Sunday, July 15, 2007

Relationship Recycling Pitfalls

Although I've not necessarily followed it in practice, for quite some time I've been a firm believer in the "No Recycling Rule" with respect to relationships. By "not necessarily followed," I mean "acted in diametric opposition" to said rule.

It all started with my high school boyfriend, Cameron, so named in this blog because years after we stopped serially dating, I finally saw Ferris Bueller's Day Off and realized that my ex-boyfriend Cameron bore a striking resemblance to Bueller's best friend, Cameron Frye. Really, the resemblance is eiry. Looking at that picture now I'm also struck by the fact that Cameron Frye was wearing a Red Wing's jersey, a team that would factor significantly in a later relationship. If only I had seen the signs earlier!

Despite looking like Cameron Frye, I thought Cameron was HOT, and was convinced that we were destined to be together forever. We had been friends through high school and started dating our junior year. Cameron played lacrosse (I still remember his lacrosse shorts), was the Drum Major in the band (which was cool at my school), and had the fortune to be part of a group of guy friends that my best girl friend in high school, Simone, and I used to play pool and drinking games with each weekend. "Asshole" and "Three-man" were our drinking games of choice, and Natty Light or Purple Passion wine coolers, purchased over the border from a gas station in New York on nights when it was necessary in order to evade Connecticut's blue laws, our poison.

Cameron wasn't that smart, wasn't terribly unique, and thought that being high was a fantastic way to experience life, but for some reason (did I mention he was hot?), I fell for him. I was a straight-A student, highly ambitious, and aside for the drinking games, was fairly straight-laced. Clearly, it was a perfect match. Despite our dissimilarities, we had a surprisingly sweet, fun year together in our Junior year, at the end of which, a week or two before summer began - and my job as a life guard with a group of fun, hot lifeguards who also played drinking games - I dumped him. With visions of summer fun dancing before me, it seemed quite clear in my mind that Cameron and I were not in fact destined to be together. We were too different, it would never work out, and it was better for both of us if we parted ways sooner rather than later.

I broke up with Cameron, didn't waste a second thinking about him, wiped my hands of our relationship, and went on to have a fantastic summer full of stories for another time. Everything went swimmingly until Senior year started and I found myself suddenly back at school, interacting with Cameron in band, watching how the younger girls flirted with him while he worked his Drum Major voodoo on them, and hanging out with Cameron as part of our usual group of friends. I started second-guessing my decision to break up with him. He was the Drum Major, I was the Captain of the Flags, he was cute, I was cute, and we had history! What had I done? I spent the remainder of the first semester of my Senior year writing dark love poems about my unrequited (and recently rediscovered) love in between A.P. Calculus and History, and obsessing about ways to get him back.

Allow me to remind you at this point in the story that the object of my somewhat mercurial affections was not terribly smart, not terribly unique, and a pothead to boot. How I went from being perfectly zen about breaking up with him, to somehow convinced that I had made an enormous mistake which had potentially jeopardized my future chance at a magical love that was "supposed to be," is a mystery to me, but that's what happened.

By second semester, I had moved on with another boy who I actually ended up not recycling. Looking back on that relationship, I think I chose not to recycle him because after he pushed me for 5 months to have sex, and after I finally consented to rid myself of my virginal state the night of my graduation after erroneously having decided to spend it with him instead of my girl friends, and finding myself in a less than perfect situation decided to make the best of things by once and for all determining whether sex was all it was cracked up to be, it only lasted for 3 seconds. So much for the undulating golden shores of ecstasy that I had read so much about in my romance novels. We tried a few more times after that, but there was very little to salvage. I broke up with him two weeks later, conveniently just at the start of summer, and never second-guessed the decision.

Flash-forward another fantastic summer, several instances of making out with boys, one broken collar bone, my first year of college, and the beginning of another summer, all the way up to one particular lifeguard party where Cameron suddenly, strangely, and to my great surprise, made a re-appearance in my life.

