Frederic emailed the other day, out of the blue: I think I saw Andrew in Grand Central.
It was funny, because it was the day I was headed off to see a staged reading of my first love’s latest show (which is a story I’ll tell another day). Nearly five years ago, now, I’d confronted Frederic in Grand Central the last time I’d gone to see one of my first love’s shows. It was a weird, full circle-y sort of thing.
We chatted by email for a day or two, and resolved to meet up for coffee one of these days, since it had been nearly a year since we’d seen each other last.
Then he said: And one of the topics for discussion shall be your post about whether or not I was an idiot; whether it was a mistake that I included you on that email.
I paused. I had forgotten about that moment, since November-December-January had been a blur. I had forgotten (how could I have forgotten?!) that I had written about the email he’d sent about his new baby; about me being blind copied — carbon copy to his wife.
Maybe I just consider you one of my intimates, he said.
Maybe it’s not so simple, I replied. And we debated back and forth for a few messages about the subject, keeping our manner cordial but simmering.
He was right, in so many ways. It was simple; we were free. We’d come down through the valley and back out again. He had made the decision to move forward; we had made the decision to move forward. I was the one being the drama queen.
Love is not an uncomplex thing. Even if you’ve moved past the frenzy of it, I think if you’ve really loved someone — really, truly loved someone — change is complicated. And my feelings of pride and happiness for him were and are genuine. But my feelings of loss were real too, and they deserved to be recognised. Furthermore, it was not untrue that, there was a period of time when he’d cut me out of knowing significant information until the last terrible minute, or had sometimes treated me like a dirty little secret.
Even when two people fully commit to moving past All That; even when friends commit to forgiveness, there are moments of exquisite hurt in being vulnerable enough to love someone.
The worst part — the absolute worst part of all of it — is that those hurting moments so often come wrapped up in the joyful stuff.
It took me a day or two, but I straighted out. And I put my finger on the Hurting Self.
I think you should have the last word here. But here’s a separate thought; a different word. When I tell you I’m getting married again; when I tell you I am having a baby, I think you’re going to feel some weird things; some unexpected things. And then maybe you’ll understand a bit better how I felt.
And that was that; that was it. Then I made some joke about becoming the sort of dull friends who exchanged Christmas cards and talked about our boring families — which, all things considered, we once sort-of were. (Sort-of) He responded almost immediately:
No joke, my heart skipped a beat when you wrote “when I tell you I’m getting married” because I thought for a split second you were telling me you were. So I get it. I really do.
So. It’s all very complex, but in some ways, it’s all very simple too. I think that love never fails. That feeling just changes and grows and multiplies. It encompasses others, until it’s just one, big ring — holding together families, and friendships. Sometimes love is the Means, and sometimes, love is the End. Neither condition is better; neither condition is worse. Neither is more simple or less complicated than the other.
It is thicker than regret. It is thinner than recall. And I still never, ever regret a thing.