Take the S out of Sex and You're Left with Ex

I don't want to disappoint you, but this is not a bitter rant about an ex, if that's what you were expecting to find here. As a matter of fact, since we only dated for a few months, I'm not sure the man I'm writing about even qualifies as an "ex" considering the short duration of our "relationship," which consisted mostly of sex and joking around with each other. My ex and I met in a bar that I frequented when I was in my early twenties, and he had such an original pick-up line that he delivered with such un-self-aware charm that I couldn't help falling for him. I think he fell for me too, or maybe we fell for each other right away, even though I don't think either of us would have called it that at the time. I think we knew there was a special connection between us, but we never figured out what to do with it. I do remember that he sent me many letters (ours was a long-distance relationship), many of which I still keep in a box in my basement as proof of his undefined but undeniable feelings for me. I think I fell more and more for him because of those letters he wrote, which were simultaneously loving, lusty, and fun. The letters he wrote me, which I read and re-read as if they were lines from a play to be memorized, made the relationship feel like an old-fashioned courtship in a way -- only this was the 1980's, and in the '80s, sex came first, and the letters followed.

Looking back now, the warning signs that our relationship was doomed were all there, right in front of me, right from the very start. For one, we met in a bar. How many relationships ever work out where the first meeting is in a bar? Oh, and then we went and slept together the first night we met. Plus, he was in the Army at the time, which meant I would only get to see him when he wasn't away on some secret GI Joe mission which I didn't really care about, except that it kept him away from me. Oh, and did I mention that he was in the Army? And that I was very anti-war back when we met?? I can see clearly now that we were not meant to last, despite my misguided belief as our "relationship" continued that he was the One for me. The writing was on the wall, but it must have been in hieroglyphics because I sure didn't understand it.

The sex we had was awesome, which was a good thing, because neither of us had the greatest conversational skills at that time. I don't honestly remember why I thought the sex with him was so great; I don't have any memories of multiple orgasms or all-night sex marathons with him. But he made me feel sexy, and that was a great feeling, and one that a tall, thin, almost-flat-chested young woman like me didn't experience very often.

In retrospect, I think I was more obsessed with him than in love with him. However, I was totally in love with the drama of him coming and going in and out of my life. His going away for Army duties, sometimes out of the country, kept things exciting, off-kilter, unpredictable, and ultimately. unsatisfying. Our relationship was like sitting down to a four-course meal in a great restaurant and then having the waiter clear the table after we'd only had a chance to eat the appetizer. We never had a chance to get to the "meat" of our relationship. (Hmm, could that explain why I'm a wanna-be vegetarian?)

And yet, despite the brevity and the shortcomings of our relationship, he is and will always be one of the great loves of my life. I think it's the unrequited longing for someone, even someone terribly wrong for you, that makes them ironically more desirable and more unforgettable. This was certainly the case with my ex. I naively and stubbornly believed that my being in love with him would eventually override any distance and differences between us. And when that didn't happen, I became even more determined to believe that it would if I was just patient. I told myself over and over that he would eventually love me the way I loved him, even if I had to wait my whole lifetime for it to happen. Looking back now, I see that I probably pushed him even farther away from me by indulging in those thoughts. I held on when I should have let go. Silly, stubborn, selfish me.

Today, I am in my early fifties and I'm married to a man who really and truly is the One for me. But I have to admit, I still think about my ex from time to time. I guess I will always think about him, and how he was part of that wonderful/awful time in my life when anything was possible if I wished for it hard and long enough. I'm happy to say that I'm no longer waiting for my ex to show up at my door with a bouquet of roses to tell me he's in love with me and wants us to spend the rest of our lives together, After all, he's married now and has kids (I learned this from --where else?-- Facebook), and I hope he's happy. No, really, I do! The way I see it, as long as I have his letters in that box in the basement, I can always travel back (in my mind) to a time in my life when my knight in shining armor wore Army camoflauge and I, his princess, wore leggings and put gel in my hair, and we danced to the sweet sounds of "True Blue" by Madonna on the radio -- a time when I truly believed that I, the girl who didn't get asked to the high school prom, might finally, at the ripe old age of 23, have a chance to live Happily Ever After.

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