From the beginning, my boyfriend and I have been very open and honest with one other about our past relationships. He knows about many of the issues that led to the breakups with my biggest exes, and I know his perspective on what some of the biggest factors were that ended his last four-year relationship. He knew that I casually kept in touch with a couple of my exes, considering a couple actual friends, and I found out that occasionally he and his ex had text exchanges. It became apparent that she hadn’t moved on from him, though it’s now been almost two years since they officially broke up. Yet it never really concerned me because she’s never made a presence in my actual life…but that’s about to change. So now I’m left wondering how to deal with your partner’s ex who is still hanging on.
To say I was completely unprepared for my recent breakup is an understatement. After 10 months together, just a couple months before we were planning to move into a new place, I was blindsided by something I felt, and still think, is a preposterous reason to end a relationship with someone who is your soulmate, someone you claim to love with all your being.
Impervious to my pleas to talk about resolving the issues, ignoring my apologies about something for which I wasn’t entirely sure what I was to blame, my sobs and shock turned to frustration and yes, a bit of anger. One of his own very good friends said he was foolish for letting something so trivial end something so powerful that he seemed to have been searching for all his life. If our relationship—something he had always described as so strong, special and sacred—wasn’t worth fighting for, then clearly it didn’t carry as much weight, or have as strong legs, as I thought it did.
After I spent time mourning, I decided that fighting the inevitable was pointless. I still knew who I was. I still knew what was important to me and what I wanted, both in a mate and from a relationship. If anything, the breakup emphasized how important certain things about communication and relating to your partner were to me that had been a little off-center with us.
So, to the surprise of family and friends who thought I was moving too quickly, I decided to re-activate my OkCupid account. To be completely honest, I first signed on to see if there was still hope—I was another year older, life had struck another blow, and I wasn’t even sure I would see anyone on there who would interest me enough to get to know.
I was surprised to realize I still attracted not only older men but significantly younger men too, divorced men with kids and men my age who have never been married, corporate businessmen and world-traveling teachers. I also realized that there were still so many interesting men out there to learn about and potentially meet, though I wasn’t in a rush to do the latter.
With the knowledge that there still were formalities of the break up to deal with—things to return to each other, letters of closure finally received and occasional pangs of “did this really actually happen?”—I knew I had to make some promises to myself. I wasn’t going to go just out with an ex who still has hope that we’ll eventually get back together seven years and a kid (his) later. Nor have a fling with a former FWB. And I wasn’t going to jump into a relationship with the first guy who I felt a great connection with, no matter how strong.
That’s where the 7×3 formula came along. They are relatively arbitrary numbers, 3 and 7, but I’ve called them my lucky numbers all my life. So here’s the deal: I have to go on dates with at least seven different guys before I make a final choice to pursue a relationship with any single one. Any contenders must be dated at least three times. No hanky-panky is allowed; kissing is welcome to assess chemistry.
So this week I agreed to a date with one of the fellows who has been writing me. He’s intelligent, socially conscious, thinks ahead, seems kind and has strong and influential women in his family. He’s a father of two young children, has lived all over the U.S., and he’s experienced some pretty cool things over his lifetime. I always looked forward to his emails, and while his looks didn’t make me swoon, I decided the personality attracted me enough to meet him.
In the meantime, another guy dramatically came on the scene. We rapidly exchanged long emails about our travels, teaching and our similar mindset about life and relationships at this point in time. He very quickly asked for my number, expressing desire to meet each other sooner than later. The day before date #1 with the other guy, Mr. Wanderlust asked if I wanted to go to a coffee house for a snack at the last minute. Going with the whim of the moment, I agreed.
Despite his admitted nerves, the date was non-stop conversation. We looked at travel photos and talked about whatever came to mind while we had dessert and tea, followed by a light dinner of wraps. He also really made me laugh—not from the absurdity or ridiculousness of what he said, but because he was sincerely funny. It was exciting to be around his energy and his enthusiasm for life—it didn’t hurt that he was very open about his interest in me, enough to ask for another date before this one ended.
