There’s a quote inspired by Shakespeare on the Washington Monument that reads, “What is past is prologue.”
We learn from the trials and tribulations of our past and move on, taking what we’ve learned in stride and using it to help prevent the same things from happening again. Our pasts are our foundations: everything that happens in our lives just builds up, layer after layer, like a sloppy birthday cake made by your best friends that just manages to be held together by sticky Pillsbury icing from Rite Aid.
Like tiers of a cake, different layers of our pasts can’t just be plucked out and switched around on a whim – otherwise the entire structure would be imbalanced, messy and in a state of complete destruction. It would look even more awkward than it already did, with uneven icing layers and amateur frosted script. To make us the people we are now, things had to happen in a certain order, for better or for worse.
But what happens when, out of the blue, one of the lowest layers of your cake becomes enchanted and tries to rearrange itself or tries to duplicate itself on top of everything else you’ve already begun to bake and decorate?
I’ve never seen an enchanted cake, so I don’t think we’ll have a real answer to that. But for the sake of metaphor, I’ll say things would get extremely complicated really quickly.
Just as I promised myself to shift my focus to topics not-so sexually based, the very base of my teetering relationship cake popped up out of nowhere – four years after conception, expecting to get back on top of things. I’m pretty bad at keeping promises.
My first boyfriend, who I’ll refer to as Stan, swept me off my feet. He picked me up from school every day in his beat-up, Barney-purple Honda – not because he was in college and had the extra time, but because he was expelled from his public high school (and had the extra time). He would take me to the local outdoor mall and hold my hand until he felt an itch to smoke. He took me to all-ages hardcore shows…that I had to pay for. I guess my standards were pretty low when I had nothing else to compare him to.
I took pictures on what ended up being my favorite night with Stan: our silhouettes glow yellow from the parking lot lights that illuminated the backseat we layed in. We lounged, listening to “Passenger Seat” because we had nothing else to do and nowhere else we would have rather been. It was simple, but I was so happy at the time. I thought it was the perfect date. Little did I know, it would become my last pleasant memory of him.
After that night, Stan completely ignored me for a week — not a returned phone call, not a single instant message. I had no idea if he was dead or alive or if I had just done something to set his unpredictable temper off. He finally called me out of the blue to say he’d been up in the mountains, drinking Bud Light every night and thinking about how his life was less complicated when he didn’t have to spend time teaching me things I didn’t know yet.
“I don’t have time to give you experience,” he said.
“I’ll learn,” I promised. And as the sobs came tumbling out of my trembling lips, he hung up on me.
I guess he decided four years was long enough for me to gain enough experience for him because Stan randomly decided he wanted to be my Facebook friend, asking me for my phone number and telling me I’ve managed to change in all of the right ways. Is this normal, or is this yet another case of a secretly embedded crazy magnet in my body? Either way, as charming as it may be, it pisses me off.
It doesn’t make any sense for Stan to try reconnecting with someone who has matured enough to know not to believe the, for lack of a better term, BS. Plus, I live hundreds of miles away from my old Kentucky home now, so I’ve shortened any chances for him weaseling himself back into my life from 52 weeks to only one – not that I’d want to get back with him at all. He’s managed to change in none of the ways I wanted him to.
Stan belongs on the bottom of my tiers. Granted, this layer consists of cigarette butts, money he owes me and crushed coffee cups, but it’s a foundation nevertheless. Changing his place in my relationship cake would completely change everything else: layers would crumble in on themselves, have totally different ingredients, spontaneously combust. And, as much as parts of it may suck, I wouldn’t alter a single layer. I’m pretty happy with the pastry chef I’ve become.
So, it’s time to delete that name and number, ignore those Facebook messages and put Stan back in his rightful place at the beginning. Besides, I actually do have a man in my life right now. His name is Insomnia Cookies, and he’s probably not going to be too happy that I used a metaphor involving a different baked good.
Libby Peck can be reached at email@example.com.