Exes and Owes – Part Two

I’m writing about the things that are raising my internal alert level to, like, magenta. (You know: I’ve gone beyond plain old orange & red, here, people.) What started as a single post morphed into a series. Depressing, but true. You can find part one here.

 

One of the other things keeping me up at night is an outgrowth of the strange interconnectivity of this technological age in which we live. Like half the planet, I’m on Facebook (but no, I’m not linking to my profile, because I’m still semi-anonymous here, remember?) and about two weeks ago, I got a friend request I never thought I’d see.

 

Dylan Brown* wanted to be my friend.

 

******

 

I have to back up a little bit for this story, so bear with me. Dylan moved to our town about halfway through high school. I can’t remember now if it was in 10th grade? Or over the summer before 11th? But we became friends pretty quickly, since we shared so many classes (taking the Honors and AP track really narrows down the crowd – and my graduating glass was just shy of 200, so it was already fairly small.) He sat behind me in my junior year math class and geometry has just never been so fun. I remember choosing dresses that would flash a LOT of thigh when I crossed my legs at my desk, knowing he’d be looking over my shoulder. At first, we were both dating other people, but when those relationships came to their natural high-school end, we gravitated toward each other.

 

He was, to be frank, my ideal boyfriend. Smart? Oh hell yes – planned to major in physics or some mathematical field in college, and was already getting the grades to make it possible. Sweet, sensitive, funny? He charmed me in a dozen ways. Left notes in my day planner weeks ahead of time, had a sentimental nickname for me, gave the best bear hugs, understood my emotional rants about my parents. He was a Christian, and both of his parents were in lay ministry. He had two sisters and a mom he *adored* – and he got along reasonably with his father. Oh, and have I mentioned? Good.looking.man. Seriously. I’m petite – 5’2”, and probably in the 110-120 range at that point in high school. He was 6’3” and 270-odd pounds of solid muscle. Defensive end for our football team – he could literally pick me up and carry me around campus. I don’t think I’ll ever forget his smile, or his laugh – he had an easy laugh, a quick sense of humor, and one that never went for a cheap shot or easy target (at least not with me – with the guys in the locker room, who knows, right?).

 

We were together from somewhere in the middle of my junior year until the late winter or early spring of my senior year. It wasn’t a perfect relationship – my parents were not happy about their white daughter dating a young black man, and found every excuse in the book to keep me grounded, on restriction, and away from him. But for the circumstances we were up against with them, and considering that we were young and in high school – it was good.

 

I loved him.

 

And then I got scared – we’d both gotten our acceptances to college. I’d be on a full academic scholarship in north Georgia, and he’d be on a full football scholarship in South Carolina. So I suggested that we should take a break, and not go off to college “committed” to each other, but leave ourselves open to our new surroundings – and we broke up. I don’t think that was what I had intended, but maybe my memory is off. I spent the last months of my senior year heartbroken – because I hadn’t just lost my boyfriend, I’d lost one of my best friends, and my first love. That small world of our classes and friends didn’t understand my decision and mostly took his side – so I was suddenly on the outside of our group of friends. It was a bad way to end good experiences (both the relationship and my high school years).

 

Months went by – summer passed, and we both went off to college. Then one day, during my first semester, we were suddenly back in touch. I don’t remember the details – did one of us email the other? Was it instant messenger? It couldn’t have been a phone call, because we didn’t have cell phones yet. However it happened, that first contact spiraled and blossomed into a rebirth of our relationship. (Yes. The whole long-distance romance I’d been so sure wouldn’t survive, the reason I’d dumped him and caused all my own grief and sadness the year before. It was suddenly thriving.)

 

We talked on the phone, we emailed, he even found a buddy with a car to drive him more than halfway so that we could spend a weekend together. When he got to my dorm room and threw his things on the couch, he mentioned that he had something in his bag for me. My heart almost stopped beating – I thought he was going to propose. It wasn’t a ring; it was a teddy bear, but he’d seen the look on my face. He knew without my telling him what I’d suspected was in the bag, so he asked me, “What would you have said? If I did have a ring in here?”

 

I looked into his eyes, and I told him the truth: “I would have said yes.”

 

*****

 

Life has a way of being cruel and unusual. On my next visit home, my parents saw the extra miles I’d driven the past month and started up the Spanish Inquisition. When I revealed that all that driving had been to pick up Dylan for our weekend visit, all hell broke loose. They told me, in plain and simple terms, that I had a choice to make. I could either break up with him, again; or I could continue in a relationship with Dylan, and be cut off from my family forever. I had 30 days to decide.

