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"Our lives are a book that has already been written. The brilliance of the plan is that we are only given a chapter at a time..." ~A. Drayton Boylston

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Returning to the Saddle

I recently went out on my first date in almost ten years.  This date happened to be with someone I dated just before I met my husband.  The last time I had seen Ray was December of 2001.  Since then we offered each other moral support via LiveJournal and Facebook, but hadn't even met for a cup of coffee.  He has gone on about thirty dates since December 2001 but hadn't dated anyone seriously after he lived with someone for about a year.  After seeing my status which changed from "married" to "separated" on Facebook, he asked me out for Thai food and I accepted.  I like Thai.  And I like Ray..... so I figured what the hell.

I didn't miss the drive at all.  Ten years ago Ray didn't have a car, and I was always driving from Haverhill MA to Worcester MA to visit..... which took almost an hour.  Now with me in NH it is even longer by twenty minutes.  But in the past ten years...... I've come to cherish long drives and enjoy the peace and quiet of my car.  That time became time to think, and also time to cry.  Venting my emotional distress on long drives hasn't always worked out..... at least three accidents have resulted (not counting minor bumps).

At least one thing had changed for Ray..... he now lives in the basement of his landlord's house by himself as opposed to an apartment shared with friends.   And I was to look for a small black sedan (also a new development) in the driveway in order to find him..... my GPS had me circling the area but not actually finding the house.  Once I found him, I got right in his car and we drove to the Thai food restaurant.

The familiar and comforting exchange on the ride to the restaurant was nice.  And it was nice not to have to be nervous with him, since we had kept in touch. We didn't have to update each other much on things that had happened in our lives, since we already knew most of it.  But I found myself uncomfortable when he asked questions.  It wasn't him..... I had just become used to not really being able to talk to anyone.  And Ray could be rather direct, which lowered the comfort level further.  I managed to deflect questions back at him, but I could only do it a few times before he said, "No....ladies first."

He seemed more confidant than I remembered..... and he chalked that up to having dated so much in the past ten years.  He also explained that he was ashamed of things he did and said in the past and decided that if he wanted something he would go after it, and he would be honest.  I remember honesty being a problem for him ten years ago.  Despite that, I always forgave and understood.  I know from experience that we all say and do things we're not proud of..... for attention, love or otherwise.  And it stems from not being accepted for who you are and thinking you need to sweeten the deal.... at least a little.

After Thai food, we drove around for a while, reminiscing about moments we remembered about when we were together (which usually involved roommates walking in at inappropriate times and bad driving incidents)....and about our families (he had reunited with his 22 year old daughter.....Ray turns 40 in February) and what was next on our agenda (life plan wise).  I didn't have much to contribute in the latter part of the conversation..... much of my life is uncertain and I feel I'm at a dead end.

I wasn't sure how I felt about the compliments.... "You look amazing" was something I hadn't heard in many years.  Ray was always good about complimenting...... but as the years went by, I heard nothing but put downs from my husband.  It was nice to hear sweet words, but I wondered if I would ever really believe them again.

After any bad dating experience, I always seemed to return to the familiar.  Re-dating men who had treated me nice, spending time with people I had lost touch with..... it was always my way of returning things to normal.  But on the other hand..... that behavior isn't exactly common or normal.  I would love to start a new relationship with someone new and unfamiliar (in the romantic sense)..... I enjoy learning about the person I'm with and learning what makes them happy and how to please them.  But will I have the courage to do that again?  And even more so, I wonder --- will there ever be that opportunity?  Will the ghosts of boyfriends.... and now husband..... past ever fade from my life?

I am grateful for the long talk in the basement of a house he shared with a 65 year old woman, and the warm hug by my car.  And the familiar "text me (which was `ring me' 10 years ago) when you get home so I know you got home safe" was really sweet.  On the ride home though I wondered..... is this fair to him?  Do we continue to date and encounter the same or similar problems as we did 10 years ago, or do we hopefully start fresh as the new people we have more or less become.....him having changed a bit for the better, and me having changed to an apprehensive wounded person?  Can we help each other?  Will we hurt each other again?  Should we even bother to head down this path again?

We have another date next Friday, and he seems very happy and excited.  But I feel sad and guilty...and I'll look into his beautiful blue eyes....and drown in apathy.  It's not him.... it's me wondering if I am worthy of his attention, and whether I am doomed to just continuing to repeating history. I have my moments of confidence and feelings of worth, but because of my experience in the past ten years, there are doubts that things could ever be different for me.... and fear of failing at another relationship.

Ray was very chivalrous to me when we dated years ago..... and it happened to be at a time when I really needed it.  A strictly physical relationship with someone I wished I could be in a romantic relationship with had ended abruptly when that person moved away because of a new job.  And I needed someone nice..... someone who was a joy to be with and didn't cause too much unneeded drama.  And now I need the same thing in my life.  But I wonder if that's a good harmless thing, or if its inadvertently hurtful to him.

As much as I desire to be in it..... should I return to the saddle or keep waiting for the right time?

Is there ever a right time?

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