Next day was the date with Mr. Left Wing (he’s the son of a radical feminist and is a proponent of radical social change). The night started off oddly as he attempted to psychoanalyze me, and I took his extreme mellow demeanor as a blasé attitude toward life in general. But soon our masks were off, and we were engaged in deep conversation about life-changing experiences. He revealed quite a bit more than I did, whereas with Mr. Wanderlust, I felt there was a much more even exchange. Yet I enjoyed our time together and was surprised by a goodnight kiss.
I’ve decided the new formula is perfect in instances where you meet several interesting people who you want more time to get to know, while also having several comparison points to keep things in perspective. I have a feeling eventually I might not want to go through all those first dates, but I think it will be healthy for me. And if I decide I’m just overwhelmed all-around and need more time to try to make some kind of sense of my last relationship, I always have the choice to just stop everything and go back into my dark bedroom and mull over things—or better yet forget about men entirely for a while, and just enjoy my friends, my family and my career. I’ll keep you updated.
This morning when I logged into Facebook, one of the first things that scrolled down my newsfeed was a photo of an adorable newborn child. My eyes and brain did a double take when I read who had posted it: Harlequin Hero. Surely it’s not…
“Congrats to the new Papa.”
“Since when were you having a kid?”
As I read through the comments, two things became crystal clear: One, my former flame who has slid in and out of my life for years was now the father to a baby. Two, I was not the only one who was thrown for a loop by the news. It was just a couple months ago that he had announced officially to FB that he was “in a relationship.”
The last time the Harlequin Hero and I crossed paths in November, I ran into him in the bar where we first had met three years earlier. I was with the Gentle Giant at the time…you remember him, the guy who talked like my boyfriend and acted like my boyfriend, but a couple months in claimed he wasn’t my boyfriend—no, not the European man of my dreams who is texting me to FaceTime as I am typing this right now; the other guy who did that when it didn’t hurt me as much as befuddle me.
Anyway, back then GG and I were a cozy couple still fairly early on in dating, snuggled next to one another at a table at the bar/restaurant while watching what would be the first of many New England Patriots games together. I got up to go to the bathroom at the back of the bar when I saw the last face I expected to see back in that place: Harlequin Hero’s.
His hair was long and hanging in his face again. He had just turned 40 and retired from motocross, which came as a surprise after our talks about his desires to come back with a big bang before he was too old to continue the sport. Still, I supposed it was rounding that time in his life, and he’d had some great successes in the last year.
HH kept giving me big hugs, though he was clearly distracted. He said he had just run into a childhood best friend he hadn’t seen in decades. He kept exclaiming with surprise how great it was to see him and how little he’d changed to me, his mom and stepdad and the others with him at their table. Then, he’d pull me in for another hug. I kept wondering if GG could see me from that far away and what on earth he would think of this.
I remember there was a woman with them at the table whom I had never seen before. In her late ‘30s, probably, with short hair, typical closed-off face of the small-town girl who hasn’t tasted much of the outside world, I remember thinking. (Hey, she didn’t smile at me when I smiled at her.) I wondered what her deal was, but as I hugged HH’s mom, I wasn’t introduced. She definitely didn’t look like she would be HH’s type just from a surface glance, but clearly, what did I know. After we’d had our tender fling way back when, he’d gone back to the fiancée who had stomped all over his heart in the first place.
It turns out that this girl whom I thought wasn’t his type is now the mother of his child. I typed a quick line of congrats on FB, but I couldn’t get over the news while I was taking my shower. Was it really just a couple months ago that we’d exchanged texts about his need for a SoloAt30 hug?
Last December he texted me about a random UConn game, asking if I was there. When we dated, same time of year, we watched several live, college basketball games together and he knew from FB that GG and I had seen a game together recently. He said the girl singing the anthem reminded him of me.
Three days later he texted me: “What’s up with that branch over your driveway?” It had been dangling precariously over the driveway since the bad October storm. “86 that thing already!”