At first I was merely cordial. We exchanged the standard pleasantries, me with only half my attention on him, the rest of my attention focused on the party and the other people around me. With the passage of time, and the haze of beer-infused memory, the chronology of that night is not wholly clear to me now. All I remember is that at some point I found myself drawn out to the front yard under a tree by Cameron, who proceeded to tell me in broken-boy fashion that he had loved me since Junior year, that we were destined to be together, and that he wanted me back. I remember a cacophony of emotions, including intense feelings of vindication, complete triumph, disbelief and gratitude to the universe for granting me a wish I had long since (thought I had) let go. I also remember a feeling of power. I remember thinking I did this; I wanted it and I made it happen. Ah, the maniacal egotism of youth. If only I could say I didn't find myself thinking similarly now.

So began Phase 2 of the Buttercup & Cameron saga, not to be confused with Phase 2 of Buttercup & Drummer, Phases 2 or 3 of Buttercup & The Evil One, or Phase 2 of Buttercup & EXBF (he who was heretofore named "Raj" on this blog, but obviously no longer bears the right to be called "King" by anyone of my acquaintance).

Phase 2 of the Buttercup & Cameron saga ended as one might imagine it would have, knowing as you all do that Phase 1 ended with Buttercup giving Cameron the boot as a result of serious incompatibilities in their relationship, all of which - of course - reared their ugly little heads again in Phase 2, just as they had in Phase 1 (just as they always do). Shocker. I got my worst grades of college that semester that I dated Cameron. I was taking two science labs and three science courses (I ended up a Women's Studies Major), and hated lab with the white hot intensity of a thousand suns, yet I blame Cameron for my failures that semester. OK, I blame myself, but he most definitely contributed to my lack of studiousness. The final straw came in the form of a party at my apartment, a too-drunk boyfriend getting wasted, a left-over keg, and a groggy, smelly Cameron waking up and declaring it a fine morning to resume drinking. Immediately. I was done. Cameron got the boot a second time.

If it hadn't been for Drummer stirring up memories of the past, I would have stopped my story about Cameron at the end of Phase 2. But, as luck would have it, Drummer waltzed back into my life for the briefest of moments, turned a few emotions topsy-turvey, and inspired me to bust out the journals that I've kept since the age of six. Do you know how surprised I was to discover that Cameron and I had had a brief Phase 3 fling after I had graduated college?

Clearly, I've had a serious problem with recycling in the past. I've let boys in, kicked them out, and then allowed them to remain in my blood. It's an absolutely terrible cycle. And, I can assure you, I was 100% convinced that I was completely broken of this cycle as a result of the debacle that was my relationship with EXBF (previously known as "Raj"). (Bollocks, I don't even want to think of him long enough to come up with another name for him, but I find myself wishing for some point of reference to distinguish him from my other exes. Hmm... Ideas anyone?).

My relationship with EXBF, in which I - lest you've forgotten the sordid details - date him for a year, break up with him, think about him for a year, and then date him again for a year only to have him - gotcha! - break up with me that time around, should have cemented the No Recycling Rule so deeply into my veins that I would never, ever, ever, ever again think about dating another man with whom I had previously been involved.

Eh hem. However, I'll admit it. When I had such a wonderful time the other night seeing Drummer again, and then when he kissed me (hello?, said in Valley Girl accent), I thought about it. Not obsessively, not consistently, and not without substantial reservations, but I thought about it nonetheless. A vision of possibility grazed my mind. My thinking was not helped by the fact that numerous people in my circle of friends and family expressed the following sentiment multiple times, "He was the best one out of everyone you dated," nor was it helped by the fact that Bean had - what she believed was a prophetic - dream in which Drummer and I made out and then ended up riding happily ever after into the sunset.

