“The marks humans leave are too often scars.” – John Green
I’m kind of beginning this in a darker tone than I really want to, but I got ALL the feelings and man, they are raging. I’m PMS’ing, it’s raining something cold, it’s Wednesday. I got whiskey in one hand and a Snickers in the other (and if you’re paying close attention, I’m typing through it all).
First, a story in an effort to explain another story: For many years of my life, I had a best friend who was of the male variety. And through trials and tribulations, elations and new adventures… we simply were content to be best friends. Many friends and family members pointed out that we should be together, but I was always kind of wary of it. And it didn’t necessarily make sense: He was a good guy, we got along great, we could talk for hours and or we could just sit in each other’s company pleasantly, but I wasn’t attracted to him physically the way I wanted to be. I told myself and others that the reason why we weren’t more than friends was because if it ended, I didn’t want to lose the friendship. And I knew that he liked me as more than a friend; I tried to give myself pep talks so that I could just “try it out”. But I couldn’t let myself go there – I knew it wasn’t fair. He moved on; we’ve kind of lost the friendship anyway. He has a good life with a wife and child.
So, with that background information, it is with full awareness that I write about the photographer, who in some ways was my kindred spirit. It had been three days since our last date, and by Tuesday night I had worked myself into a tizzy. At first (because, you know, dead-boyfriend-related post traumatic stress), I thought maybe something horrible had happened. And then secondly, I thought, “He’s just busy.” And then thirdly, I thought, “Nope. This isn’t gonna work.”
My father, bless him, all day long had asked me: “Have you heard from him yet?” until finally I yelled at him a little bit: “No! Please stop asking me. You’re only making it worse.” See, the thing is: My dad was ecstatic that I was having a good time. He pointed out on many an occasion that I looked as though I was at peace and that my face had a glow to it. When I told him this guy’s name, I asked him to see if he got the good vibes I got (my dad’s way into Tai Chi and connects with the universe on the reg), and he said, “Well, I definitely feel something good. Just do me a favor. If you guys get married, please see my Tai Chi master first. You need to know if you’re sleeping with an enemy. You don’t want to have an unhappy marriage.”
And I said, “Dad? We’re so not even there yet. I just like this guy. And I think I’ve had enough unhappy. I wanna try happy now.”
With that in mind, let’s revisit the Tuesday coffee date. Yes, we had a great time and it was slightly magical and eerie in its magic. But I was ashamed of myself the entire time because this guy, who was so great on interweb paper and came through in person? I thought he was just okay looking.
The next night I went to my parents’ house and of course, they wanted to hear how it went. I told them and also said to my mom, “I feel bad. Like, shallow, you know? It’s not like I’m gorgeous. I mean, he even said that I was ‘cute’. So, weirdly, I think we’re on the same page? And it sucks because we had this thing going.” My mom said that the reason the date went so well was probably because we weren’t holding each other up to pedestals anymore. But, she said, that if you like someone enough, you can become attracted to them physically. And though experience had told me that that wasn’t necessarily true, I pondered it for a while. Maybe, I thought, it just might work.
Later that same night he and I were texting. He had read the blog post and told me how much he was looking forward to Saturday, and that he was really bad at texting but that he’d do his bestest. I explained that I didn’t really give a fuck about society, but society does say that women aren’t supposed to communicate first. And the next morning, he sent me a text that said, “This is my attempt at being communicative and fulfilling my societal man duty of making contact first. Have I done acceptably?” And I texted back, “You are so acceptable you don’t even know.”
It was the first time in a long time I felt anyone had made an effort. It was a small gesture, but it was kind and sweet. It meant the world to me. Ironically, on our second date I told him I would remember that for the rest of my life – and I meant it. It was proof, to me, that guys are willing to try for girls they maybe kinda like. I just didn’t know exactly, at the time, that it would be a memory I’d be crying over.
And yes. I cried. I cried before I even heard from him yesterday. I cried remembering my dad asking me if I had heard from him. I thought for sure he’d come through for me again, that he’d make up some lame ass excuse about being busy, but that it would be okay. Because we seemed like the kind of people who could be okay. I’m crying now, as I write this, and even I know it’s a bit silly and melodramatic. Let’s examine this in real time. From yesterday to when we met, the time lapsed had been exactly a week (sidenote: my bestie always jokes that she can’t survive two dates with guys; I, apparently, can’t last a week. Dates are irrelevant because dudes seem to want to have multiple dates with me in the same week. New goal: make it to the next fucking week). What made this so hard? I found a person, maybe not my person, but an entirely different human being nonetheless, who just got me. There was no effort. There was no struggle. We coexisted instantly, peacefully, beautifully. He had his issues, I had mine, and the earth still orbited around the sun.
