Once upon a time, I prided myself on an exceptional collection of good relationships with ex-boyfriends. I'm certain that it seems strange to curate good terms with the gone bad. But I've always been desperately dedicated to keeping the good opinion of the greater population - even those who break my heart. For a long time, it didn't occur to me that these peaceable relations were an oddity. It wasn't until the line of past relationships grew rather long that I realized what an anomaly those tender treaties were.
For the longest time, there was, at the head of the class, the High School Almost Boyfriend. We'll skip The Freshman Year Experiment - it ended badly - and move on to The First Real Boyfriend. That relationship truly went down in flames amidst a cheating scandal (gasp!), but somehow through my dogged determination to be at peace with all humanity, we found our way back to good terms, albeit some years after the infidelity incident.
On I went to The Long-Term Boyfriend, who was incidentally my partner in crime in the cheating scandal. We held together through five cities, three colleges and universities, and one breakup and reconciliation.The second breakup was of the volatile varietal, and we spent three years in silence while I dated The Second Long-Term Boyfriend. After four years, that fell apart, too; I crossed state lines, and we managed a tentative truce.
And then there was The Barrister. And if ever one of my relationships ended in a blazing pile of ruins, it was that one. Perhaps those embers, sparking and sputtering in the smokey aftermath, are what kindled those other bridges, which started to burn with ferocity.
The First Real Boyfriend got married and our waning conversations were finally burned away completely. The Second Long-Term Boyfriend assumed a stony silence, and even when I tried to rebuild the smoldering bridge, it crumbled like so much ash between my fingers. And then The Long-Term Boyfriend got engaged, and thirteen years of on-and-off conversation ended in spontaneous combustion that severed everything. The bridge I prided myself on so much went up in smoke.
Now I'm standing on the side of the bridge where fate has left me watching the flames eat away at all those carefully constructed pylons and planks. Every one of those former loves have found their way back to heartbreak - a second heartbreak where I learned that I can't have the elusive friends-after-lovers relationship. I have to mourn the loss again and suffer through the what-ifs and the what-went-wrongs. I have to accept that the place that they had in my life burned away, leaving that fresh, shiny, tender pink new skin. And maybe I have to face that, now that the bridges are burned, I'm going to have to go another direction. Forward, perhaps?