The Heart Doesn’t Forget

I started this project with the goal – ultimately – of clearing out some of the cobwebs of my past relationships. I don’t know if I am accomplishing that, exactly, but I think I am learning a lot.

Some.

I am learning some.

Some of what I am learning – have learned – has been about the relationships themselves. I have gone back through my almost-eidetic memory and sorted through the moments that shaped my past, re-examining them, figuring out through that process whether it went wrong because of something I did or something they did (wrong because most of these stories have been about things that did not end in the most favorable of ways), or something either of us were, as people (Lennon is a narcissist [not to be confused with someone having narcissistic personality disorder] and also possibly a psychopath).

I have also learned a few things about myself.

One of those things being that my heart does not forget.

If I had spent the time to develop my memory as a child, I could be one of those people who remembers, literally, everything. Dates, times, colors, smells, everything. But that’s the brain part. The brain part needed to be developed, exercised, trained, to remember what Micah smelled like (although, I can guess, and I believe it would be a fairly accurate guess), or the tonal quality in Cameron’s voice.

But my heart remembers everything.

As I have sorted through some of these moments, a few things have become quite clear. The first is that some of the feelings I had in the past are still there, somewhere, deep down, buried under feelings for someone else.

Maybe it’s because Cameron and I never had the opportunity to see things through. Because I may have overreacted and shut down instead of talking to him and explaining why his question was a pretty dick thing to say and then hearing him out, asking why he chose to say something so incendiary, letting him defend himself. Essentially, approaching the situation from an adult angle instead of proving his point and flying off the handle like a crazy person. Instead, I slammed the proverbial door in his face and now I will never know, because I deprived myself, what could have come of us.

At the same time, I look at my situation with Micah and feel like it echoes what happened with Cameron. I made a decision, in both instances, that, ultimately, has left me with little more than a mounting collection of what ifs. What if I had told Micah how I felt about him? What if I had tried to have a serious adult conversation with Cameron? After all, we had been having serious adult conversations for months before that; why was this any different?

My second moment of clarity in all of this has been that I think I’d give Cameron another chance – or let him give me another chance – which is telling in a couple of ways.

I have been thinking, a lot, about what I would do if I bumped into Cameron somewhere in the course of my daily life. Give him a severe dressing down? Give him a severe undressing? A combination of both? And there is a part of me that would love for that moment, that what if, to become a reality. I’ve even played the conversation out in my head a few times.

Unfortunately, it always comes back to the same thing. “I miss you. I wonder what could have been. But now I am ass over tea kettle for someone else who I’m pretty sure doesn’t give a damn about my ass or my tea kettle.”

Because I am.

And the shit part of it is, knowing that I would even consider taking Cameron back, after all these years of not speaking to one another, tells me I’ll probably carry these feelings for Micah for years as well. That one day, a year, two, three years down the road, I’ll find him somewhere and we’ll talk and we’ll laugh and we’ll hug and, regardless to what is going on in my life at that time, I’ll fall in love with him all over again.

I have already made the statement, months ago, that I couldn’t bear to give up on something – with Micah – that I believed could be so good, if we could just get it off the ground and my heart is just stubborn enough to commit to that for forever.

I’m not saying that anyone in my future needs to be threatened by Micah – or Cameron. I have been cheated on and I have been the one someone cheated with; I won’t do that to anyone. Ever. But for as long as I am on my own, single, unattached, a part of my heart will always belong to the two of them.

And, if I’m honest, David, too.

Advertisements

Birthdays and Break-Ups

March 8 is one of those dates that will probably never leave me. Today is Israel’s birthday which kind of marked the beginning of the end for us.

Keeping in mind that “the end” lasted several months.

Israel pushed everything. Israel said, “I love you” first. Israel proposed to me after four months. Israel suggested – after watching his brother and his girlfriend pay rent on two apartments and live in one – that we move in together. Israel pushed everything.

With his 21st birthday fast approaching, everything that Israel had pushed began closing in on him and he no longer wanted to be the first of his friends to get married. And even if we didn’t get married for another five years (we had planned on graduate school but he had another three years of undergrad before we could do that), he would be the married one of all of his friends. Because we would be living together and I wouldn’t be just one of the guys; I’d want him to stay home with me while his friends went out drinking or had poker night or went to the strip club.

I tried to explain that I didn’t want any of that. I didn’t want to keep him from his friends. I didn’t even care if we had separate bedrooms (a single bedroom would be cheaper rent but if he wanted two, we could make two work). I hated watching girls do those things to their boyfriends. And I would want time to myself or to hang out with the new girlfriends I would inevitably (hopefully) meet when I packed up everything to move to a strange city and close the gap on our long distance relationship. Me. I was the one making all the sacrifices to give him what he had pushed for the whole time. I was moving so we could live together. I was leaving my family so we could get married. I was leaving my friends so that he could finish college.

