Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Mall

It has been a hectic few weeks in my world. I am starting a new position at the Company and even though it does not officially begin until January, I have been involved in meetings and conference calls for weeks. Plus, I am trying to train another woman to take over the contracts I am already working on, which is not going well. Unfortunately, she is not catching on very quickly so I am forced to do most of the work myself. It's like having two jobs, but only getting paid for one.

As a result, I have been working a lot of extra hours to keep on top of things. The Boy has been in a similar situation at his job. There are lots of projects they want to close out before the end of the year, so he has been staying late at work too. Our primary method of communication on the weekdays has been late night phone calls before we both pass out from exhaustion. We have only had time to see each other on the weekends.

Thursday night I was sitting at home finally able to relax for the first time in days when the message light started blinking on my Blackberry. I figured it was probably from my Mom or one of my sisters since we had been e-mailing back and forth for most of the night. When I opened it up, I saw that there was a message from the Canadian. I had not spoken to the Canadian since he disappeared on me right before Christmas last year, except for the e-mail apology he sent to me over the summer.

My heart was racing as I contemplated the possibilities. Maybe he had finally sorted things out in his life and wanted to try to be with me. Or at least his football season was over and he might have some time just to hang out. The holidays were coming up and I remembered that he would have two full weeks of shut down at work. I took a deep breath and scrolled down to see the subject line.

It said: Name of the Mall. And then I read the rest of the message:

Hi - What was the name of the mall you took me to last year?

That was all he wanted to know. I thought about that day we went to the Mall together last year. It was early December and we had not seen each other for a few weeks. Then the Canadian called me up out of the blue and asked if he could come over one afternoon to take me Christmas shopping. I re-arranged my schedule to work at home in the morning and took the afternoon off to be with him.

He came over to pick me up and we drove out to the Mall. It was just around lunch time, so we stopped and got some food at the California Pizza Kitchen. I was going to order a glass of wine, but he decided to just order the whole bottle and split it with me. So there I was walking around the Mall holding hands with the Canadian in the middle of the afternoon, intoxicated by the wine and the smell of his cologne.

We found this funky t-shirt shop to look for gifts for his kids. I was trying on all kinds of t-shirts with the names of bands that we used to listen to when I was in college. I ended up buying this tiny black tee that said "Motorhead, London." I never actually listened to Motorhead in college, but the Canadian thought it would look sexy with my leather jacket and boots. And that was reason enough to buy it. He disappeared shortly after that, so I never got to wear it out on a date with him. But it turned out to be one of the Boy's favorite t-shirts.

I started to think about how to respond to his note. Maybe I shouldn't write back at all. But I quickly dismissed that option. There was no way I could leave a note from the Canadian unanswered. Then I thought about spouting off a flirty little note, reminding him of what we did the last time we went to that Mall. But it seemed too presumptuous to flirt with him. Plus, I felt like it would be disrespectful of the Boy. So I settled on this:

Hi there - It was 12 Oaks Mall in Novi. Have fun shopping!

I felt satisfied with my answer. It was friendly, but I kept it brief and to the point. I turned off the lights and went upstairs to get ready for bed. A few minutes later, my Blackberry light started flashing again. Another message from the Canadian. This time it said:

Thanks Babe. I hope you enjoy your shopping this holiday season too.

When we were dating last year, it would take days or weeks for him to return a message and now he could answer in a matter of minutes. How times have changed. Although he did recently post on Facebook that he got a new Droid phone so he probably picked up my message right away. Previously he had gone for years refusing to even own a cell phone. I guess it was never a priority for people to be able to get a hold of him.

After I read his message I laid down on my bed and smiled. I knew that I should feel insulted that after everything we went through he contacted me just to get the name of the stupid mall. Doesn't his new phone have access to something called the Internet? How hard can it be to find a mall? But I wasn't angry. In fact, I felt elated at the brief clandestine encounter with my first true love.

Each of us has those elite few people who we will hold in our hearts forever. For me, the Canadian is one of them. My Mr. Big is the other. No matter what that person does to hurt you or how many mistakes they might make, you are always willing to forgive them. At each opportunity, you seek out the best in that person and assume only the most altruistic motives.

On Saturday morning, I was standing in my kitchen when I heard a car pull up outside of my house and then the beeping sound of the key lock. For a brief moment I wondered if it was the Canadian coming over to surprise me. Maybe he was going to pick me up and take me to the Mall with him. I stood there in silence, waiting to hear if my doorbell would ring next, but nothing happened. It turned out to be someone visiting one of my neighbors.

I find it fascinating that I had that thought, even for a fleeting moment. Ever since we broke up when I was 21 years old I have fantasized about the Canadian coming to find me again. When he tracked me down last year, I was convinced that it would be forever. You would think after he left me broken-hearted I would have learned my lesson. But yet here I was standing in my kitchen, half expecting him to show up on my doorstep to tell me that he had finally found a way to make things work.

That is the fantasy. It's hard to abandon that fantasy, even when faced with all evidence to the contrary. Deep down, I know that the Canadian could never live up in real life to the image that I have created for him in my mind. And even if he wanted me back, what would I do about the Boy? When the Canadian walked away last year, it was the Boy who comforted me. And over time, we have built a real relationship together.

For as much as I love the Canadian, the truth is that I am much happier with the Boy. When I am with the Boy, I can be myself. And I never worry that I will say or do the wrong thing and the entire relationship will suddenly fall apart. The Boy has seen the best and worst of me, especially in the past few weeks. And he loves and accepts me anyway.

My fantasies about the Canadian are no different than the fairy tales that my nieces read before bedtime. They are a pleasant distraction, but they have little or no relevance to my real life.

It would be great to say that I will just forget about the Canadian and move on. But I am pretty sure I will always have those fantasies about him. They are a way of reconnecting to my youth and the unabashed optimism that went along with it. I think the Canadian probably looks at me the same way, although I doubt he is astute enough to realize it.

So the Canadian will be heading off to the Mall without me this time. I hope he finds what he is looking for.


Anonymous said...

Your life reads like a movie ... or maybe that is just what a good writer you are. Love the resolution.

Anonymous said...

What a total a hole the canadian is. . . (ok, I am only half way thru the blog). Will keep reading and see if I change my mind.

Anonymous said...

Ok, read the entire thing. Love the ending, but in mine, the Canadian gets hit by a bus on the way to the mall. I guess some of us are not as forgiving. ;-)
Kidding. . . I wish him nothing but the best!