Once, I was “Baby.” Today, I am “Morgan.”

Such funny tricks, time plays.

“Oh hey! How’s it going?”
“Great, great. You know me, just keeping busy.”
“That’s awesome, man. What’s been going on?
“Oh, same stuff; can’t complain. How about you?”
“Same here; everything’s been going well.”
“Oh, that’s wonderful. Well, you look great.”
“Yeah, same to you.”

That’s something I never understood about relationships. How you can share the most intimate moments with someone, and then, a year later, treat them with the same basic courtesy as a stranger on the street.

I find this to be one of the most baffling conundrums of the human experience, and the hardest thing about relationships past. You can’t ever regain the same depth of the conversations that you had while in the relationship.

And it’s cool. I get it. We both do.

In fact, this past year I talked to an old boyfriend living overseas. Since we parted ways, we had always remained pretty close, calling each other every few months, or as often as our schedules would allow. But this time—this time was different. I’m not totally sure how the conversation evolved into the topics we ended up discussing at the end, but the conclusion of it left me a little confused. We couldn’t figure out exactly what went wrong, or exactly why the conversation went awry, but I do know that the very next day I received an email from him, something that read along the lines of:

“The most amazing part about our relationship was how well we were able to communicate with each other. It just clicked; like magic. Now, we’re trying to talk about things that are important and central to our lives—trying to indulge ourselves in the closeness we had back then. But in reality, it feels like we don’t know each other like we did. I don’t see that as anybody’s fault—it just seems to have happened. Trying to overlook this, and carry on as per normal, results in weird conversation moments like we had last night.”

For me, this is the saddest, most frustrating part of past relationships; that this distance we feel, this reverse magnetic field standing between us, feels appropriate. Just like the comfort we once shared fit us then, this distance we find ourselves in fits us now. Because even though you’ve already been there, done that, and gotten the T-shirt, you can’t act as if you know about my grandmother’s ongoing illness, that my brother just got into college, or that our friends recently got married. We can’t talk about those things, because the rules of present engagement won’t allow it.

But why is that? Why must we issue a “cease and desist” order on more than just our romantic relationship? I guess I feel like once upon a time, I chose you, and you chose me, for a reason. So if I liked you enough to make you my boyfriend then, why wouldn’t I like you enough to keep you in my life in some capacity—whatever capacity—now?

But I understand that, depending on the circumstances of the break-up or the feelings still involved, people aren’t always ready to hand over the olive branch. And so we keep the conversation on superficial cruise control, allowing good graces and protocol to become our social lubricant. Because even if we wanted to “go there,” we both know that it doesn’t work like that; it doesn’t feel right to go back to that past in this present.

Well listen, it was so good to see you.”
“Yeah, you too. Take it easy, Morgan.”

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