I'm a pack rat for all things that will tie me to some memory of the past. And it used to irritate the hell out of my old roommate Leo. When he'd help me load milk crates of my possessions during a move, he'd pick every single thing apart.
Leo: Okay, why in God's name do you have this?
So@24: That's a squirt gun my first crush in 4th grade used to spray me
Leo: I can't believe you still have this old picture of you and I. Did we really think it was acceptable to wear socks with our Samba sandals?
So@24: It's memories, man.
Leo: Oh fuck! What the hell is this??
So@24: It's a piece of a gingerbread house Lynn and I made once.
Leo: Dude. Throw this away.
So@24: No. Memories.
I'm the guy who stays in constant contact with his elementary school friends. I hate the idea of people who were once close just forgetting each other because of time. It's always been a quirk of mine that's very distinctive to me.
* * *
When I was at Chardy's party, I was anxiously awaiting another incoming drunk text from Dizzy. My cellphone beeped at me, declaring that the "Inbox was Full". I felt it was a good of time as any to clear out the bad boy.
I came toward the end of my list, I found a text message from a number I didn't recognize. A 503 area code. Well, that could have been anyone from my hometown. It was from the beginning of the year, a really nice text which is probably why I had such a difficult time deleting it:
hey you. it was great seeing you, i'm only sad that you live so far. miss you.
"Huh," my drunk ass thought to myself. "Who the hell is this?" I couldn't for the life of me figure out who it could be. So naturally, I texted the number:
Who the hell is this?
I never got a response back. But my goldfish memory didn't think twice about it for the remainder of the night. I was too busy making an ass out of myself (via text) to Dizzy anyway.
* * *
The mystery would not be solved until the next morning. I awoke to the sun piercing through my blinds disturbing my dull hangover and my cellphone vibrating on my chest
1 text message from the mystery number:
Goddammit, So@24. The answer was so clear in hindsight; I just haven't thought about Beth in "for. ev. er." (said like Michael "Squints" Palledorus). I had deleted her from my contacts after our last encounter and never looked back. But her number was saved due to an old forgotten text message I saved this whole time.
I took a moment to just think.
My friend once told me of this "Bucket Theory". I'll butcher it I'm sure, but basically it states that everyone is essentially a bucket filled with liquid. It takes a little bit of our liquid to be friends with people in our lives. We give our liquid, our friends take our liquid; it's a balance.
Unfortunately, there are those people we let enter our circle who take more liquid than give of their own and it never balances out. This is when you need to let these people go.
This is especially hard for me, keeping in mind my personality and how much I like to value memories and the past.
I took it a step further. This is something that I need to get used to; something that becomes normal in the dating world. You can't always stay friends with everyone who meant something to you at some point. Sometimes it fades for reasons out of your control and you're doing a disservice to yourself by hoping things will turn around.
It's interesting to go back and think about my time with Beth. We had some great times; she was extremely important at a point in my life... there was time when I thought that she would be my next relationship. But when you grow up, your friends need to be more than just the kid down the street who also an unnatural obsession with Army Ants. It has to be something more. Beth took and never gave.
People have learned how to do this before during the crucial dating years. It's nothing new to people my age, it's what you just do. You can date someone and share some pretty fucking intimate moments, say some pretty fucking intimate things, but something goes wrong and you might never speak to that person again. I guess this is something I'm just getting used to now. I can't always hold on for holding on's sake.
It took me awhile to really think about what I wanted to say back. I didn't want her to think I wanted to reconnect or that I was extending the olive branch. But I also didn't want to come off as a total dick. I ultimately decided on this:
Sorry, I was clearing out my inbox and didn't recognize the number.
Hope things are well.
Hope things are well.
I hit send and deleted that old text message. I doubt I'll hear from her again.
I let her go.