Everyone has ghosts in their lives, a shade you just can’t shake.
Or, in my case, don’t want to.
The conversation with my ex-boyfriend-now-best friend (see The Backstory) started with, “Well, my sister’s gay, so I’m definitely glad that she can get legally married and have all the same rights as everyone else.”
I thought back to the little girl who looked just like her big brother, the same ski slope nose and stubborn chin.
“Huh,” I said, shrugging on my side of the phone. She was so young when I knew her, a pair of big eyes peeping around the corner of the hallway when I visited or skinny legs fleeing in retreat as my then-boyfriend yelled something silly at her.
Later I would skim through her Facebook profile. She had a professional job in scorching-hot Texas, so far from the cool green Washington suburbs where I knew them both. She had grown into the ski slope nose and stubborn chin and become a very pretty woman. I recognized her because I knew his face so well, all those long years together and now apart. As siblings, there is no denying a strong family resemblance.
Were I to meet her now, I don’t think she would recognize me–after all, why would she?
Everything has changed, not just Laurel. The house where her brother and I had muffled, giggling and illicit sex had been sold when Laurel graduated from high school. Their parents divorced, then remarried other people. Both brothers and this one sister took it hard, and the family split across the 50 states like widening spider cracks across a windshield.
“Have fun…vacuuming? I’ve got six hours of work between me and a cold beer.” The message was dated from a few days ago, the tail-end of a conversation we never seem to finish.
“Vacuuming is a necessary evil but is never, ever fun,” I typed back before closing Facebook. He would reply in a day or an hour or a week; it didn’t matter when. There would be a new topic about whiskey neat versus water back or a kayaking adventure to recount or maybe a picture of a tiny frog that had wandered into his backyard.
There is always something traveling back and forth, from him or from me.
Reflecting on the radical shift in governmental views and how so many hard-won rights are on the chopping block to be redacted, I had looked again tonight at Laurel’s page via his FB Friends list. She now has two little children, and she looks very happy.
I hope that happiness lasts.
Sometimes I get maudlin and think, What if… What if she were my family? What if we had made it, after all? What if–
What if is a stupid road to travel, because what if is a dead end.
There is no what if. There is only now. We are living in the now, and the now is what it is.
You may be wondering, But what about Lover? Isn’t he just the bee’s knees?
He is indeed.
He has the manners of an old Southern gentleman and the cool modern sophistication of a San Francisco urbanite. He can dress up for a wedding or down for a punk rock concert and always appear perfectly appropriate either way.
More importantly, at least to me, is that he is absolutely the best lover I think I have ever had, and that is of bedrock importance.
Friendship is important, and that’s what friends are for, but sex is it’s own category of awesomeness and should not be glossed over as inconsequential. I simply do not understand people who schedule sex with their partners like you would a dentist appointment, or other people who say that compatible companionship is what truly matters.
Fuck that. Sex matters. I have the libido of an Aston Martin V12, and it demands more than a slow Sunday drive around the block. Most days I am very grateful Fate finally granted me someone who can not only keep up but actually rev the engine to its full capacity.
But even I recognize that sex cannot be everything, all by itself.
An unconventional gypsy upbringing has left me with a deep longing to find someone to call home. Someone who hears me; someone to rely upon. Someone to hold my hand and whisper reassurances that I am not alone.
Whilst I am enjoying awesome sex and lovely adventures with Lover, I never feel quite sure that this is a thing that can last. Maybe one day I stop picking up the phone, or he stops fitting me into his free time.
I suppose that is where friendship comes in. Maybe at the end of all things, me and my ex-boyfriend-now-best friend will be sitting on the porch of some old folks’ home together, drinking a beer and laughing at the world.
And you know? That wouldn’t be so bad, to have a true friend at the end.
Serendipitious Web Life had a wonderful idea to add this post to #picandawordchallenge which you can find here . The picture is mine in collaboration with Aero Photography, taken at the Old City Cemetery in Sacramento, California.