 

But then, somehow, that’s not how it ended. I’m fuzzy on the details, but I got a couple of late-night, drunken emails from him. First, an email that confessed to cheating on me and never really loving me – and then a phone call the next day, when I was still shocked and stunned by what I’d read, telling me that his roommate had logged into his email account and sent it as a prank. I thought he was scared by the ultimatum from my parents, that he was afraid I’d choose him over them and we’d be stuck with each other forever, that we were too young to be deciding our whole future. Then a second email came, saying that our whole new relationship had been a ruse – that he’d been angry about how it ended in high school, and had sought me out for the chance at revenge. That he was now sleeping with Z, a mutual friend of ours from high school, and that they laughed together about how I’d fallen in love with him all over again. At that one, I blocked his emails and stopped answering calls. I wasn’t sure if that was truth, or another prank from his roommate – or had the first email been true, too? – and my 30 days was nearly up. I couldn’t risk losing everything again. This time, I just lost him – but I kept my family, and I kept all my friends.

 

******

 

So two weeks ago, the friend request. Ten years eases a lot of hurt, and I was honestly glad to see that he was at least alive, somewhere out there. I clicked “confirm” and read his message – topped off with his old endearment (or, hell, maybe he calls everyone that now, I don’t know) – and I replied. Just the basics: where I’m living, how long I’ve been married, Smooch and Doodlebug. When he replied, he said he was glad to hear that I was well, and apologized for “being an asshole.”

 

And then my sleepless nights took a new turn. I awoke at 2:00 a.m. from an inside-out, Twilight Zone dream in which I was married to Dylan, not Gruff. And Dylan hadn’t cheated on me, hadn’t helped me rack up debt, still looked like his chiseled high-school self, and looked at me with utter adoration. You know those dreams that scare the shit out of you? It was one of those. I woke up with my heart pounding – I felt scared, I felt ashamed. My subconscious had betrayed me! Why was my mind playing the “what-if” game, wondering how life would have gone with the man I loved…. before I met The Man I Love?

 

A few days later, I logged into Facebook and got an alert that Dylan had posted new pictures. I couldn’t help but click; he has a beautiful wife (who I think looks a little bit like me, only taller, thinner, and probably cuter) and two adorable children. My dream rushed back to me – and I closed the laptop with a bang. It’s dangerous territory, isn’t it? It’s too easy to glamorize an old relationship – to disremember the bad parts, to exaggerate the good parts – and to use it to compare would be so wrong. I don’t WANT to compare.

 

So we’re still Facebook friends, and that’s about it. Hopefully all my other – bigger, more legitimate worries – will crowd this out of my mind and it will be just another forgotten chapter in an old, forgotten history of an old, outdated relationship.

 

X’s and O’s (An American Girl) – Trisha Yearwood

Slow dance, second chance
mama needs romance
And a live-in maid
Fix the sink, mow the yard,
Really isn’t all that hard
If you get paid

She used to tie her hair up in ribbons and bows
Sign her letters with X’s and O’s
Got a picture of her mama in heels and pearls
She’s trying to make it in her daddy’s world
An American girl
An American girl


Well she’s got her God
and she’s got good wine
Aretha Franklin and Patsy Cline

She used to tie her hair up in ribbons and bows
Sign her letters with X’s and O’s
Got a picture of her mama in heels and pearls
She’s gonna make it in her daddy’s world
An American girl
An American girl
She’s an American girl

 

 

 

*total pseudonym, I swear

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2 Responses to Exes and Owes – Part Two

  1. Heather says:

    I believe that things happen for a reason. It’s normal to wonder though. I try not to though, because then I wouldn’t have these 3 kids.

  2. fizzledink says:

    Wow, I’m so impressed you made it through that whole post! :D What a friend. ;)

    You’re absolutely right – I believe the same thing. That was why it felt so WIERD to wake up from that dream. It was as disturbing as those dreams you have when someone you know is dead…. you wake up kind of shaking, going, “That was NOT real. That was not real. Everything is okay,” but it rattles you.

    I know I’m in the life I’m supposed to have – the good, the bad, and the downright ugly – and I know for sure that Smooch and Doodlebug are the most amazing gifts I’ve ever been given, and they wouldn’t be the people they are in any other circumstance.

    Maybe I’ll just blame it ALL on the pregnancy hormones. How about that?

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