A couple of weeks ago, I was on Crackbook and a friend from school started a chat session with me. Turns out she's started seeing a guy I dated back in high school. We had a chuckle together, I told her he was always a very sweet guy, I was glad to hear he had divorced his crazy-ass wife and - if it wasn't too weird - tell him I said hello. She said she would, and we promised to get together soonish for dinner and drinks and that was that.
But being DT and loving time alone in my head, I started to wonder how it came up that he and I had dated. Maybe she saw me listed as a Mutual Friend on Crackbook. But in turn that made me think about me, my current relationship with some of my exes, and The Past.
I realized I'm "That Girl". No, not Marlo Thomas, for those of you old enough to remember - but the girl that the exes keep in touch with, the one remembered fondly and not bitterly, the one that may have broken his heart, but he'd still think about taking back.
This isn't meant to be egotistical, and I'm certainly not going to sit here and claim that I'm tight with every ex-boyfriend or lover. But there are enough of them to make me think that maybe I'm doing something right.
The First Husband and I still keep in touch and have done so consistently for the 20-odd years we've been divorced (well, except for a brief period when the woman he was with didn't get why we would still be friends and made his life hell if he contacted me). I am the only ex- of his that he's friends with on Crackbook, and I often joke that I'm his "best ex-wife". We had dinner together about a year ago, and it was wonderful and warm and fuzzy and I do still love him...just not as a husband. For years, he would call me for relationship advice, an irony that was not lost on me, saying "No one knows me like you do."
The Biker and I also still keep in touch. I was young, wild, and nubile. He was facing his first mid-life crisis after his divorce. His oldest daughter was only four years younger than me, but I taught her to drive, and loved him in a naive but fierce way. He's finally remarried - took him years to get to that point - and she makes him happy. We keep in touch, as do his daughters and I. He has retired now, traveling the country with his wife. It warms me to see his smiles in the pictures they post.
The First is also someone I keep in touch with. He's the one dating my friend now, but our lives keep intersecting in interesting ways, and I feel nothing less than deep fondness for him. About a decade and a half ago, I started dating someone whose roommate was The First's best friend. Running into him in their living room was a bit of a shock, initially, but then it was okay...it made me smile to see his car in their driveway when I showed up. I was told by another mutual friend once that The First said, "DT? God, I'd go back to her in a heartbeat." I couldn't understand why - I'd broken his heart, my first break up and I hadn't done it well. The mutual friend said, "You made him feel special."
The Farmer and I broke up once, jealousy rearing it's ugly head, and his inability to refrain from rubbing my face in the list of women that allegedly wanted him. Our relationship was tumultous, passionate, and he hid the fact of my prior marriage from his oh-so-conservative family for the longest time. When it came out, he discovered they didn't care. I had a relationship with his whole family, and when we ended, that was the hardest part about it. His sister was like my sister; his nieces dear to my heart, every one; his father someone I could watch baseball and work in the greenhouse with in comfortable silence. We got back together after the first break-up, because we did love each other and the sex was magnificent. But in the end, the emotional distance and lack of respect for me as a unique person did us in. I will never forget standing in our kitchen, awkwardly meeting over the coffee pot in the morning before I moved out, hearing him say, "It's not that I don't love you. I do. I always will. But at least one of us should be happy, too, so I understand why you're going." The Farmer and I are not in direct contact. That one is too painful, even after over a decade. But his sister, his nieces, his family - I make sure he's doing okay through them, and I never cease to hope that we will come to our place of forgiveness, and I can be That Girl for him, too.
When I start a new relationship, I'm upfront about my exes. I don't hide the fact that I keep in touch with some of them, and that they do - and always will - hold a piece of my heart, and have all contributed to making me who I am today. Maybe that's what makes me That Girl - my ability to get past what caused the relationship not to last, and cherish what made it special with each of them.
It's either that, or my ability to suck start a Harley...