Monday, November 07, 2005

Whither your chains?

If Dickens was to be believed and people do carry around chains ala Jacob Marley, I've just figured out the composition of my own trail of clanking, eternal error: failed romantic relationships.

Need one? I've got a ton of 'em, of various durations, importance, horror, regret, sadness and jubilation. They'll be buy one, get one free by Christmas.

Only a few, however, truly illustrate just how unlucky I am when it comes to making choices. Forget for a moment that it takes me nearly a decade to read the handwriting on the wall everyone else keeps quoting to me. Focus instead on the aftermath of decisions.

Today, focus on one, only: my very first real boyfriend, Don Woodlock.

A smart, funny, kind guy who I really adored, Don was 16 when we met and eventually headed for MIT. We dated for several months, in the way only teenagers could then: lots of letters, cards, weekend dates, visits to one another's home. That sort of thing. While it wasn't the Capulets and the Montagues, Don did suffer for his affection from time to time. Once my brother and father took all the hubcaps off his van and stuck them in the driver's area. For fun.

Also, I was a pretty lousy girlfriend after awhile.

I got tired of solid, sweet, dependable boys and started tracking the elusive, black-leather-wearing, cigarette smoking James Dean type. . .the guy I eventually married and had two kids with. The guy who drank too much, remained emotionally distant and never understood the value of children. But, I digress.

Four years after we broke up, with less than a week to go before the wedding to Mr. Black Leather, I received a four page letter from Don. He talked about missing me, how close we once were, and so forth.

Fast forward 23 years, to one bright weekend day in autumn, when I decided to Google people's names out of boredom. Lo and behold, who should I find readily accessible through modern technology? Yes, Don. Only now, Don is Vice President for a large online health records technology organization, quite successful, and quite distantly located.

Also, I'd bet (even though unlucky people shouldn't lay wagers) quite happily married. He never was the type to leave someone. That's...well, that's more my ballgame.

Now, I told this story to illustrate one thing and one thing only: I have terrible personal decision-making skills when it comes to relationships. The ones I stick with are probably those that I should've left and sped away fast from the truly good guys. But my friends don't see the moral of the story.

Today several of them said "You should call him!" "He might be single" "He probably never forgot you, and...."

Yeah, right. And while I'm at it, perhaps we can scare up a coach made from the rotting leftover Halloween pumpkin and turn the (now dead) mouse my cat caught in the kitchen this weekend into a noble steed.

They just don't get it.

This is life, not Lifetime. If my luck is so bad that I tossed over the very first guy (and maybe last) who truly loved me, Don is either married to Elizabeth Hurley, has become gay or has used the miracle of modern science to become Donna. Or he's perfectly fine, a happy bachelor who can't wait to see me and gets on the first plane home -- only to have it burst into flames and crash, leaving no survivors.

Because, friends, the moral of this story is not "everything turns out right in the end." That's a story for other people's lives. The moral of this story is more like "don't gamble, because you have terrible luck and poor decision making skills."

Not small enough to fit on a bumper sticker, but you get the idea.
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