I’m stuck in the Houston International Airport.
I’m delayed. I’m always delayed.
I can’t remember the last flight that I took that took off and landed on time. I don’t know if that’s ever happened, actually. Once, I think, when I needed it to. Usually, though, I’m calling someone announcing I’m going to be an hour late or so.
It’s been an interesting trip home. I told my mom I’d clean out some things she had of mine in the garage, and I ended up staying up all night long going through old letters, journals, stories and poems that I had written. I found boxes full of old letters from the boys in my life. And every time I read another I remembered the good parts of those boys.
During the break-up process we focus on the bad things about our exes. It helps us heal to only remember how they hurt you, or how miserable you could be around them. If you remember all of their good points all of the time, you drive yourself crazy wondering why you aren’t good enough, why you can’t make things work, why you always end up alone.
So you focus on the bad and you only remember your fights and all of the good parts are stored away. Well, I opened up boxes of the good parts.
What was really interesting to me was to see just how many times I repeated a pattern with boys that could never be loved enough. They constantly had to have something wrong. All of their letters started with apologies for something they had said the night before, and then they’d start talking about all of the things they were going through. There were constant fights.
But then there were some boys who only wrote the nicest of letters. They were stories of the good times we had, inside jokes and nicknames, quick love notes and some of the sweetest poems. The sad thing was some of these great letter-writers were never actually boyfriends. They remained boy friends, while I was working on my troubled Boyfriend. I felt like some relationships never got to grow into their potential because I was too busy fixing the Broken Boy. I had so many Broken Boys in high school.
A few relationships did stand out, though, as positive and sweet. I still look back fondly on those because they taught me how I want to be loved. They were all about kindness, fun and honesty. There was a tenderness to the love that meant we’d never intentionally hurt each other. And we never did. The pain was always accidental and full of remorse.
I ended up getting so obsessive over these letters that I started trying to figure out what exactly went wrong in each relationship. I found that I was remembering how some of them ended incorrectly. What I thought was something horrible he did was actually a high level of apathy on my part that drove him away. When I thought he dumped me for someone else, the truth was I was too busy to keep our relationship going and we drifted apart. When I thought he was too clingy, it was just me being scared. That didn’t happen in every case, and it’s not like these relationships hadn’t reached their conclusion anyway, but I wonder just how much longer we could have survived if I hadn’t made a cut. I wonder if I was supposed to end some of them sooner so they stayed sweet memories instead of the scary hormone-filled missives some boys were driven to write. We drive each other crazy for love, and in high school that love can be all-consuming.
That’s ridiculous. I’m twenty-six and I still think about love and relationships every day. For the past couple of years it’s been a major force in my life. My love life can sometimes take over everything, convincing me that I can’t be happy unless choices and promises are made. I always want to know what’s going to happen in the end, and when I don’t know that, when I can’t know that, I drive myself crazy wondering what the options are. There are a million ways to end my story, and I just hope that I’m happy at the end of it. I don’t want to screw up.
So, here I am pouring over these past crushes and loves, reading about boys that never knew I loved them, watching videos of boys that loved me, reading stories about boys that broke my heart and I start wanting closure. I wanted some sort of closure to high school telling me that I did everything okay and everyone turned out okay in the end. I wanted to know that we all ended up becoming the people we were supposed to be. I’m watching old videotapes of my high school theatre crew and I’m wondering if they all became the people we believed they were going to be.
And then I started getting dumb about it. People, I tried to find an ex-boyfriend. It started innocently enough. I just wanted to know if he was okay. I knew he had some rough times after I graduated (he still was in high school when I left for college and we basically fell out of touch then). I knew he had moved a few times but was back in town. My sister had seen him working at a restaurant near my house. I had my mom drive me past there. He doesn’t work there anymore. I had her drive me to his old house. I was going to ask his parents if he was okay, see how his little sister turned out, find out if he can be reached.
And I’m standing in front of his empty house while my mom’s in the driveway with the car running and I think to myself, “What the hell is wrong with me?” I had been living in the past for the entire weekend and had somehow convinced myself that it was okay to just drop back into lives that had moved on without me. It was none of my business anymore how he was doing. He isn’t in my life anymore. He holds a very nice part of my past and we shared some wonderful times together, but I had no right to barge back in. What if he was in love with someone else and they were happy and me coming back brings up anxiety and regret and his girlfriend/fiancee/wife has to deal with the emotions I bring back up? That’s unfair to her. And what makes me think that I’m so important that he’ll even feel something if he sees me again? Just because I think fondly of him doesn’t mean that he has any nice thoughts of me. He might still dwell on our bad times. He might only remember the shitty parts of me. He might have been too young to have any of it mean anything. If he really wanted to talk to me, he could have. I seem to think he knows about this website. If my face still appeared in his thoughts and he wanted to check up on me, he could. He doesn’t. What makes me think I have any right to basically stalk this poor kid who’s just trying to live his life?
