Saw my old lover in a grocery store…

I spent 10 years wondering what happened to my high school boyfriend after he went to jail.

I had loved him in that deep, drowning way 17-year-olds do.

His family was poor and fractured, and his talent and intelligence went to waste as he was forced to do whatever he could to help keep his mother’s electricity from being turned off.

His father was living in the van he sold drugs out of in front of the laundromat.

I share this, because I will always argue that he was a good boy in a bad circumstance. He was just a sweet boy.

About a year after high school he was arrested for drug possession.

We wrote each other before he was moved to a drug rehab facility in Sacramento. He was not allowed contact with people from home. That’s when I lost him.

A couple of years later I did my semester in Mexico and found someone else. The next year I got a reporting assignment in Hawaii and met my husband. I fell into that deep, drowning love adults have.

Despite having moved on from my teen heartbreak, I wondered. I didn’t know where he ended up. I expected to hear he’d died.

About a year after we moved from Boulder back to my hometown, I saw him at the grocery store. I was on my way home from a workout, and looked sloppy in a baggy T-shirt and pony tail.

I squinted at him approaching in the aisle, thinking he looked familiar. Then I recognized his mother. If he had been alone, I might have walked by. He wasn’t a boy anymore, and I didn’t know him as a man.

I froze, right in front of the pasta. I whispered his name questioningly to myself — maybe it wasn’t even out loud. Then he passed by me and I was sure. I spun around and called it.

He turned around.

Then he crushed me. He said, “I thought that was you. I don’t have my glasses on –”

He wears glasses?

“– but when I heard your voice, I knew for sure. You were talking to that lady giving out cheese samples.”

That lady was in the entrance. He had known I was in the store the whole time, and wasn’t going to say anything.

His mom left us to finish shopping. I told him I was married with two kids and working in journalism. He told me he had recently spent six years in prison and had a child he wasn’t allowed to see. He said for a short time he had a nice truck. He might get a job at a furniture factory.

I was sad for his past, but excited for his job prospect. He seemed cautious. Did he think I would look down on him? This crushed me some more. I had always seen only the best in him.

I told him I had tried to find him. I tried for years. I told him I had thought of him often. I was genuinely thrilled to see him looking so strong and healthy. And alive, I thought but didn’t say.

He said he had to go, and he walked off. I never saw him again.

It was my very own Same Old Lang Syne.

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7 Responses to “Saw my old lover in a grocery store…”

  1. roberto Says:

    >He had known I was in the store the whole time, and wasn’t going to say anything.

    That happens to me all the time. I know people see and recognize me, but they never acknowledge it. I used to give them a chance to make eye contact, but now I don’t even try and just think “fuck ’em”.

  2. Adverb humor « Stories O’ Mine Says:

    […] also my High School Boyfriend’s birthday, the boyfriend from The Trumpet Story’s birthday and the copy editor from The Palm […]

  3. Rhonda Says:

    I’ve got one of these too. Too painful to even think about.

  4. Adverb humor « Stories O' Mine Says:

    […] also my High School Boyfriend’s birthday, the boyfriend from The Trumpet Story‘s birthday and the copy editor from The Palm […]

  5. My ex-boyfriends « Stories O' Mine Says:

    […] really only bring this up to point out that not all my boyfriends ended up in prison. Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)My […]

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    […] really only bring this up to point out that not all my boyfriends ended up in prison. Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)My […]

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    […] really only bring this up to point out that not all my boyfriends ended up in prison. GA_googleAddAttr("AdOpt", "1"); GA_googleAddAttr("Origin", "other"); […]

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