Wednesday, June 8, 2011

What ever happened to So-and-So....

My apologies for the the delay in adding the second post from my "brilliant" weekend. My washing machine decided to retire in the middle of a load of towels, and I've been spending my spare time researching a replacement. There are entirely too many choices out there, but I finally made a decision and the new one will be delivered on Saturday. Good thing too - as I'm about out of clean clothes and no one wants to see me running around town starkers!

During my wonderful holiday weekend, the topic of "first loves" came up during our family picnic. I think my sister-in-law "B" brought up the subject, as she and my brother "N" are/were high-school sweethearts. That conversation sparked a curiosity in me, as I have often wondered what ever happened to Daniel, my first "love". Once or twice in the past, I had tried to look him up just to see where he was, but never with any luck. I won't try to kid you or myself into thinking the curiosity was purely innocent. When Daniel and I split, I was still relatively young at the tender age of 23. We did not split amongst a great argument, infidelity or some other nefarious reasoning. We were two people who were at different stages in our lives - I was young, naive and just starting out; he was eight years older than me, and quite a bit more jaded in his opinions and outlook on life. I wanted him to love, a house, the picket fence - the whole nine yards. Looking back, I know that Daniel did love me, and he showed that love in his own way. At the time, he could not commit to any thing more and I was unwilling to settle for any thing less. Daniel had not come from a loving family like mine, and love and affection were not emotions to which he was accustomed; he was uncomfortable with the thought of being loved and he was hesitant to proclaim his love for me. Through many mutual tears, we parted ways. Daniel offered his friendship to me, but I refused to take it.  I was too hurt and full of selfish pride at the time to understand that our break-up was difficult for him as well. I have long regretted not keeping in touch with him and after the "first love" conversation topic, I thought I would try one more time to find Daniel.

The next day, I did a quick look on FaceBook, searching Daniel's name. And boom - there he was. His surname is very unique, and there was no doubt in my mind that the FaceBook Daniel and my Daniel were one in the same. I stared at the "Friend Request" button for what seemed like hours. I had not given much thought to what I would actually do once I did find him. The moment of truth had come - had I matured enough emotionally to reconnect with him? I knew and know that I was secure enough in my relationship with Michel that reconnecting with Daniel would not bother Michel at all; we are friends with his "first love". I admit, I had butterflies in my stomach when I sent the request along with a short note. It had been almost 18 years since I had last seen Daniel, and 15 years since we had last spoken. I closed off the computer and went to distract myself with the garden.

Daniel accepted the request, and sent back a note as well. We continued to exchange emails through out the day, and I finally gave him my phone number and told him to use it, but to be mindful of the three hour time difference, which I am sure resulted in a chuckle on his behalf. The next day, Daniel called. I honestly do not know if I expected him to call or if I hoped he would call, but in the end after all of these years, we were finally speaking. We talked for nearly an hour, catching up on the who/what/when/where of the last two decades. Hearing his voice made it seem like only yesterday that we had parted ways; but the conversation was a good one. We shared happy memories of our time together and discussed where we were in our lives now. He is still single, living on the west coast, and is "okay" with being single; he's moving to the South West in late June, just in time for his 50th birthday.  I told him all about Michel, losing Mom, the nieces & nephews, and the many other big events since our last conversation and Michel's and my plans to someday move to Colorado. Near the end of the conversation, he made the comment that I had grown to be the man he had always wished he could have been for me. I almost lost it; I still don't know why those words coming from him meant and mean so much to me. Maybe someday, I will understand the feeling.

When the phone call was over, I think I was floating on cloud nine. I was glad to have heard from Daniel, happy that he was now in a good place in his life, and most of all, I was happy about how good a life I have with Michel. Having reminisced with Daniel about the "old days", I appreciate Michel so much more the time we have together. Daniel and I agreed to keep in touch, as I apologized for not being man enough back then to accept him for who/what he was instead of how I wanted him to be. I do hope we keep in touch once he moves to his new place; but if not, at least I'll know that this time we truly did part on good terms.

I talked with Michel after the call from Daniel. I hide nothing from Michel; I told Michel all about conversation, and we continued our own discussion of "first loves" that had been sparked by my sister-in-law. Michel asked why I looked so happy, like I was glowing and my response was simple: the wound has healed. It took nearly twenty years and a one-hour phone call to be able to say those words, and mean it. And I am a better person for having experienced the wound and for finally having reached out to heal it.

Monday, June 6, 2011

High on the World

So much has occurred since my last post, I'm almost at a loss as to where I should begin. I've tried several times over the last few days to sit down and at least write a paragraph or two, but I think my adult-onset ADD kicked itself into overdrive. It is quiet here at work now, so this is as good a time as any to try and catch up.  Many good things happened this past week, so I'll start with the best.

If there were just one word to describe my Memorial Day weekend, it would be "brilliant" (to quote my Harry Potter co-fanatics)!  Sunday, we had a family picnic at a local park, with me & Michel, my sisters and their spouses and children, and my younger brother, sister-in-law and new niece. We invited "R", but to none of our surprise, his only response was "not coming". I put my hand out; he chose not to take it, so be it. But I didn't let that ruin the day.

The rest of us had a great time, with great food and I relished watching my nieces and nephews enjoy themselves on the playground, doing what kids do best - being carefree and innocent! I must admit that I sometimes am envious of them - to be an age where you have not a care in the world. But then again, I don't think I would trade my own life experiences to be young again. I want to believe I have learned something useful from my years on this world; and both the good and bad times have given me life lessons, whether I was aware of them at the time or not. These days, I try to look at every event in my life with a much wider-angled view, to see the big picture, to see if I truly have learned or matured.

What I learned from the family picnic was something I have always known - in the grand scheme of things, your family really is all that matters. And you can define 'family' however you so choose. I define family as the people in my life upon whom I know I can always depend, and who know they can always depend upon me. We love each other unconditionally, faults and all. Certainly we rattle each others nerves on occasion, but we're also the first ones to stand-up for one another when the chips call for it. I know I can call "Da", "De" or "N" anytime of the day or night, and each of them would answer. And I am certain that they know the same holds true on the flip side (if for no other reason than I have been explicit in stating to each of them that I will always be/am always here for them). The relationship I have with my younger siblings mirrors the relationship I always longed for with my older brother. I suppose I overcompensate a bit much sometimes, but I never want Da, De or N to feel unloved or unwanted. And my nieces and nephews will always feel loved and will always feel special. That is a gift from their grandmother and great-grandmother that I will pass on to each of them.

I'm still reeling from that day; it's amazing how good one little picnic can make you feel. That overwhelming feeling of love and happiness has carried me through the week, and spread in several unexpected directions. I'll try and post again later this evening to fill you in on the other "brilliant" things that fell into my lap last week; I'm still processing some of them and perhaps sharing them will put them in their proper place.