And none of that bothered me. I was ready for the change. I was ready to take the leap.

But he wasn’t. To borrow from some random thug movie, his mouth wrote a check his ass couldn’t cash.

So he freaked.

Days before his birthday, he rescinded my invitation to spend my spring break with him. Even though he had access to my bank account to withdraw the money he needed to buy my VIP wristband to South By Southwest (SXSW), he bought his own and told me he didn’t want me to come down. Only days before that (sometime in the middle of February), I had turned down an offer to travel around the country as a Leadership Consultant for my sorority, an offer I later learned was not given to just anyone, an offer I would grow to regret not accepting.

The next couple of weeks were a hurricane of emotions. He was breaking up with me. He was calling me at 3 in the morning to tell me if he lived closer he’d be ringing the doorbell not ringing the phone. He was telling me he loved me more than anything in the world. He was telling me I was smothering him and that he wasn’t fit to be anyone’s boyfriend. He was telling me, through suffocated sobs, that he was supposed to be the one to save me.

And I just dragged along behind. I wasn’t even riding in the car on his emotional rollercoaster. I had been tossed out and was clinging for dear life to the back end.

SXSW (the music festival part) was the 14-16 of March that year. That weekend was between his and my spring breaks (respectively). The original plan was that I was going to miss the class on the 13th and 14th and spend the festival and my spring break with him in Texas. A few days before his birthday, he told me no. On the 12th, he told me he wanted me to come, that even though I couldn’t make it for the festival, he wanted me there for my spring break. I got out of class at 2:00 on the 14th, got into a Volvo headed south with three of my guy friends, and we drove 20 hours straight to the south of Texas.

The last time I ever saw Israel’s face was on March 24, 2003, at the edge of security in the Austin-Bergstrom Airport in Texas. And I told him, as he refused to kiss me goodbye (because “this isn’t goodbye”), that I could Feel it was the last time I’d ever see him. He had always trusted my Feelings, even more than I have after living with them my whole life. He even asked me on one of the descents from the height of the rollercoaster if I “felt” like we needed to keep trying. Because, to him, me saying I knew something didn’t hold nearly as much weight as me saying I felt it. He truly believed, even more than I ever have, that I was (am) psychic.

I told him I felt that I would never see him again and I watched him try not to trust that feeling. I think he knew it too.

Even now, as badly as I hurt, for as long as I hurt, if I look at the situation objectively, I don’t think he ever meant for it to happen the way it did. I don’t think it was supposed to end. I think he really did intend to put it all back together after he took some time to himself. But show me one couple who took a “break” and actually made it work again after and I’ll show you 100 who never made their way back.

**There are a lot of songs from that era of my history that were important. Israel and I were deeply connected through music and we shared a great deal of it in the months we were together. When he said he was the one who was supposed to save me, it was in reference to a song from one of my favorite bands that wasn’t one of his, Something Corporate. It was actually a very surreal comment for me to hear from him because it told me that he had been listening to my music while his mind was crumbling around itself.

Saviour was not one of those songs but there is a lot to this song that fits with this particular story. “That’s when she said, ‘I don’t hate you but I just want to save you while there’s still something left to save.” That’s when I told her, ‘I love you, girl, but I’m not the answer for the questions that you still have.’” It reminds me of that time, a lot, so I’m adding it here.**

Re-Evaluating a Situation

The Urban Dictionary defines “the one who got away” as: 1. The mate from a past relationship or friendship who, in the present reality, seems the ideal match, if it weren’t for some force beyond your control, fate or otherwise, keeping you apart.

Or…2. In virtually any context, someone you meet and share a significant encounter with who holds qualities akin to “the one” but for circumstance sake you are separated from; always after the fact.

My relationship with David was a continuous string of awkward moments and unabashed flirting but we never got it off the ground. Whether because of interference from our Greek community or my involvement with Lennon,* something kept us from acting on our mutual attraction, which was always physical but also more than physical.

David and I connected. We just vibed together, for lack of a better term. We were awkward together but in a weirdly comfortable way. We were comfortable being awkward in one another’s presence.

For four years, we danced around each other and around the elephant that followed us from room to room and never did anything about it. After I graduated and moved on, I asked a mutual friend about a rumor I’d heard that David was dating another friend. The friend told me he wasn’t seeing anyone; that he was more or less married to his work, but I should give him a call sometime. Implying that there might be a chance we could give the whole thing a real go.

I didn’t call.

In recent years, I filed David away under “the one who got away,” and resolved that I’d probably never know for sure what kept us apart or if we ever could have made anything work.