Teasingly, I replied, “Are you really driving by house just for the chance to see my lovely face? Haha. You are going to have the branch issue up with my dad. :)”
I went on to say something more about how whether he still thought this was only powerful attraction, that I though he was cheating himself out of the potential for more by not even keeping up the friendship we’d rekindled when his sister’s life tragically ended two years ago. He’d eventually moved back home permanently, buying a house less than two miles from mine. We’d christened the futon in his garage after he painted the walls of his house.
Later in that crazy blizzard of a winter, he shocked me by showing up with his snow blower and start clearing away the driveway, simply asking for a hug or two or three in return. There would be texts exchange about what was it we had between us. It wasn’t simply physically chemistry, was it? And we both finally seemed to be looking to move forward to something deeper and more permanent in our lives.
Yet in the end, as always we were off on the timing. Either he wasn’t ready or I assumed he wasn’t so I moved forward in frustration. He was always leading a separate life regardless.
And then, the momentum was lost.
“You will be satisfied to know The Branch is gone,” I wrote him in January.
“No I won’t,” he said. “No hug.”
Laughingly, I wrote: “You can come suck up the saw dust?”
And that was it. Nothing since then. No mention of his girlfriend or their child to come. I asked him today if he had also failed to mention a wedding. He said no bells.
My mom wonders if this is like the situation my ex, The Bulldog, got into. After we broke up and he ran into me and my new boyfriend six months later, he was extremely upset and hooked up with our neighbor whom he accidentally got pregnant. They did their best to try to make a relationship work on-and-off-again for three or four years for the sake of the child between them, though after I found out the news, The Bulldog told me in tears that he still loved me and didn’t know if our story was even done yet. I firmly told him he needed to focus on this new relationship and this new life that they had planted if they wanted any hope at trying to make it work.
Years later, The Bulldog came calling back to me for emotional comfort and physical release, of course, and his ex told me she now understood all the craziness I’d left behind.
But I suspect HH sincerely wanted a baby. He is 40 now and feels it’s time. It is also that same time of year that he lost his sister and a year ago, his other sister had twins around the same time. I know it’s not a coincidence that his family is bringing new life in this season as part of their healing.
And it really seems like this woman could complement HH, and she is leagues better than his former fiancée. I just find it curious he didn’t marry her before the baby was born, why the child has her last name, when she seems to be at least somewhat a part of his wonderfully close-knit family already. But then life is full of surprises.
If there is one grand lesson I’ve learned about life and love, when it feels too good to be true, it usually is. If you stow that little nugget of truth in the back of your head, it will force you to keep at least a little part of yourself safely back—even when it’s tempting to just dive into the glorious beauty of what feels like the most delicious love affair with drunk blindness.
Though I didn’t really see signs, I felt them in my gut. I tried to explain why to a friend of mine. If we meshed so well intellectually, emotionally, and physically, had wonderful times together, and he seemed so into me, where did my hesitation come from? I rattled off a few concerns—that I wasn’t going to live up to his larger than life impression of me, that he was probably moving back to his native country in a year or so and that I had some worries that I would wind up wanting more from him emotionally time-wise than he had in his schedule to give.
It’s interesting because he chose that word—a gut feeling—to describe how he has felt that things might be a little off between us the last two weekends, like we were on different trajectories. This was after having two amazing weekends filled with dancing nights, lazy mornings twisted in each others arms, and hours of intimate conversations that he agreed made us feel like we’d known each other much longer than the period that we have.
This was after I’d spent the last 4 nights and 4 days in his home, two days longer than I’d intended because he’d said, “I don’t want to think about it,” when I asked him when he thought I should head home. That same day he bought a ridiculous amount of groceries, asking me what I wanted and needed as if I was going to be staying for another week, if not visiting again for a long visit soon.
Then, the next night, after we’d had a particularly bonding conversation, he went to do his nightly meditation. After we snuggled into bed, he brought up that if it were okay, he would like a couple of days to himself to quiet his thoughts and reconnect with himself. I said that was totally fine, reassuring him I wasn’t upset by his request because I needed to get back and take care of things at home.
