Monday, May 18, 2009

The Pith And The Pendulum ...

I have emotions on my mind.

I'm not feeling emotional, mind. I'm feeling rather stoic this morning, actually. Or analytical. Or detached. Or curious. Or fascinated. But not emotional.

I just fired off a text to College Boyfriend David. He called last week on his way home from teaching and when I answered the phone, having seen his number on Caller ID, with, "Hey, honey, what's up?", he said, "I'm just calling to say that you don't bring me flowers and you don't sing me love songs and you don't call me anymore."

Which is true. I don't call him. But not because I don't want to talk to him. He's just one of the most insanely busy people I know, so I never know when to call him, when he won't be in class, when he won't be with his kids, when he won't be otherwise disposed. So I just let him call me.

But I text him from time to time. It's less obtrusive. And interestingly enough, I added texting to my phone after a conversation with him. I had told him that I thought texting was stupid, as the point of a phone is to call people, but he convinced me that texting is handy to have, so now I have it, and now I text more than I talk. Not because I'm anti-social but because the cell coverage in my house sucks. I guess the Verizon posse is busy with other customers.

David, though, is the only "man from my past" with whom I keep in touch, and our past was a long time ago. I was a sophomore in college. That means we dated, let's see, in ... 1879.

No, not really. It was 1989. A mere 20 years ago.

Twenty years. Half my life ago. I met him when I was 19. Right this minute, I'm 39.

Twenty years. Huh.

But as I was saying, he's the only one I keep in touch with, and what's fascinating me this morning is how widely feelings for one person can swing. (My iTunes, which I've mentioned is surely synched with my brain, just shuffled up a tune from the Era of G. For those of you who don't know about G, go back to my archives starting with November 2005.)

In a relationship, in those early days, everything is heady. Everything is worthy of anticipation. Even the un-date-like moments are fun because I'm with the other person. But I also like those banalities because they're a little bit of real life. Early on, dating, in theory, is all about dates – movies, dinner, drinks, etc. – but I like sharing the everyday stuff, too. It's a little glimpse into what life would be like with the person I'm with.

Of course, to date, none of those early scenarios have converted into "the" relationship.

But in those moments, all the little gestures and gazes sustain that heightened level of giddiness.

Until things end.

And then there's sadness for a little while.

And then a separation mechanism kicks in and the emotional pendulum swings wide the other way, and if the other person is still in my life in some form, I basically want him to go away.

It's not intended as cruelty. My brain just works its way around to a place of "You didn't want to date me anymore, so now leave me alone."

As I once told a man who was breaking up with me but who told me he wanted to keep me around because I made him laugh and he liked to vent to me when he had a bad day: "I am not an a la carte menu."

The "friend" thing almost never works. For me, anyway. It's too hard for me to dial a relationship back from its previous intensity and intimacy.

Except in the case of College Boyfriend David. I'm not sure why we've lasted all these years. We don't see each other often. Making coffee this morning, I was thinking back to when he was here over Memorial Day weekend – two years ago – and wondering where two years have gone.

But we talk from time to time and we text from time to time and we have that kind of relationship in which no amount of time is insurmountable. We always just pick up right where we left off.

The others are exes. David is a friend.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aren't true friends wonderful? :)

6:59 PM  
Blogger J. Marquis said...

Great title.

8:24 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

Thanks, J! I was rather fond of it when it popped into my head!

8:26 PM  

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