I had kind of just started healing from the destructive and resolute ending to my relationship with Israel when Cameron came back into my life. But before he resurfaced my subconscious had given him a lot of advertising space. The dreams ranged from mundane and pedestrian to surreal and unsettling – nightmares, almost, for someone less inclined to glean enjoyment from such things. For whatever reason, my brain chose to alleviate some of the pain in my heart by replacing Israel with someone … less threatening?

For the last few weeks, I’ve been nursing a newly broken heart. This project has everything and nothing at all to do with that. The initial idea was to exorcise the old ghosts from the attic to make room for a new romance (novel). Because someone suggested that I had been through enough romantic trials that I could probably write a riveting romance. However, in working through these stories, one name keeps coming up.

Anyone who has been following along has probably noticed that Cameron has taken the reins more often than anyone else from my past. Cameron and I had some noteworthy moments but David and I did as well. And Israel and I had every intention of living together after I graduated. But it’s Cameron that keeps taking center stage. It is Cameron who took over when I set about creating a playlist to inspire these stories (that playlist is currently devoted to him and him alone). And just as he did when I was rebuilding from the destruction left by Hurricane Israel, he has been battling Micah for control of my dreams and my subconscious.

My dreams often function as conduits for messages I need to hear. The only thing I’ve been able to determine from Cameron’s sudden and very present presence in my recent dreams is that maybe I had been wrong all along. Maybe David wasn’t “the one who got away.” I mean, the exact wording of the phrase indicates (cue epic orchestral swell) there can be only one who got away and as I am a person prone to over-complication of otherwise simple matters, I find myself in a position to choose the ONE. But when the chips are down and my heart aches, my brain offers me Cameron – not David, not Alan, not Lennon, Cameron – as a consolation prize. Crazy, gorgeous, punk rock Cameron. Maybe that answers all of the questions for me.

* I promise that I will get to the Lennon saga, eventually. It’s just really heavy stuff and not something I’m ready to lay out in black and white, just yet.

Fixed Points in Time

“I wanted to ask if you wanted me to stay but I didn’t want people – or you – to think it was because you were drunk.”

Time travelers talk about fixed points; times and events in history that can not be changed. In working through this blog, I have come across a few of those moments. Moments when something happened and I can trace the butterfly effect through the rest of my timeline.

I was in my first apartment. Technically, a townhouse. It was student housing on the university campus but, for the most part, we had all the freedoms we would have had in a regular apartment. Read: we could have parties. With alcohol. And we did. For my 22nd birthday, my roommates and I hosted a blowout. It didn’t start out that way but it definitely ended that way. The first people – Cameron – crossed the threshold between 9 and 10pm and the last one – Cameron – left after 3am.

I had thought I had a pretty good handle on things… until I saw pictures and there were people I didn’t remember being there. But I was proud of the fact that there was no drama, no tears, no fighting. We lost one of my roommates, a couple of times, but every time we found her again and returned her to her bed.

Cameron was one of the first people through the door that night. I had already started drinking at dinner with my roommates and I was ready for more. This little Irish girl is a walking stereotype. Or was. When I was doing it regularly, I could put away my weight in whiskey. Or rum or vodka. And I had all three lined up that night.

I am not sure, exactly, when the liquid courage kicked in but at some point, early in the night, I poured my heart out to Cameron. I confessed the crush I’d had on him since the first time we met, two years before. To which he blithely replied that he knew.

Years later, when we were waist deep in whatever long distance relationship mess we had gotten ourselves into, he told me that he had known all along that I liked him. But even with that revelation, I only recently remembered that he had told me that night.

I told you. I was several sheets to the wind at this point.

We hung out the rest of the night. Anyone who didn’t know (and some who did) wondered if we were coupling because we were together, if not physically touching, for the duration of the party. Until the last person left (before him). As things were winding down, with eight or ten people left of the sixty or more that filtered through, a couple people playing some incarnation of Mario on my roommate’s Nintendo, Cameron sat on the arm of our couch and I laid across his leg, one arm draped over and my head laying on that.

My remaining two roommates bowed out and went upstairs to their rooms. The last remaining guests filtered out the door and Cameron excused himself to the bathroom. Not quite ready to call it a night – at 3am – I set about picking up some of the big pieces. When he came back out, I told him I was going out for one last cigarette; did he want to join me? He said he’d had enough but he’d stand outside with me.

As I finished smoking, he “remembered” that he’d left his jacket inside. Back in the warmth and light of my living room, we stood facing one another, less than a foot separating us. My heart and brain – and if I’m honest, my hormones – argued over whether or not to invite him to stay.

“You’ve been stuck to him all night,” my heart said, “and he’s still here. He wants to stay.”

“You’re still drunk,” my brain argued, “he’ll never know if you wanted him to stay because of that.”

“But look at that body,” my hormones offered. “Do you really want to send THAT home?”