The next day, he was in constant contact as I got ready to go, then took a taxi to take a train to take a bus back home. After a few days, however, I realized that while we were still keeping in touch, I was doing most of the initiating. I started to get a little suspicious. As the weekend was on the brink, and we hadn’t yet made our normal confirmation of our plans, I asked him if he wanted to get together. He said something about still needing some time to himself. I told him that I thought he might need that.
Thanks for understanding. You are very mindful and wise and I want to let you know that I value and respect that a lot!
After all the effusive, romantic and affectionate words he’s used with me in the past, these words struck a wrong chord with me. Something wasn’t right. But later that night, he sent me a message from the bar with his friend asking, “How is my honey doing?” To some joking request I’d made on his Facebook page where he’d posted a photo of the night, he’d say, “For you, SoloAt30, always… J”
Yesterday I heard nothing from him all day, so I finally decided to confront him. Was this needing time for himself actually code for wanting to see other people? Call it women’s intuition—or just a reality check. Though he was supposed to be working, he took time to make the phone call.
I sat stunned, listening to the spew of bullshit, couched in words in attempt not to “cause suffering or hurt feelings.” He told me he did in fact have a drink with a girl this past week, but his friends said it would be okay since we weren’t exclusive, like boyfriend/girlfriend or anything.
Seeing each other exclusively for several weeks now, driving three, sometimes six hours a week to see me; being intimate with each other exclusively; calling me his girlfriend to me, to his roommate, his friends, family; telling his father in another country about me and introducing us informally via phone; making every effort to get close to my family, including calling himself “Uncle” around my nephew…I’m not sure what else I was supposed to think. Hey, maybe they run things differently in that central European country of his, but if he had to hide things and talk code to me about it, I am thinking not.
The worst thing about it is that he wasn’t going to talk to me about any of this—didn’t think he had to—if I hadn’t asked him. Said he hadn’t really put these thoughts and feelings into words yet, and struggled to even do so now, which was apparent because he couldn’t even give reasons for this off feeling in his gut.
Well, that off feeling in his gut I think is really that he met some other girl who intrigued him enough to want to go on a date with her, but he wanted time to see how that and maybe other dates with other women go before he possibly made any decisions with me. I told him that, and he got all huffy that I was accusing him of this American term of the “fade out.” But really, we both know that’s what this is, even if he is saying he’d like to meet me again sometime. Really?
Come on, seriously, grow a pair of balls. Just be real. Some of you guys wonder why we flip out. It’s not that you make a decision to move on. It’s that you toy with us and then lie about it to our faces before you cut us loose. It’s that you are secretly moving on before you finally tell us about it. That’s what pisses me off.
If you’re genuinely confused about how you feel, just be honest about that. This is supposed to be the king of communication, the one who kept urging me to talk and tell him how I was feeling about this and that. Why didn’t he feel like he should reciprocate?
Believe me—when I say I can handle it, I can. And by handling it, I mean hitting flush and moving on.
My friend’s fiancée announced that she had secured her own new apartment. Even more final to him, she had actually gone ahead and changed their relationship status on her page from “engaged” to single. Though he couldn’t verbalize it, I knew what he was feeling: crushed—and relieved.
“I guess I have to get on board with this,” he said as if in shock. Less than a week before he had expressed a wish that she would just go ahead and end their tumultuous relationship so he wouldn’t have to break her heart and crush the dreams for her future.
“How are you really?” I asked with concern, sensing the hint of depression in his tone.
“I went to work and to the gym. Now, I’m cleaning out Facebook,” he said.
Damn Facebook. I imagined him going through every photo of her. Sifting through images of him and her. Looking back at the photos from their trip to Florida where he proposed, of the photos of the big 40th birthday party she threw for him afterward, and of all the trips they’d taken together in the last nine months or so. The thought of him doing all that on his first night truly alone and without her, as much as a big part of him had seemed to crave this scenario, truly broke my heart.
“Why don’t you wait a few days?” I asked him. “Give yourself a little time to think about if this is really what you truly want first, huh?”
