Ghosts

Lent 2017

I am Catholic. I was raised Catholic, I’ve been a fallen Catholic, I’m selectively Catholic, I’m a practicing Catholic. As Lent approached this year, the obligation of giving something up or doing something extra for forty days felt particularly necessary. I don’t know why. As a child, I gave up soda, candy, chocolate, pizza.  Some years this was easy (we really didn’t eat pizza that much), some years it was plain old not fair (my birthday falls during Lent and what’s a kids’ birthday party without soda?  PUHleeeeeze!). In adulthood, when I was in practice, I would always find truly difficult, usually food, items to forgo for the season. The “you’re going to hell” French fry event of 2007 was tough. This year that didn’t seem enough.

I needed to sacrifice something that would spur betterness in my existence. 2017 has brought everyone I know to some sort of negative state:  Angst. Terror. Fear. Judgement. Depression. On a daily basis even the most positive among my comrades is struck by overwhelming negativity from outside sources.  We can blame politics, we can blame technology.  Ultimately, we can only blame ourselves.  So…..

Two weeks ago I gave up my emotional hoarding of baggage from broken relationships. (Succinct sacrifice, huh?) I have committed to releasing ALL of those broken relationships: romantic partners, friends, former employers- all of them. You know I love to hoard. You know part of me loves my ghosts. You know I love dissecting and dwelling. I hope that the concerted effort to relinquish this baggage releases moments of envy. I admit it- ENVY. I hope it makes me focus on more gratitude and appreciation for my life and the current, wonderful relationships I have and are mutually cultivated. I hope it brings me to practice greater gratitude on a daily basis and release relationships that have run their course more easily. Joe is really good at this and I know I can be better. When I do it, I feel peaceful. THAT’S a positive goal.

In two weeks, I have failed twice.  Last night, most notably. Being regularly indulgent in meanders down romantic relationship Memory Lane, it isn’t surprising that my first failure was Christopher related. I was travelling through the town where we met and- boom. There he was.  I had just filled my Jeep with gas and was heading back home, he pulled out right in front of me. It happened super fast and for the next seven and a half miles, I found myself wishing we’d end up in the same place at the same time, sharing a laugh about coincidences. I willed him to call me, sharing a “blast from the past” Dan Fogelberg style. I hoped for a text if he got to his destination before I did mine, a friendly, “Was that you behind me?” inquiry. Lenten observance? EPIC FAIL. The rebound wasn’t terrible, though. I called Joe. We laughed at the small-townie-ness of it all, even several counties away. I sought solace and comfort in my spousal equivalent. The Christopher part of my life is encapsulated and done. This failure was a blip on that proverbial radar. I can repent and refocus.  

Last night, however,  it wasn’t an ex-boyfriend that plagued me; it was a series of lost friendships, all sparked by the memory of one great friend that I really miss. The gal-pal I started to mourn and try to release was a best-friend seven years ago. We started hanging out when her two kids were close in age to two of my three nibblings and we’d get together in child-friendly scenarios. When my nibblings got older and were with me less, we still got together. Seven years ago, we became a type of “mommy friend”, laughing, gossiping, and trading stories while digging for Goldfish crackers, juice cups, and baby-wipes. [Although she has recently pointed out to several mutual friends on several occasions that I am not a mommy and never was.  Thanks for that, friend.] Our friendship seemed deeper than just “moms” on play-dates. [It seemed deeper than to offer such a snarky comment.] She used “BEST FRIEND” first. She talked smack about her other friends to me. She called me in the middle of the night when her husband didn’t come home after work, another time when her son spiked a fever and she needed someone to sit with her daughter. I called her to bring ice when I’d run out for girls’ night, when my nibblings’ mom died, needed chips for a play-date. Then she disappeared. She stopped calling, stopped texting, stopped interacting with me on social media. She’s still out there, in the universe. I see her interacting with others. I see her out places- both in-person and as she checks-in via Facebook. I see her fostering new relationships. I’m just not her friend.  And it hurts. It feels like betrayal.  I’m confident that now, I am the friend she’s talking smack about in another woman’s kitchen.   

