By Herald de Paris Contributor's Bureau on July 2, 2009
By Noelle Wilson
SAN FRANCISCO (Irreverent Homemaker @ Herald de Paris) – So, one of the big moments is about to come to pass. I am driving to Modesto (without my fianc√©e) to visit one of the most preeminently formative people in my life: the first good ex-boyfriend.
This ex-boyfriend, whom I will call John (it’s his real name, actually, but he’s not that innocent so I’m not changing anything) was not the first boyfriend, and nor was he the last. But he was the first one who helped me understand that sex could be fun, not just a violent and uncomfortable bucking of parental restraints, like it had been in the past. He was the first to be willing to drive 2.5 hours a weekend to see me, from his home in central Virginia to my home in southern Maryland. And he was absolutely the first to talk about getting married to me. Absolutely the first.
I have under my belt a variety of misbegotten relationships, but his is not one of them. Over a number of years and in between a number of other men, he and I would talk and tryst, tryst and talk, sometimes at the University of Virginia and sometimes at the University of Maryland, schools we defended tooth and nail from each other’s well-aimed insults. He wasn’t always pleasant or the perfect man for me, but he seemed to be exactly what he needed when he was there, and when he wasn’t there I missed him, but only a little bit. Just enough heartbreak to take comfortably and write a song about. That’s the good amount.
So then he joined the Peace Corps and I joined a theatre company in California, because everyone knows that the best way to push yourself to succeed is to have all your friends go and move to Cambodia so you can sit at home and remember what a very, very bad person you are. I did my theatre thing, calmed down my new long-distance boyfriend, and all of a sudden, after a year there, met a man. And we went to dinner. And about ten minutes into it (seriously, no kissing or anything) he and I both realized that we were going to get married. And it was a simple as that.
I’m in Modesto now. And John is here, having come home from Cambodia or wherever to meet up with a few of his friends who are now idling away their time on the West Coast. Coincidence? Maybe. Fate bringing me back to the man I’ve been in love with since I was sixteen in order to stop me from ruining my life with a premature marriage? Man, I hope not.
I get out of the car. We are meeting at a Starbucks. Of all the soulless and disturbingly commercial locations, I swear.
I walk inside. He is sitting in a huge overstuffed armchair, looking tanned and well-muscled and healthy and glorious. His hair is too long. His glasses are a little crooked. He is engrossed in a book so large he has to lean it on the table in order to read.
And there’s nothing. I mean, there’s something, of course, there’s always something… I ran to him for so long, through so many things. But it’s certainly not love. I don’t even want him, except in a purely physical different-body-than-my-boyfriend sense. More than that, I want to sit with him, talk, remember being sixteen and stupid, and then I want to walk away without really ever touching him. That’s the hardest part about ex-boyfriends. Once you touch them, you’re doomed.
He, of course, starts in on the UMD Terps, and by then it’s on, ’cause the UVA Cavaliers are crap and he knows it. And it’s just like it used to be before I started to worry too much about what it means to love someone and want them in your life. And secretly, in my pocket, I turn my cell phone back on, because I know my fiancee is going to call and check up on us, and now that I don’t have lie, I want to talk to him more than I ever have before.