He didn’t respond. Though I could see the train wreck that their engagement was and that their impending nuptials would probably be, and I hadn’t been afraid to give my opinion when asked, I wasn’t a heartless bitch. Trust me, I’ve been in more than a couple of destructive relationships for much longer than I should because I too have hoped that with time, love and more effort, things could eventually work themselves out. I’ve stayed longer than I should because I didn’t want to hurt anyone either. Leaving had never, ever been easy. Even when I walked out that door, a big part of me had been heartbroken too.
This morning, I checked his Facebook page, out of curiosity. He had removed “engaged” from his status. Every single photo of her, every family photo that included her from the holidays or happy get-togethers had been removed, as if those moments had never existed.
But then I noticed there were still traces of her left on his wall. Cute messages she left for him over the last few months. However, I believe he deleted other messages from friends that referenced engagement congratulations and pleasure seeing them together. But then I saw it—the sweetest video set to a love song showing photos of the two of them and their journey together that I commented back when she posted it that they should use as their wedding reception video.
There are some things you can’t erase from the past. Some things perhaps you shouldn’t even try. They happened. They were sweet and positive memories. And it’s okay to remember and cherish those, even as you mourn what was lost, then move forward into the unknown future.
I didn’t think you would follow me here tonight. A grown-up party at the science center, Liquid Luau, getting lei-ed, drinks, a DJ, a really good cover band, a man on stilts making ridiculous balloon sculptures with a really fun guy who isn’t afraid to let his dreads hang down and dance to the music by my side.
Watching the drunk-crazy couples boogying in front of us with absolutely no inhibitions reminded me of you, never afraid to make a fool of yourself dancing in front of me when we were at home.
What I called your puppet dance always had me in stitches because you moved like a marionette with your stiff hips, attempting to swing your flat ass like a stripper. Always with such a serious look on your face, “This is how the girls on X Avenue taught me,” you would say of the crazy girls of the streets of Hartford that you’d run into on the job.
How was I to know that walking into the rainbow circus of people would cough up memories of that? The KidSpace on the right was where you—Mr. Etiquette—your kids and I spent an obscene amount of time playing with Legos and trails of water, air tubes and plastic balls just 10 months ago. Seems like yesterday and a lifetime ago, all at the same time.
I miss them at the strangest times, those kids. We only had six weeks all together, yet it seemed so much longer with all the cherish-worthy experiences we packed in while they were here. I know it sounds crazy, but it’s going to feel weird when their time to visit here comes around and know that I won’t see them then, and that I probably will never see them again. Or you.
How was I to know that the best option for dinner after the Liquid Lounge tonight was going to be our place, V-Man? One of the few places still open outside of the city was the restaurant where you and I had our first date and numerous anniversary and non-anniversary dinners over the years. We sat in a different section of the restaurant than you and I usually sat in. I ordered my usual though. I found myself asking for no sour cream, since you hated it and always assumed I must too.
After tonight’s he and I got scammed out of $40 at a completely empty club wooing us with the empty promises of reggae rhythms (seriously, it was as if we had walked into a really bad ‘80s wedding reception before anyone from the wedding had arrived), we drove through the city. I passed the familiar fork in the road that I took so many times during those two years I taught out there. Crazy times. Have been thinking about them a lot these days, especially after watching that documentary “Waiting for ‘Superman’.”
And then I saw your old building. I remembered that day when the cell phone rang and you told me to look out the window, and there was your grinning face, waving at me from the work SUV as we passed each other by. I remember the times we’d park in that garage when we’d come to hang out on the weekends. Can’t forget that time you had to stop in the station, when it was completely dark, and I tripped in my heels, trying to keep up with you zooming through, and I fell flat on my face.
Then, tonight we hit the highway. That familiar music filled the car. I know I left us in California and Pennsylvania. Or in Las Vegas and, a few towns over from mine now, in that house that felt like our home for such a long time, until the last time I visited in March, when even “our” cats felt like strangers.
Everywhere I go, there you are. I can’t even go to a grocery store without thinking about the foods you especially liked. I was always grabbing a dessert or Coronas or something as a surprise treat for you. And when we went shopping together, so many, many times, the trips were nothing special. But it was just all those shared moments with you, forever seared in my mind. I almost felt tears spring to my eyes in the middle of Stop & Shop last weekend while shopping with my mom. How dare you still cause me any emotion at all?