It’s not like I’d want some of my old flames to find me again. I’d like to know how they’re doing, sure, but to hear that they ended up happy and healthy and married to a woman that could make them happy in a way that I never could? That’s painful. And I can keep it in perspective as much as I want here by saying I know where these boys fit in my heart and I have a healthy attitude towards their memories and I can think good thoughts without it hurting, but I’m way too paranoid to be able to do the opposite. I’d want to know why they’re getting in touch with me. I’d want to know what I did, what I didn’t do, what went wrong, why it hurts to hear that he went and became the boyfriend I always wanted him to be with the very next girl he met. I don’t want to hear that he calls her what he used to call me. I don’t want to hear that he uses the same lines, the same stories, shares the same laughs. I don’t want to know how he describes me to her, if he even does at all. I don’t want to know if she has to live in my shadow, as I’ve had to live in the shadow of faceless ex-girlfriends that could do no wrong in memory. I’d never be as wonderful as they were. I’d never win. That girl that was gone won his heart and had it forever, even though she was with someone else. I couldn’t take any of that. I don’t want to know that even though I’m not with him anymore, he wants me instead. I don’t want to hear that we wasted time thinking we were mad at each other, when in reality we were both hurting and wanted to be with each other more than anything. I want to know what I did wrong, and I’m terrified to know what I did wrong. What pain is there inside the knowledge that both of you wanted the exact same thing but were too scared to say anything.
This is where I’d like to point out one more time that I had my mother drive me around to find this boy. How sad is that? I mean, we were out doing errands anyway, but my mom’s sitting in the running car while I try and find this boy. So sad. And probably worth a restraining order.
So, I stopped stalking my ex-boyfriend. I took some of my old journals and letters and videotapes back to Los Angeles with me. It’s important to have them with me, I think, to ground myself every once in a while. It’s good to see where you came from.
I imagine that I’m not that different as a girlfriend now. I’m probably not as much of a push-over as I used to be. I don’t let people order me around like I used to. But I see in those letters that most of the time I’m dating the same boy over again. He’s blonde, dimpled, silly and has a dark side that lashes out at me. And I’m all, “Y’all don’t know! He loves me!” And maybe he did. And I’m sure he’s not that same boy anymore and I’m sure he’s learned how to love someone. Maybe I helped with that. Maybe he’s happy he doesn’t date crazy, moody actress girls anymore who turn every single conversation into a sketch or a play or a story about pain and the stupidity of boys. Maybe we helped each other know what we didn’t want.
Yikes. People, if you’re going to wear short shorts and then sit down across from me, please, please, please keep your legs together. Lord, this man sitting across from me is just showing everything he’s got. I’m all uncomfortable like when you’re at the monkey cage and you wish they dressed the apes in diapers.
Continuing my high school flashback, last night I had to borrow my mother’s car to drive to a concert. I’m driving with the CD playing and my cell phone in my hand and I’m all, “How old am I?”
But Radiohead ruled. Seventh row. Beautiful seats where Thom was singing just to me. They played for almost two hours and did just about all of my favorite songs. I do believe it was one of the best concerts I’ve ever seen. They were all smiley and jokey and thanked us for being “so sweet and lovely.”
I realize that I want every boy I date to dress like either a member of Weezer or Radiohead and I slowly start adding to the boy’s wardrobe until they look like the cool geek sad rocker boy and then somehow we break up and some other girl gets the cool boy I dressed up. I should keep them wearing the plaid and corduroy because then it’s the secret boy that I know is actually incredibly sexy but the other girls think is a waste.
I’m all high on myself today. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I’m all, “I created these men from little boys! I’m the greatest girlfriend that has ever lived!” I apologize. If you’re an ex-boyfriend that’s reading: again, I apologize. I know you were your own man before you met me. But you have to admit I got you to stop wearing those stupid pants.
I’m still delayed, by the way. They gave me a lunch voucher. Now I have to pack all of my things up and see if I can make it to the lunch counter and back before we board. Not that we’re boarding anytime soon, but I’ve camped out a little corner here on the floor with an electrical socket for my computer and phone. That’s more than I usually get when I’m delayed. At least I can get work done.
And y’all love it when I’m delayed because that’s when I write the extra-long entries.
Oh, on my flight here I had a window seat and the women sitting next to me wouldn’t get up when I had to go to the bathroom. I’m not kidding, they asked me to just walk over them. Just squeeze between their knees and the back of the seat. I basically had to strattle their legs and hold myself up just over their heads on the back of their chairs. It looked like I was humping them. Why wouldn’t you want to stand up so I can get through?
I just had a conversation where I learned I’ve been using the word “Hopefully” incorrectly. As in, “Hopefully, I’ll be on a plane soon.” It should be, “I’m hoping I’ll be on a plane soon.” The other way says that I’ll be on an airplane, sitting there all full of hope.
Yeah, I’ve run out of stuff to write and it sounds like we just got delayed for another half-hour. That means I just lost my ride from LAX to home. Time to make more phone calls.
Dammit, I hate this. Every time I fly I’m full of hope again (ha), and then they just prove me wrong by having me sit in another airport all day long. I swear off airplanes and then I do it again. At least I used to be able to smoke while I waited for the plane. Now I’m just sitting here, typing away, sitting on the ground, miserable.
I think I’m getting a stye.
But at least I’ve left Houston. No more stalking the exes. Keep them all in Texas.
Oh, man. I’m a bad country song.
My flight finally took off at six Houston time. That’s right. A six hour layover. But that’s tomorrow’s story. For now I’m just happy to be posting in my apartment again. I’m home safely. Thanks to stee, djb, eric (happy birthday, you), my mom, my dad and Hugh Grant for keeping me sane during that time. Again, the story for tomorrow.