FishDreamer scribbles: Seeking Serenity Online

Friday, 14 January 2005

Connections Missed, Lost, and Found

So very many things in my head. I've been wanting to write and not having the time, lately. Tomorrow I head up to Vancouver for a Chicklit gathering, which should be fun. It will be a long day, and Mr D has elected not to go with me, so I'll be alone. I've never crossed the border by myself before. At least, not this one.

I'm struggling with some things right now, defining them and understanding my feelings and motivations. This is intensely personal stuff, stuff that could hurt me. So much going on inside, I feel like I'm going to explode. So out it comes. Be gentle, friends. Please. This is likely to last a while - not just what I'm writing today but the rest of the stuff to come.

A friend of mine from when I was 15 has been in the hospital here this week. I hadn't seen him in over 12 years, but when my sister called and told me he was there and likely to remain there for a while, I immediately made plans to go visit. Would you have done that too? Someone from when you were young, that you didn't keep in touch with? Back when I was 15, keeping in touch in any regular way wasn't even thought of. He's three years older than me. We had something of a flirtation going on in the pool (he was on swim team), but I don't think more than he had with any of the other girls.

Anyway, I went on Wednesday. I knew it would be a little awkward. I wasn't sure if he'd remember me, but I knew he'd remember my sister. (She, the sexy girly blonde, was more memorable in the high school years than I was. I was odd and quirky, not girlfriend material. And no, I have absolutely no resentment about that. She might, though. Another story.) He didn't quite remember me at first, but I think eventually he did. And he was completely bored, stuck in bed with frequent bouts of pain to get through. Aside from this one thing, he was fine. So we talked for an hour, caught up on things, and then his pain was increasing so he sent me back to work. He did say I could come visit again if I wanted.

So yesterday I did. I had to work from home Friday, I wouldn't be able to go then. He was feeling better and in less pain, and we had a pretty good conversation. It's a little awkward, I don't think he understood really why I was there. And he was embarrassed that his sister had sent out a distress call to mine, who in turn called me. There's a level of implied caring there, and I think he didn't know why. I wasn't filling in for my sister who couldn't be there. I wanted to see him, and I wanted to ease his boredom some if I could.

The last time I was up in Alaska (for my sister's tenth reunion), I went with my sister and his sister for pizza. His sister called him to come too. And I very clearly remember the shock I got when I saw him. I still don't know if he felt it, or if it's all just me. I don't know what it means, really. I do know that he is one of the people that mattered to me, and one I never let go of. That doesn't imply a relationship, it doesn't imply any need to be involved or see him or anything. He just matters.

Someone once asked me about friendship, and how I define friends. I moved a lot, growing up, and many people were in my life for a short time and then drifted away. Lots of them I'll never see again. I don't remember their names. But some of them made such an impression on me, they will always be my friends whether I ever see them again. This guy is one of those.

I also think there was a level of possibility there. Potential, possibility, a could have been. Not that I ever had any kind of romantic tie with this guy, but I remember clearly thinking it could be, the last time I saw him. Which is weird, because honestly I don't know him very well and I had no idea what kind of person he was. His family is all good people, but who had he become? In some ways, I think he represents a turn my life could have taken if I'd moved back to Alaska instead of coming here.

As an aside: He's a smart guy, he works in technology although he didn't seem particularly interested in online stuff. But I gave him my email address. There's a very good chance he might be reading this, eventually. That is a risk I acknowledge. So D, if you're here, please read this in the spirit it was intended: An exploration of my psyche and sharing of human relations issues. I have absolutely no intention of putting any of this on you. I just need to acknowledge it and let it go. But I'm always happy to keep in touch, if you want. If you don't, just don't tell me you were here okay?

Okay. Some of you know I recently celebrated my 20th high school reunion. Some of you know about the Secret Boy from junior high, and that I found pictures of him. And one of my flirts from when I was 16 found me and we've been chatting lots online, reconnecting and getting to know each other again. I found my friend in Japan's address and got in touch. I'm going through a return through who I was a long time ago, and remembering the people I knew and the person I was. Back in August, I went to a barbecue over at my cousin's and ran into a guy I almost hooked up with when I first moved here. We missed that connection then, and he moved away. When he saw me that day, he was very clearly interested and not pleased to find out I was married. And I had a hard time with that.

Because I felt it too. He was a missed opportunity. I still don't remember why we didn't manage to hook up. He was supposed to take me on a date lo those many years ago, and it never happened. And I had a hard time not being like the person I was when I first met him. That connection was still there, but the circumstances were rather different. I think both our lives could have been different, but they weren't. I thought about it a lot, and I thought about Mr D and our relationship and how sometimes I wonder what it would be like if I were still single. Or whether he's truly happy. We got issues, man. Everybody does. We've had so very much stress on us, individually and together. To this point, I've never believed that wasn't something we couldn't work through.

I think it's a good thing to realize that. I don't think it hurts us to question the "us" sometimes. I don't want to change that, there being an us. But seeing this guy, reconnecting in whatever small or large way, brought it all up again. The path not taken, the could have been. I hate losing options. I never thought of getting married as closing all these doors, but it is. It did. Just like buying the house tied us down more than I thought about at the time. Life is all about choices, and every time you choose something, you let go of something else.

And part of me is just a little wistful about what could have been. And of course I have to wonder if any of this would have come up if he weren't still single. Probably not, because he wouldn't have been alone in the hospital. I still would have gone to visit, but it wouldn't have been the same.

There was an awkward moment when I was leaving yesterday, when I wanted to touch his hand but I didn't. He almost reached out too, but he didn't. I am horribly shy, and I am diffident about touching people if I don't know that they don't mind. If I know they don't mind, I kiss everyone. I knew I was not likely to see him again soon, because he was supposed to be checked out today. He probably knew it too. Now he knows where I am, and a little bit of who I am, so maybe next time he comes through I'll see him. Would be nice, I'd like to see him not lying in pain in a hospital bed. But that moment!

I'm still mad at myself that I didn't just reach out. It has nothing to do with romance, and everything to do with connecting. Especially when it looked like he felt the same. What is that restraint? Why is it? It wasn't, "Ooh, there's an attraction here so I'd better not even touch him." Touch is a good, human thing. If I see him again, I'll make sure to touch his hand or something. Because really, when someone's in a hospital bed with needles everywhere, hooked up to all kinds of equipment, touch can be a reminder of people or it can be painful. I had no way of knowing which, and that only added to my diffidence.

I'm ever so slightly conflicted, and struggling with some personal demons. Thanks for listening to me hash it out. It always makes me feel better to get it out. I may be the only one who struggles this much over reconnecting with old friends, but if it helps you, then I'm glad I shared.

Note to HH in Japan: I've half-written you back. Thank you for that wonderful letter! I don't mind that you're reading, I wouldn't have given you the address if I did. And I'm glad what I said helped you and your friend. Will try to get the letter out this week, with pictures.

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