How can I build new memories when all of your shadows are haunting me at every turn? I try to write you out of my heart and mind. To sing that painful melody so many times, I get sick of it and the lyrics start to mean something else entirely.
If I really am stuck in this geographical place with no end date in sight, then I am going to need a heart transplant, a brainwash.
I need to hit that reset button. Someone new deserves to make his own unique memories with me without anyone else overshadowing or overlapping.
It is time to be reborn. My parents named me appropriately. The story of my life is about the power of being reborn—again and again and again.
I deserve to no longer live in the pain, confusion or regret of the past. I want and need to feel all that joy and surprise of the newness of today and tomorrow in all its magical fullness. Ii is time to taste that juicy, sweetness of a fresh start.
Sometimes everything just feels wrong. He shows up looking like he’s come straight from the gym, though you know he hasn’t. With his long, baggy shorts, tank top and bandana around his head, you wonder why you made the effort to get out of your similar-looking pjs to take a shower and pick out an outfit to try to look cute for him.
You ask him about the big project in his life, the one that you found so fascinating and made you especially eager to get to know him in the first place, and he informs you that it’s on indefinite hiatus. Instead, he talks about his ex-wife, her lack of intelligence and poor mothering skills. He’s watching the clock as he tells you about his three daughters.
After reading a text message that comes in, he tells you about his truck that broke down in front of a friend’s and is going to be towed away if he can’t sell it on Craigslist. He doesn’t bother to ask much about you, and you don’t bother to reveal a lot about yourself because it’s obvious he wouldn’t really be listening.
The meal is done. Check please. He pays the bill. You leave the tip. There’s no, “I’ll call you later” or “Let’s get together again.” This is perfectly fine with you.
Sometimes everything just feels right. The moment you see each other for the evening, he flashes a smile that knocks you a little off your center. It’s been a while since someone’s had that effect on you. He looks comfortable in his jeans and dress shirt even while you know he’s made some effort to look nice. The heels you traded the flip-flops for were totally worth it.
At dinner, he asks you to select two of the four choices for tapas. He won’t let you get away with, “I’ll eat anything – you choose.” You find yourself thinking there’s just something too darn cute about how he puts on his reading glasses to look at the menu.
Even when the servers and waiters come, you and he are talking away about your respective lives up until now – discussing relationships, religion, politics and anything else that springs to mind. There are no awkward pauses, and in fact, the only silences are when you are in the midst of chewing.
After a stop for dessert, you decide to take a stroll with no destination, except to find a comfortable bench on which you can sit. Every now and then, your bodies brush against one another. After a while, you can’t tell if it’s by accident or on purpose, until the touch on the arm becomes more pronounced and lingers.
You find a rocking bench. You talk about your dreams and goals. You talk about where you came from, going beyond the surface and shedding light on some of the darker shadows of the family portrait. You head to a bookstore where you confirm you have even more in common in literary tastes (Wow, someone else who actually reads!!), but most of all, he starts sharing jokes that make you laugh from the belly.
On the way back to the car, you are suddenly holding hands. “Is this okay?” he asks. Yes, yes, yes,
You ride home listening to jazz and holding hands. You share sweet kisses and words in the car before realizing sleep has to come sometime, and he has more than an hour drive to get back to his home.
When you walk through the door, your best friend asks, “How was it?”
“It was wonderful,” you giddily sigh, wanting to hold this happiness close to you, capture in a jar like fireflies so it can light your room up every time the world is looking dark and a little hopeless.
But the best part is knowing that you can feel this way again before too long.
Last night, I had a date. Or at least, I was supposed to go on one.
It wasn’t with the V-Man who I’d basically written off weeks earlier—after all this time together, I was looking for a boyfriend at least every weekend, not every other weekend if I was lucky. When he suggested getting together last weekend, saying he’d take me out since I hadn’t left the house since my last chemo treatment, I was having major problems with walking. Hearing that, he said, “Well let me know when you have your legs back.”
