It all began long before it actually happened. It was sparked by a dream I’d had, seemingly out of nowhere. A dream that showcased everything I ever wanted. A dream that I woke up from feeling lost, hollow and longing for a reality that I hadn’t even realized I wanted up until that point. A dream that for weeks on end, its memories, its feelings I could not shake out of my consciousness. A dream I couldn’t stop thinking about. A dream that I knew I had to confront sooner, rather than later, to prove to myself that that dream had just simply been a foolish dream after all.
“I’m going to wish Seth Grady a happy birthday,” I texted my best friend Cynthia one morning as I walked across the parking lot on my way to work. When I woke up that morning, I’d decided that if I actually told someone about my plan, it would be more real. I’d be more able to commit to it.
“Ohhhh,” Cynthia replied instantly, nondescriptly. “When’s his birthday?”
“In six weeks,” I texted back, shamelessly assured that if anyone could understand the method to my irrational madness, it would be Cynthia. She knew the back story, the feelings, and could emphasize better than anyone else. She wasn’t even phased when I revealed that I’d already taken the time to word the perfect birthday wish.
“Happy birthday to the biggest dick I know,” I typed into the private message window on Facebook chat to Seth, six weeks later. Despite my shaky hands, I was overly pleased with myself. It truly was the perfect message to get Seth’s attention. It worked to honestly stroke his ego, and steathily acknowledge the fact that the last time we’d talked, he’d treated me poorly. But at the same time, the casualness of the entire message proved that I was over it. Kind of. I added a winky face for leverage.
I sat at my desk between classes, wondering if I should send the birthday wish or not. I recognized the message’s potential to open a huge can of worms. Neither of us had attempted contact in about two years. I’d even felt compelled to inform my boyfriend Paul the night before that I was wishing Seth a happy birthday. Paul seemed fine with it, but I’d conveniently left out the actual wording of the message. He probably wouldn’t be as fine with that. But he just didn’t understand. I needed to say something to catch Seth’s attention. He never could resist a good pun.
At least, I hoped he couldn’t. That was part of my fear in sending the birthday wish in the first place. What if I sent the text, he read it, and simply didn’t reply? I’d be crushed. It would kill me. It would confirm that the bad stuff that happened before was still alive and well. Festering. The dreams would continue. I couldn’t have that. I needed to be present in my relationship. I needed closure.
With one minute until class started, I pressed send and turned my phone away from me and placed it on the furthest part of my desk, against the wall. As I walked to class memories of the last time I’d texted him popped into my head. Drunk texting him on New Years Eve about how hurt I was, was a serious low point. Then, I’d sobered up a few hours later and blocked and deleted him from the app before my rambles were apparently delivered. I hoped they’d gotten lost in instant messaging limbo. To this day, I still don’t know if they went through. If he read them. If he even remembered them if he had read them.
I couldn’t bring myself to check my phone until after my last class. I’d just about convinced myself it’d be better if he simply read my message and didn’t reply. That’d be a form of closure in itself. But when I flipped over my phone, lit up the screen and discovered that Seth Grady had replied with a winky face of his own, I began to breathe more heavily. My heart began to beat more quickly. My whole world started to spin.
I couldn’t bring myself to read the rest of his message until after my long drive home. I finally worked up the courage after I was safe on my couch and clicked on the two unread message icons. The first was a winky face, much larger than the one I’d sent him, which he followed up with, “thanks Alexis! How are you?”
And just like that relief washed over me. Up until that point, I had no conscious awareness of how badly I needed to know that Seth Grady didn’t hate me. That despite everything that had happened between us, that we were still cool. I instantly felt better about the past two years of my life. I smiled widely as I replied.
We talked all night. It was the best conversation we had had in years. It felt like when we first met, chatting about life over MSN. Only now our lives had changed. They’d evolved. Far past high school and even beyond our university fears. We were both working decent jobs in downtown Leafton, only a few subway stops away from each other! It was kind of surreal how we’d both gotten our shit together since that one night in July, which felt so long ago now. Our conversation flowed so naturally, it was as if there hadn’t been a gap in our friendship at all.
When we wished each other good night that night, I was filled with an all encompassing calm. One that I hadn’t felt in years. Everything with Grady was fine. The dreams would stop. I’d made a risky decision that morning, but it had been the right decision after all. Now, I wouldn’t feel the need to contact him ever again. It was over. I had succeeded in getting the closure I needed so badly. I could now go into the new year Seth Grady free.