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Choking on Nostalgia


 
We sit across the table from one another, romantic electricity is sparking all over the place. This could be the time in which we are finally going to turn this undercurrent of emotion into a more tangible relationship.

We swap anecdotes about our shared past together. Hours pass and we do not even notice that the bright Southwestern sunshine has been exchanged for a denim-colored dusk. Outside of the restaurant there are couples holding hands and smiling at one another. We follow their lead. It feels great to be strolling down the street with him.

Our shared history crackles between us.

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We are married a few years ago in a simple lake side ceremony. Nostalgia ushered us down the aisle and on to the path of life. Our marriage has not been an easy one.
The first year was absolute bliss, better than I could have imagined it. We spent most of it jetting around and visiting old friends.
Then, we bought house that we could not really afford. So, I took a higher paying job which required me to commute an hour away. Our cozy suppers were replaced with take out cartons and pizza boxes.

He is upset because the cheerful and svelte woman whom he married has been replaced with a snarky out of shape battle axe. I am upset with him, because he insisted that we buy this behemoth of house so that he could keep up his Big Man on Campus image.
We are barely speaking to one another. We put on a good show for family and friends, but it is definitely not the same.
Sometimes, I think that the only thing holding us together our the shared memories and we both know it.
We decide that the best way to save our marriage is to draw on the good times. We go to all of our old college hang outs and reminisce about our shared history.
However, our relationship has been tainted with long harbored resentments and anger. I can barely stand to hear another recounting of our Taos trip from 10 years ago. He rolls his eyes as I recite the anecdote about our outing to White Sands.
It becomes apparent that nostalgia is not enough anymore to hold our relationship together. Still, we battle on trying to save our marriage. Then, we go the baby route and everything falls apart that much faster.
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Our divorce becomes final right before our daughter starts the fifth grade. She begs for us to stay together, but in the end she senses that her parents are better off apart.
Another year passes and I enter the dating scene which has changed radically since my days as a grad school student. Still, life moves on and I sign up for online dating websites, allow friends and family to set me up on blind dates, and meet potential suitors for Saturday afternoon coffee dates.

He has begun seeing a woman, but I do not know much about her.
My friend ran into them at the mall and she became tight-lipped when I tried to pump her for additional details.
Uh-oh, I think. He must be serious about her and my friend does not want to hurt my feelings.
A few more months pass by and I am still not having any luck on the dating scene.
However, my ex has called me to let me know that he wants our daughter to meet his significant other this weekend. My first instinct is to scream "Hell, no", but it has been almost two years since our divorce.

"Sure." I reply cheerily.

Saturday arrives and we all meet for lunch at the mall. I decide to bring my sister along to referee. It is worse than I thought. Physical contact with my ex has been limited to polite front porch exchanges and curt nods at our daughter's school functions.
My ex looks amazingly content and satisfied with life. It probably has to do with the petite attractive woman standing next to him. He makes introductions all the way around. I am surprised to see how much she does not look like me.
I am tall and lanky with chin length black hair. I am a jeans and t shirt kind of gal. She is petite with thick brown wavy hair cut slightly passed her shoulders. She is one of those fashionable dressers whom actually follows trends.
Back in the day, my ex used to make fun of women like her. Perhaps, that was a ruse and he secretly preferred women like this.

They met when she conducted CPR classes at the engineering firm where he works.

Through conversation, I find out that she is a nurse practitioner for one of the local hospital's. Which means that she makes way more money than I do. Plus, she is employed in a healing profession.

*************************************************
Six months ago, my ex got remarried and it hurt like hell. How dare he move on before me? It is not fair, if he had not insisted on buying that stupid house I would not have had to commute. I would not have packed on weight. I would not have become so snarky. He killed our marriage and then he moved on. The worst part of it is that my daughter really likes her. Apparently, my replacement comes from a blended family and so she really makes an effort to be a good stepmom.

Now, my replacement is pregnant with twins and my daughter is so excited to be a big sister. She chatters about it non-stop. Then, she casually mentions to me that perhaps I should start dating again and have another child as well. So much for kids wanting their parents to be together.
*********************************************************
The twins were born last night and it has been utter chaos. My sister and I are helping my replacement and it is not as awkward as I had feared. We deliver our casseroles and help organize the baby gear for my replacement. She is so gracious to us as though it is natural for her current husband's ex-wife and ex sister-in-law to be assisting her. Yet, it does feel natural. My sister grudgingly admits that she really likes my replacement and how lucky my daughter is to have a great step-mom.

She is right of course, but it still stings. Probably because the relationship that my ex-husband has with his new wife is based on something more tangible than what we ever had. My ex and me had a friendship which caught fire, but our relationship was based on the fear of moving onto the next stage in life. We clung to nostalgia and one another for as long as possible. But, the truth is that once life got rocky, the fragile gossamer strings of nostalgia were not enough to hold our marriage together.
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Epilogue
Sometimes, I stop into one of our old college hang outs and my throat catches. I see the college couples holding hands and making plans much in the same that my ex did. I have to stop myself from rushing over to their tables to warn them about the dangers of staying together for the sake of nostalgia.



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