Nice. Meanwhile, an ex, the Rocker, contacts me out of the blue and willingly comes over to my house, spends time with me there. We chat, we play music and sing, we start watching a movie with my family, and he holds my hair back when I get sick to my stomach. Somehow this really doesn’t seem right, that he who I haven’t talked to in many months is there for me, but V Man is not. Ridiculously, I hadn’t seen him in four weeks. So I made it very clear that he really is not going to be in my life romantically any more. I am done nursing that along.
Last night’s date also wasn’t with the Cop. The week after our sexy martial arts grappling was his birthday. I made a YouTube video of me singing Happy Birthday to him because he was crazy about my music and loved playing it over and over again. He told me it was the best part of his birthday. The next day, he tells me he and his ex are “in negotiations” about getting back together.
Never mind the business lingo, his ex left him in a foreign country when they were on vacation together, she’s still technically married and she lied to The Cop during their two year relationship about how often she still spent time with her husband. I said good luck to them—they’ll need it. Hope their therapy helps. He still calls, which I guess is nice, but I think I am more his sounding board than anything else.
So no, the date was supposed to be with someone new. Well, he’s not really. We’ve been following each other across free dating sites since the fall of 2009, I think. I thought he was cute, and he was looking to get more into writing professionally, so we exchanged emails but then the Rocker and I started dating. So I was really surprised to get an email a couple weeks ago from Karaoke Crooner, we’ll call him, asking if I remembered him. I told him I did, and he eagerly told me about the new writing gig he has reviewing karaoke venues.
Yes, I rolled my eyes too when I first heard about it. But then I read his columns, which were really well written and truly captured that karaoke sub-culture. We started talking on the phone. I was rather straightforward about my illness, so he wouldn’t think I could just go out on a date at the drop of the hat. At the time, I was struggling with even walking from my bedroom to the bathroom next door. But the delay was actually a good thing.
I had him pegged as one thing, but the more we talked, the more I realized we had in common, from our sheltered upbringing to our more recent, wilder present. I realized some of his hesitancy from our first communication a couple years ago was for a very legitimate reason…he was still trying to pick up the pieces of his life after having lost a baby the day before he was set to get married. I can’t even imagine.
Anyway, yesterday was a rough pain day and I was rather lethargic, and the thought of having to get all pretty and try to control my uncontrollable body for several hours seemed ridiculous. So I postponed our scheduled date. I did some spring cleaning from the bed, perused grad schools again, did some research on a series of articles I am working on and rested.
At night, when the rain got heavy, I watched the excruciatingly painful The Passion of the Christ with my parents, followed up with a much cheerier Sleepless in Seattle with my mom. Though this week I felt the pang of loneliness so acutely, for some reason the movie didn’t leave me aching as much as it may have at other points of my life in the past. I didn’t think to wonder why.
Then Karaoke Crooner called. We talked about our days. We talked about religion, music, relationships—you name it, and suddenly it was five hours later. I reluctantly had to give into my heavy eyelids, and we said goodnight. Ever the optimist, I said that today would be better health-wise if he wanted to get together today. He did.
What will we be doing? Karaoke naturally. He’s got another column to write, and he wants to hear more of me singing—live this time. We probably won’t stay too long because we want to spend time just hanging out as well.
We both have our baggage and wounds, our daily struggles with respective health issues, but at the very least, I have made a great, new friend. And I highly value that now in a way I may have taken for granted in the past. I need present friends in the flesh now more than I ever have before.
My self-worth is not determined by:
• My work (or ability to do it)
• Whether my boss thinks of me as bringer in of “ratings” or as a human being—I know being really sick can’t compare to having a cute baby
• Whether my “boyfriend” thinks I am a high enough priority to spend time with
• Whether I have a boyfriend or not…and I decided four weeks ago, regardless of what he’s thinking, I don’t want his half-assed approach to dating anymore
• The fact that I am once again bed-bound for most of the day, that I have to crawl or have someone help me to the bathroom and walk the halls or risk a fall, and that I need a wheelchair to go out in public.
