I remember the young men I was in love with once. I remember things I liked about them, how they made me feel, sometimes even how nice they smelled. I remember quiet love, tender love, innocence, passion, all those things. I remember some things just working against us, like time, or age, or our parents, or conflicting personalities and/or goals.
And when I think of these men, something inside me whispers, Yes, I do still love them. They were special. They were part of me, part of my youth, part of my growth. It doesn't matter that things didn't work out. That doesn't make the emotions I felt any less real.
A wise man once told me that even though he and his first wife had divorced, it did not mean he stopped loving her, or that he loved his second wife any less. It only meant that he and his first wife were not able to get along, not able to communicate in a way that would make them a harmonious family.
I thought about that today, when I saw a man I had deep feelings for once, but who was never really my boyfriend. I suppose you could say we were friends, but really, he was my sunshine during a depressing time in my life. He always knew how to make me feel better. It doesn't matter why it never went further than that, because what we had was overwhelmingly positive and lovely.
I delighted in seeing him today, in joking around with him and two others our age; we were all young together once, all friends, all part of the same church, all part of each other's lives. Was I there for the nostalgia? Or for a love that has never left me? Or for both? I don't know. He is married now, as am I. I don't hold any foolish ideas about feelings he might have for me, and I have no expectations. It was enough, I think, to see him for a few minutes, to laugh with him, to stand in the hallway with our old buddies and have odd conversation.
Then I had to run, because my husband and daughters were waiting in the van. And I was happy to go to them, just as I had been happy to remain in the hall.