Ghosts

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.)

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19 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. floreksa
    Jul 28, 2008 @ 19:03:00

    Honestly I think we all have that guy and we’ll always wonder because we never did try with them.I sure have that guy. I wonder about him, probably too much, find myself sometimes daydreaming how my life would be different if we had gone for it.But then you look around and sure you see the bad, but you see A LOT of good and you just tell yourself, even if you did try with them and they were the one, then someone else would be the one that got away.I’m convinced it’s human nature to want what you don’t have and to think that it would be better.But DAMN you’ve got some balls to post what we all think about 😉

    Reply

  2. daysgoby
    Jul 28, 2008 @ 19:20:00

    Well said.Mine was Scott. And I will ALWAYS wonder….

    Reply

  3. KellyABean
    Jul 28, 2008 @ 19:21:00

    Ohhh yeah… we all have that “someone.” Kudos to you to have the guts to talk about it.

    Reply

  4. Ree
    Jul 28, 2008 @ 20:13:00

    That guy, for me, is my ex-husband. If I could have gotten past the marijuana. and the porn. For a life in the mountains of Wyoming…bikes and adventure.But I wouldn’t have had Shortman. Or Mr. Hot. And then it all seems to focus.But I understand MB. I truly do.

    Reply

  5. Lara
    Jul 28, 2008 @ 20:21:00

    It always amazes me that my “that guy” still pops into my mind as often as he does… 13 years after we broke up. I think it must be quite common and the wondering will probably never really go away. excellent post.

    Reply

  6. Stomper Girl
    Jul 28, 2008 @ 22:02:00

    I don’t know.. if he never had the guts to start something with you in all those chances, then maybe he’s not the one? I don’t think it hurts to have a little what-if fantasy in your head though….

    Reply

  7. Major Bedhead
    Jul 28, 2008 @ 22:07:00

    I don’t think he was the one, SG, not really. He’s just the one I wonder about the most, probably because what happened was so weird and unexpected at the end.

    Reply

  8. Lara
    Jul 29, 2008 @ 02:17:00

    i agree with floreksa – i think most (if not all) women have the one who makes us wonder “what if…?” no matter how happy you are, it’s natural to wonder what it would be like if things had happened differently. the fact that you don’t wonder ALL THE TIME just proves that you really are happy with where you are – the moments you question are few and far-between.

    Reply

  9. SciFi Dad
    Jul 29, 2008 @ 06:30:00

    I honestly believed that when I clicked through after reading this post in my feed reader I would discover that you had taken this down.I recently reconnected with my long lost relationship partner on Facebook after more than ten years. We have exchanged a couple of FB messages, but otherwise nothing. The spark isn’t there anymore… she’s still single and childless, and my life is in a completely different place now. I’d love to have a real conversation with her sometime, but not to rekindle – just to find out what happened.

    Reply

  10. Fairly Odd Mother
    Jul 29, 2008 @ 06:50:00

    Here’s the thing: he must be incredibly indecisive if you could have been with him all those times and he never made move. What was holding him back? Kids, smids—if he didn’t like kids, he should’ve just let you go and not strung you along (he must’ve realized you felt the way you did).That said, you captured it all PERFECTLY! I think we all have one we wonder about, and one that we longed for but never made move until it was too late.

    Reply

  11. Ms Picket To You
    Jul 29, 2008 @ 09:39:00

    mine was Chris. he cheated on me with the woman who became his wife. the woman who later hit on my husband.he is dumb as a brick, dumber maybe. but i still i wonder…

    Reply

  12. elizasmom
    Jul 29, 2008 @ 09:40:00

    Adding my voice to the chorus of “have someone I wonder about” — realistically, I know it wouldn’t have worked (and google supports this) — but still…

    Reply

  13. Andrea
    Jul 29, 2008 @ 13:11:00

    I had someone I wondered about for over a decade–we had a disastrous pseudo-relationship and it took all the wondering right out. Thank the gods I didn’t end up with him. It never would have lasted.Why didn’t he say something? Better question: why didn’t you?(Not that I’m good at that myself.)

    Reply

  14. Tammy
    Jul 29, 2008 @ 17:00:00

    I think that everyone wonders about what would of happened. I know I did and have that college bf that I loved dearly…couldn’t make the commitment at the time…so now I am married to someone else who is very wonderful. But there is always that thought when something out there reminds me of him.Very honest post. Kudos to you:)

    Reply

  15. Dea
    Jul 29, 2008 @ 20:22:00

    I totally agree – we always wonder. Heck, I still wonder about a guy who was abusive. Silly, silly girl that I am. I think you have amazing guts and heart to post about it – look at all of us sharing about our “what ifs” kwim? 😀

    Reply

  16. ourlittlefunnybunny
    Jul 29, 2008 @ 21:30:00

    You're not the only one. I also have someone that I think about on & off for the last 13 years. We went out several times 13 years ago although he had a not so serious g/f at the time and I was single…we then lost touch and recently we found each other on that dreaded facebook. And now he's single and I'm not. He wishes he had done things differently back then, I wish he did as well. But now the sparks are no longer there and time has changed it all…but it doesn't stop me from thinking about him whenever things are tough at home.

    Reply

  17. mamatulip
    Jul 30, 2008 @ 12:58:00

    I still wonder about my first boyfriend. My first everything. I still dream about him. Still wonder what may have happened, if only…

    Reply

  18. TraceyTreasure
    Jul 31, 2008 @ 11:51:00

    Wondering “what if?” is perfectly normal. At least that’s what I tell myself. I think people do it all the time. I was wondering about a friend from school and my bff of over 25 years called me and said that she’d just found out that he died this past March. I was wondering about him about the same time. Just wondering….nothing else…..People from your past have touched your life whether in a good way or not. They make us who we are. Don’t go looking for greener grass…It’s usually full of weeds and shit!! 🙂 Hope this passes for you!! Hugs and love, T

    Reply

  19. crazymumma
    Aug 04, 2008 @ 15:34:00

    yeah, there is one I sometimes think about. How can we not?

    Reply

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