• The fact that I can’t take a shower (and sometimes brush my teeth) unless someone else is in the room with me
• Still intriguing because of my mind, my sense of humor, my looks, my interests and my intelligence. Men from OKCupid keep telling me so, haha.
• Still sexy and beautiful, despite the extra 6-10 lbs that taking prednisone for too long puts on my body. A sexy ex told me so–even after seeing me puke into a pink bucket. No, just having my parents and doctors tell me I’m beautiful doesn’t resonate in quite the same way.
• Not an old maid just because I am 33, currently living at home, never been married and have no kids
• That my body is still strong, my mind is still sharp and that I still have a bright future and this is all just temporary. I can get through all of this one day at a time
• So blessed to have people who love me, books, music, videos, a weird cat and more to keep me occupied, intrigued and entertained.
• Never finished learning more about this world and about my self.
It’s been more than four years that we’ve been playing this game. First we finally established a committed relationship that lasted for nearly two years. Eventually I broke up with him, thinking we weren’t moving any farther forward. There would be no next step—no marriage or kids definitely, but not even moving in together, though I spent four to five nights of the week there, and was spending most of our time together remodeling his house. I had met a lot of his friends, but he kept his flashy work life separate from me—to maintain his cool bachelor status. I never met his mom, who literally lived 10-15 minutes away, and once when she made a surprise visit to the house, I was asked to hide in the bedroom.
The year and half we weren’t together, we remained friends…sometimes with benefits. We still had this bond between us. We still enjoyed spending time together in small doses, and whenever I saw him unexpectedly, it made me light up. When I was terribly sick, he was always there, never ashamed to take me out in public, even with my embarrassing (to me) ailment.
So fast-forward to almost a year after he started the talk about how he felt I had misconceptions about him and what he was all about in the relationship department, we tentatively decided to give it another try. Some things have been great and wonderful and had me thinking this reconciliation was totally worth it. He was more affectionate. When he was home from work and spending time with me, he truly wanted to be spending time with me, not his projects and gadgets.
Other things made me think he had gotten even worse in selfish independence. He’d go for two weeks or more without wanting to see me—and he called me high maintenance for wondering what the scoop was. Was it too much to think that a man I was exclusively dating would look forward to seeing me and put me as a priority?
Apparently, to him, it was too much.
The biggest disappointment, though, was this past week when I was at my sickest and loneliest, he didn’t call. He didn’t text. He had no idea I had to be taken to the ER for a second time. He didn’t know the medical treatment was kicking my ass. He didn’t know my doctor was removing me for my work duties for much longer than I anticipated because my treatment was going to require that much out of me.
It’s not as if I wanted to focus on all this. I knew how to be upbeat and talk about the other good things going on in my life. He always talked about his work too, the projects he was working on, his sick, elderly cat, whatever. It would have been nice to just hear whatever he had to say.
By Friday, I gave in. “Are you living?”
Later that night, “How doin’?” he asks.
“Is that a rhetorical question, or do you really care to know the answer?”
Next day we text back and forth about how even old friends I haven’t talked to since before high school were reaching out to me…yet he hadn’t. He replied that he was busy with projects, works, etc. “I figured you were doing your own thing,” he said.
What? Doing my own thing like losing some of every meal, collapsing on the floor at least half a dozen times a day, having random moments of unconsciousness? Sure I’ve also tried to at least have a hand in the news publication that it still mine but I can’t officially be writing for and running right now. I’ve been catching up on Netflix and reading.
But yeah, I would welcome a phone call from the guy I was dating.Everybody is busy, not just him, yet they still carve out a minute of their time just to say I’m thinking of you.
So yesterday, after telling him, I finally get it—that he just doesn’t think enough to phone or text to see how I am (whether I am sick or not), I wrote an obvious kiss off. He tried to ignore it today, asking, “how are you feeling?” I ignored him.
I am done. He can go try to find someone more perfect. He can find his dream girl, Spanish “chick.” I am done with his shit, and I getting off this bus for good this time.
I may not be a high priority to him, but I am one of the highest priorities to myself.
Next blog, remind me to share what happened with my police officer…now, that’s a funny story.