On Remembering Why

Does extreme heat make you lethergic? It definitely has that effect on me. When I got off the airplane in Albuquerque last Sunday it was 100 degrees, and I realized the whole spiel I’d been delivering about how the heat is really not so bad when it’s so dry is really a load of crap when you’re walking to campus and you have your laptop on your shoulder and the biggest patch of shade is across the street and about two and a half feet long.

Also, I spent too many hours within too few weeks on airplanes, and I’ve caught a full on runny nose/congested/sore throat sort of cold–which, I must say, feels dissonant to the point of surreal amidst these extreme temperatures.

Don’t you love it when I don’t write for a few days and return only to whine about my perfectly lovely life by way of excusing my absence?

My life is perfectly lovely, by the way: I’ve got this nice sunny space to myself for the summer, I’ve got a splendid selection of local friends to drink very cold beers with (what else can one consume in this heat? oh, yes: frozen grapes. so many frozen grapes.), and endless shelves of mine and S’s books to pore through in the 22 and 3/4 hours of every Monday-Thursday when I’m not teaching. The other three days of the week, that’s pretty much all I’ve got on my hands. Also, today I made a lovely herby-eggy brunch for J and I and the weather is actually lovely and relatively mild.

And yet. And yet, people, I’m feeling uninspired.

Amidst my hazy malaise of of sniffles and self-pity, as you’ve noticed, I’ve not been posting much. But, I’m sure it will relieve you to hear, I have been talking about blogging–or rather, being a blogger. The moniker has gone and affixed itself to my introduction: “This is my friend E, she writes a blog.”

I can’t lay all the blame on friends, either: just as frequently, I meet someone, tell them I’m in school for writing, they ask what I write, and–it being the easiest and most tangible answer–I reply that I write a blog.

Either way, I’m cornered into explaining what it is I blog about. Which, lately, has translated into me shying away from the “dating blog” label.

“I write about relationships, but it’s not a journal,” I assure listeners, my tone immediately defensive. “I don’t go and write about the dates I’ve gone on the night before, just thoughts on issues related to relationships.”

So goes that spiel. And for the most part, I hope you’ll agree, that’s basically true. But really: it’s not as though I’ve got the qualifications to be doling out sincere advice or analysis. And then there’s the whole thing about me not going on all that many dates these days–and fewer, still, that I care to write about.

This is all, sort of, to offer another justification for my digital silence these past few days (sorry, I’m clearly warming up here still): for all my talk about not using this space to pour out overly personal experiences and emotions, right now that’s the only thing I feel like I can do. So, here goes.

Specifically, (you knew there was a specifically, right?) I do-but-don’t want to tell you about the other part of my visit to Minnesota, besides the reunion. That would be the part where I saw my ex-boyfriend. The one who was older, the one who I lived with, and the one who for the past four years has been dating a woman older than him who was–and, in a complicated and distant sort of way, still is–a close friend of mine.

Clearly, the whole thing is complicated, and that’s not the point. The point is that a really nice and unexpected thing happened: I remembered why I loved him.

It’s not that I’d recast him retroactively as some sort of demon; I never forgot that he was a good, caring and completely lovable person. But it had been so long, and when I’ve spoken about that relationship it’s usually in the context of telling people I was 19 when I started dating someone who was 35 and winding up in a conversation that involves me making excuses and wondering what, in fact, both of us were thinking: not exactly regret, but a bit of uncertainty.

We’ve hardly been in touch, but there was no doubt in my mind that I wanted to see him when I went back to St. Paul for the first time in years: he falls into the category of person you’ve once loved and are no longer intimate with but want, always, to know.

And when I anticipated seeing him I anticipated feeling that uncertainty: I anticipated that he would look older and I would feel distant and that I might become even more perplexed about our time together.

What I didn’t anticipate was that within moments of seeing him I’d see, exactly, what it was I fell in love with: the warmth, the humor, the unique sensibility.

It didn’t make me want to be with him again, but it did make me feel better about myself, and about those years. They weren’t perfect, but they were good. I may have been young, but I wasn’t stupid.

And those are important things–in this heat and with these sniffles–to remember.

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