But is it just sex? What propels some of us to go back for round two with a an old lover? I think often times it’s the feeling of familiarity that our soul is yearning for, or maybe there was some lesson there that we just didn’t fully learn the first time around. Whether it’s a good idea or not, I do believe there is always a good reason.
First of all this guy I recently reconnected with is more than an old flame. Way more. The story goes like this…
He was the boy that lived down the street from me. As a teenager, my best friend had a huge crush on him. Some of us already know, it is clearly written in the best friend handbook that if she is crushing on a guy, he is off limits to you. So this guy, let’s just call him Untouchable, and I became very good, very good strictly platonic friends.
There were many summer nights he would wake me up by rapping on my bedroom window. Sometimes we would walk down to the beach and listen to the waves. Sometimes we would sit on the docks at the harbor and watch the boats turn when the tide came in. Sometimes, we wouldn’t go out at all and he’s just sit there on the grass as I peered down at him from my perch on the window sill.
One night he came to my window and he seemed less like himself, he seemed to look at me in a different way. He looked very hard at me without saying a word and I called him out on it.
“What are you looking at?” I asked in my usual sassy tone, expecting an equally sarcastic reply.
“You,” he answered with a somber tone that caught me off guard.
“What do you see?” I asked.
“I see a small face, inside a small window, and I see a reflection of myself,” he said.
He reached up to me then and ran the tip of his finger down the bridge of my nose. Then he turned and left.
For a long time I wasn’t sure why I remembered that night so clearly or why I had kept those words so close to my heart, but I soon came to learn that was the night I knew I loved him too.
One thing that I have learned about myself is I have one or two endearing qualities. One of those qualities is I am fiercely loyal to those I feel deserve my loyalty. My best friend was one of those people. I could never betray her by acting on my feelings for him.
So life went on. Houses burned down. Friends moved away. People graduated and went off to college. Many got married and started families. Life has a funny way though of circling back around.
Ten years later, I found myself in a bad situation and I needed a friend. I had gotten mixed up with a guy that had a lot of problems. He was into drugs and he owed a lot of people money. One day at work one of his “friends” came to pay me a visit.
“I might not know where to find your man, but I know where to find you,” he said. “Tell him I want my money.”
Then with one swipe of his arm, he cleared my desk and left.
That was a pretty clear indication that it was time I got out of that relationship. My man didn’t take the news that it was over very well and I wasn’t free of him even after it ended.
It got to the point that I didn’t feel safe anymore and I guess that was the reason I turned to Untouchable. He was the one person I always felt safe with. So after years of not speaking, I looked him up.
He picked me up from college one day and it was like the ten years that lay between us was nothing more than a week or two. We resumed our friendship as effortlessly as two kids playing in the sandbox.
We revisited our old haunts and made some new ones. We talked about old friends that had gotten married and had kids, including my old best friend whom I had long since grown apart from. I think we both felt a little like outcasts because we hadn’t established a glamorous career or made babies, or bought property, like so many of our classmates had.
A few months later we had just returned from a day trip to the Boston museums. We were parked at the beach we used to frequent and were just looking up at the stars. Neither of us really saying much to each other, but rather enjoying a comfortable silence.
“Is there anything you ever really wanted to do, but couldn’t or didn’t?” I asked.
“Yes,” he answered.
“What?” I asked a little surprised by his answer.
“There’s something that I’ve been wanting to do with you all day,” he confessed.
Now another (maybe not so endearing) quality that I hold is being extremely naive.
I honestly thought he was talking about some deep regret that we had missed the penguin exhibit at the aquarium earlier that day. However, when I caught the look in his eyes, I knew it was something more.
For what seemed like a very long moment we just looked at one another in which a thousand unspoken words were exchanged. I lowered my eyes and let my gaze linger on his mouth.
Some unknown magnetic force pulled us, very slowly, closer together until our mouths hovered a whisper apart. I paused there a moment, while a lifetime hung in the balance between our lips. Neither of us moved, and I considered pulling away and saving a friendship that was about to change into something more.
In the end, it was me. I was the one that closed the remaining distance between our mouths and sealed our lips together in a kiss that was more dynamic, more explosive than any fireworks known to man or nature.
When we parted, he looked as if he had been clubbed with a frying pan and I felt like a galaxy had been born inside of me.
Suddenly Untouchable became irresistibly touchable. A stroke of his hand would send shivers down my spine, a brush of his lips shook me to the core. We shared a kind of passion I never knew existed. Sex wasn't just sex anymore. Sex was like paying homage to the gods. Gates opened, angels sang, the heavens moved.
I remember he would often stop whatever we were doing in bed and just look at me to tell me how beautiful I was. One time in particular, I was on top and he stopped me by scooping his hands under my shoulders and lifting me up, just slightly, off his body.
"You are a Goddess."
We dated for three magical years, but then one day he told me that he had joined the Air Force and he was going off to fight in the desert. He said he was doing it for me, so he could provide a good life for me. He said I deserved better than just a wrench wielding mechanic.
I told him, what I really deserved was a guy that would include me in major decisions (Like, oh I don’t know, traveling to the other side of the world to fight a war!!) I told him all wanted was him to stay with me forever. I begged him not to leave.
He asked me to wait for him, but I was too young, too angry, too immature, too... I don’t know what. I denied him that promise. Then he was too angry, too immature, and too... hurt.
He reached up to me one last time and ran the tip of his finger down the bridge of my nose. Then he turned and left.
When he left, whatever we had, whatever beautiful special thing I thought we had created shattered like a glass mirror. Our life together splintered into a hundred different pieces, too disorientated and damaged to ever put back together.
And once again life happened and we went in separate directions.
We both went on to marry other people that made us really unhappy. We both divorced those people that made us really unhappy.
But then one day life, once again, circled back around.
I ran into him at the beach last summer, our beach, the beach we used to go to when we were kids, the beach where we first kissed, the beach where I twisted my ankle and he carried me piggy back for over a mile back to the car, the beach we made castles on, the beach we made love on, the beach we broke up on... always our beach.
We sat and talked like we used to do, and again we started over from that place of friendship. We watched the waves wash the footprints from the sand, and both of us quietly wondered if we would make new ones there together one day.
Over the last six months, that friendship has once again started to blossom into something more, but this time I think we’re both entering into this relationship knowing that castles made in sand are easily swept away.