Saturday, July 28, 2007

John Henry

The guy I stalked in college picked me up in Chicago when I finally landed.

When I met him in 1985, I was instantly in deep, deep lurrrvveee.

[OMG, I just, like, you know, totally had to marry him. ]

After about ten months of dogged stalking, he reluctantly decided to give up and date me. The relationship lasted all of six weeks.

When it ended, I was devastated.

I continued to shamelessly stalk the poor guy until college ended and I moved away.

To his credit, he was always gentle and kind in his rejection.

Five years later and the week of my first wedding, this college boyfriend called to say he was in my town and asked if he could take my fiance and I out to dinner.

My fiance suggested that I go alone as he didn't want to hang out with one of my former boyfriends the week of our wedding.

[He said he would just sit there imagining college boyfriend and I... you know... doing the nekkid gyrations.]

I went alone and enjoyed catching up with "the one who got away."

As I was driving him back to his hotel he said,

"You know, I always felt badly that I didn't feel the same way about you that you did about me in college. I always liked you so much, respected you and enjoyed your company. I hope I never hurt your feelings because I never wanted to do that."

[Did I mention I was DRIVING when he said this?!]

Over the next few years we were in touch more often and when we talked, we were honest about our lives and offered each other support.

We became real friends.

My first husband and I divorced around the same time that college boyfriend and his first wife split up.

Commiserating with each other helped us both get through that difficult time.

I haven't been to Chicago in more than four years -- not since before I became pregnant with The Mayor.

I was excited to see college boyfriend and his second wife and to meet their fifteen month old son. (Of course, baby college boyfriend was incredibly cute.)

After our visit he drove me to my downtown hotel.

On the way he talked about being a father and said,

"There's nothing else that I do in my life that has such importance or permanence. I can accomplish tasks at work and they have a short term impact, but parenting has such long term implications. The man that my son becomes is my legacy. There is nothing I can contribute to this world that has more value than this."


I looked at college boyfriend and noticed his grey hair.

I don't see him in person very often and when I do, I am often surprised that he doesn't look twenty-two anymore though my memory perpetually clings to that youthful image of him.

After this visit, I hope I can override that outdated imprint and replace it with this new picture, my friend the father.

51 comments:

amusing said...

It is so wonderful to connect with old friends -- as if no time has passed even if it's been ages. The grey creeps in, but I think we all still see our young selves...

It's wonderful that having a relationship didn't kill the possibility of a friendship -- he sounds smart, aware and insightful.

flutter said...

Sounds like you already have, Jess

liv said...

Thanks for this.

Julie Pippert said...

That is awesome.

Omaha Mama said...

He sounds, like, totally neat. I can't imagine knowing a man who would speak like that (perhaps your own many speaks like this). The men in my life do more itching and scratching. With some poignant grunting.

Sue at nobaddays said...

The loveliest post I've read in a long time. Thanks!

BOSSY said...

"I hope I can override that outdated *imprint*."

Sniff. That's beautiful, Joys. But Bossy thinks "outdated emBOSSment" would have been a better choice of words.

slouching mom said...

Lovely, J. And I'm so happy to see that once in a while relationships can convert successfully to friendships.

Liam's Mom - Gina said...

Good for you noticing that grey hair and slowly letting go of that college image you had of him.

Shauna Loves Chocolate said...

As always, great post!

Nancy said...

That was nice, and special.

I have a friend the "didn't feel the same" as I did, when I was about 23 ... he teaches emotionally challenged elementary children now, and lives about 3 hours away. We were able to always stay in touch, monthly emails, etc.

I have not seen him since that time.
Your post makes me want to jump in my car, meet his wife and son, and visit him.

NoMommy said...

Beautiful post. Thanks for sharing.

Fairly Odd Mother said...

I'm so impressed you could remain friends even though you started off feeling more for him.

Lovely post.

Kendra said...

Awesome story, I often look at my good friends and think how they have become these incredible husbands and daddy's and get all moved. It is so neat how we all evolve and become secure with ourselves and can then let the past go and be happy to be experiencing the here and now. I am glad you get the chance to keep in touch with your friend and see him all grown up! Have a great weekend!

Major Bedhead said...

That was lovely, Jess. He sounds like an incredible guy.

cry it out! said...

Your friend, the good guy -- it sounds like. And I'm not even driving.
Mike

~JJ! said...

Wow. You are lucky to have that with him.

This is a wonderful post.

Jonathon Morgan said...

It's amazing how they keep coming back into your life, isn't it?

milk & honey said...

