October 16, Sunday

(Word Count: 900)

Today is the birthday of an old boyfriend. It’s not so much that I feel it bears mentioning than it is that I remember dates such as these for a lifetime. I am terrible with math but I can remember numbers, particularly birthdays. I’ve known Todd’s birthday since 1986, but I guess that’s not so surprising.

It got me to thinking about the lessons that people teach us throughout our lifetime. People come and go and some stay longer. Some leave too soon for impact, others leave a mark that you will carry forever like a scar. I’m more philosophical now than my utterly oblivious and overemotional 20-something self. I reflect now on past people-ships with a combination of reverence and understanding.  

October 16 didn’t exist until one spring day in freshman year of college. I was already riding a rollercoaster relationship with another boy full of drama and tears that to this day I still cannot understand. I don’t remember his birthday, but that doesn’t make his time in my life less impactful. There were lessons there too.

October 16 saw me first. Decided he wanted to know me. We went out to dinner with mutual friends that to me was more casual than an official “date.” I was my newly-emerging hilarious self, drinking sambuca back in the days when carding wasn’t standard, and cracking veiled sexual innuendos that had him blushing and laughing. I guess he wasn’t undaunted since he asked me out afterward.

October 16 was a senior, 22 to my almost-19. Our relationship was full of good humor and, after graduation and return to his home state, full of long-distance phone calls and periodic get-togethers until the following spring when he decided to call it quits. This was long before cell phones and he at least had the decency to drive the three hours to campus to break it off, much to my horror because it was a small university where everyone knew everyone and so they also knew whenever he had returned and this time they would all see my reddened eyes.

I hated him for that. I hated him for having the audacity to return weeks later to see old friends and be standing inside my sorority house with his new haircut, looking fresh-faced and happy. Hated him for the look of pity that I saw on my friends’ faces when they looked at me. Everyone knew. Everyone. It was awful.

What did I learn from that? That I am not the only one who can break a heart. That long-distance relationships are difficult, particularly when there are vast differences in maturity and goals. Mostly though, I continued to plow recklessly ahead into new relationships, because hindsight is only crystal clear when you’re over 50.

I should’ve known from my first experience with long distance – with December 29 – a high school boyfriend I broke off from just weeks into freshman year. That one – that one was a really difficult one that thankfully wasn’t permanently scarred, and we were able to evolve what I considered to be a close and cherished friendship in the years that followed.

He’s the only “boyfriend” I am friends with on Facebook (besides Todd) because our friendship was more meaningful than the short romance we had. He’s a terrific soul and I know he is happily married and living the dream.

Speaking of living the dream, I called Dad yesterday to pick his brain’s memories about the Cabbage Patch Doll of 1983 (nothing) and my grandfather’s favorite color because I’m working on sugar skulls for Dia de los Muertos. He of course didn’t know but said it’s probably “smoke,” since Pop-pop was always lighting up and he and Nana were always at the basement bar drinking and smoking. Ah, a different generation.

I so love these impromptu conversations with my parents. They occasionally dig up some history that I never even knew existed and that’s always a plus. I am trying to cultivate their memories before they are lost, which is like a high-speed chase these days and I’m sorry Mom and Dad – you’re both starting to screw up dates and stuff. First trip to Jamaica in 1972 anyone? I don’t think so. I was THREE.

But, before I get ahead of myself I, too, am forgetting stuff regularly and I feel it is important to acknowledge this fact and also that Mom and Dad herewith acknowledge that I am in my 50s and the same age they were when they were complaining of forgetfulness and aches and pains. I DO INDEED get a hall pass and while they both are allowed to laugh at me (which they do regularly anyway), they are not allowed to dismiss my complaints just because I’m their kid.

To that end, my vision is blurry this morning – with glasses – because I spent the first few hours finishing Confessions of a Bookseller and my eyes are slow to focus these days after reading for hours. Nonetheless, I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves books as much as I do and especially if you have ever dreamed of owning your own bookshop and/or living in Scotland. The format is dated like a journal which lends to fast reading and you’ll be left feeling like you know Shaun Bythell, which I bet is most disturbing to him when strangers come to visit.

One thought on “October 16, Sunday

  1. Relationships…..the fantasy is that they help define who we are with memories. I find that only true friends can remind us of who we are when we forget. The tenor of your writings has changed and I like it.

    Liked by 1 person

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