The dilemma of living in the past

By Kelli Stevens

I have a friend who has kept every greeting card she’s ever received. I have another friend who barely tears the envelope before tossing its contents. Each of these habits is demonstrative of a particular worldview. While some people struggle to hold onto the past and, as the cliche goes, “keep their memories alive,” there are just as many people who push forward into the future without ever looking back.

Not surprisingly–given the nature of this column–these ways of looking at the world can be applied to dating and relationships. This application became glaringly obvious in the face of two recent phone calls.

After a night out, my roommate and I each received calls from our past. If you’re thinking these calls came from former flames you’re on the right track. Apparently, booty calls ‘r’ us.

For a few reasons, my roommate refused her action offer. First of all, she had already declined this guy’s advances earlier that evening. Secondly, he had his friend make the call for him (hint: if you are bold enough–or drunk enough–to put the proposal on the table, you should probably be bold enough to make it yourself). Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, as the girl who throws out all birthday cards, Christine saw no reason to revisit a part of her past that has long been over.

As for me, I wasn’t home when the phone rang, so I didn’t have to make any choices (this also meant I had an entertaining message to listen to the next day). Had I been forced to respond, however, I’m not sure what would have happened. Admit it–if you haven’t already been "reunited" with an ex, you’ve certainly given the possibility some thought.

I see Christine’s point, what’s in the past should stay in the past. After all, there is a reason I’m not still seeing the guy who left the (very amusing) message. On the other hand, accepting the offer could have been a fun way to pass time and there would have been no surprises or questions of ability. We also wouldn’t have had to deal with the awkwardness that comes to newly "hooked-up" couples via "great sexpectations."

With these conflicting arguments in mind, I made a trip to Vancouver. Interestingly, this city is home to another fling from my past. Knowing I had one or two free nights during my stay, I began a debate whether I should contact this guy or not, whether I should make a booty call of my own.

I knew if the call were successful I would be in for a noteworthy night. But the debate raged on, especially as I contemplated my fear of rejection, the time that had lapsed since I last saw him and, most importantly, the following question: what would be the point of calling? There is no future with the Vancouverite. When you get right down to it, there isn’t even much of a past–certainly not one I’m very impressed with or proud of.

All in all, I figured that although history often repeats itself, there are steps we can take to move forward toward a (hopefully) better informed, wiser and more comfortable existence. With that in mind and knowing I had numerous other ways to spend my evenings, I decided against making ‘The Call’–this time.

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