Last night I let the loss of her friendship consume me.  By the time I got home from a meeting, I was flushed, angry, and on the verge of tears. (Note to self: don’t go to lengthy, boring township meetings where electronics are frowned-upon and you’re left to stew in your own pensiveness.) As I regaled Joe with my day, it became a steady stream of laments about other relationships that wore out. They had run their course, as nearly all do. Joe kept trying to get me to see the silver-lining. The first five attempts were not received well on my part, I admit. I couldn’t keep squelching his unsinkable hope, though, and relented. He’s right. Who needs them (her)? I have other people and places that require and appreciate my energy far more than a shattered faux-friendship of nearly-a-decade ago.  To be fair to the “bestie” of days gone by, maybe we were actually best friends. For that moment in time. Maybe we served a specific purpose and quickly moved on, like a mushroom that pops out of a block in Mario Bros.

My self-check was the point of ENVY.  Was there anything I envied? Do I envy her? Do I envy her new “friends?” Surprisingly, NO and NO. I’m sad, I’m hurt, but I don’t envy anyone because of this abandonment or betrayal or loss.  I’m grateful for the time we had together, grateful for the experiences “our” kids shared, and hopeful that there wasn’t anything larger at play on her end of the feelings. I hope she’s not harboring some hurt, some injustice she’s endured at my hands, or anything like that.  Sometimes, it just doesn’t work out.

I also slept really well last night, thanks to the emotional fatigue that settled in around 11pm.

Fingers-crossed I don’t continue to fail in my Lenten observance an average of once a week. Who knew this would be more difficult that passing on the soda at my own 10th birthday party?

2016 Out, 2017 In!

Yes, I’m aware that the new year is already 36 days old.  Cut me some slack. I just unearthed a box of unopened mail from December 2014. My “to do” list isn’t exactly up to date.

Last year I wrote about New Year’s resolutions and detailed what I hoped to accomplish in 2016. That post is here. In the interest of accountability, I give you my results:

1- Exercise 3 times a week.

VICTORY!  There were months where I took an average. Forgive me.

2- Read 2 books a month:

FAIL. To be clear, I won’t let myself “count” any audio books I listen to, which would push me well into the VICTORY category. I only “count” books I read with my own two eyes. I only accomplished ½ my goal.

3- Write 1 new blog post a month:

FAIL.  Dismal, pathetic failure. 2016 was tough. I didn’t write here because…well…I didn’t feel there was worth in the practice. I didn’t feel valued. I didn’t feel that anyone read or cared. I didn’t think writing for mental clarity or the actual writing exercise had merit. 2016 did a number on me.

4- Save some money.

FAIL. No discussion.

5- Send 1 handwritten note- unsolicited- to a real person every month.

VICTORY! This was the best practice I implemented in my life in 2016. It was fantastic. I sent all 12 notes, excluding “Thank You” notes and notes to cast members or interns during the summer theatre season. Some notes included a small gift, all notes were sincere and had a specific point. Fully half of the notes were acknowledged by the recipient.

6- Meal plan for our house every week. EVERY SINGLE WEEK.

VICTORY!  This was the second best practice I implemented in my life in 2016. In the past I have been a fan of spontaneity and “What do you feel like?” dinner plans. My meal planning in 2016 left room for that flexibility, but significantly reduced my grocery spending and overall food waste.

7- Keep up those other successful bits of awesome I attempt.

VICTORY!  I concede, however, that this is subjective.  Some days just showering and leaving the house fulfilled my “bits of awesome.”

I have plans for 2017.  

1- Exercise 3 times a week.

I thought about eliminating this from “resolutions” because I enjoy a generally fit lifestyle. Seeing the workouts logged, knowing I made a promise, and keeping the promise motivates me.

2- Read 2 books a month.

This should be easy for me. I used to read three books a week. I can easily read a 300 page novel in a sitting. I must do this.

3- Write 1 new blog post a month.

I cannot doubt what I know works for me. Even my shallow, emotional rants serve a purpose in my consciousness. I also have been listening to a storytelling podcast (The Moth- go listen!) that reminds me:  I have stories to tell.  2017 is the year I tell my stories.

4- Focus on financial health.

A slight modification from past years’ “Save some money” resolutions, financial health is different. I’m returning to a period in my life where I sat every Monday morning and balanced checkbooks, transferred money to savings, evaluated money in/out, and saved for vacations and extravagances- all without relying on lines of credit. 2017 and 2018 bring some milestones to my and Joe’s life and I’d much rather enjoy them than not.

