I recently Facebook stalked an old boyfriend. Facebook will “recommend” friends to you based on who you are friends with and friends you have in common with these recommended people. Every time I log on, there is a “people you might know” section and there he is. His profile picture is him on a chair, lying on a pristine beach. Looking relaxed and rich and not married to me.
He’s “the one who got away.” Up until I met my husband, I still harbored the desire (but not the fantasy) to be with him. I’ll call him Jim. Because his name is NOT Jim, and I don’t know anyone named Jim, so there will be no confusion. I usually ignore Jim’s “look how awesome MY vacations are compared to your middle-class vacations” picture, but for some reason, this weekend I decided to click on it.
Jim has made much of his FB profile private, but he left his “albums” public. I could see that he has four children ranging in ages from around 11 to probably 2. A mixture of boys and girls. I see the resemblance to him, but I think that they must look a lot like the wife as well. No pictures of the wife. I will confess to you that I was hoping he’d divorced her.
Not because I harbor any fantasies of reuniting. I am quite happy where I am. He’s rich, but the money is hers. As my sister put it: “They have a lot in common. She has a lot of money, and he likes money. A lot.” One awesome thing about my sister is how much and how well she hates people for me. It’s a kind of loyalty (mixed with comedy) you will not find elsewhere.
When I perused his albums, there was an old photo of him and the two best friends who always hated me for reasons I never knew. I never said “boo” to either one of those assholes. The photo shows them in their early twenties-tanned, lean, and privileged. Jim had longish hair and someone’s Facebook comment included the word “mullet.” He replied, explaining that he and his fellow genetically gifted boys had been growing their hair out at the time, “Mine was past my shoulders!”
And then the memories flooded in. The weekends alone at his mother’s Lake Arrowhead cabin, passing the time braiding that silky, wavy brown hair into tiny braids. Lying naked with him, our limbs tangled up, marveling at how dark his skin got in the sun. Almost fetishizing it. My own is typical redhead skin – I burn and freckle (and age) in the sun, but do not tan. Jim would get so brown. I used to comfort myself that he would look old later on while I still looked young. A prophesy that has NOT come to pass; he looks fantastic.
My sister offered more comfort here, reminding me,”Satan does keep up his end of a bargain.”
We were gorgeous together, but terrible in every other way. Our Aries-Aries pairing was fiery and fleeting. When we broke up finally and for the last time, it was as much my fault as his; although I never tell it that way. I was so young (23) and so troubled, reactive, and obsessive. I loved Jim, but it was that crazy kind of young love that men can’t take in large doses. Or sometimes any doses. It was the Romeo and Juliet kind of love. Not romantic, immature and destructive.
And just when I was feeling nice and sorry for myself that I hadn’t been good enough for Jim, that he’d married someone with whom he shares similar interests and pedigree (and apparently extreme fertility), I remembered exactly what those weekends in Arrowhead were like.
Lonely. Disappointing. Phony. He never loved me. He never even said it. Not in six years of on and off, mostly off. Maybe once, but I think I pressured him to say it.
That hair braiding scene plays in my mental movie like a sexy scene, but in reality it was awkward. I wanted to be near him and craved his attention. If I could have climbed inside his skin, I would have. He was as impatient and disinterested as a stallion having his mane braided for a horse show.
He never gave me the attention I sought. Ever. No matter what I did.
Once, we met up in San Diego after not seeing each other for a year. I spent all day getting ready at my hotel’s spa. I thought this would be the perfect romantic evening. At dinner, I leaned forward alluringly, anticipating the words from his sexy parted lips. Undoubtedly some compliment about how beautiful and desirable I was. He said, “Wow, you’re really chowing on those fries.”
When I realized he would never say what I needed to hear, I ended it- albeit in an overly dramatic, embarrassing and sloppy way. Oh well. We were all young and stupid once. For years and years at a time.
When I met Odie, I fell fast and hard for him, and it was mutual. Perhaps not as fast on his end. Over the years, we became more comfortable together as friends and coworkers. When it was time for romance to bloom, there was a familiarity that made it feel totally natural. Odie used to stare into my eyes like I was a rare jewel that he couldn’t believe he had found. He professed his love for me eloquently and often. For the first time in my life, I had in one person what I’d always had to split between two: passionate desire for someone, and genuine love from him. In the past, the guys who were crazy about me were pathetic to me, and the guys I was crazy about were indifferent to me.
When Odie and I were just friends, I told him about my unresolved feelings for Jim. I believed I’d always pine for “the one who got away.” As it turns out, I don’t pine for Jim. I’d love to have his wealth, but who knows what life has in store for me? There’s nothing to miss about our time together except my youth-the one thing I wouldn’t have, even if I had him. He’s the kind of guy who would let me know it too (see “chowing on those fries” comment above). I think that’s the danger of Facebook for those of us who are 20+ years out of high school and starting to feel old. We are in peril of believing that if only we reunite with the people we knew when we were younger versions of the people we are now, we could somehow be those people again. But we can’t. Not ever. Especially since we never were those people anyway.
I’m 38 years old, and I’ll never be younger. Hopefully with a good dermatologist, I will look younger.