I had a vision a couple of weeks ago. In a dream. There were a lot of lights. A lot of watches, clocks, circling, swirling around. And a bunch of people I didn’t know, saying over and over and over that “The Past Resonates.” I woke up. I didn’t know what it meant. I still don’t know, entirely, what it meant. But I believe one of the meanings lies with this:
I think every girl has that one ex… the one who, despite the time, despite the distance, despite everything, the one that always seems to come back into her mind time and time again. And who, if she’s lucky, still checks in on occasion. “Sex and the City” would call this the Mr. Big effect. Maybe it is. I can think of no better comparison for it.
Mine is one I dated in college, I call him The Professor. He was significantly older than I was… at 19 and 26, it was an unlikely paring. He was working on a Masters. I barely had a semester of my Bachelors under my belt. But we met. And we dated. And it ended… not, for once, because we didn’t or couldn’t get along but because he was moving, and because I didn’t want a long distance relationship and I couldn’t follow. It was more complicated than that, looking back on it, but being nineteen and arrogant, I figured I could replace him. And anyway, after six months he’d never used the “L” word and the one time I did, he didn’t respond. I could do better, I thought.
Fast forward over a decade later. We’ve kept in touch. It seems like every time I break up with someone, every time something goes a little wrong in my life (and even when things go a little right), he shows up out of the blue, for one reason or another. I got married first. And divorced. He married someone else. They seemed happy. I assumed it would last forever and despite the fact that he would try to engage me in sex talk occasionally, I wished him well. Whatever happened a decade before had happened already. It didn’t matter anymore. Water under the bridge. And while I, occasionally, would wonder what would have happened had I been a little bit older, had I had a little more experience, had we stayed together, I assumed things happened just the way they happened for a reason. And I believe that even now.
I guess it was a year ago that we talked. Really talked. And that’s when he told me that he had been in love with me back then but hadn’t had the nerve to say it. And then asked what I would do if he showed up at my door right then. “Nothing,” I answered. “You’re married. And anyway, even if you did show up at my door, I highly doubt that given the prospect of actually doing anything about it, you would have the nerve.” I meant that. Despite the previous blog, I don’t mess around with married men. His words made me think – made me realize that sometimes we do stupid things when we are young that change the outcome of our fates. Had he told me that before he moved back in 2002, I thought, I’d have at least held on a little longer, to see if we could have made it work.
But it still didn’t matter. He said what he said, and I heard it, but even still, he was married. I jokingly told him to let me know when he got a divorce and I moved on. I was with Gatsby, trying desperately to make that piece of insanity last. Gatsby didn’t work out, of course. And then I met Bot. And I was happy with Bot. And consequentially, that was the thing about Professor. No matter what I was doing… no matter who I was with or how happy I was, he could always manage to swoop in, start asking invasive questions about my sex life, my relationships, and while he never exactly made me second guess what I was doing, I always felt a little dirty after the conversation. I wasn’t going to let him soil the relationship I had with Bot. Bot was so far away, and things were so fragile, and Bot had had that horrible experience with his ex that I didn’t want anything to spoil it. So I cut ties. And months went by. Bot came in, left me high and dry, and left.
I hadn’t heard from Professor in all that time. I’d thought about reaching out a time or two and then decided it was better to leave well enough alone.
And then, two months after the Bot drama, I got an email, telling me about his divorce. My heart went out to him, it really did. Their marriage had not been like mine. Not what I had known about it anyway. They’d really cared about each other. I knew he was hurting. And I began to talk to him. Easily. As a friend. Because that’s what he needed right now… what no one tells you about divorce is that at the same time you’re having to move your shit out of your house and having to reorganize your life, your friend-circle significantly changes too since people begin to choose sides. I did what I felt I could for him.
We talked about visiting… about seeing each other again for the first time in a decade. I’m excited about the prospect of this, but I was adamant. I’m not a rebound. I won’t be a rebound. And while some of our conversations can be infuriating at times as he struggles with his post-divorce emotions and his frustrating habit of turning everything into a sex talk (that I won’t be drawn into), it’s intriguing all the same. Because this is the one that got away.
And still, I’m not putting my eggs into this basket. Or any basket, really, and I’m certainly not making the same mistake of waiting indefinitely for a man I haven’t seen (ever, or in ages) ever again. But he’s become a fixture in my life (at least for the time being). His texts have replaced Bot’s. His Skypes have given me a reason to use that program again in a way that doesn’t remind me of the evening Skype chats I’d have with Botboy. I’m having fun. And I’ve missed my friend.
But, of course, that’s not all there is to it. He’s interested. Of course he is. Whatever we had ten years ago hasn’t died. I’d say not on my part, nor on his. And I’ve known that for awhile. Since it all ended, really. He’s being very careful right now, but his jealousy of Metalhead makes that even more evident. It’s not just jealousy over the fact that I’m sleeping with Metalhead, but jealousy that Metalhead can tell me how he feels right now, can hang out with me right now, and he can’t (his words). He won’t use me, he says. And he has no idea, he can’t have any idea, how grateful I am to him for not using me… for not doing what Bot did to me after his divorce.
There’s a lot to think about, too. He’s far away now… in Kansas. And he has a good job. But, then, so do I. And I have no desire to do anything long distance either for any distinctive length of time. I also have no desire to leave Florida for the Bible Belt and for a state that has “true” winter. But, for the time being, we aren’t there. And I’ve made a new resolution to take things as they come, despite the fact that my very forward-thinking brain likes to race often. Thinking about what doesn’t exist yet, though, is only inventing problems.
And so, for the present, we’re going to Disney World. Time to be determined, but I feel that it will be soon. We are going to go to Disney, ride some coasters, have dinner together, and get to know each other again. Taking it with slow, measured steps. And I’m excited. I haven’t been to Disney World since 1994. I’m excited to see my friend. I’m excited to see what comes of all of this.
But I’m nervous all at the same time – both at seeing him after a decade, and because I know that if something happens on either side, with Professor or Metalhead, someone is going to end up getting hurt and I’ll be the one to blame (I hate hurting people). But… whatever happens, for the first time in a decade, I feel like I’m getting the best year of my life back (because that year when he spent half of it with me WAS the best year of my life so far). I feel like I’m young again, before my divorce, before that nasty mess, before Buttface, before Gastby, before Botboy. I feel like I’m getting the chance to really see what it might have been like had I NOT walked away. I feel almost like I’m being given a second chance.
The past resonates. Loudly and clearly. I don’t always understand what it means, I don’t always understand what is coming. And often, when it resonates, it resonates in the worst ways. This time? This time I’m liking the sound of the echo.