Facebook, people from the past, and Jack that’s-not-his-real-name

Facebook advertizes itself as being the place to find old friends.  Well it is that, and it’s also a place where your fantasies about old beaus can be shattered.   I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not.   What’s wrong with dreaming about somebody you fell in love with when you were 13 or 25?  Don’t answer that.

Last night I dreamed again about the first boy I ever remember being physically attracted to, and one I fell madly, sweetly, crazily in love with.  I guess I was about 13.  My older sisters had a dance at home, and this boy came.  He was the only one who was my age.  I didn’t know how to dance, and I didn’t know about make-up or sex, I’d never been kissed, never kissed any boy myself.  Keith asked me to dance. I remember the room was dimly lit, and we danced a slow dance, and my sexuality woke up.  Bing!  I wanted to kiss him, but I was afraid that my sisters and their group of friends would laugh at me if he wasn’t cool.  I didn’t know how to figure out what cool was.

I didn’t let him kiss me.   I hung around on the periphery of my sister’s friends and those of the girls next door (who were older than me) during the holidays.  I was a tag-along, trying desperately to be included.  This boy and a couple of his friends started being part of the group, only they accepted him.  He was confident, smart, sassy, incredibly cool, good at tennis and sports,entertaining, and he rose to stardom within the group very quickly.  I stayed on the periphery, nobody really wanted me around.

Then to my surprise he asked me to come to a dance with him.  His father drove us in their Mercedes.  We sat in the back seat, and I couldn’t think of anything to say.  It was truly awful – as was the dance, because he didn’t dance with me, he danced with other girls, and I stayed by myself in a corner.  Yes I did.  I didn’t know how to talk to people.  I felt so stupid, and gawky and ugly and I wanted to sink through the floor to China and never come back.

His father came to fetch us from the party, and drove me home.  Keith walked me to the back door, and suddenly leaned in and planted a kind of frantic kiss on my face, only he missed my mouth, and got my ear!  It was so innocent.  If I hadn’t been totally committed before then, I was from then on.

But he lost interest in me.  I didn’t know how to be cool, and he ended up being one of the A-list boys, confident, liked by everybody of all ages, athletic, clever.  I wanted him to like me so desperately.   I didn’t have a chance.  I was the least cool kid in town.

Years later, when I was about 20, I was working in a casino in Victoria Falls.  He’d been conscripted into the army (for the war between the white government and the revolutionaries) and was stationed there for a while.   I bumped into him, and he stayed at my place for a couple of nights, but it was absolutely hideous.  I was still very shy and although by that time I’d learned to cover it up with bravado, I still didn’t know what to say to people.  He interpreted that as arrogance, and I later heard via the grapevine that he’d drunkenly boasted that he was going to screw me, arrogant bitch that I was.  It was awful.

But it wasn’t like him.  He hadn’t been like that.  I think it was the war, and the trauma of having to be a soldier, the brutality he was exposed to, and maybe forced to do.  I felt  humiliated and violated, I cried buckets.  Partly for me but I also felt so sad for him.  What happened to you? I guess he could have said the same of me.   I didn’t know how to let my defenses down and be real any more than he did.  I smile about it now.  We were young, still very innocent.  Victims of our circumstances.

Well, I dreamed of him last night – an almost exact repetition of a dream I had about six months ago.  In the dream he was as he was when we were both very innocent.  Only we were adults.  I can’t remember what happened, but it was as if we had always been close and that incident in Zimbabwe had never happened.  It was a great dream, a different ending to my dream six months ago.

People are always saying move on from the past, but why?   Sometimes I think we made powerful connections with people at a time we didn’t have the skills to let them become real relationships.  When the longing to reconnect is still alive with us, maybe that isn’t always fantasy, maybe it’s about something that’s real and alive in us, and valuable.

I think about Jack that’s-not-his-real-name (see my blog  Oct. 11 2009 “An American called Jack that’s-not-his-real-name” or click here for the story).   I thought he wasn’t married any more, and I looked for him on FB a couple of times but he wasn’t there. Then one day – there he was!  Only he wasn’t.  He’s still married.  I could easily contact him now, but I refrain.  Doesn’t seem okay.  Some people have said move on; others have said just say hi.  Jury’s still out on what I’ll do.

People from the past – sometimes it’s important to find them again, sometimes it isn’t.   There’s no rule about it.  The man I dreamed about last night?  I feel a resolution in a way, within myself.  I can’t quite explain it.   But as for Jack?

I haven’t closed that door.  I’m not going to force myself to move on.  I’ll do it when I’m ready.


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