Summer, 10 years ago.
I worked at a day care. I had just bought my first car, an old blue Explorer that I named Betsey. I was enjoying the freedom she provided, being able to go wherever I wanted whenever I wanted. I think, really, that were it not for that old car, I would not be where I am today.
One July afternoon, I was sitting at my computer and I received a Facebook message. It was my ex-boyfriend, Mark. Now, we had dated briefly back in 2003, and he, in his 20-year-old stupidity, totally messed that up. So, for seven years we did our own thing…he went and had four kids, I threw myself into my theater work, and we didn’t think much of the other except perhaps in passing. Yet, to say that our business was finished would be incorrect.
He messaged me occasionally over the years, friendly-like. He was in a relationship with the kids’ mother and I respected that. But then came that July afternoon. I asked after his relationship-he said they weren’t together anymore. I didn’t think much of it in the moment.
He asked if I wanted to hang out. I told him I had the car now, so I could come pick him up, and we drove down to the marina where we went for so many walks back in the early days. We caught up, told each other about our lives, our families, and such…it was nice. I drove him home, and we had a couple beers with his roommate. I got ready to leave, and he kissed me goodnight.
We hung out regularly after that, but neither of us were keen to put a title on it. He had just ended a big relationship. I was busy beyond belief…I had two jobs, one at the day care and one at the theater, and no time.
Then one night he decided we were going to go on a real date. He took me to an Indian place. I had never had Indian food, and he was excited to share the experience with me. We were all dressed up because after we planned to go downtown to Curtain Up. It was a big night, theater-wise, and I had never brought a date. He reached across the table and took my hand. “So…I guess you’re my girlfriend now, right?” I smiled. I guessed so.
As we drove downtown, I expressed that I was a little nervous to tell my parents we were seeing each other again. My mother held little love after our breakup, even though I never said a harsh word against Mark during it. She just took on the Mama-bear role, and who could blame her? He assured me that while he was also nervous, it would all be fine.
Then we pulled into the parking lot. Right next to my parents, who were getting out of their car.
Thrown headfirst into our fears, Mark greeted my parents warmly and my mother was surprisingly excited to see him. We had a lovely time walking around downtown with them and enjoying the night. When I got home, I was exhausted, but I was happy.
Now, I’m not going to lie to you. The next six months of our relationship were difficult. We made mistakes. We spent time apart. We considered the cut-and-run.
Mark moved to Amsterdam, NY for a bit. This was particularly hard. During that time, my trusty blue Explorer because less trustworthy, and died on me. So, I went and bought a white Buick named George, and that is what I was driving when I picked him up at the train station.
We’d had a talk. He needed to come home. He missed his kids. He couldn’t find work. And, he missed me, too. So, I sent him the money for a train ticket, and he came home. “I miss Betsey,” he says, as we drive towards the next destination in our lives. I miss Betsey, too.
It is ten years later.
So much has happened. We have lost and gained jobs. We have been broke. We have been homeless. We have changed career paths. We have moved apartments. We have dealt with illness and depression. We got married. We have lost people we loved, and reconnected with people we lost. We have been through SIX cars. I don’t know that I would change any of it, though. This September will mark not only 4 years of us being married, but ten years of us being together. A whole decade. It seems remarkable to me, given all that we have conquered.
So much has happened in ten years, all because one day I bought a new car, and Mark messaged me, and I went to show it off.