Recycling

I asked him how he came across my blog.

“I was demonstrating how to use a search engine.” I wondered what led him to use my name for a demonstration. But I didn't dwell on the issue; I was glad he contacted me. This time I was in a place to welcome him back into my life.

My first ex-husband, Amir, and I parted ways almost thirty years ago. Our divorce was not amicable. I was happy to leave him and his world behind me when I left Israel to come to graduate school in the U.S.

He'd tried to reconnect with me a decade ago. I was married to Bill, my second husband, at the time, busy with a full-time job, raising children, with little energy to spare. Now I wonder whether I lacked confidence in my relationship with Bill to let Amir back into my life.

This time, however, I was ready. Perhaps my brain injury brought me to this place. Perhaps my increased ability to open myself up to the world played a role. Perhaps reconnecting with Amir was a part of my quest to learn who I have become post-injury.

We exchanged emails filled with stories of who we are now—our families, our interests, facts about our daily lives. In our questions, seeking a frame of reference, we searched for the people we used to be in the people we are now. At first our dialogue was tentative, but we quickly gained enough trust in each other to reminisce, at first about the good memories, but then also the bad.

We were so young when we got married. I was nineteen, he was twenty one. Five years later, we parted ways. Looking back, I realize that our lines of communication were very much hampered by immaturity. There was much about him I never knew, things he didn't share with me when we were still together, things I didn't hear. I was not as good a listener as I am now. My perspective was too limited. I was too self-absorbed.

As we converse virtually, I feel as if I'm getting to know him all over again and then some, better than I did before. As I read his emails, I recall all I liked about him, his inquisitive mind and insatiable curiosity, his ability to think outside the box, his sensitivity and insight, his intelligence.

In my answers to his perceptive questions, I find some of the missing pieces that I have been searching for since the surgeries. I discover and rediscover the person I was then, I am now. I gain a better perspective. I see the changes that are merely due to the passage of time, and those wrought by the bloody brain.

My brain injury has placed me in the here and now. Our troubled past casts no shadow on the present. I can enjoy our current exchanges as they are, a journey of exploration.

Our initial need to fill in the gaps has now lost its immediacy. We are ready to move on. Our lives are now moving in parallel. Our emails are about the present.

We were good friends before our marriage started crumbling. And now, we are embarking on a new friendship, evolved from the old, transformed, recycled.