Have you ever held onto a crush because it made you feel like you had something going on? Even though you had nothing going on? With him or her or anyone else?
Even though you haven’t spoken a word or had contact in quite some time? Even though he knows he could have you if he just said the word…but doesn’t?
Have you ever latched on to a few kind words from an ex? Allowed a simple sentence to set your mind reeling with possibilities? Wondering what he is up to now? Even though you haven’t seen one another in more than a decade. And you aren’t even sure if he’s married or not? Have you ever wanted to inquire with a mutual friend of his relationship status but decided against it only because you didn’t want to appear tacky?
Have you ever rifled through old journals looking for entries about your time with the above-mentioned ex because you are certain you wrote about it? And when you found those few pages read them over and over again until the images were seared onto your retinas?
Have you ever lingered over every detail about a romance that happened nearly 20 years ago? The one where you were 25 and he was 40 and you asked him, “What is 40 like?” Where he made sure you didn’t die or kill yourself in a drunken frenzy – your first time overseas? And then sang to you in the airport when you said goodbye, lamented over the things he didn’t do with you, knowing you would never see one another again.
Do you tell it with such vivid color all these years later that your girlfriend insists you to write about it? But you don’t.
Have you ever felt closer to your crush after spending time with his friend? And felt guilty about it even though you didn’t do anything wrong?
Have you ever slipped his name into conversation just to keep it alive? To keep him alive?
Do you ever wonder about the ones you call unfinished business?
Your first real love. The first one you got naked with?
The one with good boundaries, who kept you at arm’s length because he was your professor and you were his student. But sometimes you wonder if maybe…just maybe, it could have been different.
The one who slipped his hand down the back of your pants and guided you down the street by your crotch. Made you praise God for dirty minds and dirty hands.
The one who wanted a partner when you wanted a parent. You couldn’t see it then but you can now. And sometimes you wonder what it would have been like if you met later?
Have you ever looked up your ex’s current on Facebook and wondered if you were thinner? Prettier? Better in bed?
Have you ever waxed nostalgic over others and wondered what the hell you were thinking?
Do you sometimes forget that you are making a choice every day? Not to settle. Not to post a dating profile online. But to grieve. To get your own house in order. To trust in magic and serendipity and the divine rhythms of the universe.
Do you sometimes forget that you actually have said, “no”? Not because the suitor wasn’t perfectly lovely, but because you didn’t have romantic feelings. Because you wanted to honor the feelings you did have, wanted to honor yourself and honor him. Because you remember what it is like to say “yes” when you really mean “no.”
Do you congratulate yourself when you remember?
And yet, choice or no choice, do you sometimes feel that strange sense of empty space – like a wall waiting for art? You know nature abhors a vacuum because your friend Teresa told you so and she’s rarely wrong. So you wonder when nature will come charging in.
Do you sometimes wonder if the universe remembers exactly how long it has been since you have had sex? Does it sometimes make you cringe? And other times fill you with a sense of esteem for discernment you had never previously known?
Do you sometimes know that God has done you favor because you otherwise might have stayed somewhere you shouldn’t have. Or gone somewhere you didn’t need to be?
Do you sometimes still have a little bit of crazy that tells you that you are better, worthier, more interesting and more attractive if you have a partner?
Do you sometimes look at someone new and think “maybe,” and know in the past you would have forced that “maybe” into a “yes?” Made it fit, damn it. Made him fit. Like Cinderella’s shoe on a stepsister’s foot? But for now you just say “maybe.”
Have you? Do you?