Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Come to Jesus

Oh yeah History. Do that thing you do.

Vegan, schmegan. I had no choice but to schedule an important meeting with two very close confidants.

Friends, let me introduce you to Ben and Jerry. Perhaps you've already made their acquaintance?

Oh yes. It was an emergency. It was -- how do you say? -- non-negotiable.

So I was thinking. Back when I was 20 years old and a junior in college, I was dating The Pirate. The Pirate and I had met the year before; I was a sophomore, and he was a 5th year senior. About four or so months into our relationship he graduated and went back to live with his parents in northern Ohio where he decided that spending the summer a pirate ship was the best idea ever. I am so not making this up.

Arrr. Matey.

And so it came to pass. He spent the summer sailing up and down the East Coast, and I spent the summer explaining to my wackjob hippie roommates that I didn’t need to hug them every time we parted ways to go to bed. Anyway, our relationship survived those three months, and he came back to Ohio in September to live with his parents and decide what to do with the rest of his life.

As the fall wore on, he started talking about the possibility of another pirate ship. Only for like seven or eight months instead of three.

Needless to say, I was not a fan of this plan. But, it was easier said than done. The boat he was interested in would have to hire him as part of the crew. And people who spend their lives on pirate ships aren’t exactly reliable and/or easy to pin down. So it wasn’t set in stone that this would actually happen.

Thanksgiving rolled around. I was in Columbus with my family. The Pirate was in northern Ohio with his family, waiting to hear from the ship as to whether or not he would be sailing again. It was Tuesday night, two days before Thanksgiving, and I would be driving up to spend a second Thanksgiving with The Pirate and his family on Friday. The Pirate and I were on the phone and I asked him, point blank, “Did you find out about the pirate ship?”

“No. Not yet.”

“You promise you’ll tell me as soon as you know.”

“Yes.”

On Friday, I drove to The Pirate’s parent’s house for Thanksgiving dinner number two. At dinner, his dad, also a sailor of sorts, makes a very – um – bizarre toast in which he mentioned his son, The Pirate, and “boats in the past and boats in the future.” It was a moment I barely noticed. But I noticed. And then I forgot.

Back in the day, neither wind nor rain nor freezing temperatures nor my boyfriend’s parents would come between me and my Marlboros. After The Pirate's mom and dad retired for the evening, I dragged him outside to keep me company in the November snow so I could smoke a cigarette. That’s when it dawned on me. His dad’s toast. Something… seemed a bit... fishy…

“Did you hear from the boat?”

“Yes.”

“And…?”

“I’m going in February.”

“Oh… when did you find out?”

He seemed a bit sheepish. “Monday.”

“So when I asked you on Tuesday to tell me as soon as you knew, you already knew?”

“Yes. I was afraid that if I told you then you wouldn’t come for Thanksgiving.”

“Huh.”

And that was it. In that moment, our relationship changed. We didn't break up then. He and I stayed together for another year and a half, including the seven months he spent on pirate ship number two. Our relationship was – at times – tumultuous. From then on, I was angry. And I never stopped being angry with him. We tried to get back together when I was 25. But every time things didn’t work, I went back to that moment outside of his parent’s house, smoking a cigarette in the snow, his admission, and my response – no yelling, no tears – of “Huh.”

I don’t know if it was the fact that he was leaving me again. Or that he had blatantly lied to me. I imagine it was a little bit of both.

I should caveat all of this with the simple fact that of all my ex-boyfriends, The Pirate is the only one whom I still think fondly of, and though contact is very rare, he is the only one I care to be in touch with irregularly. I spent more time in a relationship with him than I have with anyone else before or after. He was the one who probably could have been the one. He is, of all of the many exes, the most important. And the truth is, I still like the dude. He and I, we could have easily been friends.

So I was thinking. Defining moments. The best of intentions. Can one really learn from the past? And if so… what’s the lesson?

Ben? Jerry? Thoughts?

3 comments:

Jaime said...

i hope everything is ok.

L Sass said...

Ben and Jerry and I have gotten through A LOT together. Hope it was Chubby Hubby.

heidikins said...

Ben and Jerry are the boyfriend's I think most fondly of; don't tell the current beaux, but I am still seeing B & J on the side. ;o)

xox