And by the second date, I got into his car, looked at him, and thought to myself, “Huh. I must like you. You’re now cute.” (Still fucking shallow, you twat.) But I knew things were still iffy because I couldn’t bring myself to have the courage to tell him to do another small gesture, like kiss me. I couldn’t bring myself to kiss him. There were moments we could have, I guess, but nothing stuck out to me. I had told myself I wasn’t going to force anything, and I stuck to that. Had I known, however, that it was going to be our last date, maybe I would have shoved my tongue down his throat, just to “try it out”. And it’s not like I didn’t have a slight clue that something was off; unlike the first time, there was no set up for another date (I didn’t want to bring it up, for fear of seeming too pushy). And we hugged goodbye (a kiss still didn’t feel right). And the hug lasted for what seemed like a really long time. AS IF WE’D NEVER SEE EACH OTHER AGAIN.
Ba dum chhhh. Stop thinking, Amanda. It’s no good for you.
But thinking is what got me into this mess, and eventually, an answer. After telling myself I would not chase, I would not chase, I would NOT CHASE, I broke down and texted. I just wanted an answer, and I figured that – if he was as good of a guy as I supposed he was – I’d get one.
Me: “Hi. Experiencing a metaphorical fire of my own right now that I find I’m not very good at extinguishing. This would be a better text if it was a sexual innuendo. Alas. (context here might be important, but he called his freak-outs “metaphorical fires”. end context.) So. It seems like you’re not interested which is fine albeit honestly disappointing because I felt something sweet and good which is hard to come by. And really, I shouldn’t be sending this. I already reached out (remember the text that went unanswered? remember the phone call that went to voicemail that went unanswered? remember the last blog post?) and I can take a hint. I understand being busy as fuck and parenting, etc. I just don’t wanna waste anyone’s time here…”
He: “Amanda, (that’s how you know it’s bad and serious because no one uses my name) you deserve better than I’ve done so far, so my bad on that. I can be a bit of a dick. Truthfully, I just didn’t feel that spark with you that I’d like to feel before pursuing anything romantic, and I don’t really have time for new friends. I really wish I did feel that spark, because we’re compatible in almost every way… Sorry to let you dangle so long. You deserved better…”
(well. let me just grab my flint and my knife and you’ll be seeing that spark in no time, son! I kid. There’s a reason this didn’t work out. I just don’t quite know what it is yet, but I’ll wait patiently and see.
and also, the text? This right here. While painful and while it took WAY too long for him to just come out and tell me how he felt, it was simple, it was direct, it was kind. Some of you might say, “what an asshole.” I say, absolutely not, and I am grateful. As hard as it is, these are lessons I NEED to be learning. If I can’t feel 100% about someone and still not walk away, then I’m glad someone else is smarter than me and allows for it to happen without my direct involvement. It was the best thing he could have done. And any boyfriend of mine would tell you that I NEVER know when to walk away. It’s like David Foster Wallace: “Everything I’ve ever let go of has claw marks on it.” I can tell I’m getting better, though. Acceptance is key.)
Me: “I appreciate your honesty. And glad to know we’re on the same page about you being a dick. Keep on keepin’ on.”
So. Today I mourn the loss of something I never really had to begin with, but it’s nice to know that a male version of me exists in this world. And maybe in a parallel universe, we totes live our best lives together. My mom always says, “And this too shall pass.” I know she’s right; a month ago, I was dealing with shady mcshaderson with the New York accent. Next month, who knows?
I will admit, though, Taylor Swift had it all sorts of right when she said, “This is exhausting.” Because online dating or real dating or whatever it is is really fucking hard. I already made plans with someone else (not because I want to. I would prefer more wallowing but if I do any more of it I’ll die cold and alone in a hole next to a Snickers bar. That’s how you know how I truly feel about myself. I don’t even get to enjoy chocolate in my last moments). There’s also a couple of guys who are communicating with me but dates have not been set up yet because I’m really iffy about them (and their heights. Got a few 5’6″ers and a 5’7″. It’s like, seriously, Chicagoland? Is there a height crisis I’m not aware of? Tall men in short supply? haha. Get it. Short.)
Me and Jay Z, on to the next one.
Have a good night, friends. Be kind to yourselves.