Bub and I met in college. He’s a few years older. I was a fresh face on campus and he was a residence director at one of the dorm halls, studying to get his master’s degree.
I vividly remember the day we met. He stood with his best friend – the friend I would later say would be the godfather to our children – and smiled at me. It was my very first day of college, the day after the end of orientation week. I was excited to be there, ready to make new friends and get to know myself better – me without my three older siblings and parents.
At the time, nothing came of our interactions. He was sociable and attractive, and he made time to accept a lot of the passes being made at him. He made some too, a couple that would disappoint me in the years to come. He slept around, many of us did. There was so much newness to explore – new people, new classes, new ideas, new parties.
We were friendly with one another, sometimes chatting on Facebook. Although we pretended to hate one another when we saw one another around campus, joking about how irritated we were to bump into each other. We were flirting, I think.
I was studying journalism and doing a lot of writing. I started to write a book. I wanted to write about boys, and dating, and love and friendship. Eventually, some years after college, Bub and I would realize just how potent of a mix all those things are together. The book is what connected us again. I reached out via Twitter to ask him for an interview. It didn’t happen then, but months later he reached out and asked that if we weren’t meeting about the book could we just meet to catch up.
Although he’s six years older than I am, we were both so young and in different places when we began dating in 2013. We had some semblance of a friendship, though. We were familiar with one another in the way that people who go to the same small college are. That familiarity catapulted our comfort with one another romantically. We became best friends in our relationship, and soon after, we loved each other.
Nothing about all those wonderful things made our relationship easy. It was everything about all those things that made ending it hard.
We struggled, for nearly four years, to keep ourselves and our relationship together. We tried couple’s therapy, and sometimes it worked, but eventually we realized that we weren’t. It broke my heart and enraged me. Bub was supposed to be my husband, father of our children. He was supposed to be my best friend forever – my BFF.
We both did things, awful things, to one another. We broke promises and blew up trust. We escalated arguments. We cared little of one another’s safety or sanity.
We pushed and pulled, back and forth, for too long. We reached our limit two years ago. I was so hurt and emotionally damaged by the stress of the previous years that when it came down to it, I finally felt relieved in leaving him. There was no going back to Bub.
Then one day, almost a year ago now, he texted me. He had seen me out in the streets of New York City. He didn’t speak to me in person, didn’t know how I would react. He had a couple of dreams about me afterward and decided to reach out a few weeks later to tell me.
We connected over the phone and had a great conversation. I asked that he not be a stranger, especially if he saw me out again. It felt like closure, until the very end when he said “it would be nice to catch up in person sometime.”
When we hung up, I missed him. I wanted to be friends with him again. I still loved him.
I still love him.
We’re still in touch now. He’s not blocked from my call/text list like he used to be. My therapist calls me “The Block Queen”. It was my favorite feature on my phone when dealing with people who annoyed or frustrated me. Bub was blocked multiple times over the course of our relationship. Now I like hearing from him. I want to keep the lines of communication open. So far, the communication has been safe. It’s been thoughtful. It proves we still care about one another and are thinking of each other. It’s very random, but it’s nice and it doesn’t drive me off track in my healing. Sometimes I’ll text first, sometimes he will.
Sometimes I think of the past and some parts of it hurt, but I allow myself to feel it and move on from it. I don’t revel in it like I used to. I also think of our friendship, when we were just dating, before the commitment and all the bumps in the road. I think of him and his eyes and how he used to look at me. I think of his hands.
The thoughts are purposive in that they remind me of love at its simplest.
Then there are times when I want to let it all go – the thoughts, the history – but more often than anything else, I think about the present moment. Journaling helps.
I don’t know what the future holds for Bub, for me, for us. I know the past was meaningful, and that it is where it is. That leaves me with what I have today.
Today, I have the memories and I have the love.