5- Send 1 handwritten note- unsolicited- to a real person every month.

I’m telling you: try this. Real mail, real letters, real appreciation for a human in your life. This not only brightens someone else’s day, you will marvel at how many people you have to choose from. Sitting and thinking of who is (or was) a light in your life keeps marvelous perspective.

6- Date Joe more- 2 times a month, I hope.

Like any couple, we used to have a set “Date Night.” During hectic weeks or months (and honestly, the years 2010-2013), we’d laugh and vow to make it up. We spend lots of quality time together, but we’re going to try to spend concerted “Dates” together. We even made lists of places to check out for a few hours, restaurants to visit. We’ve been RedBox – ing movies together. It’s really, REALLY nice. #year13

7- Organize these digital photos.

UGH. My goal is 50 per day, all year long. If I get 1,000 per month I’ll be happy, though. That *might* get my iPhone cleared up.

8- An overall de-cluttering initiative.

To be fair, this started in Fall 2016. I spent several hundred dollars and about nine days working my costume collection. I’ve attacked my personal wardrobe and started utilizing ThredUp and Poshmark to thin out my collections. I’ve dropped three full Jeep loads at Salvation Army. I’ve even been throwing out “souvenirs.” 2017 will bring success with this resolution, I know it.

9- Decrease digital messes.

7, 8, and 9 could probably be combined.  Each day I have nine email addresses I check. That’s nine inboxes of subscriptions, spam, and news. I’m hoping to streamline this to three, each serving a purpose. I strive to unsubscribe from unwanted shopping sites and merge duplicate accounts.

10- Random acts of connection.

If you’ve read anything at all here, you realize that I not only hoard STUFF, I hoard relationships. Or their baggage. Or their remnants. So instead of dwelling on these past connections, I’m trying something fun and fleeting.  I bought Sneaky Cards. Check ‘em out. Random, fun, bold connections with strangers who get to pay it forward into the world is my goal.

SO…..I took most of my 2016 list and put it on the docket for 2017.  I eliminated the meal planning from my list. It is completely ingrained in our household. We waste less, we spend less, we eat better, and our pantry is never harboring random canned goods from early 2006. Keeping the “bits of awesome” should go without saying at this point in my life. If it’s good, keep it. If it’s bad, toss it.

Ten is a lot- a WHOLE lot. One month in, nothing’s been abandoned yet. One month in, all ten feel pretty good.  

Five Years

That lovely application known as “On This Day” on Facebook really shook me yesterday. It reminded me that five years ago I hit my head with a car door and ended up in the ER for seven hours, garnering five stitches above my left eyebrow.  Although the injury healed nicely- I have wrinkles that are more prominent than that scar, remembering what was going on in my life five years ago took my breath away. Realizing how much changes in five years felt like a punch in the gut.

Five years ago….

I was closer to 30 than 40. (Obvs.) The kids were little…James was 8, Mychi 6, Jack 5, David 1, and the rest not even thought of yet. Joey hadn’t yet been in a horrific accident. Our best friends were still our best friends. I worked full time at school.

Normal life stuff. Until I kept recalling the details surrounding the rainy afternoon in May when I opened the driver’s door to the Escape and the corner clipped my forehead/eyebrow.

Kate was still alive. Kate was still awake. Kate was still able to sit up and hear about the kids’ day.

That’s when five years felt like an eternity.

 

Dear Lisa

Dear Lisa,

Remember me? That fun, eager to please, book lending friend of yours? You were probably one of my very best friends despite our short time together. I loved that first time you invited me out.  I was shocked when my assistant covered the receiver with her hand, extending the phone to me.

“Jule, is Lisa.”

“Hello?”

“Hey! What are you doing Tuesday night?”

I immediately assumed you needed a favor: the baby picked up, the dog walked, the groceries shopped for, any one of the mundane tasks I reveled in accomplishing for you because I loved you.  And truthfully, because we acted like family. These were the things you did for family.

“Nothing. What’s up?”

“Wanna go out? I’m thinking dinner and drinks?”

