I logged onto Facebook today and the first item on my timeline was a photo of a happy couple in southern Italy. Matching smiles, radiant, ebullient... drunk with happiness. I could practically feel the sunshine.
One of them is my ex.
TD got engaged. I don't know how I'm meant to feel about this. Throughout all the years, from the time I left her house in Oxford and started walking to the station in floods of tears to the sad, slow journey home, I didn't know what to think, what to feel, where to go. Then came the uncertain years: the long periods of unemployment, going back into education, a turbulent LDR with a tragic end that made me feel even more uncertain. All that happened in between - Eroticon, the new friendships in their droves, the connections and re-connections, the downward spirals and the upward highs, and the moving between houses and locations in too short a period of time.
It all happened, from then to now, all with her in the back of my mind, faded like a faint, uneasy smudge of a mistake. Not gone. Just resting there.
It's my fault, I know. My brain just won't let go. So many memories of terrible things, things that made me feel bad, painful, worthless. But then there are the good things too - and so many of those. I was there for the results of her finals and both graduations. I was there for her brother's 21st. I was even there for the start of her PhD. We had holidays. We had laughter. For a while, the pretty girl smiling in the photos was with me.
Skip forward four years and the world has moved on. I'm in my relationship; she's in hers. I've seen my cousin, my weightlifting friend, my friend-who-is-a-nurse and Robinson get married. Lady P got married too. Next year it's 47. It happens - people get engaged; they get married. In fact, in a way, I was waiting for this. I didn't know how I'd react, but I was waiting for it.
A small moan escaped from my mouth. I don't know why. Was I pleased, confused, shocked, scared or disappointed? I've no idea. I don't know why it should affect me so. But it does.
Wise people tell me I should move on. But I think we should keep hold of our memories. I don't have much of a choice, anyway, the way my brain works. I think it's important to learn from history. People have been learning from history for centuries and to stop doing so would be, frankly, idiotic. But what have I learned from all this? I don't even know what I'm finding so difficult.
I don't want to move on - I can't just abandon things in the past and leave it all behind. I want to move forward; go on to other adventures and pastures new. At the moment I'm in the doldrums, trying but not moving much. And when you're not moving forward it's all too easy to look to the past.
So now TD has her own future to look forward to. I just won't be part of it.
But then I knew that already.