Some important realizations only come later in life with the benefit of time and distance. It’s funny because at that particular moment, you couldn’t and wouldn’t have been able to imagine that things would turn out like these years later, and you had to struggle meantime. You wonder whether you’re making the right decision, liking the right person, analyzing and processing things the right way. They say youth is wasted on the young. Because you’re young, some measure of stupidity and foolishness is given, which allows you to make mistakes with the all-too-good premise that you will learn lessons from them. Of course, we hardly think that way. We always assume that the decision we’re making is the right one and if it turns out wrong, well, then that’s for later. There’s much to be said about decisions that are guided by God’s wisdom. There’s also much to be said about mistakes that He permits you make, so that you grow in wisdom.
I had one such realization last night when I decided to catch up with a guy I used to date. I received a text yesterday asking if I was in town. His name did not appear on my phone but for some reason, I had a feeling it was him. Obviously, because he was asking if I was in town, he meant to catch up. He said he was here for work and was staying til next week. I was going out of town this weekend so we decided to meet after my bible study.
I was almost an hour late but wasn’t that concerned; I knew he had no choice but to wait anyway. The last time we saw each other was 6 years ago, when I decided to break up. In between these six years, there have been some communication here and there, just the usual greetings on birthdays and how’s life and all. That’s as far as catching up goes for us. He’s in a committed relationship while I have been moving here and there. He did visit town a month back but we didn’t get to meet, despite an initial plan to. And admittedly, I wanted to pay back the favor of standing him up (lol) because I’ve gotten so used to him being such a user. He’ll only contact you when he needs something from you, and then disappear after. I was actually thinking back on this before I texted that I’d meet him but decided to let bygones be bygones. It wasn’t like it affected me or anything. I just didn’t have any important reason to meet with him. Catching up? I feel there are certain degrees to catching up. Why should people feel entitled to know about your life when they haven’t earned that right, because hello, where were you the last six years? And who are you to merit this information? Some people feel they can just come and go into your life and when they do come back, feel as if nothing has changed and suddenly, you feel obligated to spill a bullet by bullet summary of your life?
Thankfully, I was very level-headed last night. I edited what had to be shared with someone who didn’t need to know these details of my life. I shared some things, withheld others. The conversation was typical. How is life, how have I been living in the province, the sort of activities I do, the sort of friends I keep. I realized, as we were talking, that there was very little we really had in common. Even as I withheld information, even as there was a limit to how much I was willing to share, it didn’t escape my notice that that there was really very little we could talk about apart from the generic information you give to acquaintances. Somewhere in my mind ran thoughts like, “Why did I ever like this guy before?” “where is this conversation going?” “What is he talking about?” and “I can’t believe I liked this guy.”
Ah, the folly of youth. I was 23 then, and our relationship lasted two complicated years. I was driven by emotion and was physically attracted to him. With the attraction gone, suddenly it dawns on me that there is nothing else to keep us ‘connected’, and I see now the superficiality of this relationship that meant “life” to me some 8 years back. There were no amazing conversations to remember or to relive, not the type that happens with good friends who haven’t seen each other for a long time and have a gazillion stories to tell. There was nothing of that sort between us. It all just seemed very mechanical and arbitrary, this meeting up. I now fully understand why my close friends were shocked when they first met him. They couldn’t believe or imagine that I’d like a guy like him. How do I put it? We were just different. The way we think, the way we live. He couldn’t keep up with me, and I think I can finally say now that I did ‘dumb myself down’ for this guy, because then and now, he wouldn’t have passed my standards.
So why did we date? At that time, it felt right. Again, the folly of youth, of petty romances and a wrong idea about love.
So he pays for the bill (surprise!), drops me off at home (I didn’t bring a car), and I set the boundaries that I wasn’t able to set before. I told him he can drop me off at the gate but that I can’t let him inside the house this late at night. Just as I was about to enter the gate, he quickly gives me a kiss on the cheek. Reaction? A nonchalant shrug. I didn’t feel a thing. I wasn’t even caught off guard. I owe this to knowing him well. I somehow knew he was going to do this without my permission but I certainly did not expect he would do it, given –hello, we’re only meeting again now after six years! How dare you. lol. I only just thought to myself, “he still hasn’t changed.” I’d be pissed if I found out my boyfriend was giving goodnight kisses to his ex-girlfriend.
So yeah, some people and some things change over time and distance. Others, they stay frighteningly the same. I look back on this relationship and I feel humbled, because of the way I was protected by God despite my mistakes. I’m relieved it didn’t work out for us, and I’m even more relieved it was glaringly evident last night. I’m done hoping he would change his ways. I’ve long submitted that to God. I was actually in disbelief seeing the same issues come up –like boundaries. Then and now, it never felt right to me that he was very ‘loose’ with his interaction with women. I say this now, even as I recall the way he interacted with me last night, and I think because of the familiarity, we feel a sense of entitlement. Like, it’s okay to do this because we know each other. It’s not.
So much for catching up.