Tonight, Drummer and I were supposed to grab a drink. For several reasons, it didn't happen. I internally kicked myself for caring, then took out my disappointment on the treadmill. The funny thing is that one of the reasons I had been looking forward to seeing him was so that I could tell him that I thought him kissing me while he had a girlfriend was inconsiderate, not only to her (which he readily admitted), but also to me (which he seemed to have missed). Alas, that will have to wait for another time.

After 3 miles, I felt back to normal, my disappointment abated. It was silly of me to allow myself to contemplate, even for a second, the idea of a Phase 3 with Drummer. If it had been in the stars, surely it would have worked out during Phase 1. I am once again (mostly) firmly resolved in my committment to follow the No Recycling Rule.

I stand ready to crack open a fresh can (or three).


Anonymous said...

Some life lessons we have to learn over and over again, before they stick. Bet you got it this time.

gravelly said...

I hope you DIDN'T get it this time! Drummer might have a very good reason for not making the meeting. I would NOT tell him kissing you was "inconsiderate" really need some advice from Dutch. DUTCH, help me out here!
How do you have time to work???

Willow said...

I so understand what you are saying! I never called it recycling, but that's a great term, which I am stealing to use from now on:) You put into words exactly, things I have gone through myself---This is why I Love your blog sooo much! You're theme is YOU! You make the rest of us realize we aren't going through the same things alone.

Oh, and I used to play Asshole and 3-Man too! I loved playing drinking games back in the day--What a Blast! I'd play these days, but I don't have much of a tolerance anymore:( I could drink like a fish when I was 19/20! LOL

Pas said...

I think it's hard not to recycle unless constrained by geography or other commitments -- otherwise, in the moment, it's hard to find a reason not to.

Having witnessed two bouts of your recycling... seeing you relive EXBF's deficiencies (vis a vie your happiness) all over again ... it occurs to me that maybe Drummer still has his same deficiencies. If you forgot what they are I can remind you. I think your friends (like me) and family recognize that he treated you well... but he didn't quite make you happy enough if I recall correctly.

Sparky Duck said...

asshole, nice memory.

You know it is a possibility that some lessons arent actually supposed to be learned because the cosmos has other plans for it.

Buttercup said...

Ally Bean - I think so.

Gravelly - Kissing me, while he was not free to do so, WAS potentially inconsiderate of my feelings. I'm not saying it was deliberate, but that's how I feel and if we're going to be friends, I will need to express that and clear the air. I've had quite enough of boys giving my feeling short shrift.

Willow - That is a great compliment, that you would find soemthing hear that echoes your own thoughts and feelings. I love that about blogs, and the ability to see into other peoples' worlds. By all means "steal" the "recycling" term! It's so true, right?

Pas - You recall correctly, and at the time we didn't work. But, one wonders about a different time, under different circumstances, after a certain (staggering, if I do say so myself) amount of growth? One (i.e. me) has no idea though, so has pushed it out of one's head.

Sparky - Are you a closet romantic?

Pas said...

Certainly!!!! I didn't mean to foreclose that possibility! Just that it's worth thinking through...

InterstellarLass said...

I think no recycling is a pretty good rule. If I can recall correctly, I only ever recycled one BF, and that was purely for sex, and we both knew it.

Crack all the cans you want Buttercup!

Gypsy said...

The good thing about recycling? You don't have to add any more notches to your bedpost. ;) It's like a freebie.

Candy Minx said...

Oddly...I've been a recycler too...and it really makes me scratch my head looking back on it and readign your post. I think I must have been nuts to keep going out again with a guy that it didn't work out with before....on the other hand it must have been the hopelessly romantic in me that did. The idea that first we didn't make it, then later we reunited our unrequited...blah blah blah.

I think your rule is a good one!

Buttercup said...

Lass - Scandalous!

Gypsy - Of course I should have expected that from you. The funny thing is, you're totally right. Why is it that having sex without getting another notch somehow feels less... charged? I suppose it's because of how much significance everybody places on numbers.

Candyminx - I think I'm like you in that way, hopelessly romantic. It's terrible!