I am not ashamed to admit that I still love my ex girlfriends. Rather than suppressing, I celebrate. Our love passed the test: it was real. It’s a beautiful thing and the greatest gift from God. I admit, nothing compares to my marriage, and my past relationships were not perfect by any means – nothing close to the near-perfection I actually have with my wife – but when I think of Elyse, or Tracy, as I do occasionally, I feel nothing but love, fondness, and well wishes. There is really no other emotion to explain it. It’s pure, and I’m grateful.
Of course the lust is gone; but lust, as we know, is only a small part of the picture. I feel privileged to have had such an intimate connection with other human beings. To have learned, laughed, and cried with them. In a world of isolation and sadness, true love is the greatest privilege of all. Does wealth compare? fame? power? No. Love cares not for time, or distance. It simply is. We know that. Love has a way of sticking, even haunting. Elyse and Tracy invade my dreams, my unconscious, my thoughts. My wife and I both talk about our past relationships on occasion, which is productive. It helps to remember what you learned. I thank her for open-mindedness. Elyse and Tracy represent my evolution as a person, my education of how to love (and how not to love – just as important) – a better education than all the books at the library.
Love has a way of erasing bad memories. That’s called forgiveness. Without it, all you have are bitter memories. Given the circumstances, I could be bitter. But I’m not. Thank God. Thank my psychology. Even if I remember Elyse at her worst, I am glad we both learned lessons. I know that, whoever Elyse is with now, she is better. I’m glad to be part of that. I remember breaking up with Tracy Waitz because, embarrassingly, I hadn’t reached puberty yet. We couldn’t take “the next step” because I wasn’t ready yet (biologically speaking). In hindsight, it makes our relationship precious, innocent, and interesting.
The fact that we can love many women at the same time is not more surprising than the fact that we can love many men at the same time. It’s a very odd thing that I have an extra special place in my heart for all my high school friends: DJ, Dylan, Jared. There is something really special, I think, about first relationships. Even though we rarely speak, I love Jared Hoffman as much now as any time.
We need to stop worrying about sex so much, it’s an extension of love we give to one person. I believe we put too much pressure on romantic relationships, as if they are the most special thing in the world. Really? What about your mother? daughter? humanity? Keep it simple. Don’t get me wrong, sex is an amazing thing. But when we consider the depth and breadth of love proper, sex is an add-on, a decoration. Well, I take that back. It’s rather the capstone to a perfect union, it’s symbolic of the most intimacy you can have physically with another person. And by God it produces a baby! But the foundation – agape love, compassion – is the same exact thing you share with your mother, your friend, your son, even God.
And when I am old, and the end is near, love will be my only solace: perhaps I will still think of Elyse and Tracy with a smile. Perhaps they will fade. What matters, I think, is that we all took part in something greater than ourselves.