Steve and I first met back in 2001, at the tail end of my stint as a reporter in Southern Illinois. We quickly fell into a love affair so passionate that it led me to change my flight back to New York three times -- and so intense that both of us were inspired to write poems to each other.
“You’re what love songs are made for,” Steve told me just before I left Illinois for good.
Geography was our nemesis, as I quickly bounced from New York to a five-month stint in Sydney, calling it quits with Steve just before I went Down Under. New Year’s Eve 2002 saw us reconnecting back in the Big Apple, and so began the next chapter in our long-distance romance. Steve visited me more than once in my new TV news-dictated hometown of Dover, Delaware, proving each time that the fire between us hadn’t gone away.
Still, we continued to find ourselves in very different places and so, we made the transition to being friends.
Now married and living in Kansas City (not too far from my best friend there, oddly enough), Steve is the only ex I remain friendly with. The other night, he reminded me why he’s the exception.
Over a delicious dinner at Times Square bistro Trattoria Dopo Teatro (Caprese salad, risotto with porcini mushrooms), we found plenty to talk about. Steve told me the latest about his globetrotting gig as a computer database engineer – a job that has taken him to Dubai and Sydney, and will put him in Seattle next month. I filled him in on both work and family news. As always, Steve listened with sensitivity and understanding.
Our nostalgic tangent continued as we recalled some of the more memorable meals we enjoyed way back when – a heavenly breakfast in Rehoboth Beach, a five-star dinner in St. Louis and a dreadful meal at a family friend’s in the Bronx that included rancid wine.
Steve pointed out that he was wearing the same shirt he had on when I returned to Illinois to help him move back in ’02. We both smiled – that was one of our more memorable encounters.
As we reminisced, I couldn’t help thinking how happy I am that Steve and I are still connected. I know he feels the same way.
“I want us to be friends forever,” he told me, “I always want to have you in my life.”
With a tender embrace, we said goodbye. I felt a surge of gratitude. Being with Steve again reminded me that even when romance is no longer in the cards, some old flames will always be a part of you.