Recent Splats according to Miz Yank

The road not taken

In April my book brought me to Elizabeth City, home of Page After Page Books and a long-ago ex-boyfriend whose friendship I regained last August.

I’ll refer to the former beau as “FB” here because I referred to him as “TB” (for “then-boyfriend”) in an earlier post and he didn’t love that. He claimed people would immediately think of tuberculosis, something that doesn’t produce positive associations in your average person. I decided to humor him by coming up with a reference that sounded less like an infectious disease, though when FB and I parted in 2001, I had far warmer feelings towards tuberculosis than him.

Breakups are never easy (or if they are, you probably didn’t care all that much), and that split set a high watermark that only my divorce from the Lawnmower could surpass. FB and I had met in Northern Virginia in 1995 and dated on-and-off from 1996 through early 1999. Shortly thereafter, FB decided to seek out calmer pastures and moved to Elizabeth City. We got back together in the fall of 1999 and dated seriously, albeit long-distance, for the next two years. I liked living near the water, loved coastal North Carolina, and was very committed to FB, so I was giving serious thought to making his small town my permanent home. To that end, in May of 2001 I landed a job as a summer associate with a law firm in Norfolk and made plans to live with FB for the summer.

I headed south and so did my plans.

FB and I fought on a near-daily basis, which surprised and confused me because, romance aside, we had always enjoyed an easy friendship. That summer, almost nothing had been enjoyable or easy. The whole mess came to a head one day in my final week at the firm when FB sent me a brief email whose last line was: “I think this should be the end.” I couldn’t believe it: not only was the boyfriend I lived with breaking up with me, he was doing it via email. (It could have been worse. Had we split in the Twitter era, I might have gotten a 140-character message that ended with #kaput.)

Even if I couldn’t disagree with FB’s email summation of the summer or his conclusion, his poor choice of medium made all of that irrelevant to me. In one of my less mature moves, I called to tell him –by which I mean his voicemail — what I thought of his cowardice. And then I decided to give him the end he wanted. I resolved to vacate the premises when he wasn’t home, something I could accomplish only by

The first floor of this joint is, to quote the chorus from the Bare Naked Ladies song, where we used to live. At least I managed to avoid the "broke into the old apartment" lead-in.

The first floor of this joint is, to quote the chorus from the Bare Naked Ladies song, where we used to live. At least I managed to avoid the “broke into the old apartment” lead-in.

using his sister as in intermediary (another of my not-so-mature moves).

I spent the night before my last day with the law firm at the home of my sister Lynne’s in-laws, who lived in Virginia Beach. Though they barely knew me, they greeted me with two things I was in dire need of: hugs and wine.

The next day, my parents met me at FB’s house at the appointed hour. We packed up my things and my cat, and I headed back north. I didn’t know where FB was and I didn’t care.

FB and I had no contact until the fall of 2014, when we mended the fence with ease. That friendship I used to love is not only intact but improved, because now we can laugh about the breakup that caused us both to cringe for more than a decade.

While visiting FB recently, I decided to ask him what he’d been doing on that day in 2001 while my parents were helping me vacate the premises.

“Driving,” said FB. Evidently he left his office that afternoon, turned on to a road he didn’t know all that well, and just followed it without thinking. Several twists and miles later, that same road brought him right back to where he’d begun. “I had no idea it was a loop,” he said. He made a few loops that day before deciding it was safe to go back home.

I felt a sudden need to travel that road, the one I had not taken in 2001 when FB and I reached the point where our paths had to diverge.

“Will you take me there?” I asked. FB laughed but didn’t hesitate to oblige.

The road took us past field after field of soybeans, twisted us through a tiny town, and led us to a blimp hangar before we returned to our starting point. We hadn’t exchanged many words on the drive, but I felt relaxed and content the whole time. I think FB did, too, because he spent most of the ride singing along to the stereo.where we used to live

As we pulled into the driveway, I thanked FB. The trip we’d taken was remarkable not for the sights but for the distance we’d traveled. Had you asked me fourteen years ago, I’d have sworn I’d never return to that fork in the road, much less with the person who’d let go of my hand when it forked. But I’m glad I did, because I know that each of us followed exactly the right route.

I wasn't kidding about the blimp hangar. Or the blimp.

I wasn’t kidding about the blimp hangar. Or the blimp.

 

 

 

Comments

  1. I LOVE this!!! Since I feel like I was there when this happened (and I kind of was), I now feel like *I* have closure! 😉 Driving on that road with him is a beautiful, poetic wrap-up.

    • Thank you! And yes, you really were there when we imploded. Though I hated it at the time, it all worked out exactly as it should have, and what a lovely thing that is.