Saturday, July 26, 2008

Running Into Old Flames

For a densely populated city, New York can still feel like an unnervingly small world at times, a fact of which I was reminded recently during my morning commute.

I looked up from my seat on the downtown N train and was surprised to see a very familiar face - my high school boyfriend T.G. Though it had been more than a decade since I’d last seen him, I recognized him immediately, probably because he looked exactly the same. Tall, fit and adorably preppy (gingham shirt, khaki pants), with blue eyes and short blonde hair with a lock that fell perfectly across his forehead.

T.G. is probably the only beau I’ve dated who comes from a blue-blooded background. During our brief romance as teenagers, we spent a lot of time at his parents’ apartment on Park Avenue. I spent most of that time debating whether or not to let him get past second base (I ultimately decided against it).

After confirming in my mind that it was really him, curiosity got the better of me and I approached T.G. to say hello. He greeted me warmly and I quickly learned that his office is only a few blocks from mine and that he is engaged to a childhood friend whom he reconnected with during a ski getaway to ritzy Sun Valley.

As he told me about his new technology company and I offered some PR advice, I couldn’t help thinking -- this is the same guy who once upon a time took great pride in giving me a hickey. It seemed surreal that so many years had passed.

We exchanged business cards and parted with a friendly hug. Our unexpected encounter found me recalling a similar experience that happened a few summers back.

I had decided to pay a visit to the Upper West Side, a neighborhood I had avoided for months in an effort to also avoid my ex Shawn, who lived there. It was time for me to take back this enchanting part of town, I thought, even if it meant tempting fate. In fact, I essentially double-dared fate to have me bump into Shawn, intentionally strolling down his block and over to Riverside Park at precisely the hour when he usually walks his dogs.

It became clear that fate had no intention of giving into my nostalgic whim so I returned to my part of town. On my way out of the supermarket, I was shocked to see another ex, Radley, coming straight toward me. He glanced downward, pretending not to see me. I was relieved. The five months I spent with Radley were exhausting. He moved our relationship along so quickly that I didn’t have the heart, courage or whatever it was I needed to have to tell him that I felt suffocated instead of equally smitten.

I smiled as we brushed past each other, appreciating the irony of it all. I had gone out that afternoon with every expectation of running into one ex--only to end up running into another.

Fate may have had the last laugh, but at least I looked damn good during my old flame run-in. What more could I ask for?

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