In Which My Past Returns To Haunt Me

Being distracted with the inconsistency that is my life, or rather its relationship to work work work, I forget that there was a time I was a different person.  That Nico wasn't worried about finding roommates to make rent, pulling all-nighters to meet deadlines, getting debilitatingly drunk on weekends to wash away the stress, and trying his damned-est to find a free moment to hang out with friends (or to blog!).

What freaks me out is that I can't even remember what it felt like to be that guy. Oh sure, there's blog entries from that era and I can read about it, but from what I do remember, all I can really say is he wrote a lot of prose and poetry despite getting only a handful of things published, he played guitar incessantly despite having only 2 to 3 shows a month, and he did a lot of drugs despite not really having the income to support it.

That, and he let the world get to him despite having every reason to be content; but that's what happens when guys like that get dumped.

No, don't RSVP for the pity party because it's not even booked.

It's been so long that I forget that there was this time in my life where I was all but broken after that one girl left me.  It was a 3 year relationship (on and off during some portions).  But in the end, she got involved with a guy that actually turned out to be a way better fit for her than I ever was.  Of course, one is never able to see these kinds of things at the time of their occurrence, but an interesting added element to that heartbreak you can only get in this age of the interwebs was that I discovered the entire time I was with her, I played the villain.

No, I never hit her, you sick bastards.

I'll start from the top:  The Better Man, as we'll call him because I like Pearl Jam, had his eyes on her for as much of the time as I did. Come to think of it, she must have really turned heads when she first moved in to my college as a freshman, a year and a floor below me. I was with her for a while, much to the distress of many other suitors who were likely better matches for her.  I just happened to make the first move.  I had no idea this would lead me to be the envy of every other guy until it was all over.  And now that I can remember that time vaguely, I remember some acquaintances saying, "Let me know if this is out of line, but your girlfriend is hot."  It's no wonder so many other guys treated me like an asshole.  I just chalked them up to socially awkward experiences, but it now makes sense that there was a collective resentment being held against me.

And what is villain Nico like?  And what is the hero like?  Where I'm a musician, he is a writer. Where I have a portfolio, he has teaching credentials. Where I am amazingly useful, he is amazingly charming.

Yes, I just described Better Man as charming. What? He is.  And how would I know this? Only in the age of the interwebs can I begrudgingly have become a fan of his at the same time as my relationship beginning to deteriorate. The quality of his work with the pen (keyboard?) far exceeded that of mine and this was an initial source of jealousy when they first got together.

But like a lot of things in life, I got over it eventually.  Things are civil between her and me; friendly to an acquaintance level, even.  I became a fan of Better Man's writing.  So much so that when he was feeling down, I would be rooting for him.  When he was up on a cloud, I would imagination-five him.  And this is a startling paradigm shift, especially since there were days when he used to characterize me as the biggest douchebag evar.  Not in any malicious way, just as an effective hyperbole.  And his audiences would agree.

All of this is to say that in a recent post, Better Man regrets that he hadn't beaten me to the punch - to have those extra three years to add to his relationship.  In a sense, that's sweet, but it also got me thinking about what I would be like if those 3 years I had spent with her were all of a sudden taken away from me.  It also brought to mind those other girls that I had outright rejected because I was in a relationship at the time... what if I had been single?  What if the memories I have involving her, that will stick around with me for the rest of my life, were with someone else?  That one dancer from New York?  The adorably nervous freshman girl that gave me some flattering compliments after having played a show at a party?  The girl who sat with me for a couple of hours on my couch while it was still on the lawn while I was waiting for my roommate to help me carry it in?

The thought stunned me into a daze, and my entire college experience blew up into a giant flow chart of possibilities that grew until I had to shiver to shake the image out of my brain.

Better Man says he regrets not having been with her sooner, but I think that if she hadn't been with a musician, she might not appreciated Better Man as much as she does.  After all, the "I wish I did" regret isn't something you can learn from as much as the "I wish I didn't" regret.  But knowing how good they are together now, I think I am okay with the thought of him being there for her first.

Imagination is a powerful thing...

I always tend to toast to the future.

It's because the past freaks me out.