Past Lives

An interesting thing happened at the Nine Inch Nails concert.  I had just taken a seat after half-heartedly looking around for an old friend and his family (halfheartedly because I don’t do well in crowds), when I looked to my left and who should I see but my old boyfriend of 1.5 years, Mike.  I instinctively had a flight reaction but I thought, "This is ridiculous, I am thirty years old.  That was highschool.  It is not going to kill me to get up, walk over and just say hello."  But, as I was having this inner dialogue with myself, Mike had also spotted me and shifted his position such that the person he was talking to was placed directly in my sight line.  It seemed it might have killed him to talk to me. 

Fair enough. 

Mike was a pretty great guy.  We ended up driving each other bonkers I think – there was one incident where he said he’d never date a girl with short hair and I promptly marched to the hairdresser and got my long hair cut off in a chin-length bob – but we had a lot of fun together too.  Maybe in grade twelve you don’t appreciate things about people the way you should.  I observed him periodically from my vantage point three rows behind him at the amphitheatre.  I was fascinated when I saw him rake his hand through his hair quickly and later on, rest his chin on his curled fingers.  Such old habits.  It made me wonder what little habits I still have, eleven years later.  Besides biting my fingernails.  I know about that one.

Mike had a doberman named Daisy and two calico cats named Scratch and Win.  It was Mike who went with me on the streetcar to some crazy old lady’s house to get my cat, Poco.  His dad was from Ireland and had lived here for over 20 years and never became a citizen of the country.  His mom taught English as a Second Language at our highschool.  She once cured me of a migraine before our first performance of Man of La Mancha by performing therapeutic touch on me.  His sister wore combat boots with girly little dresses.  She seemed like an absolute goddess to me.  His brother mixed me the coolest tape ever, blending the songs together with some fancy equipment (which a subsequent boyfriend irrationally destroyed during a break-up).  They lived at the bottom of a steep hill in the Beach[es].  One winter afternoon I was walking there after school with my oboe in my backpack.  Never the most coordinated of girls, I slipped on some ice landing flat on my back on the hard oboe case.  I lay there awhile in the snow, thinking I was paralysed.  After a bit I dragged myself back onto my feet and I remember thinking it had been worth it.

Like all of it, despite the crumby ending.

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