Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Letter to an Old Flame

I wish you’d move away.

There: I said it. I know it’s selfish, unfair and unreasonable, given that you were here first by a year or two. But when I run into you, or see you across a crowded room at an event -- as I did last week -- my blood runs cold. It would be nice to be able to take a walk on the Upper West Side without wondering whether I’ll run into you, and be relieved of the awkward shadow of your presence.

I still think about you sometimes. When I look at the pictures of Spain, I get wistful and a little sad. So much sun and youthful energy, red wine and gazpacho -- before we both became New Yorkers, before things got too complicated! (I almost never look at the Paris pictures. By then you were changing, and there were too many sharp edges.)

As strange as it was to have to break contact with you -- something I hadn’t done before or since, with anyone else -- it was necessary. We saw our friendship in such different ways. Our last meeting, not long after 9/11, made me realize that. There was a sort of angry cruelty couched in the friendliness. You were smiling, but your words were knives.

I hope you’re happy now, I really do. But I’m better off without you. Happier and less tormented, definitely. So forgive me, and please understand, when I say I hope I don't see you again.

I think you probably feel the same way. I guess this is what's called "moving on."

(Photo: Weathered street art, Meatpacking District, Jan. 2008)


  1. What a beautiful post. Thank you.

  2. Steve, that hurts my heart to read. I don't know what to say, except that I admire you. Thanks.

  3. What a fabulous post! It doesn't hurt my heart though - this is what life is - the good AND the bad, and, in the end, it's ALL GOOD. Running from the darkness prevents your identity from unfolding. The Steve you are, you are, in part, because of this experience - and we LOVE the Steve you are!

  4. This is a challenge you can meet though, look forward to to the next time you see this person, and be extra extra nice--and be extra happy-- it will change everything, I'm telling you--it will. It isn't easy, and it may seem a bit fake, but once you do that, you feel truly happy. ( and free!)

  5. I don't mean play his game, but by looking to run into him, it will take the discomfort out of being in the neighborhood, and his knives? just know he is using them because he is pathetic. Once you see him as pathetic, he won't have any power.

  6. Thanks for the post. I feel the same way. My "x" lives in my town and it hurts.

    I keep thinking of the Buddha saying something like "drop a burning stick" but "x" just sits there and sears me.

    YOur photos are great.

  7. wow. i felt this and never had the gift to express it as admirably straight. and the wistfulness, sadness and the many contrast.

  8. Steve, it felt sad to read this again. You are so beautiful.