I spent this evening with an old flame.  It’s been years since I thought I loved him, but way back when I thought I did.  It’s been a long time since we both moved on and moved away.  But tonight we were both back home.


Our plan to go out for a late bite morphed into dinner with his family – his parents, whom I adore, and his sister and her daughters, whom I barely know.  As it happened, his sister wasn’t sure we’d ever met, despite the years I had spent dating her brother.  His parents were as welcoming as ever.


We behaved more like a couple than I can remember us ever doing before.  We were carrying on a conversation no one could hear, and it was full of secret meanings.  At the end of the dinner I asked where the trash was, and he knew that I wanted to throw away my (mostly clean) napkin, so without missing a beat he just reached behind him and let me drop it into his hand.  As he fumbled around the counter top I slid my empty water bottle to him and he tossed it into the recycling.  We quietly arranged to go for a drink, and when his mother continued chatting with me he went to the closet for my coat with nothing but a hand gesture from me.


Back when it was “love” we might as well have lived on different planets.  Now that we are friends and he has a live-in girlfriend, we could take up synchronized swimming.  I don’t miss him, but tonight I missed the idea of him.  As we discussed his current romance I could picture him, twelve years younger, taking me out for ice cream and doing his best to romance me.  Tonight, even though I was tuned in to the conversation, I kept seeing pictures of us and the way things used to be.  I wasn’t just seeing the past through rose-colored glasses.  I remembered the problems, too.  And the dichotomy made me think of the married man who keeps texting me.


As I pictured the good and the bad between my ex and I (past and present), I thought of this married man, and how he was seeing only the bad in his wife, and only the good in me.  Let’s be honest – any single lady looks great when you’re unhappily bound to ever after.  It always strikes me as unproductive to pursue an affair, because if it keeps on going you’ll just end up in the same position again; it will just be a different woman whose so-called flaws are tying you down.  I haven’t stopped him from texting me.  It’s flattering.  Even when I remember that he’s only texting because he’s SO bored with his own life that I seem like a better option.  No, I let him text, but whenever the conversation drifts into flirting I stop responding.  I don’t want him to hit on me.  I want him to inflate my ego without letting any of his drama spill onto me.  I am greedy and selfish, and I behave as though stalling will solve the problem.


There was a time when even flirting with a married man would have been too much.  Back when this old flame was a new flame I had rigid boundaries.  Now I don’t have boundaries, and all the lights are blurry around the edges.  I am trying to define the boundaries.  I am trying new things.  I’m just worried that in this process of trial and error I will err too far into regret.


Tonight, as I said goodbye to my ex, I wanted him to kiss me.  And I definitely did not want him to kiss me.  I felt the past and I was aware of his present with someone else.  I wanted to throw caution to the wind, and I wanted to pull it around me like a shield.  I don’t need the drama, but I want to feel it all.