Through some great email exchanges since, I've learned that Avi did all of what he once told me he planned to do in life: travel at length, study history at university, and become a teacher. He now teaches disadvantaged, inner-city youth in Tel Aviv and studies and writes about liberalism and secularism. Only my favorite topics. Turns out he's quite a smarty. He's cool, yet compassionate. My heart skips a beat when his name appears in my inbox. Though we’ve toyed with the notion of meeting again one day, it is clear neither of us is going to pursue it any further. To what end? But we keep writing; we keep checking in on each other.
And I have learned much about myself and my relationships in revisiting my past, namely:
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How we change over time and can be left with an ill-fitting relationship as a result; how we must let our partners in on our metamorphoses and give them space to learn to love the new us and ask them for space to find new things to love in them—or suffer the consequences.
How after years of depression or running from aspects of ourselves, when we rediscover a more authentic self similar to who we were when we were younger and less crazed, we might find ourselves preferring a life or a lover we admired or desired back then, as opposed to the mate we chose and settled in with during the years of frenzy.
How it helps to respect the decisions we made when we were younger—and respect our younger selves who made those decisions; we might make decisions differently now, but our younger selves did the best possible given the resources and circumstances and knowledge available at the time. And how there will always be moments we yearn to go back, but in other moments when we can live fully in the present, we are more free than we can otherwise be.
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Oh, and how we think we know someone just because we've corresponded with him a bit, when really we haven't even seen him for 13 years, so how can we know really who he is? Wacky. And also, perhaps, wonderful. Even if for now, or forever, it’s from afar.