I took a trip back in time on Saturday. I left Mr. X and our napping children, stole his car and headed across the lake to meet up with two of my friends from college, both in town for our 15th reunion. I was very excited to go. I looked forward to the reminiscing, the visiting of old haunts and the telling of old stories. And, frankly, I was just as excited about not having any children or husbands in tow. I was a single gal, at least for an afternoon.
I was also excited because one of the two friends I was meeting up with was an ex of mine. I had a major bee in my bonnet for this boy for most of college and frankly, a few years afterwards. Even when we were dating, though, I knew that we could not be together for any long period of time because we just brought out the worst in each other. But, we did have a chemistry that was undeniable. The last I had heard from him before the Facebook Era was right around the time I was getting married to Mr. X. The Ex called to see how life was going and to report that he too had found someone and was getting hitched. I was surprised, to be honest, since he had terrible commitment issues when I knew him and I couldn’t see him changing this so quickly. I wished him well, but was a little piqued that I still wasn’t the right lady for him. Ten years later and he is now divorced and a single father of two. And I am a happily married mother of two.
I would be lying if I said that I didn’t have at least a spark of attraction left for him. But why? Because he was the one who sort of got away even though even at the time I knew he wasn’t right for me? No, I think it’s mostly because I never quite knew where I stood with him – did he like me, did he not like me? I could go through a garden full of flowers picking petals right and left and still wouldn’t have found out the answer. I wanted him to like me, I wanted to be The Girl He Wanted because he was the boy that I wanted.
When I joined Facebook in 2010, we reconnected. We caught up and eventually came around to discuss our time together. He apologized for leading me on, and I apologized for coming on too strong. But, neither expression really captured what was going on. We were playing a game of push and pull with exquisitely bad timing and misreading of signals as only young adults can do so well. At that time, I allowed myself to think about actually being with the Ex again and felt an almost immediate rush of … revulsion. He wasn’t what I wanted. But, I still wanted to be what he wanted. I still wanted to know, once and for all, if he really ever wanted to be with me.
So, fast forward to yesterday, sitting in the university center which was at once so familiar and also so modernized to be unrecognizable. His mannerisms are driving me crazy again and we’re bickering, just like we always did. I said something about how I loved that my phone chirped and he said, “God, I missed you.” “Missed who?”, I said. My phone? “No,” he said. “You.”
Later, after dinner hearing the really terrible tale of his divorce, I hugged him and kissed him on the cheek before leaving. I realized in that moment that I still care about him, but now, it’s the same care I would feel for a brother (if I had one). I wanted to mother him, make sure he was doing ok and find him a nice girl. I wanted to give him words of encouragement for getting through the tough years of being a single parent and getting his business off the ground. Most of all, I wanted to tell him it was ok, I know that he did want me, just the way that he should.