Six years ago, I knew exactly who I was and where I was going. I was in a happy relationship and I never thought it would end. We both loved our jobs in the health care industry and together we could make magic happen. I felt secure, certain, protected and cherished.
These days I am restless and unsure of my future. Yet somehow I manage to live day to day with a generally positive attitude. In some ways I have become fearless because after seeing my Mr. Big lose everything, I have come to the sobering conclusion that I have nothing to lose. If anything can be taken away from you at any moment, then what is the value in trying to hold onto it.
This afternoon I went shopping in Birmingham. I just wanted to stop into one store, but there was an art fair going on so I had to park a few blocks away. On my way to the store I decided to cut through the playground where my Mr. Big and I had our first kiss. It not someplace I go very often, but this weekend seemed like as good a time as any.
As I approached the familiar spot, I realized that they had torn down the old wooden playset and replaced it with a newer model. There were parents and children everywhere, but the atmosphere was completely different. Not only are my memories fading, but now the places where they occurred are changing too. Maybe the universe is telling me its time to move on with my life.
In more ways than one. Last week I went to a Social Distortion concert with my girlfriend and I ran into the Teacher. I have not seen him for about a year, but I had a feeling I would run into him that night. The concert was sold out and the entire theater was filled with alternative boys with black tee shirts, faded jeans and plenty of tattoos.
He tapped me on the shoulder as he passed by and gave me a quick hug. Then he headed over to the bar to get a drink. I ran into him a little later in the evening and we stopped to chat for awhile. As soon as we made eye contact, I could sense the anticipation in the space between us. He leaned in close so I could hear him talking over the music and I felt the bristle of his goatee on my cheek.
I told him I just spent a weekend in New York City and how it inspired me to do something different with my life. I explained that I have a five year plan to make a career change and hopefully the rest of my life would change too.
"So I will only run into you for the next five years and then you will disappear on me?" He flirted with me as always.
"You seem happier than the last time I saw you." I decided to change the subject. "Are you still teaching?"
"Actually I am a principal now," he explained. He went on to say that he doesn't like his boss and he spent his last meeting of the day doodling pictures of jack and cokes on the agenda. He offered to buy me another drink, but I told him I had to work early the next morning.
We shifted into our usual banter about politics and the upcoming election. The more we spoke, I became less attracted to him. He kept smiling at me and leaning in closer. I thought of all those nights at the bar where he and I would stand close together so that our hips were practically touching and hope none of his friends would notice.
"You keep staring at me," I pointed out. He stepped back.
"Really?" He seemed perplexed. "Was I staring deeply into your eyes or just looking at you." Which seemed like a ridiculous question. If he was worried about crossing some imaginary line of propriety, I think he probably crossed that line when he made out with me in his car three years ago. "Well, maybe its a good time for me to go and have a cigarette," he suggested.
"I think that's a good idea," I told him. During most of that conversation my mind was trying to think of a way to get away from him, but my body was standing still.
As I weaved my way through the crowd back to my girlfriend, I replayed the conversation in my head. We talked about all of the same things and he looked at me the exact same way, but for some reason it was different this time. I must have really been drunk every other time I talked to him. Or maybe I just saw what I wanted to see.
I thought we had a cosmic connection that transcended his marriage and justified our behavior. But that night, he was just another guy in jeans and a black t-shirt.
The Teacher was one of those people I always reserved in the back of my mind as a maybe. It only took four years, but now that door is finally closed.
If my life was a movie, all of these events would be part of the storyline with each step leading me closer to finding my Mr. Right. But this isn't a movie. And my Mr. Right isn't waiting just around the corner. I am not sure if he's even in the same area code.
When I look back on the last six years since my Mr. Big's stroke, I wonder if I have been living fearlessly or living in fear. I tell myself that I have nothing to lose, yet I never take any risks. I threaten to walk out on my job, but I always stay. I promise myself that I will break up with the Boy, but I let him back into my bed. I make grand plans to travel to Italy, Greece and Hawaii but I never book the trip.
I have been sustaining myself on memories that are fading away and eroding the very foundation of my existence. Without creating some new life experiences, there will be nothing to replace them.
Maybe the universe is right. It really is time to move on. And I have to turn the corner, even if there is no one waiting for me on the other side.
"Letting go doesn't mean giving up... it means moving on. It is one of the hardest things a person can do. Starting at birth, we grasp on to anything we can get our hands on, and hold on as if we will cease to exist when we let go. We feel that letting go is giving up, quitting, and that as we all know is cowardly. But as we grow older we are forced to change our way of thinking. We are forced to realize that letting go means accepting things that cannot be. It means maturing and moving on, no matter how hard you have to fight yourself to do so." - Author Unknown