Thursday, November 6, 2008

Breaking Up is Hard to Do

I try hard not to censor myself on this blog. It’s important for me to have a space where I can tell silly stories, but especially to work out whatever’s on my mind at a given moment. It is important to have this outlet. Since my last break-up, I’ve been hesitant to write anything about it. It felt like I was censoring myself, but the boundaries were in my mind’s difficulty to make sense of it. I’ve spent the past six months trying to understand what happened and take it in.

I have worried and still worry that I won’t find anyone I connect with the way we connected or who will love me as well as he loved me. I’m worried he spoiled me, and I won’t have something that good again.

Sometimes I mention The X, and when I do, it’s usually a hint about “what went wrong.” I haven’t gotten too specific about that because it is complicated and also so close to my heart. The truth is I miss him. And I have missed him. I’ve thought about him every day since we broke up. He is a good man, and one I will always love and hopefully also one I will always know.

We were involved for three years. I wrote a post about it a year or so ago. Check it out – I was such a sap!

In August 2005, I got laid off from a job I hated. I wanted out of Atlanta, and I seized the opportunity to start fresh. Two weeks before I moved, I temped for a week as a receptionist. X worked there. I still remember the first time we talked.

I was trying to find a file on a computer, and someone was helping me. He stood close by and started humming, “Passenger Seat” by Death Cab for Cutie. I said, “Hey! I know that song. I love that band.” Months later, he confessed he was testing to see if I recognized a song by his favorite band. I am so clueless.

The last day I was there, he said he heard I was moving to DC. He loved it there and would be visiting soon. He asked for my number so he could call when he was in town. Again, oblivious me, I thought nothing of it. Until he called a couple days later, drunk after a long day of tailgating, and left the best voice message I’ve ever received.

“Hey. This is X. I just called to tell you I think you’re super cute. Super cute. I like you. And I know you’re moving next week, but before you go, we should get together and share some cold, domestic, light beers.”

It made me laugh a lot, and you know I called him back. How great is that message? It makes me grin just thinking about it. He’s such a straightforward communicator, and I was so attracted to that because I’m the same way.

I didn’t have any intention of seeing him before I left, but the guy I was dating at the time…well, that’s another story, but let’s just say things went south…so I thought, “You know what? I’m gonna call that guy who thinks I’m super cute and invite him to my going away party.” And I did just that.

We had fun, and at the end of the night, we stopped at a gas station and talked by his car. A homeless man asked me for money earlier when I was pumping gas, and I gave him a couple bucks. While X and I were talking, the same man came up and asked for money. I reminded him I’d already given him some, and X later told me it made him think I was the sweetest, cutest girl he’d ever seen. Aw. He said it made him want to kiss me, but he chickened out. What he did was give me Death Cab’s new cd and tell me it was a gift to remember him by. He was so cheesy, but you know me – I lapped it up.

We kept in contact with emails and phone calls, but nothing too serious. I just thought of him as a friend. Until one night, about two months after I moved, he called, and we ended up having one of those great, long conversations where you share everything about who you are. We talked for three or four hours that night. So long, my face was hot from my cell phone.

A few more super long conversations later, and we both bought plane tickets to visit each other. My weekend in Atlanta came two weeks before his weekend in DC. Riding up the escalator to baggage claim, my stomach was full of butterflies and nerves, and I saw him standing, waiting for me, holding a single red rose. Our first kiss was in the airport parking garage. In November 2005 – almost exactly three years ago.

It was a sweet beginning, but we later dubbed that “The Awkward Weekend.” He teased that I was a cold fish, and I joked that he had moon eyes. The truth was that I wasn’t ready for anything big or serious. I wasn’t over my last boyfriend. He really broke my heart, and it took me a year and a half to fully get over that and heal.

In that time, X waited, and we became close. He had a girlfriend at some point, I had a couple one-monthers, and every few months, we’d find ourselves pulled back together. There was something very real there that neither of us could let go of.