WAAAAHHOOOOOO!!!!!!  She likes me! She really likes me!  I couldn’t believe it! Here we were: separated in age by a decade and at least half a dozen contrasting life decisions. I approached friendships with trepidation: my high school years were riddled with one mean girl after another, each knocking down a different part of my self esteem. My college years helped remind me of my good characteristics, and resulted in some of the best relationships of my life. My post-grad life brought me to you, your husband, and your daughter, a relationship that felt familiar and fantastic. It was as though I had finally met and connected with “my people.” On that afternoon we planned that you would pick me up on Wednesday, your hubby would stay with the baby, we’d do dinner, we’d hit the bars, and another fantastic summer night would be giggled about for years to come.

 

We did go out that night. And when you dropped me off at 3 AM, I broke down sobbing, having seen behind the Lisa curtain. Dinner started with you detailing the diamond earrings you demanded as a push present then progressed to you blatantly making fun of Johnathan- his dancing, his mother, his fashion, his work ethic.  By the time we left dinner and headed to drinks, you “confided” in me that you’d left Johnathan and Rebecca six months earlier and even filed for divorce. Your marriage was in trouble, but you resolved to stay married. The night ended horrifically for me, a spectator in all of the festivities: shots, pitchers, a wedding ring migrating to your right hand, creatively spun “single girl” tales for a group of young MBAs.  You disappeared. Taking off with a strange guy was one thing, asking me to lie to your husband about it quite another. I was devastated. I felt betrayed, embarrassed, sick, and utterly disgusted.

The next few weeks passed quickly. I was on the cusp of a fantastic career opportunity that relocated me. My first month away you called weekly, usually putting the baby on the phone.  Rebecca was just about two and hearing her say my name always made me smile. I sent care packages, you reciprocated. When I came home to visit at Thanksgiving, you three were my only socializing. At Christmas time, I looked forward to our “family dinner” and was shocked that you planned it for a night Johnathan was away. New Year’s Eve I spent alone. I should have known then.

By March, specifically my birthday, you were gone. I didn’t get so much as a phone call, let alone our usual cake/card/gift exchange. In April, my phone calls went unanswered. On May 12th I heard the rumor for the first time. Apparently I was sleeping with your husband.

In the ten years since that moment, I’ve thought of you and your family every single day.  EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. My heart aches when I think of the slander, the abandonment, the loss of the relationship. I never slept with your husband. I never betrayed you. I never lied to you. I loved you with everything I had and earned a broken heart and bruised reputation.  Four years ago, having learned that you STILL perpetuated this lie, I called you.  I emailed you. I emailed Johnathan. The stony silence comforted me. If you weren’t ready for the confrontation, perhaps it was because you knew your own guilt in fabricating such an ornate piece of fiction. Perhaps you would have had to confront your own infidelity, dare I say infidelities. I will never know.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. Rebecca now has to attend two dinners, traveling from your home to your ex-husband’s. Your ex-husband is dating a lovely woman, from what Facebook reveals, and it’s nice that they are geographically compatible to you and your new hubby. I wonder if you cheat on him, too. It never occurred to me to get my books back. I’m finally to an emotional place where I miss them far more than I miss you.

When Facebook stalks for you

Most of us are guilty of Facebook- stalking.  We creep our friends. Our non-friends.  Our exes.  Their currents. Our potentials. This isn’t the act of a rational person, but man is it common! And let’s admit it- sometimes it’s super fun.

When I first got into “modern” social media (circa 2006), it was enthralling to follow digital trails around circles of friends and acquaintances. Nine years later, however, the allure is dead. I barely have time to accomplish what NEEDS to get done in life, let alone indulge in weird surfing like this. In the past, and certainly during the early days of in-home internet access, Googling was it. To a certain degree you had to be good at searching for people, knowing key words and actual life facts. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes those AIM away messages told you everything you needed to know about a person. And if you really had patience, online chat rooms and message boards were riddled with the innermost thoughts of us nerds. In 2015, however, being nosey is a mere swipe away! Social media has taken over so many people’s lives, it is easy to find out where someone vacationed last month, what their kid wore to prom, and certainly what everyone had for lunch today. You don’t even have to do any work; most platforms will suggest people you know based on multiple algorithms. The folks populated in these sidebars share mutual “friends” with you, live near you, work for the same organization, or frequent the same establishments. Makes you re-think all those “Check-Ins,” doesn’t it? I enjoy that Twitter and Instagram don’t force feed these suggestions on me. Facebook however, loves to boss me around.  This week, I’m over it.

