I Googled My Ex Boyfriend and FORBES Popped Up
A month ago I posted about finding a diary from when I was 12 years old and I subjected myself to reading endless entries about my love for my boyfriend at the time, Kirk McManus.
I Googled him to see what he was up to. (Dr. Kirk McManus does cancer research at an Institute for Cell Biology.) He was probably a keeper.
This inspired me to track down some of my other boyfriends. I dated these dudes long before Facebook and Instagram made stalking your exes easy and socially acceptable.
When I was nineteen, I spent a university term getting a French credit at the International College de Cannes, France. Putting a school mere steps away from a topless beach is a terrible idea. I learned no French whatsoever that spring, but I had a spectacular time whooping it up on the French Riviera.
I met and dated a guy we’ll call Alex. (After blogging about Kirk, I realize maybe I shouldn’t actually name people when I write about them. Is there a concrete policy on this? The policy is probably called "lawsuit".)
Alex and I hit it off and canoodled around the Riviera. The next thing I knew I was attending red carpet events at the Cannes Film Festival, going to parties on yachts, driving his BMW convertible to St. Tropez for lunch.
This is kind of cool, Michael Douglas was somewhere in that crowd! It was the year of Basic Instinct.
It was So. Much. Fun.
Cannes Film Festival ticket
I really liked this guy. He treated me well, respected me. He was smart; he already had his doctorate in chemistry and was working in the perfume industry. He even showed me his lab where he created perfume scents. I shit you not, that was his actual job! Other than the fact that he was eleven years older than me, the whole thing was too good to be true.
Then, my course ended. And Alex wanted me to stay for a year, see if I’d like living in Europe. I remember him handing me a brochure filled with luxury cars, asking me which one I wanted. I’ll get you your own apartment. No obligations, whatsoever. Just stay and see if you like it.
Oh, the 90's make me gag a little.
In my defence, we had to buy a bunch of these bad dresses for parties. I have no explanation for the hair.
It was so tempting. But it came down to this: I was nineteen and a free spirit.
I somehow felt like I’d be selling out. I’d be locking into a life, at a really young age, that might define who I was, who I would become. I didn’t even know who I was yet.
And the other major problem was that while I really liked Alex, I hadn’t fallen in love with him. I spent a good amount of time trying really, really hard to make butterflies magically transpire in my stomach, but I just didn’t feel it. I longed for love and passion—not just the promise of a great life.
And then there was this: My best friend was meeting me and we had made plans to go backpacking. We were going to sleep on the cramped decks of freighter ships, pass out in sketchy hostels in Amsterdam, waking up to skinheads who didn't know about the "one bed per person" rule. We'd play this fun game where we would catch a night train and try to be the first to figure out which country we were in the following morning. We were the girls who backpacked around Europe without a map.
Um, how could fancy dinners, a Mercedes, my own apartment on the Mediterranean possibly compete with all of that?
I think Alex was perplexed and a little bemused by my decision as he watched us board a train, our lives stuffed into packs.
He wanted me to come back after I got this whole backpacking thing out of my system, but I missed my family and I’m a prairie girl at heart, so I headed back to Canada.
Twenty years later....
Let’s look up Alex and see where he’s at.
Stare at the spinny disc on my almost dead MacBook while it loads sites.
(Fuck me. Seriously? I knew this guy going was going places when we dated…but Jeesus, Forbes!)
More research. More spinny disc.
He was once the vice president of Gillette. Now, apparently, he’s senior vice president of research and development of a fragrances company that had sales of 2.8 billion dollars last year. Top 500 company. Blah, blah, blah.
When Alex called me up after I was back in Canada a year later to join him and some friends on a yacht off the coast of Italy, I was tempted, but again declined. I was already in the infancy of a new relationship— a relationship that would last a decade and become completely toxic. But that relationship would also become the subject of my first novel and a screenplay that is in development; it would incite a writing career.
I am beyond happy with where I am at this moment. I don’t live in a world of “what ifs?” That's not what this post is really about. It’s just kind of cool that we are able to, at least a little, peek down the trails we didn’t tread. Because the paths that we didn’t choose are as much a part of who we are as the ones we did choose.
Life is an amazing and intricate compilation of the experiences we’ve had and the choices we’ve made. It doesn’t matter if they are right, or wrong. It’s our ability to accept them and integrate them into our identity that makes us human.
The French Riviera, 19.
To this day, I still question how anyone could date a girl who wore white Birkenstocks.