Yesterday, I happened to be driving around at midday. As I toodled from place to place, I caught a wee snippet of an interview on “Here & Now” with a man named Moses Gates. Apparently Mr. Gates has written a book all about exploring the hidden parts of cities and destinations, the places that are closed off from the average visitor.
It sounds like an interesting book, though the preservationist in me recoils a bit from the opening snippet (linked above) in which the author describes gaining access to the bell in Notre Dame by climbing up the outside of the cathedral. That doesn’t seem… good for the architecture?
Rather than conjure up images of dark and mysterious nooks in the catacombs of Paris, however, the discussion brought to mind one of my exes. In Russell’s Cavalcade of Idiotic Romances, the one I had with him would probably qualify as the Most Idiotic. It was marked by a distressingly high [emotional drama]: [hours spent in actual relationship] ratio, and when I lamented its demise on a wound-licking trip out West to visit my brother it was all he could do to choke back his obvious incredulity that I could engage in a romance so inane. (It should also be noted that a certain best friend Never Liked Him.)
I shall call him Jude.
Rest assured that I would rather drip various household solvents into self-inflicted paper cuts than go into the details of one of my old, doomed flings. Suffice it to say that if I had dedicated all the hours I spent mooning about this guy to reading instead I’d be able to discuss the conclusion of “In Search of Lost Time” with authority.
Jude was a bright and inquisitive guy. He liked going places and exploring and learning about the world. He had traveled all over the place and seemed so very fascinating when I met him. At the time, I was a resident at Major City Hospital and he was a student at the affiliated medical school. And one of the first things we ever did together was explore the old, forgotten and unused rooms of the famous place where we had met.
I don’t know how he first came to explore them himself. Perhaps it’s a pastime of the medical students there to do so. I never asked. For whatever reason, he knew how to get to a bunch of dusty old rooms, full of ancient wheelchairs and other cast-off bits of medical equipment from time gone by.
It doesn’t sound cool in my retelling. But it was really cool, I promise. It was cool taking a peek into a dim little cranny of a long-ago part of the City’s life, one that nobody else would think to explore.
A laughably short time later our relationship went “ka-blooey,” after which I spent an even-more-laughably protracted period listening to “The Globe Sessions” in the dark in my apartment drinking red wine and tormenting friends with my inability to get over the guy already. If I were given the opportunity to travel back in time and slap a past self on the back of the head for being an idiot, this time period would be a strong contender for the first stop in my personal TARDIS.
But I got to see something hidden and secret and vaguely magical because of him. He gets credit for that one happy thing, which I would otherwise almost certainly have missed.
So that’s this week’s Question — think of an ex, and name something good that came out of the relationship no matter what a shitshow it might otherwise have been. (You are allowed to pick past relationships that weren’t a total shitshow, of course.) What’s an experience you’re grateful to have had, no matter the fallout that otherwise ensued thanks to that reprobate/termagant? What memory can you still smile at when you grit your teeth recalling everything else?