We still think about the ones that got away. its hard for us to picture someone we love with someone else so we disappear. we'd rather have no contact than pretend to have a friendship. He was hoping time had healed enough issues to reach out or hopefully maybe you missed him and lost his information. Maybe he ended a relationship and realized he missed you.
now the missing you could honestly just be friendship(especially because you are super long distance)... it would take a lot to bring you together.... since you fell out of touch, maybe he doesn't know you left the continent...?
we don't do bickering on the phone or through text (I actually hate it with a lot of passion). so he definitely had some feelings when you were going through the drama part you described.