i texted three old loves within three minutes on monday morning. the three text messages included contrasting subjects because my relationship with each has landed in divergent places, but i felt all three step forward in my heart at once and knew what i wanted to say to each of them. the recently brokenhearted one texted back first, probably because he is constantly checking his phone for a text from his ex. his broken heart comes with the release of his second true love for this lifetime. we met years ago as his heart was breaking and his relationship was ending with his first true love. my heart was already broken when i met him. i felt like i was dying from physical heartache at that point in my life. and then, the first time i danced with him, my heart raced as if coming back alive, his touch like defibrillation. he commented on my trembling after our first dance and i admitted that i felt something i’d never felt before. we loved each other instantly. we bridged the transition from shattered hearts to loving again with one another. in the years intervening between then and now we check in every few months, meet for lunch, discuss the state of our lives and hearts, and consistently love each other well.
the next text message i sent belongs to a man with the same name as the first. he emailed a response to my text because paragraphs are easier to type in email. he and i are angry with one another and doing our best to responsibly navigate the expression of that anger. we are angry with ourselves as much as we are angry with the other, which is another trick to untangle. we both know we’ll safely arrive at the other side of anger with more love between us but we’re into another week of working out how to get there. we’re letting more light in through the cracks.
the third text message i sent to an unrequited love. his love for me was romantic; my love for him was platonic. we both felt our love was unrequited. he left me abruptly, after a drunk fight during a rainy night in the middle of a street in hong kong. i was too drunk to understand what we were fighting about that night but the pretense didn’t matter because as with most fights, whatever the subject of our fight that night wasn’t the reason we were upset. i wanted him to be my friend. he wanted me to be something else. after hong kong, we didn’t see one another until we randomly bumped into each other at the los angeles airport after years of silence. we exchanged an awkward hug. soon after our unexpected airport encounter, his mother got sick and then sicker and then sicker with cancer and died. during his mother’s illness, he reached out to me via text but wouldn’t let me see him in person, wouldn’t let me comfort him directly, only through the distance of text messages. in the years following his mother’s death, he’d drunk text me late at night once every few months with a happy memory of our shared adventures…and would ignore my sober daytime invitations to meet for a snack and a conversation. i’ve accepted that we’ll never be friends who spend face-to-face time together again, but we are friends who text each other once in a while, pinging the other with enough love to remind each other that we’re in this big world together even though we’re apart.