Naturally, I sat down and read them all, and cried so much that I was unable and unwilling to watch any of the Chilean mine rescue later that day. Emotions were too close to the surface, and each miner that arose from the depths would have sent me into more convulsive tears. I do go on sometimes.
Reading them and remembering him made me sorry that we lost touch so long ago, though I know we really needed to in order to completely let go of each other. It would be nice to know how he's doing, where he's working, if he has kids now. It made me wonder what would happen if I were to discover him on Facebook one day, an utter impossibility since he - and I am still certain of this aspect of his personality even 20 years later - would never spend a moment of time on a computer that wasn't required of his work or in some other way vital to his physical survival.
And, I'm glad of that, because were he to somehow appear there, I would be helpless against my own compulsion to do the Facebook Apology/Confessional thing. I'm sure there's a common name for it. Where you discover someone from long ago on FB and you have some unresolved thing in your past with them and you can't be content to just friend them and read the occasional status update. No, you have to do the private message, "Hey, remember when I totally dicked you around that one time? Boy was I a bitch, or what? So sorry! Forgivsies?" I have been on both ends of this, so I understand the compulsion to do it, and I also understand how uncomfortable it can make the person on the other end. It's truly just as well that he's a techno-phobe.
Naturally, a walk down College Boyfriend Memory Lane led to walks along High School Boyfriend Boulevard and the Incidental Boyfriend Pathway. My romantic history can be divided into three main relationships and about five minor ones. The main ones are predictable:
1. The High School Boyfriend. He was an aspiring poet, and used to bind all his poetry in his dad's print shop and leave it in the school library for anyone who was so inclined to read. He was tall and really skinny and had terrible acne and ended up on Accutane to control it. He took me to prom, and then he attended the Pennsylvania Governor's School of the Arts that following summer. He wasn't much interested in me after he returned - it was apparently one of those "you just can't understand me anymore; I'VE CHANGED - CAN'T YOU SEE I'VE CHANGED" kind of experiences. Naturally, I was bereft.
2. The College Boyfriend. Sweet, unassuming boy meets tries-to-look-and-act-intimidating-but-is-really-insecure girl and they fall in love. They are totally wrong for each other and break up a lot, but they both mean well. Remind me to someday tell you the story of our Camping Trip From Hell. It's very funny and involves cops.
3. The "Adult" Boyfriend. I say "adult" in quotation marks, because I was still little more than a kid when I started dating him. I broke up with him once because he was such an annoying, self-involved little turd. Then, several months later, after I had returned to and broken up with the College Boyfriend one last time, he confessed his love for me and his sincere desire to no longer be an annoying, self-involved little turd. And he meant it. Three years later, I married him.
Then there were the Incidentals, who were, sadly, just kind of little stops in between the Big Three. Some of them I wish I had stayed with longer. One of them I always felt should have been The College Boyfriend, but he had a girlfriend Back Home, to whom he was devoted, and despite the depths of his affections for me, he was unswervingly loyal to her. We tried hard to be friends for many years, but it turns out to be incredibly difficult to be friends with someone you are in love with and whom you cannot have. Ever. Stupid loyalty.
Oh! And then there was the in-between-breaking-up-with-College-Boyfriend-and-starting-to-date-the-Adult-Boyfriend-boyfriend. Except I didn't want him to be my boyfriend. I wanted him to get in my bed and shut up. And one day, as we were walking back from a party (that was at my future Adult Boyfriend's house!), he decided we needed to have A Talk, and he told me he didn't want to be my boyfriend (because, apparently, our walk indicated to him that I was Looking for a Relationship, when in reality it indicated that I Wanted to Get Laid) and I responded that, dude, I don't want you to be my boyfriend, and then he got all upset because I didn't want him to be my boyfriend, and I finally just threw up my hands and went home alone. Never saw him again.
He's on Facebook. He and David went to graduate school together. I have not friended him. (And remind me to tell you the story of how my future husband crashed my first date with him. It is very funny, and involves beer.)
So, yeah. that's what happens when you are 41 and you stumble across a ribbon-festooned packet of old love letters. Lots of silly navel-gazing. But I think it's fun to go back over all those old loves and lovers, just because I'm so happy about where I ended up, and even though I have regrets about certain events, I kind of have to believe that everything went the way it was supposed to because it led me here. I'm glad I have a romantic history, however limited, to sit back and remember. And I'm glad that remembering doesn't make me wistful or wish that I was back there with one of them instead of here, now.
In fact, it just makes me look forward to seeing David when he comes home tonight.