It has been a very, very long time since I’ve had any contact with my first boyfriend. We dated for four years, but it was an often-stormy relationship that ended badly. Some years back, I stopped thinking ill of him, and also got a better perspective on what a self-absorbed drama queen I was in my teens (“unlike every other teenager,” Sir John said, kindly).
After some web-stalking and dithering, I sent him a brief note to say hi. He was pleased to hear from me, and wrote me the nicest note about my dad, really the best one I have received. I wish I could have told my father what he’d done for my boyfriend (I guess I need a pseudonym for him, although of course in my generation every man is named Michael, David, or John, so the real one wouldn’t give much away). If my dad remembered David (we’ll say), of course; in the last year, he seemed not to remember much about my youth. He knew perfectly well who I was, but I had the impression that along with being me, I sort of stood in, as well, for my mother and his mother, that I was an amalgam of every comforting feminine presence in his life.
But my dad’s death was one of the prompts for initiating contact, along with memories of my mother, in her last years, worrying over someone she had dated, or been friends with, when she was young.* Somehow, she knew where this man was, or had been, and that his wife was still alive, and maybe he was. My mother worried and dithered over whether to get in touch, or if that would be unwelcome, and on and on, rather tediously. She never wanted to take the step, and that seemed sad to me. If there had been no response, or if she had been rebuffed, then at least she’d know; and maybe it would have been nice for them all to reminisce about the days of their youth. The passage of enough time can shift people’s perspectives remarkably.
So I decided I’d take the risk with David, taking the advice I tried to give my mother. It seems like we’re in the same place as far as feeling that having been young together trumps any unhappy memories. It’s early days, but I’m happy that we can reconnect.
At the same time, I think I needed the long break. If we’d always been connected through the Book of Face (which I have never been on), or had heard about each other through friends, that would make the situation feel very different. Probably a constant irritant, TBH.
*I never was sure I had the whole thing straight; she tended to speak allusively, to forget that she was talking to someone who didn’t know the story, who hadn’t been there. But I think the story was that he was a college classmate, young but already married, with whom she had coffee a time or two. When he telephoned her house to make some arrangements (about a church-group gathering? again, not sure), my grandmother made a scene about her “seeing a married man.” But the wife was also a friend . . . I don’t know. It was very muddled. If you have a lurid mind, it could sound bad, but my mother was immensely innocent as a young woman, and probably thought it was the height of sophistication to have a cup of coffee with a married man.