I love this story, it's wonderful and put a smile on my face, thanks :)

Aliki2006 said...

What a great re-connection, J. A little sobering/heartwarming/joyous encounter...thanks for sharing it!

FENICLE said...

How wonderful that you can connect to someone like this despite all you've both been through.

carmachu said...

How sweet....

Bon said...

he sounds lovely, this old friend. and gracious, and wise.

as you must have been, to have been able to foster this friendship after the hurt feelings of twenty-two. i like to see relationships grow into friendships, and vice versa...i'm always sad to discover how many people think it's impossible.

thanks. :)

Lawyer Mama said...

It's so nice that you can have that kind of relationship after all this time. I know what you mean about letting go of how you saw him before. It's so hard to see ourselves and our partners differently when our roles change so drastically. I think it's even harder with a friend you don't see often. But time marches on....

It was FABULOUS to meet you, Jess. I'm now going to stalk you even more relentlessly.

mcewen said...

Ah, well that's a welcome surprise. I didn't think you normally posted at the weekend. Great story, but I certainly wouldn't like to bump into any of my old flames. There again, I'm irrecognizable after 25 years. [I hope]
Cheers

mcewen said...

Is this weekend marlarky a one off, it will you be a regular now?
Cheers

Daniel said...

loved the post Jess.

aimee / greeblemonkey said...

very, very, very cool post.

And I have become "real" friends with the guys I stalked in college too. It's a neat feeling.

WhyMommy said...

This. Is beautiful.

Nice work.

Lene said...

I think its great that you guys are still friends. I have no idea what happened to college boyfriends.

Heather said...

Great post. Sounds like you have always had good taste :) Its great that you are still friends.

tinakala said...

Some people do not do well as lovers, but can become very good friends. Been there. I´m happy for you.

Cherann said...

I like this post. I've never been the kind of person to remain friends with a boyfriend that I really truly cared about in the past. It's too difficult for me.

But it's nice to know that other people can.

urban-urchin said...

what a wonderful friendship.

college boyfriend has summed up parenting/fathering in a nutshell.

NotSoSage said...

Beautiful. What a wonderful friendship.

Jennifer said...

This post made me smile. To leave corners of our heart open to old friends -- and to leave the rest of our heart open to accepting our old friend as a new person, when time passes, is an amazing thing, I think.

Flawed & Disorderly said...

I'm just in awe that either of your husbands would be cool with you seeing an ex! What universe do you live in??? Or why do I only attract men who practically piss in a circle all around me in attempt to brand me as their territory?

Jenny said...

Beautiful.

Personally though when I see my friends get old it just makes me feel really old and that's why I make it a rule to never know people for more than 5 years.

I miss my parents though.

Queen Karana said...

He sounds like a really good friend, and very insightful... like you. No wonder you were attracted to him!

Day Dreamer said...

That's so cool. That was a great post!

Natsthename said...

See what you gained by having this guy as a friend? It's lovely that you can stay in touch and remain friends!

ewe are here said...

I really like this story... and I love his feelings about being a parent.

Ruth Dynamite said...

It all works out the way it should in the end. I'm happy for you.

Mimi said...

Well. Ain't that just eactly the truth, that thing that he said. A legacy.

Isn't it interesting how sometimes, just sometimes, people we knew when we were 22 change just as we change, and grow, and looking at them is like a kind of mirror that allows us to see where our own lives are going?

On the upside, if he'd been more of a boyfriend, he wouldn't likely be such a friend now, right?

Mocha said...

But the gray hair...it was sexy right? I love gray hair on a man especially on the sides.

So sorry. Did I ruin this nostalgic moment for you?

But the sexy hair. Tell me about the sexy hair.

Kind of Crunchy Mama said...

Wow, you are so adult.

EE said...

I don't think that I'd be able to be friends with any of the guys I stalked in college...I'm impressed!

Craze said...

Great post. I'm glad you were able to stay in contact and re-invent your relationship as adults.

Calvin Warr said...

Lovely! I have lots of good friends who are of the opposite sex, and somehow, people cannot seem to believe that is possible. We go through life, and sometimes, in the end, that is all we have left - friends and family.

Catherine said...

Wow...that is amazingly said.

Nancy said...

I skipped my 20th high school reunion last year in order to attend BlogHer. But I've been checking out the pictures of all the people I knew back then and it's strange to see them heavier, with gray hair, etc. -- It is hard to reconcile the new pictures with the way they look in my mind's eye.

How great that you two have been able to maintain the relationship as well as you have. It's great to have a friend that's known you for so long and through so many phases of life.