For months, a former flame has been popping into my present-tense. We don’t live near each other nor do we see each other anymore, but somehow artifacts from our relationship are appearing everywhere in my home and workplace, songs that haven’t played in twelve years play twice a day, and there are occasional texts. This man remains one of my great loves- from 2001 until 2004 he was everything; I thought I would spend the rest of my life with him. When we decided to back off of our romance (for career considerations), there was no dramatic ending. We were best friends who respectfully agreed to come back to each other. Um, yeah. That didn’t happen. I met Joe and we’re happily ever after. Anyway….because this guy meant so much to me and I him, we’ve stayed friendly- friendly, but distant. Over the past fourteen months that “The Haunting” (as I call it) has kicked into high gear, I’ve been able to ascertain that there are major shifts in his life that have led to him being a little friendlier. I’m glad to be here for that. It’s nice to have respect for our time together and honor the past that helped shape my life, all the while keeping my focus on Joe and our life together. Facebook has other ideas.

First, Facebook decided to suggest him (the ghost) as a friend.  DAILY.  Then- POOF! Nothing.  Thanks, Facebook for making me panic.  Has he blocked me? Why would he block me? Why isn’t he being suggested anymore?  Does he hate me? Is he ignoring me? AAAARRRGGGGHHHH.  I had to Facebook stalk.  Whew.  Still there, still visible.  Still not a “friend.”

Then, Facebook decided to suggest him as a friend each time he changed his profile picture. His first picture was innocuous. A landscape from a vacation. Then he moved on to a possession- hmmm.  I don’t remember him being that materialistic. Then a photo of him and the girlfriend. Wonderful, Facebook, truly. I want him to be happy. And that he’s happy with someone so much less attractive than me is even better. Then “he” was a stock image of a cartoon. Perfect. Thank you, Facebook, for reminding me how cliché he really is.  Finally, back to the girlfriend.  I stopped looking at my friend suggestions.

Two nights ago Facebook upped its game.  As I settled into my five minutes of relaxation at the end of the night, I scrolled down my newsfeed and the “People You May Know” feed was right in the middle of my iPhone 6 screen. There she was. The girlfriend. Facebook, dear, darling, time-sucking, false-intimacy-creating, stupid Facebook, why in the HELL would you suggest this creature to me? And why is she FIRST in a series of 50?! She and I share but three mutual friends- all of them scattered across the easter seaboard, all of them college friends of the man we both “know.” We are not from the same town, we do not have similar interests, nor do we share similar work-backgrounds. Then…Eureka!  Facebook’s peace offering for taunting me was this unfortunate picture- taken in a bar, bad hair color, bad haircut, bad fashion. Is she drunk in this photo? Whoops…did I just click on her name?  Oh my- look at all the public information she has here. Oh dear- did I just peruse all of her public photos and posts? Am I seeing posts in which my ex is tagged so I’m cross-referencing their date nights with the copious texts I’ve received from him, noticing that he likes to atone for flirting with me by taking her to a chain restaurant for dinner?

My five minutes of relaxation turned into 25 minutes of psychotic online creeping. I’m not proud of this, but I do own it. Facebook helped, but I was easily nudged to be the cyber-stalker that Lifetime movies are made of. By the end of this little swipe-session, I was tired, bored, and sad for my former lover. More on that later…

My spring challenge is less time online. This resolution is difficult during the day- have you ever heard of someone working in social media marketing that DOESN’T have a constant feed….or six?! Regardless, down time is essential. Focusing on my spring show is a no-brainer. I’m committed to reading more, running more, lamenting less.  I have a fantastic present, a crazy busy calendar, and fantastic memories that need not be sullied by algorithms, lesser versions of me, or fleeting relationships. Facebook stalked for me and ultimately gave me some closure.

Now, about Snapchat….

 

 

 

I am better than you.

Not you.  You’re my friend.  But I am better than “HER.”

 

There are times you just need to feel superior.  Here’s a really good time to feel superior:

When an ex has a new love.  Not girlfriend.  Not hook up.  LOVE.  And not just any old ex.  A love.  A GREAT LOVE.  Yeah.

