Sunday, February 8, 2009

Facing the Ghosts of Grand Ave

I guess today is a double-post kind of day. I just got back from meeting up with my roommate from Lyon, Adrianne, for lunch at Cafe Latte on Grand Ave in St. Paul.

Ryan lived in St. Paul. Grand Ave holds lots of memories for me - many dinner were shared in the fabulous restaurants that line that avenue. I haven't been back since January of 2008. The area just holds so many memories; I haven't returned because I didn't want to re-visit the memories, both good and bad, that were made in that area of St. Paul. I also have a completely irrational fear of running into Ryan and his new girlfriend... Yes, I realize it is ridiculous to give him "custody" of one of the two cities that make up the "Twin Cities," but it's been my coping strategy. We haven't spoken on the phone since March. Our last email exchange was an email I sent after he had cancelled lunch plans via a text message - I couldn't handle anymore last minute cancellations and the use of a text message to do so when he knew I was in a such a sensitive/fragile state was just the last straw. So I sent him an email basically stating that a friendship just wasn't in the cards for us unfortunately. I got what I asked for: aside from an unacknowledged Happy Birthday email I sent, we have had no communication. So even though it seems very irrational to avoid an entire city because of him, it was something I needed to do.

So when Adrianne suggested Cafe Latte for the location of my Birthday lunch, I told myself - you are ready for this. You can go back there.

This morning when I drove over to St. Paul, I took a different route. I didn't want any sense of familiarity. I wanted this trip over to feel completely different. As I drove down Grand Ave, unsuccessfully searching for a parking spot, I felt the sense of uneasiness in my stomach. I bit the side of my mouth to help stave off the tears that were moments from falling from my eyes - tears from the frustration of not being able to find a parking spot (I can't parallel park very well... it's source of stress) and tears from the thoughts of the last time I was in this area. I was going to be briefly seeing a couple, Nick & Maggie, that Ryan and I spent a lot of time with, a couple that Ryan got "custody" of after the break up since Nick and Ryan are best friends. I just told myself - you can not show up at Bonfire with red eyes or tear-stained cheeks. I didn't want to give Nick a reason to report anything besides seeing me in a happy, calm state. So I physically shook my head in an attempt to wipe away all the thoughts I was thinking.

It worked. I walked into Bonfire with smile on my face. I succeeded in not asking about Ryan even though I was dieing to ask 100 questions, such as: How is he? Who is his new girlfriend? Is she wonderful? Is she similar to me or completely different? Does he know you are seeing me today?

But I didn't ask a single question. His name didn't come up in our brief conversation. I said good-bye and asked him to tell all my old co-workers that I said hi.

It was great seeing Nick & Maggie. I miss Nick. I used to eat lunch with him about 3 times a week - I knew what was going on in his life, I knew all the latest milestones his daughter had achieved. Now he is sort of a stranger to me. We share a past full of memories but will not create any more memories together. Ah, the realities of break-ups.

After saying good-bye, I found Adrianne waiting for me outside of Cafe Latte. She gave me a big hug and told me that it's time to create some new memories on Grand Ave.

And she's completely right. I faced down the ghosts and walked away with a new memory. I'll probably never frequent that area as much as I did while dating Ryan, but now that I've faced down my ghosts, I won't avoid the area as I have for the last 12 months.

And in my book, that is progress.

1 comment:

Amber said...

That is absolutely progress. Those kinds of things only get easier with time.