“Don’t you want to fully enjoy your first time together, without anything clouding your perception?” And Brain wins the debate. And he hugged me goodnight and went back to his dorm.

That night was a fixed point in my timeline. Sending Cameron back to his room without sex is a point from where I can trace everything that happened after that. If he had stayed, David’s jealousy over seeing me smoking with Cameron’s singer between their sets might have been directed at Cameron instead. If he had stayed, I might have never met Israel. I might have never slept with Israel.

If I’d never slept with Israel, we likely wouldn’t have had the relationship we had. I might have ended up in California with Cameron. We might still be out there. If Israel hadn’t broken my heart, I might have never discovered the band Kill Hannah or met all of the people I met because of them. I can link a great deal of what has happened in my life over the last decade to that moment when I decided not to invite Cameron to spend the night in my bed.

So much of what has happened in the interim has been good. I’ve met amazing people. But sometimes I wonder how it would have been different.

Trying to Fill a Void

I cut Cameron loose and have been basically unattached ever since. A couple different guys have crossed my path since then but I’ve remained unattached.

The problem is Micah. Micah first pinged on my radar about four years ago. But that’s not what this story is about.

This story is about the fact that I have completely lost touch with Micah.

David has long been my “One Who Got Away,” but lately, I’ve been feeling like Micah is better suited to the title. I can’t explain any of what happened – other than to take a major portion of the blame onto myself – but something definitely went awry.

The trouble is that I am a Scorpio. I am passionate and when I love, I love hard. I love with everything I have. And it’s really hard for me to not have an outlet for that passion and love. As a result, because of everything between Micah and I, I have been searching for something meaningless.

Literally. For the last few weeks, I haven’t wanted to be present in anything. My heart hurts and I haven’t wanted to invest it in anything. A couple weeks ago, I found myself hoping I’d run into Cameron at a concert and that everything that had never worked out between us would finally… ahem, work out.

Or David. I kind of felt like running into Cameron was a far more likely scenario but David wouldn’t have been an unwelcomed sight. If he ever still thinks about me. Which he probably doesn’t. But for that matter, Cameron probably doesn’t either.

I mean, I would not be insulted to find out that I am either one’s occasional masturbatory fantasy. I’d have to lie and tell them I thought about them, too, because don’t guys like that to hear that sort of thing? I’m asking for real. I’ve never had to lie about it to anyone. Including Cameron. Which might make things awkward in this hypothetical, never going to happen in real life, fantastical scenario.

But beyond just running into old flames (flames? I mean, sure…) and dragging them off somewhere (mostly) private to… get reacquainted… or, acquainted, since I never got that far with either of them… I digress. Beyond just running into old flames, I’ve been entertaining all kinds of weird distractionary ideas.

I have one friend who seems to be terminally single, despite being an intelligent, moderately attractive (probably, truth be told, quite attractive aside from being completely not my type), decent fellow. We joke around and everything is cool and I would genuinely like to be better acquainted (not like in the entendre I offered in the previous paragraph; legitimately just better friends). But then my traitorous brain says, “Things with Micah are, at the very least, on hold and you deserve someone in your life…”

And now, I am having horror flashes of said friend getting his eyes on this and freaking the fuck out because his name crossed my mind at some point without being directly involved in a conversation with him and so that must mean I’m crazy and obsessed and worth freaking the fuck out over. Because that’s how this whole game is played, right?

This seems like a good place to share my philosophy on … I’m not even sure. Dating? Falling in love? Falling in bed? The reality is two people who are equally interested in one another in the same way at the same time is an EXTREMELY rare occurrence. I’m far more convinced that 98% of all romantic partnerships start with one person being super into a second person and the second person throwing their hands up and saying, “eh, why the hell not? You’re not totally repulsive and I have nothing better to do with a Saturday.”

But when I get to this place – and this place was the majority of my time in university – where I’m totally stupid over someone – first Lennon, then David, then Cameron – but they’re not into me/available/cognizant of what’s going on, I find myself in that “eh, why the hell not?” role, but instead of giving a friend who is smitten a chance because they’re “not repulsive and I have nothing better to do with a Saturday,” I go seeking someone to whom I could be persuaded to offer a chance.

Maybe all of this is completely convoluted. Maybe it only make sense on the inside of my brain. Gods know I am a champion at making things more complicated than they need to be. But this is where my head is right now (my heart is not even participating in the conversation). My head is focused on finding someone to fill a void because I am hurting and I am lonely and I feel like I deserve something(one) nice, even if it does end up being completely meaningless.

Disclaimer: No. This is not a classified ad. I am not taking applications for meaningless sex partners. I am simply recognizing a behavioral pattern, which was, in a way, the whole point of this silly blog exercise in the first place.