We had our problems. We didn’t work out. We weren’t meant to be. But I don’t want to talk about any of that. I don’t need another post-mortem. When I see him now, I don’t have the desire to kiss him. I don’t miss him that way. But I do want to hug him. I want to be near him. I want to have real conversations – something we were always able to do. I think we worked because we communicated. And we communicate in similar ways, which is near impossible to find.

We connect in a way I haven’t experienced before or, of course, since. We made sense to each other. He got me instantly. I never had to explain myself to him - he just knew me. In most of my relationships, that never happened. I've never been with anyone I could talk to the way we talked, never been able to open up in those ways or be totally intimate and vulnerable. One of my best friends told me yesterday that I seem like the most open person, but people who know me see that I’m not at all. With him, I was.

He's incredible - a writer and a firefighter with a master's in international affairs, such a Renaissance Man. We always have the best political discussions, and I miss sharing the Sunday paper over coffee. He always makes me laugh. We always have fun – it doesn't matter what we’re doing. We’re always comfortable. Everything's easy – no drama, no mess. I never felt nervous or that I had to watch what I said or did. He was my very best friend for three years. I miss that so much.

This summer was hard for me because I had to let go. Everything in DC makes me think of him. We only talked a few times a week. Text messages, emails. We talked on the phone just twice while I was in DC. It was too hard. When you share so much with someone, when there is so much love, it hurts because you know it can’t ever be like it was. Before, we told each other everything. We talked a couple times every day, which would normally annoy me, but never with him.

One night in June, a great date with a new guy was ending. As we walked past X’s old firehouse, the new guy asked if I wanted to spend the night. A million thoughts went through my head in that brief moment, but a big one was X. There was his firehouse. I even paused to glance at it. It felt like he was watching me. It’s a totally different thing when you’re used to looking into the eyes of someone you love who loves you than getting into bed with someone you hardly know. It ended up being a wonderful night, and one I don’t regret, but it was a tough first step. As moving on always is.

When my grandfather got worse this summer, there was only one person I wanted to talk to. And I couldn’t. A Friday night in August, I drove from DC to my grandfather’s house. His doctor visited that evening, and I sat on a bed in his house knowing that he was getting bad news just a few feet away. I cried. All I wanted was to talk to X. For a few moments, I wished we were still together because he would have been right there with me. And if not, he would have been calling and texting and checking in on his booger. Ha. He called me Booger, and I called him Goober.

When I saw him for the first time after my grandfather died, he asked lots of questions (he always asked questions, and I liked that because it made me feel like he cared). I answered them all honestly. But it felt different. It felt weird, I was guarded. I knew that as much as I wanted him to be the one I talked to about all that happened, he couldn’t be.

We’re seeing each other tonight, and I know it’ll be great. I always feel comfortable and safe with him. We still care about each other so much. As hard as it is to forge a friendship after a long, intense relationship, it is a necessity to both of us. I cannot imagine my life without him in it. I cannot imagine never knowing him. He helped me grow and change so much. He is a special man, and being a part of his circle is a special place to be. I am lucky to have known such love in my little life. I am lucky to call such a great man a close friend.


Anonymous said...

you have a very mature way of looking at it.. i'm kind of friends with my ex but it's too hard for me to be really good friends. I just can't get over what happened or seeing him with someone else!

The Alleged Ringleader said...

I too cling to memories and conversations and the way I felt talking about things with certain people. You don't always click like that with everyone...

The Dumbest Smart Girl You Know said...

That's wonderful! I hope you have a great time.

One day, I hope to forge a friendship with my ex, that one day that will feel right. I think it would be best for us and our kids, but right now it's just too hard. The wound is raw. He'll always be in my life, though...and after all we've been through, it would be a shame not to be able to call him a friend.

mushashii said...

your post made me cry. i went through a similar thing and it's hard to move on from something that special. it's nice that you are coming to terms with everything. i'm cheering for you.

Carolina Girl said...

I hope things went well! It's so hard to break up with someone but even harder when they really are a good person. I actually spent some time this weekend with a girlfriend that just went through a breakup this past week. She said that it would be so much easier if he was a jerk or had cheated or something awful, but he truly was a good man and just didn't think it would work out. This guy you dated sounds like a great person.

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