Friday, September 15, 2006

Keeping in Touch

Do we ever silently stop loving those whom we once loved out loud?


More to the point, it's funny who we keep in touch with.

Once upon a time I boldly stood on the rooftops, beat my chest in the moonlight and declared that I had met the one in whom my soul delighted. It was match. Or so I thought. Two years later, as plans were coming together for us to build a life together, I started paying attention to the signals that I had long been ignoring. The problems with his character were no longer endearing quirks, and I found myself suddenly without the ability to turn the other way. Without much more deliberation, I ended the relationship swiftly and cleanly. It was over. Let us spare ourselves the drama and the fighting. No need to drag it out. Rightfully so, he was angry with me, and after the fact, never failed to remind me how much I wronged him. After the 5th psychological guilt trip down memory lane, I summarily lashed back, and we are no longer in each other's lives.

Yesterday, I was driving into the downtown area, and for the first time in a very long time, the thought occurred to me that the person who was once the greatest love of my life and I are once again living in the same city. Or are we? When people have asked me about him, my honest response was that we had purposefully lost touch with each other. He could be living in Timbuktu for all I know. (Although I seriously doubt it. He wasn't much of a risk taker.) I suppose if I wanted to contact him, I could find him where he (probably still) works, but that would take some effort on my part, and really, what would there be to say? Who knows, maybe I'll run into him one day, but this is a big city, and I'm not going to hold my breath.

In the meantime, I still keep in touch with other various and sundry love interests from along the way. One, in particular, is still very much a part of my life, despite the demise of our relationship two years ago. It took a few months after the fact, but he still calls to touch base with me every few weeks. We chat, we give updates, encouragement, and don't hold each other hostage to our failure at not making a go of the "happily ever after" paradigm. No hard feelings. Yesterday, he called me to tell me that he was in the throws of a new relationship with a girl he really liked, and I genuinely was all smiles for him. Funny how that happens. Perhaps the reason for this is that, prior to our involvement, we were good friends who kept in loose touch for years. And even when we were together, we were still best of pals. We never fought. Not even once. We always had a really great time together. Even when the relationship ended, it was so cordial and respectful that we didn't even need to shout about it. I think we were both a little sad about what happened, but neither of us were in a place to take things further. It was mutual parting of ways.

As I sit here writing this, I'm thinking that the ones we do ultimately lose are the ones we really loved the most. Either that, or they are the ones who hurt us the most. I suppose there has to be some direct correlation between love and the ability to get hurt. Anything that intense opens the door to too much air, only fueling the interpersonal fire. Hmm.


Anonymous said...

A lot of material here. I can relate completely to this sense of falling out of someone's life. My first wife (a phrase I've never liked; it implies there always was going to be a second, and it somewhat trivializes the role of the second) and I separated in October of 1998, divorced in November of 1999, and after a half-dozen e-mails she completely disappeared from my life. We had no children, so I suppose there was no need to continue a connection. Although I still find it remarkable -- and I must share some of the responsibility for this -- that a woman to whom I was married, cohabitated with for nearly three years, shared a joint checking account with, is now a ghost, a memory confined to the "dustbin of history".

It's difficult when entire segments of your life are shared nearly exlusively with someone who no longer exists. At times you mourn the identity that was created from the confluence of two lives. Other times you question your sanity and wonder if the events that once seemed so foundational, so critical, ever happened at all.

I am grateful I'm now married to a woman who is secure enough in her rightful place in my life that she allows me to unpack, decompress and sift through these moments of my life.

DC Cookie said...

I honestly believe that when you truly love someone it [the love] lasts forever. You might terminate the romantic relationship and cease visitation or conversation, but right or wrong, your heart will never quit.

Namaste said...

Ah, JMR, you're eloquent response had me hoping for a minute that you were still single. No doubt, your partner in crime these days is a very lucky girl. ;)

Namaste said...


You, my dear, I will love forevah, and evah. We ain't nevah gonna break up...


Anonymous said...

Dear mademoiselle, I have read your well-publicized exploits and at my decrepit age of 35, I am frightened at the prospect of what traction might do to my seminary degree program and publishing career. ;]

Which begs the question: why do all of the compliments and flattery come after one has been rescued from a seeming eternity of singlehood? ;]

All kidding aside, you're a fabulous read and I do invite you to peruse my blog once it's rescued from HTML Damnation.

Con carino. -- JMR

stvelma said...

Hello, all. The discussion about past relationships interested me, I've thought alot about this.
I read that poet Anne Sexton frequently forgot what happened minutes before, expecially if what happened did not match what her expectation was. Even after having an audiotape played back for her! So, she would "misremember" events according to what fit into her "story" better. Even if we say that a person is NOT mentally ill like Anne Sexton, or worse yet BOTH people (a big assumption!), don't well people also try to "complete the (love) story"?
And memory further clouds the issue. As people change themselves, they lose mooring to their past selves. So they forget the details of what they did, what kind of person they were, and what the relationship really was, rather than what it meant to them. If they stay with the same person, that other person can remind them-that's assuming the other person doesn't misremember as well!

Not to trivialize anyone's personal experience, viewpoint or iconography-no matter how much BS it might be! These things are important to us all the same, even if they are only partly true or not true at all.

I've asked myself: do people create their own iconography, then find the person who is most likely to fit in that schema and try to make it work? That seems awfully self-serving, but maybe not so much if we know that we don't have as much power over that creation as we might wish for.
Maybe proximity has something to do with making it work? The other person amends what you think you want into something more realistic?
I've also asked myself: do we always seek after a relationship for the best reasons? No, we frequently seeks after relationships for reasons other than, "Boy, I sure would love to spend the rest of my life with them." And that's a shame, there's not even a chance of happiness with that kind of deal.
Me, I doubt that we can really know anybody. We might be able to get close, and that might be good enough. But maybe your experience has been better than mine!