Yesterday, i was sitting with a friend over dinner. He insisted that there was 'something wrong' ("I can see it in your face.. come on, open up, let it out...")and wanted me to talk about it. Since i didn't have something terribly topical to discuss, i made some stuff up about a friend of mine who has been acting totally strangely around me.
Anyway, the discussion boiled down to why this person was bothering me so much and i said, "When it comes to guys, there are just two categories in my life - lovers or friends. Now they can be a bit of both, but one of the categories is always more predominant." So this friend of mine said, 'There's a category called 'ex-lovers.' They never become friends and they aren't lovers."
And while it does seem like common sense, this particular insight hit me like a lightning bolt. Of course! So many things can be explained now. The ridiculously abrupt conversations, the taken-for-granted-ness, the freedom to be a jerk without provocation...
But then i sat down to analyse this particular category of people, and the hold they have on our lives. I mean, who are they, really? They're people with whom at some point or the other you shared certain intimacies with. He was the guy you could hold hands with, reach across for a cuddle, expect to come with you to the airport in the wee hours of the morning, expect to be concerned about your world and everything within it. It was a relationship way greater than friendship. And you seriously expected to revert to 'friendship' with him and not expect it to hurt one or the both of you??? Thinking about it, it's so obviously silly.
But now what? You have gone through several years of your life collecting these "ex's" - people who enthralled you at some point, but people you let go off (or vice-versa) for reasons that at the time were perfectly sensible. But you cared about them deeply, and insisted on having them in your life, because of all the value they added to it. Now, several years later, you look back at this train of people who're populating your life, wondering "uh.. what are you doing here again?"
An ex-boyfriend called me the other day. He wanted to have "coffee and/or lunch" sometime. I'm not really surprised to hear from him or even the invitation. He always issues summons such as this every few years. I always say yes. What will surprise me is if he ever follows through and actually does meet me and discover that we truly have nothing left in common. Knowing him, that's probably why we shall never meet - we love our fairy tales.
Maybe that's why we hold onto our past loves. They remind us of a miraculous bond we shared with someone else, a bond that's becoming harder and harder to share the older we become. More importantly, they remind us of who we were all those years ago - enthralling, mysterious, totally captivating and absolutely perfect - for those few months for that one person. And ultimately, they give us hope that we still have what it takes to be enthralling, captivating and absolutely perfect for someone else too.