Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Original Ex

I had a truly unpleasant sexual experience my first year of college and, for reasons that don't quite fit with this post, had the potential to cause permanent, long-term damage. My perceived self-awareness notwithstanding (and I had not yet arrived at my groundbreaking conclusion), I believed that just living and moving forward meant I would put it behind me. In present day terms, we call this coping mechanism denial or, in practical effect, avoidance, but in any event, it provided a great cover for not getting involved with anyone for a year. If I didn't have to be physically intimate with anyone, I wouldn't have to deal with it and certainly wouldn't have to think about it.

And then I met someone. Someone who was all wrong for me on paper but all right for me at the time. In fairness to him, we weren't that different, notwithstanding our respective "social differences" at the time. He was on a break from college, came from a very poor background and certainly didn't have the safety net that I enjoyed from my upper middle class parents who were footing the bill for college (and my rich bitch dorm). He worked at the 7-Eleven down the road from said dorm and he was just goddamn cute. Twinkling eyes, great grin, sharp, witty and utterly oblivious to whatever perceived class distinctions I may or may not have thought existed between us. In retrospect, I think he saw the situation clearer than I did.

In any event, we ran into each other at a neutral setting (w00t - Stray Cats concert) and the chemistry was off the charts. He drove me home on his motorcycle -- hello, bad boy -- and we immediately started a pretty intense relationship. He (later that summer) was the first guy to ask me to marry him and, at the time, although I had no interest in marrying anyone, it seemed completely possible eventually. He was my kind of guy - no bullshit, straightforward, hardworking, smart, clever, funny and so charming. We had the proverbial first love experience - staying up nights talking, trying to learn every detail about each other, having great sex (first guy I ever gave myself to and I couldn't have asked for a better partner at the time) and just enjoying the hell out of each other.

And then the pigeons came. He wasn't exactly cheating on me, he was cheating on his on-and-off girlfriend of the past eight years with me. I was blown away, as we had spent almost every waking and sleeping hour together, at least when I wasn't in school, and I never sensed a thing. In fairness, they were pretty clearly on an "off" period, but it was nevertheless evident that there was unfinished business where they were concerned. Our breakup was rather unremarkable, as I (as always) thought I was taking the high road. Got the stuff that inevitably ends up at your boyfriend's house and retreated to my cave to lick my wounds and regroup.

I did what any self-respecting 18 year old would have done. I cried a lot. I replayed scenes of a whirlwind relationship over and over in my head and couldn't figure out how I had been so duped. But I don't revel in the crying part and I don't feast on ice cream. I got pissed. Oh holy hell, I was pissed off. I trusted this guy and loved him and spent all this time with him and he had this whole other side to him. Just like that -- depression to anger.

And then anger gave way to revenge. I wanted him to hurt and feel as shattered as I did. The opportunity presented itself when I learned his twin brother was in town. He had told me that the two were not close, owing to the twin brother's now defunct relationship with Original Ex's former girlfriend, and how there were some lines brothers should never cross.

A chance encounter with said twin? Yeah, you know how this ends. I fucked the twin brother. Started dating him, even. Hell, if memory serves, I dated him longer than I dated my Original Ex. I fell for him in an entirely different way, as the term "identical twins" is misleading.

As revenge relationships are wont to do, we fizzled out. Too much baggage, fucked up circumstances, and all of that. We were doomed from the start, of course, although I will say that I learned a lot about baseball from him and he was a great guy in his own right. But it was just still a little sleazy, even though I stopped considering the Original Ex about a month into the relationship with the twin. It was just doomed.

Aside #1: Twin and I had a rerun about a year later, after I ran into him in neutral territory (Living Colour concert). That time around, we had a much better relationship, but the old baggage ultimately proved insurmountable.

Aside #2: After I had left TX, Original Ex came to Seattle and looked me up. I will never, ever forget the feeling of satisfaction and closure when he looked me in the eye and told me that he knew he fucked up the best thing that ever happened to him. I had waited years to hear that, but at the time, I had just started dating B and all I could think about? B is going to walk around that corner, see me talking to you, ask questions, and after I gave him the back story, he would feel as insecure about me and Original Ex as Original Ex made me feel about us. I thanked him for the closure, told him I was in love with someone else, and begged him to please just leave, before B came back. I never wanted to make anyone feel the way he had made me feel -- doubtful in what I believed was real.

I thought of this tonight because I got an email at work from Original Ex - behold the power of Google. It amazes me how this three or four month relationship really affected the both of us. The email was terrific -- great update on his life, what he has accomplished (for the record? Don't dismiss the 7-Eleven clerks. If they meet the right girl, they can become positively inspired and do amazing things) and what he has been up to in the past (egad) nearly 20 years. The subject line of the email was "The One That Got Away" and it concluded with this (cut and paste) excerpt:

"I thought you should know that rarely does a week go by that I don't think about you and the time we were together. You are the kind of woman that haunts a man, if for no other reason than your laugh, and you are the kind of woman that can change a man forever. You changed me and I will always be grateful that I had that one summer with you. Best time of my life."

Until I read that, I was ready to respond to him, apologize again for dating his twin brother and wish him well. But after reading that, I realized that we have said everything we needed to say and we were both better off for having had that failed relationship. I didn't need closure, as I had closed the book on that years ago, but nevertheless, that email and those words validated that I hadn't overvalued the relationship, as I am clearly wont to do. It was a big deal, even if it took almost twenty years to fully figure out.

Right back at you, Original Ex.

1 comment:

Norm said...

+1 brazilian points for use of "and then the pigeons came" in a serious work of memoir.

(less than three)