Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Old patterns die hard

Over the last couple of months, I had two fun, uneventful conversations with my Italian ex, l'Artista. Both were good, long conversations, and they were relatively painless. He apologized kindly for the pain he put me through when we broke up, and we talked about seeing each other next summer when I go to Tuscany for family vacation. When my sister got engaged, I wrote to inform him, and he wrote back telling me how happy he was to hear the news. I was beginning to think we could have a simple, non-fraught friendship.

Turns out I was a little too optimistic. During snow day #3 last week, l'Artista spotted me on Skype and suggested we have a third conversation (without the video, since he "didn't think we could handle that"). It went well for a short time, and then all of a sudden it wasn't going well. I'm not even sure what our first argument was about -- it didn't particularly feel like it was about anything -- but all of a sudden I felt like I had been catapulted back in time five years and we were still embroiled in our difficult, never-ending breakup. He interrupted me several times, until finally I said, "I notice you still interrupt me a lot." He countered that with, "You still reproach me exactly like you did ten years ago." Ouch. We were like one of those seventy-year-old couples who have been married for 45 years and can't stand each other who you want to get as far away from as possible.

When we talked again about my impending visit to Italy, he told me he's not sure we should see each other after all. He doesn't want to see me with Dreamy, and he feels uncomfortable seeing my family; I don't care who else is there, but I don't want it to be just the two of us. Perhaps we can meet for a quick coffee instead of the dinner I had been envisioning (just thinking about his dinners makes my stomach growl...). Clearly, it'll take some more time and thinking to figure out what role, if any, he can play in my life.

That evening, I told Dreamy about my conversation, and he asked if I still have feelings for l'Artista. I answered no because that seemed like the right thing to say to let Dreamy know he has nothing to worry about. The truth, however, is a bit more complicated than that. I do have feelings for l'Artista, lots of them. I feel anger, and affection, and anxiety (when I asked about his health, he reported that he had briefly reduced his cigarette and alcohol intakes, but wasn't able to maintain it). The one thing that I am clear on is that I do not want him to be my boyfriend ever again.

So, instead, I'm concentrating on my new favorite Skype buddy, Dreamy. We've been Skyping most nights before bed, and it's nice to be able to see him on the days when we're busy. I can't believe it's taken me this long to discover how great Skype is. Our conversations are straightforward and fun and not fraught, because he likes me and I like him and we both want to be with each other. It sounds so simple, but it's not easy to find.

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