A to Z Challenge Letter X
eXes and Woes
Clotilde Delsapo looked at the caller I.D. on her cell phone. She didn’t usually pick-up when she didn’t recognize the number, but the area code was from her old hometown, so she did. “Hey, hellooo,” said the playful voice on the other end. “Hi, what’s up?” she responded tentatively. She knew who it was. The call was unexpected, but somehow she was not surprised. It had been about three years since their last conversation. At that time Laurence Olivier Madioti was getting ready to settle down again. It was always the same story, and she’d come to understand this was going to be the last phone call – for a while. “I’ve learned so much from the past. She and I have so much in common. She has wonderful qualities. I’ve good a good feeling about this.” To which Clotilde would politely reply, “Great news; All the best. Really hope it works out this time.”
Now, he was rambling about how difficult it had been to find Clotilde’s phone number again. He wanted her new address to send his recent book. He was looking to get her feedback. “It’s different from what I’ve written before. I think you’ll like it.” Clotilde hesitated but shrugged, sure why not she thought, and she answered without emotion. “1300 Mockingbird Road, Paradise, Florida.” To which he responded. “Great, I’m here for a graduation, but I’ll send it as soon as I get back.” After a bit more mindless chatter, he added that he was single again. “Let’s just say we had irreconcilable differences.” Clotilde didn’t bother to feign shock but replied. “Wow, too bad. Sorry to hear it.”
Today Laurence O. Madioti was calling after a third long-term relationship fell apart. It had been 13 years since they had gone their separate ways but each time a relationship had ended, he called with a similar story. “I think I made a mistake.” Each time it started to sound as if he had regretted that their liaison ended the way it did. She listened carefully, but the words she waited to hear didn’t come. After a while, they were just friends again, former colleagues shooting the breeze.
A couple of weeks later he had called her again to let her know he was heading home at the end of the week. “Why don’t you pack a bag and come with me for a bit. We always have a great time together.” She shook her head and laughed at him. “Some things never change” she gently chided. “I didn’t mean it like that. You sound like you need a vacation. You can stay at the guest house. There is a pool, and it’s walking distance to the beach.” She didn’t know why she didn’t just say no, that’s a bad idea. Why was she always careful not to hurt his feelings? Instead, she explained that she couldn’t leave now. “Sounds like a great place though.” She would let him know when she could visit; after all, they were still “friends.”
She didn’t know why they remained “friends” for all these years. Maybe it was something about forgiving those that wronged you, not because they deserve it, but because you deserve peace. It seemed to have worked. She was at peace, and hindsight gave her a better understanding of their past history.
They had met over thirty years ago when they worked at Allen, Bradford, and Jones. Together they led an up-and-coming team breaking barriers and maximizing productivity, making it one of the most successful teams in the company’s history. In the midst of success, as they say at Disney, there occurred a Tale as old as time, True as it can be, Barely even friends, Then somebody bends, Unexpectedly… Neither one remembered precisely when or why things changed between them, but they did. It became their secret for many years after.
Some time ago, Clotilde realized that she had finally reached a place where it didn’t hurt anymore. She accepted what she had known all along but had refused to let it surface to her conscious thoughts. She had misinterpreted that friendly relationship. It was as simple as that. She was able to close that chapter and look back at the story as if it were a bad rom-com. She felt relief, her spirit was light, and she was at peace with herself and the world.
Laurence O. was a great guy as far as “friends” go. He was giving, supportive and loyal. A person knew he could be counted on to always have your back in a troubling situation. He was smart, funny, articulate and cultured. He spoke four languages fluently, had traveled extensively and could recite poems and sonnets by heart. He wasn’t handsome in the usual way, but there was an attractive, confident air about him. Women and men both admired him. They considered themselves lucky to be counted among his friends.
One could also say that Laurence Olivier Madioti was an incurable romantic in a temperamental way. He was the personification of the ads found in the personals. He loved walking on a moonlit beach, and dinners by candlelight accompanied with good music at a fine restaurant. He was also an excellent cook and enjoyed entertaining at his place. He loved picnics, red roses, and fruity red wine. He was an expert at helping to release the tensions of the day whether with a shoulder massage or cuddling on the couch watching a silly romantic comedy.
Unfortunately, although he said he longed for a stable relationship, Laurence Madioti had been unable to transition to happily-ever-after. After the second post-break-up call, Clotilde had told him that it appeared that he was in love with the idea of LOVE, the conquest, and romance. He had studied the novels, memorized the poems and watched romantic movies. Others would say that once the thrill of the chase was gone and things started to feel mundane, Laurence would find the nearest exit. For all his intelligence and insight, a part of him expected that once he found “the one,” the stars would align and life would be perfect for all eternity.
In the weeks that followed the book’s arrival, Laurence O. continued to call or email regularly. They would talk about the book, politics, and weather. They didn’t take that walk down memory lane. Clotilde could hear the uncertainty in his conversations, sometimes overstepping the boundaries of friendship. She found it sad that sometimes it was as if they were strangers with very little in common after all these years. She wondered if he felt the same. She had thought to bring it up because she didn’t want to continue this shallow friendship.
Clotilde wished they were face to face. At some point, she began to feel awkward about the phone conversations or video calls. It was not the same something was lacking. She didn’t know what but could not speak her mind. She had decided to go to visit him to end this semblance of friendship but then thought better of it. What if she felt different when she saw him in person, after having him in her arms from the obligatory hug between friends? What if she got lost in his the dark pools in his eyes or felt faint from the smell of his skin next to hers? What if she was flooded with a rush of all the emotions she had managed to put away for so long. She didn’t want to muddy the waters. She would wait. If history repeats itself, he would soon be on the mend from the broken heart and would get too busy to call.
And so it was. The calls stopped abruptly, and after several weeks, Clotilde sent an email to confirm her hunch. “Yes, he said sheepishly. We are in the beginning stages, but I have a good feeling about this.” Clotilde politely responded “Great news; All the best. Really hope it works out this time.”