Coming back to Michigan is always a bit strange. Even though a few physical landmarks change here and there, for the most part it feels to me like time stopped when I left. Yet when I walk into any place that looks the same, it has moved on. The furniture is rearranged, the walls are a different color, and the tenants are brand new.
The same goes for the people I knew here. When I went into the Novi Mongo for Katie’s bachelorette, even though I was one of the trainers that opened the joint all traces of me were gone. No store opening employees were left to remember me, my presence wiped out completely. Time had obliterated my history in six short years.
Friends of course still recall me and go out of their way to spend time with their old buddy, but their lives have moved on most of all. Regular routines, interests, and lifestyles completely foreign to me make up their every day.
Last night I had dinner and later on drinks with some of my old friends, Dev, Dirk and Dirkette. They are all healthy and happy, and luckily the worst they have to worry about are difficult real estate deals and grumpy neighbors. (Well, also worries about work layoffs, but so far so safe) Interesting to hear, intriguing for me to see into these parts of their lives, but completely foreign to me at the same time.
Later on in the evening my Michigan ex came out and joined the remaining party of Dirk, Dirkette, and myself. I didn't realize this until the ex pointed it out, but I have not actually seen him in five years. It is still weird for me to see him because he will always be the ex. I don't know if he will ever get another name. Maybe, but I don't know. I still even get uptight when I consider seeing him again.
Dirk and Dirkette had to bow out by midnight due to it being a school night, reluctantly because they were concerned that I nay need a buffer with the ex. I was okay, conversation flowed smoothly and I was having fun. This was a relief because I have been so reluctant to see him, not wanting to bring up so many old feelings.
After having a couple more drinks at the bar, the ex invited me back to his place. (I can see your collective eyebrows rising now...) Mostly because he has been able to spend the year at a really amazing place, a very adorable, quaint little house on a gorgeous plot of land. It almost feels like the country yet is right in the middle of suburbia.
He looks pretty much the same, he acts pretty much the same, he seems pretty much the same, but I could see the things that had changed in him. A lot of the things he has become were things I had wished he had been when we were together.
At one point I tried to broach the subject about why he wanted to meet in the first place. I explained that although I had been curious about him and his life, I was hesitant to spend time with him because when I think of him I still have that tug of sadness, of loss. He really didn't answer me; he just probed me a little more on my feelings. So I changed the subject back to something light.
Finally after a couple of hours of talk and laughter I left. He mentioned that he was still awake, and then he mentioned it was a long drive back to my parents. But what was I to do, stay? I would only get more confused doing so.
On the drive home I felt the loss again. There had been a reason we had been together, and that had not changed. I was cursing myself for putting myself into this position, such a masochist! It is like playing with a lose tooth - it hurts but you just can't stop prodding.
Waking up this morning I felt much better. Sleep tends to clarify things for me. It hit me that so many things that had developed in his life, the things that made me wonder 'what if', were the very things that draw us father apart. Our lives have gone on to different paths that branch out in different directions and are not meant to cross over again. Although many things about us make those paths look similar, I doubt that they will lead to the same place.
It is funny though, I really felt like he had something he wanted to say to me. I wonder what it was, and if it would have given me more closure, more peace. Or if it was something else entirely whether I would let my mind or my gut dictate my reaction.
Ah, the thing about what ifs, they are just lost story lines drifting off into the unknown.
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