The other day, from the downtown coffee shop where I sat doing anything and everything besides plan my course for the semester (you know, the one that starts on Monday), I sent a message to my DC friend D: “I am about to do something stupid,” I wrote. “Tell me not to, please.”
“You know me too well!” he replied. And then: “I need details.”
One thing I do know about D is that he is a much more cautious person than myself, and therefore an ideal candidate to disabuse me of whatever misguided venture I find myself approaching.
In this case, the venture in question was the strong desire to text an ex-boyfriend. Specifically, an ex-boyfriend whom I told a year and a half ago that I would not talk to him until he, in pretty specific ways, cleaned up his act.
(He has not. I know this because he lives in town, and because this is a pretty small town, and because it is even smaller when you have offices in the same building and frequent the same bars.)
D dismissed me immediately: “There is no reason to do this other than to make yourself crazy.”
“I just hate the whole no-contact-after-such-intimacy thing!” I tried to explain.
“Sometimes it’s better not to know what you think you need to know.”
Of course, he’s right: just because you think you need to know how your ex is doing (and, also, whether they still want to sleep with you), oftentimes, you’re better off when you don’t.
So why, really, did I want to contact him? I’d like to think it has nothing to do with the fact that, despite the deep personal failings I know all too well, I still somehow manage to feel recklessly attracted to him. Of course, it might. I’d also like to think it has nothing to do with the part of me that is still reckoning with contacting D. And of course, I know it does.
You see, I’ve been feeling nostalgic lately. When you aren’t going through the pretty parts of a relationship, it’s the next best thing to remember them. But, for me at least, those memories turn a little bit bitter when the connection with that person has too.
It’s not that I’m best buds with all my exes. In fact, there’s only one who truly qualifies as a good friend. (But then, as someone who I dated only casually for the six weeks that we lived in the place, I’m not sure he even qualifies as an “ex.” Discuss.)
But there is a category of men from my past with whom I’m on good terms: with whom I know I can, and always will, trade the occasional email or phone call; with whom I know I could have a pleasant conversation were I to see them out, or online.
And then there are those with whom things were never quite resolved: those for whom just the thought of contact fills me with unease.
I hate this. Even though, in many cases–such as with the aforementioned ex, and more recently with D, I’m the one who didn’t want to be in touch in the first place.
And maybe, as my friend/quasi-ex M put it, it’s just part of the deal. It is sucky and strange to cut off totally from someone you once cared for so deeply–but that’s just what happens when you break up.
I’m trying to swallow that. I like the idea of being on better terms with D, and the other guy, too, and I wish that I could be. But I’m not sure, if I were to contact either of them, what it is I would say.
With D I know I have a desire for closure. But I also have no idea what that word means. Much less what it looks like. Much less how to achieve it in the span of a conversation.
So I didn’t send that text. And I haven’t called D, or sent any of the emails I’ve begun writing him.
“You should embrace the unknown,” my friend D advised me. And so, I try: as unpleasant as it always is.