break contact with K. It was my idea to call it quits with my ex, so checking up on him every now and again wasn't wrong, I thought.

I remembered the irate look on my boyfriend's face when he grabbed my phone, scrolling unauthorized through my messages. Being the cause of his distress and fury was shameful.

I recalled the harsh charges made to my character: "a liar," "a cheater," "a whore," he had said (due in part to behavior like this, we have recently broken up). I had been scared and unsure that I was ready to move forward with another man.

I caught myself staring at the wall, as my memories subsided, jolting me back into reality. My ex's number was still staring me in the face.

Frankly, there was no way in hell I wanted to relive that time period. I was no longer fearful of leading a new life with someone else. I was comfortable with letting the past remain where it was. After all, I closed that chapter for a reason.

Zahara Johnson's column appears regularly in b.

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