This morning when I logged into Facebook, one of the first things that scrolled down my newsfeed was a photo of an adorable newborn child. My eyes and brain did a double take when I read who had posted it: Harlequin Hero. Surely it’s not…
“Congrats to the new Papa.”
“Since when were you having a kid?”
As I read through the comments, two things became crystal clear: One, my former flame who has slid in and out of my life for years was now the father to a baby. Two, I was not the only one who was thrown for a loop by the news. It was just a couple months ago that he had announced officially to FB that he was “in a relationship.”
The last time the Harlequin Hero and I crossed paths in November, I ran into him in the bar where we first had met three years earlier. I was with the Gentle Giant at the time…you remember him, the guy who talked like my boyfriend and acted like my boyfriend, but a couple months in claimed he wasn’t my boyfriend—no, not the European man of my dreams who is texting me to FaceTime as I am typing this right now; the other guy who did that when it didn’t hurt me as much as befuddle me.
Anyway, back then GG and I were a cozy couple still fairly early on in dating, snuggled next to one another at a table at the bar/restaurant while watching what would be the first of many New England Patriots games together. I got up to go to the bathroom at the back of the bar when I saw the last face I expected to see back in that place: Harlequin Hero’s.
His hair was long and hanging in his face again. He had just turned 40 and retired from motocross, which came as a surprise after our talks about his desires to come back with a big bang before he was too old to continue the sport. Still, I supposed it was rounding that time in his life, and he’d had some great successes in the last year.
HH kept giving me big hugs, though he was clearly distracted. He said he had just run into a childhood best friend he hadn’t seen in decades. He kept exclaiming with surprise how great it was to see him and how little he’d changed to me, his mom and stepdad and the others with him at their table. Then, he’d pull me in for another hug. I kept wondering if GG could see me from that far away and what on earth he would think of this.
I remember there was a woman with them at the table whom I had never seen before. In her late ‘30s, probably, with short hair, typical closed-off face of the small-town girl who hasn’t tasted much of the outside world, I remember thinking. (Hey, she didn’t smile at me when I smiled at her.) I wondered what her deal was, but as I hugged HH’s mom, I wasn’t introduced. She definitely didn’t look like she would be HH’s type just from a surface glance, but clearly, what did I know. After we’d had our tender fling way back when, he’d gone back to the fiancée who had stomped all over his heart in the first place.
It turns out that this girl whom I thought wasn’t his type is now the mother of his child. I typed a quick line of congrats on FB, but I couldn’t get over the news while I was taking my shower. Was it really just a couple months ago that we’d exchanged texts about his need for a SoloAt30 hug?
Last December he texted me about a random UConn game, asking if I was there. When we dated, same time of year, we watched several live, college basketball games together and he knew from FB that GG and I had seen a game together recently. He said the girl singing the anthem reminded him of me.
Three days later he texted me: “What’s up with that branch over your driveway?” It had been dangling precariously over the driveway since the bad October storm. “86 that thing already!”
Teasingly, I replied, “Are you really driving by house just for the chance to see my lovely face? Haha. You are going to have the branch issue up with my dad. :)”
I went on to say something more about how whether he still thought this was only powerful attraction, that I though he was cheating himself out of the potential for more by not even keeping up the friendship we’d rekindled when his sister’s life tragically ended two years ago. He’d eventually moved back home permanently, buying a house less than two miles from mine. We’d christened the futon in his garage after he painted the walls of his house.
Later in that crazy blizzard of a winter, he shocked me by showing up with his snow blower and start clearing away the driveway, simply asking for a hug or two or three in return. There would be texts exchange about what was it we had between us. It wasn’t simply physically chemistry, was it? And we both finally seemed to be looking to move forward to something deeper and more permanent in our lives.
Yet in the end, as always we were off on the timing. Either he wasn’t ready or I assumed he wasn’t so I moved forward in frustration. He was always leading a separate life regardless.
And then, the momentum was lost.
“You will be satisfied to know The Branch is gone,” I wrote him in January.
“No I won’t,” he said. “No hug.”
Laughingly, I wrote: “You can come suck up the saw dust?”
And that was it. Nothing since then. No mention of his girlfriend or their child to come. I asked him today if he had also failed to mention a wedding. He said no bells.
My mom wonders if this is like the situation my ex, The Bulldog, got into. After we broke up and he ran into me and my new boyfriend six months later, he was extremely upset and hooked up with our neighbor whom he accidentally got pregnant. They did their best to try to make a relationship work on-and-off-again for three or four years for the sake of the child between them, though after I found out the news, The Bulldog told me in tears that he still loved me and didn’t know if our story was even done yet. I firmly told him he needed to focus on this new relationship and this new life that they had planted if they wanted any hope at trying to make it work.
Years later, The Bulldog came calling back to me for emotional comfort and physical release, of course, and his ex told me she now understood all the craziness I’d left behind.
But I suspect HH sincerely wanted a baby. He is 40 now and feels it’s time. It is also that same time of year that he lost his sister and a year ago, his other sister had twins around the same time. I know it’s not a coincidence that his family is bringing new life in this season as part of their healing.
And it really seems like this woman could complement HH, and she is leagues better than his former fiancée. I just find it curious he didn’t marry her before the baby was born, why the child has her last name, when she seems to be at least somewhat a part of his wonderfully close-knit family already. But then life is full of surprises.