My sisters and I visited recently, and we were sitting in my semi tastefully appointed new living room. We were sitting in a perfect triangulated cross fire position for conversation— one sister in the chair, me on the couch, my other sister perched on the love seat—but there wasn’t any talking. Like everyone in the world today, we were attached to the newest technological body part—our iPads. The only time anyone spoke was when we found something amusing to share: a joke, a tidbit of info about someone we all knew., a current photo— one in particular that changed my life. It wasn’t anything like the 360 that Bill Murray’s character experienced in the movie, Ground Hog Day, but it was big enough to alter the course of my thinking.
I’d spent 45 years allowing the memory of a silly Jr High relationship be the so- called “third rail” of my romantic life. He was my first love and my first heartache. We broke up my third day into a freshman year of High School and he never explained why. He did it in a phone call that didn’t even last 30 seconds and His timing couldn’t have been worse. But that’s another story.
My life continued to move forward but I couldn’t shake his overly idealized memory—not at age 15, 26, 37, 41….not even t years into my 50’s,. It wasn’t until I was 58, five months and 21 days old when one sister showed me a recent photo of Him.
I took one look at it and froze. Shocked. A smidge nauseated. Every delusional thought I had of him, us, me exited my body through every pore. I think there’s still a stain on the couch.
He looked old, haggard and just like his abusive, mean, alcoholic, philandering father. Mirror image. I was repulsed and liberated at the same time. The adorable 13 year old old boy with greasy kid stuff that I ate my heart out over for more than four decades was gone. I only saw the man he’d become and that man looked just like His father. And I couldn’t make the separation.
Dont chide me for basing all this this on a photo. I’m not shallow. Besides, this story is too complicated to explain. I know they’re two different people. And I also know there’s possibility he might have grown up to become a decent guy nice, kind, honorable—the exact opposite of His father, despite the physical similarities, but that didn’t matter. I had to indict Him based on this photo alone. I did it for me and my sanity. I’m free. Finally free.