This time, as I stomped down the stairs two-by-two, I was thinking of all those times we hugged and kissed in that foyer. I am comfortably beyond all the mess she and I created in each other’s lives at the end of our immature and stormy romance. Too young to go on, too young to know how to stop, we tore our hearts out in the worst ways. After two years we’d grown up a little. She’d found herself while adventuring around the world on a corporation’s dime. I’d begun the work of getting my head screwed on straight and pointing myself in the direction I’d always wanted to go.
In March 2001 we had both somehow independently come up with the same notion that enough time had passed that it might be safe to try saying hello again. I can’t say exactly why some people, who at one time seemed like the single most important human being who ever lived, float out of our lives as easily as they appeared, yet disappear without a trace. It’s only slightly less difficult to say why the forgotten others will return again and again when most needed. I was sitting in a cramped studio making no progress on whatever I was researching at the time. Tired, bored, frustrated - and probably more than a little stoned - I sent her an eMail to the address she’d been using the last time I knew her. It never got to her.
Some weeks later I received one from her. As I read it I couldn’t stop laughing. She was painfully apologetic for disturbing me, was not trying to pry back into my life, just wanted to return some things of mine because she was moving to London. (!) I teased her that she ought to check her old account more often and gave her my phone number.
That started le grande conversation that has been continuing episodically sinse march 2001.
The first - the most difficult suprise to get over was the mutual attraction that still lingered, though, as ever, it still threatened to derail our sincerest intentions. I’m lucky that she’s a stronger person than I am; on several occasions I was ready to peel our clothes off and relive the memories. She never gave me the green light. A few yellows now and then; but every time we got together the point was to talk.
You can’t always get what you want; but if you try sometimes you get what you need.
It was oddly familiar to have her standing there behind me while I shaved. We talked as easily as if I were pouring coffee. The best parts from our three years together are still with us; the comfortability of a friend in the room who is unphased by the routines that are usually done in private. I suppose she and I have had plenty of time in the last six or eight months to get used to each other again, but if she had stood politely by the front door, like many other ex’s, then this would have been a very different experience.
When courteous formalities get in the way of two people who had been close, the chances of rebuilding that mutually inclusive comfort zone seem dismal. Meeting my ex’s is always such a depressing chore. Somehow it always feels like a job interview. Whether or not we were ever genuine friends before we started dating, there always developed a desire for inclusion into those personal routines to prove, if nothing else, that we really cared.
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