He was 19, two years older than I. Because I had been a band-weenie in high school (flute, thank you very much), it was quite a social promotion for me to wear his letter jacket at our small college. He — the artist, the poet, the football star, the Paul McCartney look-alike — he was interested in little ol’ freshman me.
“Paul” and I were together less than a year. We began dating in late fall and broke up some time during the summer when we were home in our respective cities and he met a new girl. But in the early part of the summer, I received beautiful poetry written for me, devotions of undying love. Real handwritten letters in my mailbox. It was an endless summer and a painful fall.
Fifteen years later, he looked me up and began emailing me. He was going through a divorce, and I knew that such a thing can prompt a person to take stock of his past. We corresponded for a few months, and our interactions culminated in a phone call where I gently slipped in (in case he had begun wanting to become more than “old friends”) that I was very happy in my marriage. The call ended and he never contacted me again.
Fast forward almost another decade to now. Soon I will be traveling to his city. I read in our alumni magazine that he has gotten remarried and has two step-children. He and his wife own a business, and I find an email address for it (not him, specifically). I write him a brief email congratulating him on his new family and business, and tell him I’ll be in his town on a certain date. Would he like to have coffee?
I have reconnected with many old friends — male and female — from past eras of my life. Sometimes I have been the seeker and sometimes I have been the found. I have appreciated these opportunities to revisit situations from my teenage and naive self with my now grown-up eyes. I have valued the chances to reclaim bits of my spirit I may have allowed others to stow away.
I was prepared for Paul to respond “Sure. There’s a Starbucks at Main and Broadway. When is good for you?” I was ready for “No. This really isn’t a good time for me. Sorry.” I was even ready for, “Do I know you??”
But I wasn’t ready for what I got. Paul wrote back, as part of an email from his wife, “No, I would never meet with you. Never contact us again.” His wife‘s portion says that when the High Ranking Clergyman married them, she and Paul made a commitment not to look into the past. And I should not contact them again.
So, being a polite and non-confrontational person, I will not.
But I would like to ask him/them this: how, exactly, did you go from “coffee” to “cheating on your wife” in one short email?
Oh, Lord, it’s just as well. I bet his Starbucks serves clouds in the coffee.