It is Friday night or Saturday morning. Someone from my past is writing and calling again. His first letter sounds so sincere. Thanks, he says, for everything you did for me. He misses my friendship, he says. But when he calls, he seems to be pining for the woman I was back then – and not the friend, although I was always that too.
The pleasantries are barely observed when he steers the conversation in the direction of what-are-you-wearing. I tell him: capris and a big…thing. I don’t know what you call it. A baggy top that I’m wearing because it’s Saturday and I don’t care what I look like. In the time he’s remembering fondly, I would have cared. I worked my ass off to keep romance and interest going, to keep his ego stroked.
But now, instead, I offer an excited summary of the Prime Minister’s apology to Aboriginal and Inuit people and tell him about the Powwow last week, the pictures I took, how beautiful the day, the dancers. The impatience at his end is palpable. He takes another run at arousing some sense of romance. He hits another wall. And so it goes until I say, I’m hanging up. Really, I’ve got nothing more. Write me, why don’t you? There’s zero animosity at my end, I just have better things to do than counter his moves. Want a friend? I’m in. But otherwise…
I’m a Romantic in Recovery.
And I have company. Me and my friend, Drifter, have our own little 12 step program.
Drifter and me have been “undating” since March. We decided to call it that because both of us were still crawling through the broken shards of our last relationships. Drift had lost his brother and his love almost at the same time. I had been trying to brazen it through missing my lost love by searching for someone new. Too soon and through the internet. The results were predictably catastrophic. We knew that neither of us could even contemplate launching into another relationship, but neither of us wanted to sit at home intoning the Poe mantra, “Nevermore.”
We’ve been keeping company, in our weird quirky way, for over four months. We talk on the phone nearly every day. We’ve considered, both of us, that “things” might develop. It seemed logical enough. We find each other attractive and interesting. We understand each other very well – and we are nearly at the same level of introversion, give or take…
Suddenly, we’ve realized that we just aren’t that needy anymore. We don’t have to have a partner. We’re happy with our lives, more often than not and happy to have a real friend of the opposite gender, someone honest and fun to be with. Someone you can call every day and no matter what the mood is on either side, it’s fine. Someone who understands you and values you. No eggs to walk on here.
It’s as if a lifetime of grand love affairs and being swept away has amounted to a vaccination against that kind of romance. It’s a heady thing, that feeling – like being perpetually drunk. Sure, there are the deathly hangovers and your life is out of control but isn’t it wonderful when you’re up there at the top of the high?
And isn’t it wonderful when the illusion shatters, when you stop pining for it, when the real becomes more valuable and precious than the ideal?
Yes. It is.