Tuesday, July 3

Two Roads

People seem to come and go in our lives. Some people are nothing more than a thing of the past, some stay by our side our entire lives, and others unexpectedly return into our lives, for better or worse. Whatever the outcome, there always seems to be a choice: the choice to embrace a relationship, the choice to leave a relationship, the choice to move on from a relationship, the choice to welcome a new relationship, or the choice to welcome the return of a relationship. The bonds we make with people can often be unpredictable, but there is continuity in knowing there’s always a choice.

However, it was in episode 4, season 5 of “House” that Wilson stated, “I guess no one gets to choose who their parents are. I'm not sure anymore we even choose who our friends are.” Sometimes, I do feel this to be true in the best of ways. I am extremely thankful for the friends that I have, and even more thankful for the ones that have re-entered my life. Yet there are still so many unanswered questions: what about those that have become a thing of the past? It happened for a reason, right? Should such an individual remain in the past? Or can there be justification for reconnecting?

After graduating high school, I recall some words of wisdom given to me by my older brother: “Don’t look back.” Those words often resonate in my mind. It was in the romantic, feel-good film, “Can’t Hardly Wait,” in which Denise advises Preston,” Don’t look back. You should never look back.” which was a reference to the Don Henley song, “Boys of Summer”. And classic rock band, Boston, has a song titled, “Don’t Look Back,” which suggests that to look back would be compromising yourself. But why mustn’t we look back? As far as I can tell, Preston had a lot to gain from looking back. And in my personal experience, I’ve gained some valuable relationships from doing the same. The thing is, people grow and change over time. As it turns out, there’s a lot of growing up that takes place after the high school and college years. And while yes, some circumstances are meant to stay in the past, I think that others can be justified.

Lately, my thoughts seem to be consumed with one particular individual of my own past: an ex boyfriend. And while those two words alone make this seem unbelievably taboo, he wasn’t just a boyfriend. He wasn’t just a high school sweetheart. (In fact, we actually dated less than a third of our high school years.) He was my best friend for about three and half years. So many memories, all the things we shared: Ninja Turtles, Ghost Busters, stand-up comedy, Nintendo, Carl’s Jr., and rock and roll. Music was a passion we shared. To say passion is an understatement; it was our obsession. And there was something about him. No one could make me laugh the way he did. While there were many ups and downs in our relationship, it took some time for me to realize I wasn't in love with him. I wasn’t in love with him (though I deeply wished it to be so), but I loved him. I have not had many friends that I have cared for so deeply or connected with on such a level. For these reasons, it was extremely difficult to let go of our friendship when things hit rock bottom. Regardless of how poorly I was treated or how unhealthy our relationship became, I couldn’t let go until he left me shortly after graduating high school. While I was devastated at the time, it was the best thing that could have possibly happened. While I have moved on, all the years since we parted ways, I’ve never been able to completely fill that place in my heart. That place that speaks of him and all the memories…nothing will ever be able to fill it.

My head is spinning with emotions after briefly reconnecting this last September. There was something very peculiar about it. It was like home, but slightly different. Something just didn't feel right about it. Part of me wanted my best friend back, but part of me couldn't help but think that it was wrong, that this was supposed to stay in the past. He had changed for the better in some ways, but some of the less desirable characteristics remained the same. Consequently, it was very short-lived, and this time I left him. Since it was during the school year, I think I was so physically and emotionally drained from work alone that I didn't know how to deal with these other emotions. Truthfully, I felt terrible for leaving him the way I did (and I still do). And even though I left him this time around, I'm still torn. He remains in my thoughts as the result of an encounter I had (coincidentally) with one of his close friends. After I first met him a few months ago, I quickly became fascinated and swept off my feet by this incredible guy who, exceedingly, reminded me of my ex in all the best ways. Unfortunately, that was just about as brief and short-lived, and I can't help but think it dissipated so quickly as the result of my history with my ex. In a way, it felt like Karma. But it seems to me the blame game never got anyone anywhere anyway. I know we both had a lot of growing up to do back then, and I think we still are growing up. We're still making mistakes and learning from them. We're still trying to find our place in this world.

Though part of me longs to have all of that back, part of me will not forget the reasons we went our separate ways (not just once, but twice), the reasons he has become one of the most taboo things in my life. Meanwhile, here I am stuck in this existentialist funk with so many emotions to sort through: guilt, confusion, and rage to name a few. It’s in these most confusing times that we begin to question ourselves, our morals, our integrity. Because whether or not there’s a choice, we must search deep within ourselves for the answers. The road we choose (or happen upon) defines us and the chapters that lie ahead, even if we can’t yet read the page.
"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood"

-Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken

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