Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Notes on a Former Lover

Last night I received an email from a guy I dated in my late twenties.  We renewed our friendship last year when  I wrote him after seeing his address in a mass email to members of our media circle about a well liked friend who died prematurely.  This guy was, as Meg Ryan put it in "When Harry Met Sally", my transition guy; the first man I became attached to after my separation and divorce from my husband.  At the time, he was a national radio rep, running the LA office of a prominent national firm.  Basically, these guys represented radio stations throughout the US, calling on LA agencies for the placement of  national business.  I was a national media buyer, working in-house for the largest photo finishing company in the U.S.  I purchased radio & newspaper advertising in 40 out of 80 markets.

His interest became evident when he heard I was separated.  He approached my boss to see if it was appropriate to ask me out.  They had a good relationship;  she liked him and she liked me so she was all for it.  I'd had dinner with him many times on a business level and we got along great.  Dating was about to change the whole picture.  First of all, he invited me to accompany him to Kyoto.  His San Diego station had an annual client trip to which he was always invited with a "guest" and he invited me.  It was a week long excursion.  We'd never even kissed.  I called my mother and asked her what to do.

 "Go."  she said.

But my father got into the act.  He had been a national rep too.  He'd had his own business for thirty plus years before retiring.  He was bat shit.  The phrases "Not proper" and "conflict of interest" were applied liberally.

All my co-workers wanted me to go.  It was the trip of a life time and I was separated and my husband, soon-to-be-ex, was on the east coast.

"Go!" they urged.

I didn't go.  I couldn't reconcile any of it:  the conflict, the feelings I had for my husband and the fear I felt about being with the new guy.  Turns out, I'd have had my own rooms and needn't have worried but I was too inexperienced to ask.  He was very disappointed but when he returned we began to date and years later I realized I might as well have made the trip because, in the eyes of his competitors, I did compromise myself by dating him.  He always claimed I was much harder on him when it came to negotiations than I was on his competition and he was right.  But only he and I knew that.  It was doomed from the beginning but we became very good friends.

So last night he dropped me a note and it was sweet. He was bringing me up to date on his grand kids, his life.  He is still single having married and divorced twice, once before I'd met him and once after.  He ended the email referring to himself as an "elderly gentleman".    He just turned 67 which kinda blows me away as I remember his 40th and 50th birthdays.  We lost touch after that.

As my transition guy, we were better friends than anything else.  He was somewhat of a mentor, usually a good sounding board and very helpful through much of my career.  I was never in love.  I just had a serious crush.

What are the ramifications of looking up an old love?  Are they sweet?  bittersweet?  sad?  Do we only want to see the ones that ended not too badly?   How many of us know where our ex loves are?  How many of us care?  Food for thought.


Pop and Ice said...

Uh, since most of my ex-whatevers usually didn't end well, I avoid them at all cost. Of course, they're avoiding me as well, so it all works out. But I'm not much into looking back (my husband can verify). I just plow ahead and say "oh well" to what went on before and hope I do better in the future.

Nancy said...

Well there is one I really don't want to find, or have find me - thus no Facebook, but other than that, I could have an email realtionship with the others.

Deborah said...

This is a nice story, actually. You sound like you were both kind to each other and got the best out of your relationship, even if you weren't 'in love'. Being supportive of each other and sharing intellectual interests is no small thing. Was it doomed from the beginning because of the work conflict? Presumably that would no longer exist.

What would happen now? I think that all depends on what the relationship was like in the first place, and it sounds like it was healthy and mutually gratifying on a few planes. Sometimes when you take a second look at something or someone years later, you have a different perspective. And it seems to me that you're linking your regret over Kyoto to a similar decision that might be looming.
If I were your mother, I'd say. 'Go!'.

Noni at The Brick Street Bungalow said...

Very interesting question you pose, CG. I'm going to have to give that one some consideration.

Susan Erickson said...

It's always a temptation to try again but it rarely works. I also, ignore all past boyfriends and avoid them like the plague but since this relationship never really took off, I would give it another go.

California Girl said...

Hello to all: having read everyone's comments, I should clarify that I am re-married to my first husband now since 1984. If I give the impression I am looking about, I am not. That being said, I do have the "what if" mentality that goes with writing and my personality. I used to look back an awful lot. I've tried to overcome that because it is pointless. But, there is a piece of me that will always look back. There's only one man about whom I wonder, how he is, where he is, if he's happy. We are not in touch and I do not know the answers to any of the above questions. I am in touch with the ones with whom I became friends. Safer that way!:)

Anonymous said...

I liked the read and it brought back some memories I won't go into. But i looked up one and spoke to her on the phone and when I heard her matured, "squeeky" voice I hung up and that erased memories and imagination.

I would not want to date again. I have been married to the same lady for 54 years -- soon to be 55 -- and I would not want to go through the things we all go through the first time we meet someone and go out on dates and learn as much about each other as possible. Life is just to short.

I would rather, like I think you said, be good friends.

Deborah said...

That made me laugh! The pitfalls of only knowing a little bit of you, that is. I'm relieved that I wasn't alone in my assumptions.

I liked that little part about the 'what if' part of you that goes with writing. It rang a bell.

California Girl said...

Abe: you're right. Dating again would be something else...a nightmare!!!!!!!!!!

Deborah: Glad I can make you laugh. I make myself laugh, alot. Of course, my husband says I am my own best audience. hahahahaha!

Baino said...

You were brave. I've seen my 'what if' on Facebook and never had the courage to drop him a line. I don't know his circumstances and it might be embarrassing for him. Then he's 12,000 miles away so what harm could it do? I'll never know and I regret not going further with it at the time too.

sheris white said...

I've never known of anyone who remarried their ex and it was successful. Congratulations!

My husband and I met 50 years ago this month. I can barely remember the names of the few boy friends I dated. I, too, wouldn't want to ever start dating again.
My 21 year old college granddaughter fills me in on her escapades. With texting, Facebook, etc., it's getting more and more complicated, in my opinion.

California Girl said...

Baino: every so often I google my "what if" but the answer is always the same...he remains in the same state where we lived when we were together. He appears to be married. His son from his first marriage is now closing in on 40. He was 9 when I met him. I have never seen him since the day we said "good bye" but I will always think of him.

Sheri: Welcome to my blog and thanks for your thoughts. I have heard (tho' haven't fact checked) that 20% of divorced couples remarry one another. Don't know if it's true but, here I am!

JC said...

There is one guy who tried to be friends with me afte we broke up. He even introduced me to his new girlfriend who is now his wife. He just couldn't understand why I didn't want to be friends with the two of them. I must admit that I facebooked him. He looks different now. Still with the same girl.

When I look back to my youth, I'm so glad I didn't marry any of those young men.

I do like the memories I have though and I think if I knew them now ... older and not what I have pictured in my memory .. it would change what I have saved.

I like who I am with. I made pretty good decisions way back when.

And, getting remarried to the same guy. If I'd d'd my H, I might have remarried him ..


by Cole Scott