I ran across a photo of my ex yesterday. Well, I googled it. He looked old and tired and gray.
Here's why I searched for his image. Last week a college friend came over to visit and inevitably the talk turned to those bygone days ... and Bob. Last Friday Animal House came on. That was our (Bob's and my) favorite movie in the 70's. In fact, when Bob's fraternity brothers would get together they would act out the parts. All felt that the movie portrayed their fraternity life in the house to a tee (I'm sure all partying fraternities from those days think the same thing), and I will always associate that movie with Bob and his friends. The guys had "adopted" my friend and I, the two blonds as they called us, as honorary fraternity members and we reveled in our special status.
Yesterday, talk at a women's lunch I attended turned to divorce and acceptance. Of the five women, two of us were divorced. We spoke of our exes without rancor, having made the decision to move on. One of the women asked if I still had contact with Bob, and I said "No, I don't care if I ever see him again. He's part of my past."
After lunch I thought about my statement and realized I was wrong. Bob still plays a huge part in my life. My relationship with him, which spanned over half my life, helped to make who I am today. Whenever I walk along the river and see a bicyclist whiz by, I think of him. Whenever I enter the garage, I see his handiwork. We chose some of the furniture I still use. And while I enjoy myself immensely when I am with old friends I haven't seen for a while, I feel like half of a whole. Something is missing in the chemical mix: Bob.
My memories of Bob fall in two categories. The old Bob who I loved with all my heart; and the Bob of the days of our divorce. Somehow, I am able to separate the two and recognize that my old life, filled with so many happy memories, had value. But that my present life, which has taken on such a different direction and tone, has meaning as well.
So, feeling nostalgic but not alone on a Saturday night, with my faithful pooch at my feet, I googled Bob's name and came up with two photos. One was taken of him when we were married, standing at a tourist spot with the Rockies in the background. The other must be a recent faculty photo. Before clicking on that photo I felt trepidation, but on seeing it I felt ... nothing. Nothing at all. He looks like some distant uncle I had never met, and a faint shadow of the Bob of my memories. Which is where he belongs.
Photos: Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul, and Mary, then and now