 

My “grown-up” sensibilities of wanting this man to be happy are often overruled by my hormones and emotions. I want him to be happy with ME. I want him to want ME. I want him to love only ME. Mature, I know. Evolved, I know. Selfless, I know. The very darkest part of me slips into a mean girl abyss when I think of them, the happy couple. I’m not proud of this. I am very grateful that having travelled to their proximity twice in six months, I will not be back there for at least a year. That will help- I hope. As I take three deep breaths and try to convince myself that I really do want him to be happy, I wonder how the hell that will happen with this girlfriend? I know they have been seeing each other for a while. I know they live together. I know there’s talk of a baby (salt, wound). But she just isn’t good enough for him.

So, in the spirit of my catharsis, in the spirit of recognizing that this is not a particularly unique reaction, and in the spirit of not annoying my friends with my ridiculous laments of, “What If… ” and petty nastiness:

 

Hey, Chippy!  I’m better than you.  Here is the short list of why:

1-  You’re not aging well.  Seriously.  I’ll sell you some Mary Kay products if you promise to use them and break up with him.

2- You seem to be very focused on cheap beer and hot tubs. That’s great. I prefer to have my theatre life, hobbies, civic involvement, culture, continuing education, AND some party time. While I absolutely enjoy a quiet night on the screen porch or in the hot tub, I love exploring and traveling. I love adventure and learning, dreaming and achieving. Perhaps that is not for everyone; I get it- small town life, small time job, and freshly-filled acrylic nails are all you need.

3- You have terrible fashion.  Really, really dreadful. I can help you, but I don’t want to. Keep wearing mom jeans, white capris in October, and perms with straight bangs.

4- Honey.  Oh, honey. You looked way better as a brunette. If you must indulge in blonde, please go to a salon. “Brassy” isn’t a good look on anyone.

5- He looks awful. When we were together, he was fit, well-dressed, and professional looking. Now, I have actually seen him in a camo ball cap. He’s puffy. He’s the heaviest he has EVER been. He’s red-faced all the time. There is such a thing as too much cheap beer in that aforementioned hot tub. And did you buy him those ridiculous dress shoes?  His job is not on Wall Street circa 1985.

6- I’m hotter. And for sure better in bed.

7- I’m smarter.  WAY smarter.

8- We were a power couple. Granted, I’ve moved since then, but we were spectacular. I am confident that we still know every person in that southern zip code and could easily dominate the political and social scenes. And I’m fun.  SUPER fun.

9- I’m a strong independent woman with opinions that I’m not afraid to offer. I like to be challenged, I like to banter, I like to speak up. I’m sure of myself, I like myself, and I stand by the decisions I make. Sometimes I pity you a little because you’re such a weathervane, blowing in whatever direction the wind decides.

10- I genuinely want to participate in the world around me and make it better. I love idle gossip and zoning out at the bar watching football as much as the next gal, but I cannot fathom that being my full-time preoccupation.

Ultimately, I do want my ex/your current to be happy. If that’s with you, so be it. I am going to try and be nice. Starting now. At very least I am going to try and ignore. I will always keep him in my heart and I hope part of his heart is reserved for me, too. I don’t want your boyfriend, I promise. I just want validation that I (and our relationship) was important in his life. For ten years and counting, I have been desperately in love with a wonderful man – a man who thinks I’m better than you, too.

 

Ok…..trying to be nice is starting NOW.

 

 

 

To the sexy man I dated for two and a half years…

Dear Christopher,

A word of caution:  This is intended for the attractive, sexy man I dated for two and a half years (or so).  If he is gone, please disregard. I doubt I will send it to you. Perhaps if it is sent, it will never be read. It is probably a missive that shouldn’t be penned.   Alas, I’m lousy at the “should” and “should nots” of life.

You and our former relationship have been haunting me for quite a while.  In fact, I’ve been visited almost daily since April by memories or artifacts from our time together. It’s a bit strange: if I ponder what the universe is up to, I repeatedly arrive at two conclusions. My “hauntings” undoubtedly align with a major shift/change/decision in your life.  The two most obvious choices are 1) your dad dying and 2) taking the “next step” with your girlfriend.

