I’m in my hometown for the holidays, and last night I ran into my old high school/college boyfriend. For the first time in six years, and too soon for my taste. I was just sitting there, enjoying a beverage with some friends, when the door opened and there he was- fake bullshit smile and all.
It ended badly all those years ago, and I have wished so many times that the past would remain there indefinitely. But this town just isn’t big enough for that.
I could write so much about the things that happened all those years ago- the fighting, the lying, the occasional good times and fun. But there isn’t any point in doing that. I don’t want to talk about blame or wasted years or ask how the hell someone could REALLY be that materialistic and possessive and shallow. (ok, that last one was a jab)
Seeing him again was surreal. It was like time reversed and spun around in a circle a few times and threw up on itself. I found myself looking at him over the chasm of years and through the smoke of the basement bar, and not having anything to say. How can you spend so much of your life with someone, and then find them to be a complete stranger? How can you consider marrying someone, and then realize that you do not know them at all? I wonder if he felt the same about me.
We didn’t speak much; it was all superficial “How’s your family” chatter, and he tried his hardest to pretend not to care or even act like he remembered. But I know that’s bullshit. His cockiness always was a defense mechanism. And obscure yet once-meaningful Janet Jackson songs don’t just up and play themselves on the jukebox.
I wasn’t even angry. I didn’t say all the things that I thought I would say, didn’t demand an apology for his careless handling of my adolescent heart, didn’t feel that surge of old emotions. All I really felt was annoyance at being thrust back into his condescending presence. All I wanted to do was protect the scars that remain from the blows he dealt all those years ago, wounds that time and love have finally sutured. Scar tissue is tough, and he made me tough- maybe I should’ve thanked him.
But it’s dredged up some long-buried stuff, to tell the truth. It has exhumed a decaying pile of baggage that I’ve been ignoring. Ghosts of unanswered questions rattle their chains, groaning for attention. Did he ever love me or did he just want to possess me? Did I make bad decisions because I was young and stupid or because I was in love and stupid? Can I ever truly forgive the emotional beatings I suffered at his hands and wish him well?
As Miss Janet herself would say, That's the way love goes. Indeed.