It’s weird to realize that you actually really loved someone. Not that crushing infatuation or obsession, or really wanting to be with someone so you don’t have to be alone. But looking back and knowing for certain that what you were feeling was actually love. And now he’s married and having a baby and that love is permanently unattainable. It doesn’t really make you any more sad than you were already, but it’s surprising.
Small things spark a momentary thought of him and then the thoughts plunge deep. And it’s so strange to suddenly be trudging through a morass of an emotion that you don’t ever visit on a normal basis. He’s not a person you think of every day. He’s not someone you carry your torch out onto the moors for.
When you think of him it is with a unique sadness, something that aches the way an old injury aches. Or the way old people must feel their arthritis – all those years crawling into their bones. And you don’t want him there, in your bones. He doesn’t belong there. He didn’t love you back. Why does he get to set up camp in your marrow and roast marshmallows whenever he feels like it!?
And that’s how you know it’s love, I think. That certainty that there is nothing you can do to get rid of him. Because you have done everything that one does to take care of one’s heart when it gets broken. Break ties, move on, move away, date other people, trust the passage of time, let someone else love you. But he is resisting that. Or this version of him is.
You hate the swirls that he sends you into because you hate that you can’t control them. As we age and become wiser – that is the thing I most love about myself – we learn to control what hurts us. And here’s this thing that won’t be tamed. A rogue bucking memory.
And you know. What you should do. Is call him up. Have dinner with his wife. Don’t mention anything of the past where you were so close that you were starting to know his next gesture. Don’t do that. Just be there. Drink the tea she makes. And then go back. Meet the baby. Be there a lot. With kindness. Make him exist only in the present, in a house you don’t know, with a woman you don’t know. Find the stranger. Because that’s what he is. Or you would not be here now. Writing this. You would be singing that old spiritual while he plays guitar, your hands resting on your belly.