Penpal

Again, an older post that I finished and sat on for awhile.

I read a horoscope a while ago about how someone from your past would be taking center stage again in your life due to some planet being in retrograde.

People come and people go; everyone plays a part in your story. Some play a small part – the stranger that found your credit card and gave it back, perhaps. Others play a larger part and have a huge impact on you. Whether a good influence or bad, everyone you encounter teaches you something about humanity and even about yourself.

The individual in question has popped into and out of my life for close to 20 years. And when I say popped in and out I mean that literally. He shows up in the most random places at the most random times, or contacts me out of the blue when I haven’t heard from him for a year or more.

His initial impact on me was at a turning point in my life when I was first exploring the world of adulthood. I was mad, frustrated, at a situation I was in that was taking longer than I wanted to resolve. And he drug me out and away from the situation and walked the nearby neighborhoods talking about life with me.

“Sweetheart, you can’t sweat the small shit.”

That particular bit of advice has stuck with me my entire life. Its engrained in me to sweat the small shit, but when I get to sweating it too much I remember that warm spring night and that bit of advice, I remember him and I take a deep breath and try to remove myself from the stress.

After that talk he disappeared for a while, only to pop up at my apartment with a mutual friend. We had a good time, drinking and talking. And he disappeared for a few months again and popped up at a local store where I was shopping. This time we made a go of a relationship for a few weeks. But it didn’t work out, and I was bitter and angry. I made accusations, cursed him out, and overall didn’t handle the situation well. What I think he had intended as a fling had me falling hard for him. We were on different pages in our respective stories and I wasn’t happy about it. He stopped accepting my calls, and last I heard he had moved a considerable ways away and I thought he was gone for good, much to my dismay.

Fast forward a couple years. I had found out I was pregnant for Matthew. On a whim I emailed him and apologized for my behavior. I was looking at being a single mother, I was scared and felt very alone. I was trying to not sweat the small shit so I could wrap my head around the big shit. And so I reached out to him hoping for another bit of sage advice.

Instead he replied telling me he was joining the military. He apologized himself though and told me how important and special I was, and to stay in touch.

My internet availability was spotty, so I did what I could to do as he requested. For years I emailed him updates. Never on a consistent basis – six months or a year would pass between emails. Sometimes he responded, sometimes he didn’t. But I would get an urge to email him and would. Telling him about Matthew, about my life in general, venting about this or that. . . And sometimes it would be a year before I would hear back from him. Often I thought he didn’t read them, that he ignored them. So I treated his email like a journal, not mincing words about anything. This went on for five or six years. Sometimes he would throw me some advice or encouragement, enough to keep me from stopping.

One day he popped up on Facebook, much to my surprise. And much to my surprise he thanked me for the emails, telling me those were a grounding point for him. That my random stories and ‘gibberish’ as he put it, helped him. Again that I was special and important to him and that he would always be there for me if I needed him. There was talk of meeting up since he was going to be nearby, but it never happened. For a couple years we exchanged messages, sometimes a month in between responses, sometimes only minutes.

And then he disappeared again.

This was shortly before my father’s passing, and my life was pretty well in turmoil for the next few years. I didn’t attempt to reach out to him during this time, being so distracted by lifes twists and turns. I knew he had deleted me off of Facebook due to some drama in his life and I left it at that and dealt with my own. He had become a passing thought. His long ago advice about not sweating the small shit was still an important thing to me, often popping into my head when shit got too crazy, but never prompted me to contact him.

One Saturday night I was laying in bed, almost asleep, when he invaded my head. I felt the unmistakable urge to contact him. I tried to ignore the urge, being tired and comfortable in my dark and quiet bedroom, not seeing a point after nearly five years. It nagged at me though until I sat up and turned on my light.

I searched Facebook messenger for him and having found him shot him a quick message. It went undelivered. Puzzled, I laid back down. But still the urge persisted. Frustrated that my brain wouldn’t shut up, I again sat up and turned on my light, this time grabbing my robe and slippers and venturing out onto my back deck for a cigarette. I sat outside in the dark, smoking and thinking. I read through the prior messages between us since Facebook is kind enough to save them. I read the part about the emails I had written to him before Facebook and it dawned on me that I still remembered the password to my old email address.

I logged into my old email account where we had exchanged emails for so long, and here’s the whole point of this story.

As I read through those emails, I was appalled. I was reading stuff I had written to him more than ten years ago, and I realized some things about myself that no one likes to see.

Once upon a time dad had told me that he was worried about my ability to be a mother because I was very self serving and self centered. That he feared that I wouldn’t have my child’s best interests at heart because of who I was as a person. I was a little surprised when dad told me these things, having not seen these less than stellar qualities in myself. He softened the blow of his words by telling me that I had proved him wrong.

But in those emails, I was everything dad said I had been. And as I read the emails in chronological order, and then the Facebook messages, I saw a slow progression into who I am today. The last message to him four years ago almost was just as selfish and crude, and had gone unread by him. I sat there embarrassed by the things I had said, embarrassed by who I was back then, shocked that the things I had emailed and messaged him about were so damn meaningless in the big scheme of things. It was indeed small shit.

I am not the same woman as I was then. I’m pretty sure in the last few years I have grown up more than I did in my entire life before that.

So, coming full circle to the astrology shit.

In a month or in a year or five, he may pop back up in my life. Or he may never at all. But he’s in a sense still come back into my life to teach me yet another lesson. To teach me something about myself I didn’t know. Do I still have these selfish tendencies? I’m sure. I’m still growing as a person. Am I nearly as self centered as I was all those years ago? Not a chance in hell. But now that I have seen my own words conveying this not so wonderful characteristic I am more aware of it and perhaps I can curb these tendencies should I recognize them surfacing going forward. Maybe my gut didn’t tell me to try to contact him because I need him to actually resurface. Maybe it was some trick of the cosmos to awaken me further so I can be a better person.

I take astrology shit with a grain of salt, but I also accept the fact that I have experienced some pretty insane things predicted by astrology shit.

Regardless, it made me look inward.

In rereading and editing this older post (if I had to guess, it originated in September of 2019) I recognized that it could be perceived that this individual strung me along for years, which is not the case. I fully recognized that we had a weird friendship that no one could quite understand, with it’s spotty communication. This individual taught me many lessons, both verbalized and not. Some he taught me, some I had to teach myself.

Happy Tuesday. Again, I will urge you to look inward.

Published by: A. Elizardo

Single mother to two amazing boys, sister to an inspiration, and the daughter of two opinionated, sarcastic, fun loving individuals that are no longer physically with us. Music, writing, reading, my family - living and gone - are what keep me going as I put on my rose colored glasses and navigate us through this crazy world.

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