Friday, January 09, 2009

reminiscent overdose

Describing an eccentric high school buddy to a friend last night, I broke out my senior year scrapbook to demonstrate through pictures. And there, on pages 7-8, I entered my existential ex-boyfriend hell. On the right, the boy I was still heartbroken over, and on the left, you, the boy I was just beginning to fall in love with.

There was a letter from you tucked behind our prom picture, and it took me back. Hindsight is always 20/20, and I see clearly now what I did. You thought they were all your friends, but I knew they weren't, and I isolated myself from my own to protect you from the hurt.

My closest friends stuck with me anyway, pretended not to mind that they had become an afterthought, penciled in when I wasn't with you. No, thank God, I didn't lose them. But I lost a piece of myself. I lost the part of me who loved to be surrounded by people and allowed you to replace the crowd, settling instead for quiet nights in front of the TV. An old woman at eighteen.

Which was unhealthy, but not unpleasant, until we came to college and you found your niche (which happened to be the restaurant working, ecstasy popping scene). You quickly distanced yourself from the pseudo-friends and found new ones who thought you were fun and interesting. And then I was an afterthought.

It's like when Aleksandr talked Carrie into ditching her dinner party to hold his hand at his art show, then left her standing alone as soon as he felt confident. I could tell the story of my life through Sex and the City scenes.

I fell asleep last night listing to myself the ways in which I've changed since you left me, and the most important lesson I took away, by far, was to never, ever, put a man above myself again. Even if I am about to marry him.

Nick and I will stand side by side, but the day he steps in front of me is the day I walk away.

My second biggest satisfaction in this little reverie? I now own a cat. I wanted one then, but you were allergic.

I can't think of a single way in which my life was better with you than it is now. And yet I still feel so much resentment towards you. I think it has less to do with the fact that you wasted three years of my life, and more to do with the knowledge that you still perceive me as the same desperate girl as I was when you left.

Even though I'm finishing grad school this semester and you never finished undergrad. Even though you supervise the serving of chicken fingers to drunk college students for a living. Even though I now enjoy a vibrant and incredibly meaningful network of social support. Even though, six months from now, I'll be walking down the aisle to marry a man you could never even compare to. No matter how beautiful the life I've crafted for myself, your sense of superiority is a black stain on my existence.

Maybe that says as much about me as it does about you. That I need you to acknowledge my success in order to fully enjoy it.

I had a dream that you came to my house and I was showing you around, telling you about my life. You were quite pleasant, commenting appropriately about how well things seemed to be going for me. But something didn't seem quite right, and when I looked into your eyes I understood. I saw pain there and realized that you knew long ago that I'd done well for myself and you were still stagnant. You were always most polite when hurt.

Hearing you say that I'm better than you will bring me nothing but guilt. What's holding me back from enjoying my success completely is not your refusal to acknowledge it, but instead my need to have you validate it. I need to get over it. It just feels unnatural to not know you at all anymore.


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