Tuesday, 11 June 2013

In My Rearview Mirror (or: Hello Again, HB)

Day 306
59 Days Remaining

Every so often an opportunity comes your way and you wonder if it would be wise to take it.  Sometimes it would be best to let it go by the wayside.  Other times, it makes sense to just take a deep breath, steel yourself, and jump in to see what happens.

Such an opportunity came up a couple of weeks ago for me.  Chica, a good friend of mine, was packing up to move back to her old home on the mainland, and asked if I could help her out by driving her car across on the ferry while she drove the loaded moving van.  A free trip to Vancouver (normally $50+ each way just for the vehicle, and paying $16 for each passenger on top of that) sounded good to me!  I agreed, as long as it was all right for my young son, Number 3, to come along.  She was happy to have him join us, especially since her two cats would be in crates in the backseat and she knew my sweet kiddo would be a calming influence for them during the trauma of a long drive and unfamiliar setting.

Vancouver skyline
I realized that this free trip to Vancouver could also offer me the opportunity - if I desired - to see HB.  And when I realized that, I took a step outside of myself to examine how I felt about that possibility.  HB and I stopped talking after we last saw each other at the end of December, but over the last couple of months since my trip to California we have occasionally sent a text message (I sent him a photo from Reality Rally of me with Phillip Sheppard - the Specialist himself - from Survivor; HB loved him on that show and was awed that I got to meet him).  We have reached a point where I felt there was no harm in tepid contact here and there.  Of course, I always double-check how I'm feeling about it, but I have even gotten to the point where there is just nothing left there; perhaps I still feel some remnants of affection, but even that feels as though it is being seen through a screen or felt through a filter.  He is someone I used to care about a lot, but I was fairly sure that I would be okay if I saw him.  I sent him a quick text asking if he wanted to do dinner with Number 3 and myself when I was in town.

It's funny to really recognize how much I have gotten over him.  I remember the days when I would send a text and wait anxiously for one in return.  I would have moments of panic if he didn't respond immediately, or if he didn't respond the way I had hoped or expected that he would. If my text ringtone would sound, my heart would start beating faster, hoping it was a message from him.  This time, after I sent the message, I went about my business and promptly forgot that I had sent anything at all.

I didn't tell anyone that I had contacted HB, and I know that it was because I was worried about the backlash and the worry flurry that I am used to from my friends when it comes to him and my tender feelings.  Chica and I initially met through HB, as he was good friends with both her and her husband, so she had been there and watched the whole story evolve...and erupt.  She had been there for me through our first breakup, and our second, and our third...and she staunchly supported me as I worked through getting past him.  I always like to say that at least one good thing came of my relationship with HB, and that is my friendship with Chica.  Stoney, of course, has also seen and heard it all as I let HB have my heart time and time again.   I knew that she would understand if I told her I might see HB – both of them would – but I also knew that they would likely both worry about my vulnerability to him and his charms.  I was fairly sure I could handle this on my own, but I knew that if I felt conflicted about it at any time, I could ask either one of them for advice and would get solid, constructive help if I needed it.  I didn't feel I needed it quite yet.  So I kept my silence for the time being and continued to reflect on whether seeing him would be a good idea, or a foolhardy one.

When HB wrote back in enthusiastic agreement to getting together for dinner, expressing how much he looked forward to seeing me and Number 3 and imagining how big my little boy must be by now, I read his text and then checked my heart rate (no, not literally).  There appeared to be no physiological reaction whatsoever to either his text or the thought of seeing him – no racing pulse; no thumping heart; no gasps for breath.  No immediate need to throw up, either, so I came to the conclusion that I would be all right if I saw him again.  The realization that I didn't really care whether I saw him or not gave me some curiosity, as though I was looking at a specimen under a microscope and observing no visible reaction.  Hm, I thought; Interesting.  If it worked out to meet for dinner, I decided, we would do so.

The day before we planned to leave, I casually mentioned the possibility of dinner with HB to my son.  He lit up, and that was the absolute deciding factor for me.  HB and my younger son (who met him when he was only 7, and had him as a presence in his life for three years) had a special relationship.  HB looked at my son as the perfect model for his own future children; indeed, he told me that the main reason he wanted to have children of his own was because he was so in love with my little guy.  Number 3 looked at HB as a good pal and a role model, someone he could respect and look up to.  The two of them had always had a special bond, and when the three of us would hang out together I was often left in the dust as they played their silly little games with the energy only little boys (and grown-up little boys) have.  So, for me, seeing Number 3 so excited at the thought of seeing his old pal – and having also noted HB's pleasure at the prospect – meant that I would do everything I could to make it happen if it was at all possible.  I texted HB back, and we arranged to meet at his work on Saturday afternoon when he wrapped up his twelve-hour shift.  He would take us out for dinner, and then drive us back to the ferry to head back home as walk-on passengers.

For me, the most telling moments were not my own reactions to thoughts of or texts from HB.  The moments of highest impact were the ones when I finally told my friends that I planned to see HB.  There were no wary headshakes, no warnings to guard my heart, no admonishments against placing myself directly in the line of fire.  I told Chica as we loaded up the moving van that I was going to head to meet HB for dinner directly after we unloaded at her new home, and she accepted the news with a nod, telling me simply that she'd make sure I got on the right SkyTrain to get to the police station where he now works.  She didn't even ask if I thought I would be okay or if this really was a good idea.  The same thing happened when I texted Stoney from the ferry terminal as we sat in the lineup – no reaction of surprise, worry or caution.  When I asked her about it, she said that she no longer worried about me when it came to HB; she knew that I had grown enough to deal with any emotions that might come up, and she also felt that I had worked through those old emotions enough to be strong enough to see him.  She did suggest that he might try to lure me back in, but also reiterated that she believed that I could handle that.  My friends' faith in my strength and in the knowledge that HB is truly now in my past made me feel really good about the decision to see him, and even more certain that I would be able to handle whatever may happen.

Number 3 and I met HB outside his work and climbed into his shiny new car.  HB looked just the same, but it didn`t rock my heart; it was simply pleasant to see his smile at seeing us and how happy Number 3 was to be strapped into the back of HB`s "cool" Mercedes.  It was just like old times between the two of them, and I'm sure HB also felt it was like old times between us - two great friends hanging out, enjoying each other's company, and sharing a tasty meal and some comfortable casual conversation.  But for me, something had definitely been released that January day when I wrote my goodbye letter to HB - the letter I never sent, but wrote in a furious rant in my desperation to purge him from my system, and shared with my blog readers.  I felt much more relaxed and free than I ever did during the three years I fought to figure out where I stood with HB, because now, finally, I know exactly where I stand, and that it's not up to him.  It was up to me all along, and when I finally made that decision for myself, I let go of every expectation I ever had of him.  I`m glad that I took the chance to spend some time with him so that I could know for sure that The Story of HB is now fully and completely wrapped up.

When HB dropped us off at the ferry terminal, he gave me a long, familiar hug and kissed my cheek and my neck like he used to do, but it didn`t feel as though he was trying to get anything out of me, or to pull me back in.  It just felt as though he was expressing affection in the best way that he knew how.  I gave him a little extra squeeze, and took Number 3`s hand, and we walked into the terminal as Number 3 and HB sent each other frantic and delighted waves of farewell.

And then I went back to my life, leaving HB in my figurative rearview mirror...exactly where he now belongs.


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