It’s interesting to reflect on the relationships we’ve had over the course of our lives. More interesting though, is our take on these same relationships in maturity. Young girls day dream about their perfect husband and spend countless hours practicing their signature as Mrs Someone. Young boys, oblivious to the ‘relationship’ aspect, just fantasize about a good looking busty girl, willing to play – the future of any relationship has no relevance to them, not now. (I recall a friend describing her daughters high school prom with disgust. After spending hundreds on dresses, some of these young girls got drunk and vomited on their gowns. Her husband, in defense of the impetuous youths, cut her off and said, “guys don’t care about that…just wipe off that vomit and lets go make out!”)
The high school or university sweetheart we had usually ends there. Some carry on and eventually marry. Many part ways as they enter their new working lives, and it’s often here they meet their destined partner, if they are so destined at all. We all know the cool guys and girls at school because they were never seen alone, ie, they had to have ‘someone’ and back then we envied them their popularity. Today when I think back, I wonder that it wasn’t their insecurity we were actually witnessing. That they had to have someone, always, tells me they aren’t confident enough to be alone, and to see how some of these old flames have fared in life is interesting.
One such old flame who moved on to new adventures (ok, he dumped me) did well, quite well actually, and for the longest time I resented that because the wounded young girl me still felt jilted. Over time I came to realize our parting (I mean he really dumped me, but I’m not bitter) was destiny, and the best thing for both of us. In hindsight we had nothing in common, contrary personalities, and conflicting priorities, and I have to admit we would not have had a happy future together. I see that now and I’m glad he’s done well. (ok, I bit my tongue on that one)
An encounter with another old flame (that’s it, I only had 2) a few years ago was an eye opener. I met him at a mall with his current wife, and I was startled at his transformation. I recalled a low key, conservative guy. These two reminded me of Al and Peggy Bundy, from “Married with Children”. He had bleach blonde curly hair, wore a thick gold chain around his neck and sported a diamond studded pinky ring, that he played with continuously. His wife had long brown puffy hair (and I mean Annette Funicello puffy) and was wearing a very tight one piece leopard skin body suit. (Jesus, where do you even find something like that?) Both were in their mid fifties so you can imagine how synthetic this looked. (ok, this one didn’t dump me, I dumped him, but boy, did I dodge a bullet or what?)
I believe every encounter in our lives serves a purpose. It fashions who we become, so I suppose any time spent with those now deemed losers, was not wasted. In truth, this fellow was still a really nice guy, just a flashy middle aged man clinging to his youth – and there’s no crime in that. (He should get an award for sheer nerve in going out in public that way though)
Then there’s the popular girl every guy drooled over. She was always asked out, seldom spent weekends at home; the ‘it’ girl. In all fairness, the one I knew was lovely, and a really nice person. Fast forward 35 years and she is alone, much to the surprise of all. She’d had relationships over the years but none panned out, so she chose to remain single and she was ok with that. Last I heard she was living with, and caring for, her elderly mother. Not the future we all envisioned for her, but it was her chosen path. (I’m also betting that she must’ve dated some real losers if living with her aging mother was the better choice)
We all know the someone who ‘has to have a partner’. They’re everywhere and you have to feel sorry for them. They have an endless trail of former loves and are registered with several dating services, always looking for that perfect someone, because God forbid, they should be alone. They scour the ‘chatting’ options online, partake of speed dating and literally live to find their next mate because without them, they are nothing. (how sad is that) If there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that not everyone is meant to live the traditional life; you know, marry Mr Perfect, have 2.5 children, a cocker spaniel, and the white picket fence. Some people are actually happier alone. (and they usually have wonderfully busy social lives)
I have a number of unattached friends, who are so by choice, and I admire their self-confidence. These are individuals secure in their own right. They are outgoing, vivacious and popular, and do not feel compelled to saddle themselves with a partner for the sake of ‘having someone’. Bravo!
For those of us who were destined to walk this path with a partner, choose wisely and be realistic, at every age. We don’t stay young and perky forever so you need to love what’s inside so much more than what’s outside. I am fortunate that the love of my life still fits the bill as my handsome prince (actually, it was his sense of humour that won me over but he doesn’t feel the love when I tell him that) He’s a little older, balder, pudgier even, but who am I to judge? I’ve put on a couple of pounds, scaled back the ‘sexy’ in my wardrobe, sport industrial underwear, and traded in my stilleto’s for sensible shoes. (we can’t stay young forever)
Last fall I bumped into an old flame (yep, the one that hurt) and as much as I knew I was over him, I still wanted to show him what he missed out on. I sucked in my excess middle and stood proudly tall, head held high (it stretches out the wrinkles on my neck when I do that) After we each regaled the other with tales of our triumphs in life, we parted ways. (We had to. If I didn’t exhale soon my eyes would blow off my head)
As I strolled away, I glanced over my shoulder and noted his gait was slow and his pants were secured with a belt just under his armpits. “Yep, dodged another bullet”, I muttered to myself. As I shuffled away cursing the damp weather that aggravated my arthritis riddled hip, I rubbed my neck (to allow my neck wrinkles to redistribute) and thought “oh yeah, he missed out alright”.
2 thoughts on “Old Flames”
Still have my high school Prince Charming and I’m thankful!
Just looked at this now, Em.
I agreed with you entirely, I believe – a rare occurrence indeed!