A Tree I cut down.

I went out to lunch with some girls from work today. We piled into a big booth and chowed down as we so often do, losing ourselves in pasta-induced reverie and trying our best to ignore the near-whiteout conditions outside.I'd been exchanging text messages and IMs all morning with the weekend boy in question, so when I saw that little red indicator light blinking from somewhere in the depths of my purse, I smiled and rifled through three tubes of lip gloss and a sea of bobby pins to check the message. Ten now-random digits; a string of numbers I deleted weeks ago from my address book.

"Hope u know I still think about touching u" … Chills, from the base of my spine and out to my fingertips; I'd be surprised if I didn't go white in the face, too. Wasn't expecting that. Of course, it would come after a weekend where I didn't think of him at all. Except to berate him in absentia, in the presence of alcohol and friends, for ruining any number of social establishments in my neighborhood for me. I was — and have been — surrounded by wonderful company and left with no desire to stalk, to e-mail, to search frantically for the phone number I deleted and destroyed all evidence of ever possessing. Abbreviating already-short words in electronic communication is a pretty serious — and extremely specific, I know — pet peeve of mine, but I forgave him far graver shortcomings than that during our nine-month courtship. (Fling. Dalliance. Mistake. Call it what you will.) Any message from him could probably stop my heart no matter what it said or when it arrived. I'm not sure that will change, either. Though I hope the contact just stops altogether at some point. But today was different; today gives me hope for complete detachment. Where the knees of my self-control might have buckled even a few weeks ago, today I let out an exasperated expletive, rolled my eyes and deleted the message. It helps to imagine him in those baggy track pants, sitting in his battered faux-leather office chair in his apartment's shoddily furnished living room. Drinking Dos Equis from an unwashed mug (he had a thing with bottles), flicking ash from the cigarette I begged him not to smoke around me and missing the tray. Never sharing the details of his life, never calling me when he should have. Responding never even crossed my mind — the only words that came to me? "Erase." "Delete." "Move on" and "forget."

Most stories have a hero who finds that you make your past your past.

Maybe this year will be better than the last.