Friday, November 16, 2007

picking up the pieces and filling in the blanks

Busy times and trouble gathering my thoughts has kept me from posting any updates for awhile now. I hope I can do better in the coming weeks, but here's something I've been working on for awhile now..

My annual trek back to Michigan for homecoming weekend in October is a time to get together with the girls I played softball with in college, and a time to see family and friends. With homecoming also comes the chance of running into people I went to high school with since both university and high school are in the same small town.

While in high school, there were a number of kids who couldn't wait to get out.. get out of high school and away from small town living and small town values. Some of those kids came back for good, and some, like myself, make their annual trek back homecoming weekend, Thanksgiving weekend, or around Christmas time. I was one of those people who needed to get out of the small town. I love it to death and it will always be my home, but I needed to grow up, and I needed to move to allow that to happen. My first real job out of college was in Ann Arbor, MI, where I lived for 17 months before up and moving to Baltimore. I didn't like where I was living or what I was doing, and I didn't want to be stuck doing that for the rest of my life.

So I left.

I moved someplace where I knew only 2 people and didn't have a job, and from there, I started over. I got a job, I joined a tri club and went out and met new people, I moved to DC and met more people and started dating again. I had a handful of relationships that lasted a couple years and a few that lasted a few months. Over the course of time, from when I moved to Ann Arbor to Baltimore and now to DC, I'd like to think I grew up some; that I matured. Some might argue otherwise, but I know where I started from as a 16 yr old right with my first girlfriend.

So it was quite a surprise to see her again after breaking up back in 1997.. over 10 years ago.

The last I saw her was probably 2001 at a softball tournament, but I had heard some rumblings about her living and teaching in the area. I knew her family was around and would see them at church occasionally, but never made any attempt to contact her. What was the point? To rehash the almost 4 years we were together? I didn't want that. No need to live in the past. Besides, I'm liking the looks of the future that lies ahead of me right now.

We ended up meeting up at the same bar around 11:30pm and chatted until closing time at 2am. It was great to catch up with her again to find out what's been going on the last 10 years. Sure, we talked about "remembering this person?" and little quirky things, but I'm beyond that. I got over it, got over her (finally) in 2001 after I last saw her. I had a Rubbermaid container of memories (cards, notes, etc) that I threw away - container and all. Does that mean I forgot about her? No. Our relationship was dead, so why try to hold onto the pieces of it any longer? I still have the mental memories and maybe a few stray pictures somewhere that's enough for me.

What was interesting was hearing her side of the story of why we broke up, and when she thought I cheated on her ("We were on a break!"). When we split, a close friend of mine later told me that breaking up with her was probably the best thing that ever happened to me. I couldn't agree more. Out time together was a huge stepping stone in my life since I was so young, and through the good and the bad, made me the person I am today. I have no regrets, but I have moved on.

We've continued to email off and on since my visit and the shattered pieces of our past started to come back together. It's amazing to hear the different paths we took and the struggles, her more than me, that we've had to overcome. As strong willed as I thought she was, there's a lot she kept to herself that she now works out with a therapist as well as on the tennis court. We all have our own outlets.

She has mentioned that she doesn't want to ever lose touch with me again and hopes we can have a great friendship. To what extent, I don't know. I don't want to fall into the same trap of broken promises, so I am wary and will keep my distance and let her come to me. If talking with me helps her put the pieces of her past together and iron things out, then I'll do what I can to help.


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