Monday, December 7, 2009

The Ex

Like many men with a few miles on them, I remember being with women before my wife. Adding to the unexceptional nature of that is, of course, the guilt, which is present in any relationship, really, but more acute with the people whom you are no longer in contact with. There's guilt for things that I did, things that I did not do, mistakes I made, and remembering triumphs. Eventually, you just convince yourself to think of something else to survive.

(The ex might or might not feel similar things; it's not my business to know, and for her sake, I hope she feels nothing. I never was that good at listening to things I didn't want to hear, anyway.)

But what you do not do, or at least probably should not do, is see them again.

I had this experience several years ago now with my most regretful ex, someone who I was engaged to once. (A platonic lunch, followed by emails, punctuated by candid conversations with the Shooter Wife. The correspondence ended with many fewer regrets than before, but still some, and yes, the SW really is that patient, and I am really that fortunate. Moving on.)

What happens in the actual encounter is so cinematic and unreal that your brain treats it, well, like a movie. Or at least mine did. You eye each other up, see what the years have done, and if you are smart, go no further than that. Hell, if you are smart, it probably doesn't even go that far. Like many not quite real / hyper present events, it's like you are outside your body, just watching the whole thing. Gosh, big moment for the guy moving my arms and legs. Good thing that the self-preservation part of the brain has retreated to a safe distance, here in the back of the head. Let's sit back and watch what the meat puppet does. We wouldn't miss this for the world.

Now for the Weird Stuff, and yes, I know that this is still a sports blog with poop jokes, so this is all Weird Stuff. (Feel free to cue the Doctor Horrible background singers to sing, "We do the Weird Stuff.")

When I think about Allen Iverson's return to Philadelphia tonight, it feels the same as having lunch with my ex did.

After all, we all know it's *wrong* to do this. We're cheating the present and future, 19 year old guard Jrue Holiday, he of the highly suspicious sudden rotator cuff injury and recent discovery from coach Eddie Jordan that Iverson is likely to start the rest of the year. Too many things were said and done to go back to where we were. Time changes people, and athletes - even livewire bone machines like Iverson - age like mastiffs.

Everything seems fine now, in public, in a restaurant, on the court. It's later on when it all turns, after the long welcome back ovation, after the movie stops and you go back to something akin to normal. You know, when you notice that the other team's guard dropped 30, and you don't like the way your mind won't move on.

When all of the old complaints come back.

When I talk to my eldest about growing up, I talk about not doing it too soon. I also talk about how important it is to fall in with the right person, how much it hurts when you can't overcome the flaws in a relationship, and how easy it is to spend your time in regret.

It all sounds wise, I think, and yet the line that keeps you from foolishness is not thick. If the Ex needed help, my family and I would most likely provide it. And it's not like The Wrong Person comes with business cards clearly identifying them as such. For all I know, a great friendship could still develop, and Iverson could turn back the clock and perform miracles. It's all a movie.

But one last thing. If Iverson comes out tonight and leads the Sixers to a win over the Nuggets, that doesn't mean they made a mistake in moving him to Denver for Andre Miller and parts. Miller got them to two playoffs and made them watchable, which is more than Iverson would have been capable of. Andre Iguodala became better in Iverson's absence; the fact that he's not as good as they need him to be does not change that.

Similarly, if he starts 1 for 11 and they get blown out, it's not really that meaningful, either.

That's because the movie is really only as dramatic as we make it. It's a Monday night game against a superior opponent at home, in a suddenly cold December, in a year where the Sixers won't go to the NBA Finals, win the Atlantic Division, or host more than a couple of playoff games. It's two people having lunch. It doesn't need to be more, just because your brain is committing it all to memory.

Iverson will play. We'll remember some things we've forgotten, and hope that it goes better. If it goes well, it will wash away the way it ended, and make us as happy as anything could this year, really. If nothing else, we'll congratulate ourselves for having been mature enough to be grown up enough to move on to the next stage of our relationship, all the while knowing that past stages of the relationship are hovering like ghosts.

And the only thing that we can say with absolute certainty... is that we wouldn't miss it for the world.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

good analogy. thanks. vaguely stating that your story has a familiarity to my own.

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