So why am I inclined to torture us both with white space and questionable font choices? I don’t think I know for sure. I do know that every memory, emotion, and thought of you and “us” I’ve experienced over these five months really affected me.

If you’re actually reading this, I hope I’m not making you uncomfortable. I also hope that if you’re indulging this meander through the past, you know my intentions are pure: I’m grappling with the past (and perhaps a bit of the present) and want to honor it.

Some of the highlights of my recurring memories are of course movies (who knew I’d come to adore The Royal Tennenbaums so much!), songs (“Juliet” by LMNT was, of course, your find), and places. Sometimes they are filled with longing (I should have kept that CD of songs your friend Alex made you to challenge all of my “Juliet” songs), confusion (we really didn’t achieve a break up or closure, right?), and the occasional resentment (it’s impossible to be friends POST-relationship when we weren’t friends PRE-relationship). Some of the ghosts of our past surprise me- I’m preparing a monologue performance for my Gettysburg College Alumni Cabaret on 9/20.  I selected the piece, submitted it, and earned a spot in the program. As I rehearse it, I’m nearly paralyzed by…..drum-roll…..us. You helped me learn these lines twelve years ago in OCMD. The trips we were able to glean, no matter how short, boring, or unplanned are as meaningful to me as trips twelve times in length or to far more exotic locales. There is of course the issue of a super-soft, adorable teddy bear. The kids just don’t understand why they can’t play with or sleep with him. They get downright annoyed that Teddy Bear Christopher (remember that Christmas?!) is off-limits.

Almost every day of the past five months I’ve been able to vividly recall the thrill of seeing your phone number on my caller id. Your office number is still ingrained in my brain. Honestly, seeing your name on my iPhone screen still produces butterflies of glee. You’re one of my great loves, a fact that dazzles and saddens me in one swift gesture.

I adore the defining characteristics of our time together:

~it was all ours.

~it was honest. That seems a bizarre sentiment now.

~it was our best. It was our worst.

~it was easy.

~it was fun.  Really fun.  FUN.

~is was 100%. Weird to say since we clearly parted ways, right? I had have no qualms in giving you all of me and am honored to be someone you trusted with all of you.

~it was the perfect and most necessary event for each of us at a very specific point in time. I hope you feel that way, too.

 

This is a bit much. I’m sorry.

Hearing of your father’s passing was profound. I’m so sorry you lost him so suddenly and can only guess at the circumstances into which you were thrust. When a man has lived as honorably and genuinely as he did, the time never seems right. I certainly don’t have to offer a sentiment this obvious: your dad was a superior man. This is evidenced in everything he leaves behind, most of all YOU. You are an incredible man with an incredible heart, a fantastic mind, and an incomparable spirit. For a week after I heard (which was not timely; please forgive the delay in my condolences), all I wanted to do was whisk you away to the beach, wrap myself around you, and just let you BE- not be strong, not be the caretaker, not be the planner, not be the captain of the family ship….just be.

The worst part of this haunting has been nonsense that comes with overlapping circles of friends, a fact I’d hoped we’d be spared given our geographical incompatibility. In the thirteen years since we jumped into that pool, I haven’t heard nearly as many stories about you as I have since April. It is awful; you deserve better. In fact, what I want more than almost anything in the world is for you to have better- for you to have true and complete happiness.

I’m not writing for anything other than catharsis, I suppose. I love you. I love our past. I love having something that is all mine…us. I love sharing this golden nugget of a story with you. And I really love running into you. The miles between us are many so those few times we’ve happened upon each other have been fantastic. It’s almost as good as planning a job interview for a city in which you’re travelling for business and getting lost in the strangeness of an unfamiliar zip code for hours at a time. 🙂 The more challenging days since April were perhaps my impetus in writing today…

I’m getting too scattered…..

There are days I really (really, really, really, really) miss you. There are days I wish we’d had a more definitive parting. There are other days when I’d change nothing.

You’re a great man. I’m so glad to have you in my heart, I’m so fortunate to have had you in my life. I’m so sorry you lost your dad. I do hope this letter doesn’t alter the friendly texts we are able to enjoy in the present, because I do look forward to them. And if you’re up for a chance meeting and a cold beer…I’ll buy.

You’re my Christopher.

Wishing you only the best,

Juliet