Sunday, March 21, 2010

Seems like old times

Yesterday, I spent most of the day with my first "serious" boyfriend (Jack). We had part of one summer together but when I make lists (like the one I did recently) of important guys, or guys I'd date again, he's on there. We dated for maybe two months...maybe a little more or a little less...over 20 years ago and I still think of him fondly and a little sadly. When he broke up with me, it broke my heart. As soon as he left my apartment, post breaking up, I cried hard. It took me forever to get over him. In the fall, I had a new boyfriend, but I never stopped thinking about Jack. He was one of the reasons things didn't last with that guy. Jack was in my head for years after we broke up. I called him occasionally and I remember the conversation where it finally got through to me that we were never going to be together.  I'd bumped into a friend of mine on the street. A woman who I liked and respected but who never seemed to have much time for me. I was in a fair amount of distress. I'm not sure why but I couldn't stop thinking about Jack and feeling certain that he was the person I was supposed to be with. I was in that hopeless, lovelorn place with no outlet. She gave me two good pieces of advice: 1) read the short story collection, "Rock Springs" by Richard Ford and 2) call Jack and find out how he felt.

I did both. I still have the book and when I'm feeling that low hopeless feeling, I read it and it helps. I also called Jack. He was friendly and we talked about all kinds of things. We always got along well and he liked to listen to me so if I rambled, it didn't matter. Finally, I got to the heart of the matter. I know I was indirect because I always am. Somehow, I managed to express that I still had feelings for him. He said, "I don't feel that way about you." It was a bit of a shock. Especially since I'd had a string of two or three boyfriends in the three (?) years since we'd broken up and he'd not had one. Not one. Yet, he wasn't pining for me. He didn't feel that way about me.

It hurt, of course. But I felt a kind of a release. It freed me to take my heart back and make it available again. It was good that he told me...and he should have told me many years before...but I got what I needed and I was able to move on knowing that I'd tried and that my hope was misplaced in Jack. My hope.

But yesterday. I'd planned to see him for brunch and a museum and then go on my way and let him go on his. We met, we ate, we walked and talked. We never stopped talking. He looked the same. I wondered what he thought about my looks--but I'm sure he didn't judge. (I look the same plus many more pounds--but in all the right places, I'm sure).  The day wore on and I didn't leave him. He didn't try to get rid of me either. I heard about his wife and kids (two! I only knew about one.) and family. I told him stories about exes and parents and friends. I didn't talk about work at all (what a relief, that topic is getting old).  We have a few friends in common from college but ran through those stories early in the day. It wasn't a linear catching up but the easy conversation of two good friends. Two good friends who slept together twenty years ago and haven't had an in-person conversation in at least ten years. WTF?

Towards the end of the day, somehow, we talked about "us." I didn't anticipate or want that. I don't know how we got there. I couldn't really plunge into that conversational deep end. I dipped a toe in...then he did...and it seemed like our memories aligned perfectly. And when we talked about the break up, he apologized. He was tearing up about it. But I didn't get that. Why? Because he felt bad about hurting me. But, I guess, I didn't really get to know the thing I wanted to know, which is why he broke up with me. Why? He said something was off in our interactions and there was a girl someone was trying to set him up with and he wondered, 'should I be dating someone else?' I knew the first part, but not the second. He never dated that other girl. I almost said, "But wasn't it because you just didn't have those feelings about me?" No, I didn't say it. I didn't say, "I was so in love with you." I did say, "We were lucky because we really liked each other." And he said, "We were. And we were good at communicating." He also said, "It was GREAT." If you know what I mean.

Does it make sense that I'm sad now? That I've staying in all day baking bread and making zucchini fritters? Knitting and watching movies? That I am crying now when I didn't yesterday and that while I want to not think about this at all I couldn't stop myself from writing.

I want to say...this is a good thing. I was right about Jack. I do still like him, he is the great guy I always thought he was. And maybe he was just too young and unsure to make it work back then. Not to say it would work now, but when I made my list, I was right to put him on it. I just wish I knew that he felt the same, a little, even if it's not that way. Maybe yesterday shows he does?

Grateful for:
good memories.


  1. J:

    Is it time for another read of Rock Springs? My experience has been that it's not a good to recycle boyfriends, but it's lovely when you can keep them as friends. Sounds like you had a wonderful visit.


  2. K: yes, I may need to find that book. I have a feeling I loaned it to I'm not sure if it's on my shelf. Then again, I was feeling pretty upbeat last week.

    Definitely he's a friend. I don't "recycle" people. :)

  3. J:

    I'm going to see if I can find Rock Springs on my next library visit. I was at the library yesterday and ran into an old bf who I am still friends wih -- my arms full of eight books, I wanted to say to him, "I have a life!" Then I spent the afternoon feeling ... it was hard to define. Don't know if I was feeing nostagia or regret. I wish we could be closer than we are now (we see each other at art openings, the library, etc., but don't socialize over drinks anymore). His gf is the jealous type and truth be told, he'd probably rather have his drinks with his gf than with me. Okay, maybe add a little of the green-eyed monster to the mix. Funny how we can jealous of new girlfriends even when we were the ones who terminated the relationship!

    C'est Kim

  4. I recommend you read Many Lives Many Masters by Brian Weiss. Its slightly new-agey written by a brilliant Jewish medical doctor turned hypnotherapist/ psychologist.

    Brian Weiss's book really changed my perspective on relationships that goes beyond the surface. If I had someone like Jack in my life, I would almost see him as a soul mate. A soul mate is not necessarily someone you get married to and who spend happily ever after with- but more like a person you share a deep connection with. Maybe you have met in a different realm or space. You care for the person but you are connection in this life is limited.

    I'm an engineer and not really great at explaining gist of the book. All I can say is it is hauntingly beautiful and I'm not really doing this beautiful work any justice by my description. But as a single/ never married woman this book has brought an incredible amount of calm, compassion, peace to my life.


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