I've been swimming at the Y every day (well, nearly every day) and thus far, I've loved it. It allows me peace and space to think. I'm not distracted, like I am by the televisions in the cardio room. I don't have sweat dripping down my face and boobs and ass, making me itch and twitch and just generally feel miserable. I can't see a thing while I'm in the water, so I don't even have other people to draw my attention away from what's inside my head. It's almost Zen-like. at least, it's what I imagine a Zen-like state to be. Whatever. It's nice. Calming. Meditative.
Until today. Today, all I could think about was Dave. Dave, my college boyfriend. Dave, the boy who broke my heart, smashed it all to smithereens. Dave, the boy I've never been able to forget, or, if I'm perfectly honest, get over.
I know he still lives in the area. (Yes, I Googled him). I know his mother's still here, too - she's a local artist and teaches at one of the area schools. I also know he's a bit of a hermit, which probably explains why I haven't run into him. I don't exactly get out and about much either. He's also mad about mountain biking and spends most of his time doing that. Or, at least, he did, the last time I saw him.
Dave and I broke up in 1987 (hush. I'm old.) but kept in touch for a year or two after that, sporadically. For a while, it was often enough that I thought there might be a chance of us getting back together again, but that was quashed when I had my son and when he told me he was getting married. After 1989 we didn't speak again. I married (bad, bad idea), moved to Georgia for a few years, had O and that was that.
Until 1997. I had come out here (at the time, I lived in central Massachusetts) to see my sister and go to the Brew Fest in Hipster City To The North. I was standing in this huge hangar-type building, talking to my mother and sister when I turned around and there was Dave, walking towards me. My knees started shaking and I thought I was going to throw up. He spotted me, too, and we both just sort of stopped dead in our tracks, him only for a moment. A smile split his face and he walked over to me and gave me a huge hug. He ditched his friends, I ditched my family and we spent the next three or four hours talking (and drinking) on the lawn outside the building. I told him of my rapidly-failing marriage, he told me of his never-happened wedding and we caught up. And my heart pounded crazily in my chest the entire time.
We exchanged addresses and phone numbers and even though nothing happened between the two of us, I never told my husband that I'd run into Dave. Dave and I exchanged letters, massively long letters about anything and everything. I still have them.... I'd call him on the phone sometimes, when my husband wasn't around. We made plans to get together the next year at the Brew Fest.
By the time I saw him again, my marriage was over and I was days away from moving into my own apartment. And still, nothing happened. We hung out, we talked, we laughed a lot. And it went on like this for another three years. Every time I came out this way to visit my sister, Dave and I would try to get together. And every time, the tension inside me would get ratcheted up another notch, thinking that surely, this time, something would happen, that I couldn't just be imagining the looks he gave me, the fun we had together.
But I knew I had an awful lot of baggage and I knew he was not into children and I figured that's what was holding things back. And so I started dating. I'd been separated for over a year at that point and thought if nothing had happened with Dave by then, it probably wasn't going to. I was disappointed but trying to be realistic. Dave and I still talked and I told him about the people I was meeting and he seemed interested and not jealous and that's when I gave up on the idea of me and him. It was probably silly anyway; a last chance gasp at a fading youth, a shrink (or Dr. Phil) would probably say.
And then I met That Canadian Boy I Married. Who also made my knees go wobbly and my heart go pitter-pat and I thought, here's The One who will put Dave behind me, once and for all. I would still see Dave occasionally, but with no where near the frequency of before. I told him about TCBIM and he seemed fine with it.
Until, one weekend when TCBIM and I were out here visiting my sister again - I'd called Dave to see if he wanted to get together, the three of us, and he was fine with that. Once we got out here, though, I got a phone call from Dave. He said he didn't want to meet TCBIM, he didn't want to see me happy with someone else, that he didn't think he could stand to see that, that it would hurt him too much, and that, furthermore, he didn't think he wanted to continue the friendship.
I don't even know what I said in response. A mumbled "OK," and then I hung up and burst into tears. Why? Why, after all those years when he had a chance, did he wait until now, when I was happy with someone else, did he tell me that?
I put it out of my head, for the most part, but every so often, it crops up again. What if? What if he hadn't waited? Why had he waited? Why couldn't he have told me how he felt before I got all wrapped up in someone new, before I gave my heart to someone else?
Most of the time, I don't think about it. Most of the time, I'm content with TCBIM. He makes me laugh. We get along well, for the most part. He has his faults, and some of them are doozies, but he's a decent person.
But sometimes, when we're having a protracted argument or when the little girls have been demons straight from the lowest circle of hell, for days on end, those are days that get me wondering. Wondering what if, wondering what could have been.
It's not a good place to be, frankly. It makes me feel guilty as hell because, like I said, most of the time, I'm happy.
But still... He's always going to be the one to make me wonder what if....
(I can't believe I'm going to publish this. I haven't even had a drink. Maybe I have more guts than I thought. Or I'm a total idiot. The latter is more likely.)