About a month ago, I went to Mexico City to see a good friend of mine, J, who is also an ex-girlfriend from college. Last time I saw her, perhaps two years prior, she had just left her marriage of seventeen years. She had felt distant and emotionally detached in the all the years of marriage and I was shocked to feel all my feelings for her come flooding back at that last visit. But given how recent the break-up was, and how raw she described herself as feeling -- despite her seeming more like herself than she had been in many years -- I didn't dare breathe a word of my feelings to her. I avoided eye contact and watched her play on the floor with Calliope as baby Amelie crawled around us.
Still, I thought about her for months afterward. I was careful to only initiate contact once, and then only to respond after she did.
Then this fall, she asked to come visit... but subsequently canceled. Then this winter she emailed again, asking if I had a night to spare while she was in Mexico City. I offered to leave the girls at home with a sitter and meet her there. She sprang for the hotel room. I had no idea what to expect but was feeling self-protective.
We had a wonderful time! We went to see Frida Kahlo's house and were the very last visitors of the day. I had forgotten how wonderful appreciative J is of the smallest moments and experiences. We went for tostadas afterwards, then sat on a street bench in the brighly lit darkness and sipped coffee and caught up on our lives.
It was in a taxi on the way back to the hotel that Julia referred to our previous visit and I thoughtlessly replied, "I thought about you a lot after our last visit."
"Oh yeah? What were you thinking?"
Crap. I felt cornered. I was terrified of sharing my feelings and having her be horrified or worse, hurt somehow by them.
But then J's hand slid across the seat of the taxi and into mine. And so I awkwardly stammered something about "always having a J-shaped place in my heart."
She squeezed my hand and laughed and said, "perhaps we could agree that what happens in Mexico City stays in Mexico City?"
Later, back at the hotel, we talked more seriously about it. She said she would love to have an intimate evening together and cares a lot about me but knows she doesn't want a long distance relationship. She wanted to make sure I was okay with that.
I tried to be really honest with myself and check in deeply and I felt like I was.
So we had a lovely night together. In the morning we got up very early and wandered around the empty city square, hand in hand. I loved that she held my hand so firmly.
After I headed to the bus station to catch my bus, I texted her that I had made it. And again when I got home. And again a photo of my kids enjoying the gifts she had brought for them. I didn't hear back from her for another week. Which felt really hard.
She, meanwhile, had met up with a dear friend and headed out the next day to a remote island off the Yucatan coast for a weeklong writers' conference. And she's not much of a technology person. But I was taken aback by her delayed response.
Since then, we've emailed a few times. She had invited me to join her on a medical mission next month but the dates don't work for me. I had suggested trying to visit her in her house in New Englad this summer but the dates don't work for her. She said she will try again to visit us in Mexico, perhaps for Dia de Los Muertos.
Our last correspondence was an email from me. She hasn't responded. In her first email she had said she might send me some writing she did about our visit but she hasn't followed through. I am questioning if I somehow pushed too hard.
I don't feel like I'm looking for a relationship, but perhaps I'm not being honest with myself? I miss her company and I wish I could talk to her more often. Being together felt like being intimate with a best friend. I crave her friendship... but maybe physical intimacy plus a beautiful friendship is the same thing as a romantic relationship?
Regardless, it seems obvious that that is not what she wants or needs right now, so I am trying hard to come to peace with that in my heart. I'm certainly not reaching out to her, but I wish that I didn't want contact. I feel like in relationships in the past, I wanted too much and was too controlling. So I am trying to use this an opportunity to let go of any thoughts of control. Perhaps one day we will be closer. I can see that there is nothing I can do right now to make that happen besides letting go and letting it be.