Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Have you ever had to look backward to move forward?

Four years ago . . .

Something drew me to the little fabric shop on Main Street, tucked away in the back corner, practically hidden by a huge vacuum store.  I trudged toward the door, gripped the handle and paused.  Why was I there?
    "Belinda's" was the most expensive fabric store in Northern Utah AND their selection wasn't great--yet there I stood, with some stupid feeling that I needed to be there.
    After going inside, and being blasted by the air conditioner, I sidled up to some watermelon-print fabric near the register.  
    I couldn't concentrate on that fabric though, too distracted from my dreams the night before.  I'd fought with Cade (my husband at the time).   We both went to sleep angry and I'd dreamed about my ex-boyfriend--from ten years before.
    "What's wrong?" the elderly lady at the register asked, pulling down her glasses and studying how I'd literally been petting the watermelon fabric.
    "Oh, my gosh!"  I set the cotton down.  "Just a long night."  I sighed again and then shook my head--seriously what was I doing there?!  I started to walk toward the exit, when the woman cleared her throat.
    "I'm bored.  And I love a good story.  Would you mind telling me what's going on?"
    That woman--who didn't know me AT ALL--pulled up two stools across from each other at the register and selflessly listened to how guilty I felt about fighting and then dreaming about my ex.
    "Why do I dream about my ex?  It's been forever since we were together!  I told one of my friends and she said this isn't normal at all!"
    The woman started laughing so hard, then rested a wrinkled hand on my shoulder.  "Listen.  I'm eighty-five years old.  And what you're going through is completely normal!  Do you have time to hear my story?"
    I nodded, pretty enthralled.
    "My husband died five years ago.  We were happily married for nearly fifty years, but like you, every time we had problems, I started thinking about--or even dreaming about--my old beau from high school."
    "Even after fifty years?" I balked.
    She looked down and nodded.  "Yeah.  So last year, I contacted my old beau.  Things seemed great at first, but guess what happened--I ended up remembering why I broke up with him in high school.  AND he'd never changed.  We broke up for the same reason a lifetime later.  We were still the same core people."
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    I was utterly stunned.
    "My point is: I spent all that time looking back on a man who wasn't worth my time.  I remembered the good and forgot the bad, just to realize I broke up with him in the first place for a reason.  All that time I wasted . . . wondering what if."
    We hugged each other before I left.  And that woman gave me a red sucker, even though I'm a grown woman and everything.
Anyway, four years have passed and I know I'll never forget that woman and her story.  Although I'm not married anymore, I want to hold that woman's moral close.

The past is never where you think you left it.
-Katherine Anne Porter

If you're struggling, looking back to a possibly deluded past, I'd like to leave you with one more quote:
The grass is greener where you water it.


  1. The grass is greener above the septic tank.


  2. That was an interesting read. Something about human nature and our need to bring back certain memories that don't necessarily serve a purpose other than to make us doubt ourselves.

  3. I'm cracking up over what Janie said!!! :) I am happily married and Tony and I rarely fight, and yet I STILL dream of all my old boyfriends. Maybe it's to make me appreciate what I have now, or maybe it's just gas working it's way through my system while I sleep...who knows? All I know is...

    I always take the lolly pop. However, I'm partial to the root beer ones. :)

  4. That's really helpful to me at the moment. Recently I've been dreaming a lot about past lovers... Many thanks!

  5. Janie always has such insightful answers! LOL! I think when things aren't going so well, it's human nature to wish for what you don't have, even though the reality of it may be completely different from what you romanticize in your head.

  6. I think the past is right where you leave it...that is why you leave it there. You need not revisit it to know what it is about, but it remains with you just the same.

  7. Dear Elisa, this posting and it's quotations can help me put Minnesota in perspective if only I'm willing to let go of my edited version of what life there was like! Thank you. Peace.

  8. I stole that from Erma Bombeck. She was hilarious. I'm a poser.


  9. Im glad I read this again. Such an enlifting story.

  10. I saw you on FB and commented on your beautiful FB post about not wearing make up. I was introduced to your blog by Juli [above] who has been a dear internet friends for years. She's the best.

    And I can tell, so are you. I wish you well in all you have happening. And for what it's worth, I have been with my husband for 19 years, and although I never dreamed about an ex boyfriend [they weren't worthy] I used to have bad dreams about my first husband. It was awful. I didn't miss him obviously, but it had to do with the kids, etc. When he passed away 10 years ago the dreams stopped immediately. I swear.

    I think we all dream about what we are thinking during the day [even subconsciously] and they manifest at night. It isn't a flaw or wrong. It just is. And you made the lady made the most valid point - she knows now why they broke up. Perhaps that's why I never dreamed about my two previous boyfriends. They weren't worth it.

    Again, I do wish you well. You and your children are just beautiful and deserve all the happiness and great blessings this life can bring you.