Wednesday, June 22, 2005
quote du jour:
"I love my life and I'd never trade between what you and me had and the life I've made. She's here and she's real, but you were, too. And every once in a while I think about you. I've been layin' here all night listenin' to the rain. Talkin' to my heart and tryin' to explain why sometimes I catch myself wondering what might have been. Yes, I do think about you every now and then" -- "Every Now And Then," Garth Brooks

Alex still has a special ring just for her on my cell phone.

I still get butterflies when I hear it out of the blue.

Such has been the case twice recently.

It's been more than a year since she and I were anything that resembled close friends. With the exception of the month last summer when her dad died, we've been apart more than together -- literally and figuratively.

I don't think I've seen her since late December or early January. Our phone conversations are almost as rare. I can't remember the last e-mail exchange we had with any substance. In the few times we've spoken, it seemed as though we were trying to convince one another (or ourselves) that we didn't need the other.

A couple of weeks ago, Alex sent me a text message telling me that she was passing through my hometown on her way to another small town nearby. She wanted to know if I was, by chance, at home. I sent her a reply to say tell her that I wasn't... and that was about the extent of our exchange. I didn't inquire as to why she was in the neighborhood.

Sunday afternoon, she was once again in my hometown on her way to the nearby community and wanted to know if I was around. Once again, I wasn't... but, this time, our conversation didn't stop there.

Alex Cell: Where u @?
Fletch Cell: My apt.

Alex Cell: O darn
Fletch Cell: Why?
Alex Cell: Because i'm passing thru smallville & thought i'd take a stabb @ u being home.
Fletch Cell: You've been a regular in my neighborhood lately, eh?
Alex Cell: I'm running 4 miss st. joe... I was kicked out of the miss smallville pageant

That last comment was a stab at me, but I'll take it. I deserved it.

I'll claim nearly all of the blame for us not working out. Okay, so I'll take all of the blame. When push came to shove last year on Memorial Day weekend... I point-blank said that I thought a relationship between the two of us was a bad idea. The decision was in my hands and I made it. Of course, that makes it even more insane when I get nostalgic about Alex and I.

Fletch Cell: Funny. What the heck is in St. Joe?

Alex Cell: The crown

Fletch Cell: What does that mean?

Alex Cell: The prize, the one!

Fletch Cell: "The" One?

Alex Cell: Who knew... I was in the right state just wrong city...

Fletch Cell: I guess so!

Alex Cell: Auw now... I want u 2 b happy... 'guess so'

Suddenly, text messages weren't going to suffice. I called her.

It seems that on a random night a couple of months ago in a random bar in Oakdale, she met a guy. After putting him off for a little while, they began a relationship that's turned into, according to Alex, something quite special. And in a shocking development, I think I'm quite happy for them.

After getting the Cliff's Notes version of the story Sunday afternoon, I talked with Alex again late Sunday night. The call lasted nearly an hour.

In our seven years of friendship, Alex has told me a few tall tales. When the two of us were involved, I found out that she had inflated to me the number of previous relationships she had been in. There have been a few times when I felt as though she was embellishing a story just a little bit. I didn't sense that Sunday -- at least not when she talked about him.

I caught the multiple references to how much of a gentleman he was. I caught the several times she mentioned him carrying her luggage to and from the car. I always caught the location when she would talk about certain special conversations they'd had (the location, of course, was in bed). But I didn't catch any pretense. I detected no bullshit.

For the first time in a long time, our conversation felt very real. It felt like two old friends catching up. It didn't feel like a charade. It didn't feel as though one (or both) of us was saying one thing and feeling another. Feeling that again made me as happy as I've been in a long time.

Regardless of what happens today or twenty years from today, Alex and I will always share something special. There have been a few times when I thought we would have to share it separately because of problems in our friendship. However, we've both decided that even if we were to stop talking, the connection would always remain. Our conversation Sunday night is proof of that.

Amongst the stories of her new love, Alex delivered a great truth to me.

I am not a labeller. [ la-bel-ler n. -- one who applies labels ]

With one sentence, she summed up the reason why the majority of my relationships have failed. Most notably, it was the reason Alex and I didn't work out. She wanted to be my girlfriend and I didn't want to give her the label. Instead, I wanted to keep things relaxed and casual.

The labelling deal is also what nearly killed Jessie & I. She, too, wanted to stake claim to the girlfriend title and I hesitated. That hesitation almost cost me dearly. Not since Lindsay Alexander have I been anxious to label anyone in a relationship with me. Perhaps there is a lesson there somewhere, but one definitely worth saving for another time.

Although I'm on a quest for everyone to be honest with me, hearing Alex's point allowed me to realize that I haven't always been honest with myself. Had I had that internal honesty long ago about the feelings I had for Alex... Or for Jessie... Or for a number of other things in my life, the path to get to where I'm at would have been much smoother.

And so, yes, I still get butterflies when Alex calls out of the blue. Some very special moments have been made when the two of us are working together. Even with her new love and our dynamic relationship, I hope that aspect never changes.

After our conversation Sunday night, Alex sent me a message quizzing me on a random bit of trivia from our past. The one thing that makes Alex different from everyone else is the sheer volume of random things I remember about the two of us. I didn't let her down.

She asked where the first airplane flight we ever took together landed. The question was a trick one. The ultimate destination was Atlanta, but I remembered that we first stopped in Pensacola.

Why do I know that? Why do I remember so much about Alex? What makes us so special? I don't have any of those answers. I do know that I hope she finds someone very special (maybe the guy from St. Joe) to lover her as she deserves. Of course, I also hope that the guy stinks at relationship trivia. Heh.

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