Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Of the Brokenhearted

At my advanced age, my biggest turn-on has become being desired. If you're really into me and not afraid to show it, I'm likely yours. Beyond race, religion, hair color, age, height, and all of those other things that "matter" in the dating world, if the other person really wants me, really really wants me, I can be convinced.

Case in point: I recently met a guy at a Santa Monica bar late one Saturday night. After a few minutes of conversation, he blurted out, "Oh my God you're like my new favorite person." He then proceeded to tell me how cool and awesome I am. So even though this guy wasn't particularly my type (whatever that is), when he asked me if I wanted to go get something to eat at a diner, I said, "Sure."

We ate. We laughed. He loved me. I loved it. And so, standing outside of my car in the parking lot (which in my new LA life has become the most romantic place on earth, the equivalent of the front porch), we smooched. Extensively.

And then I went home.

He asked me to dinner two days later, and I agreed, thinking it would be a good idea to have a sober interaction at a reasonable hour. He then dropped a bomb on me: an 8 year-old son, living in Portland.

OK.

The next day, he txted me at work with another bomb: he'd been sleeping in his car for weeks.

"Oh boy," I wrote back.

He explained that he wouldn't have told me but he liked me and thought I should know. He then offered that he was going out of town for a week but if I wanted to see him before he left...

"Well thanks for coming clean. Safe drive," I typed, and then went back to work, as busy as ever. I didn't have the bandwidth to process, or formulate an appropriate response. So I let it hang in the air. Honestly, it wasn't totally a deal-breaker for me (though people stare at me aghast when I say that). It just made things even more...complicated. "Not so simple with you," I wrote.

He immediately interpreted my silence - or my curtness, or whatever - as rejection and began sending more text messages throughout the night, with increasing pain and trauma. He demanded to know why I ever talked to him in the first place, admitting how chaotic his life is. He admonished me for bringing him out of his solitude. He continually lashed out at me - mostly while I was sleeping - until 3:30 in the morning.

The text messages stopped, but the emails started.  He told me he removed me from his phone and that it wasn't likely I'd hear from him again.

I wish that were the case.

I wrote back - something I doubted my judgment in doing - telling him not to blame me for leading him on, and that he had ruined any chances with me by the way he handled the situation, not because of the situation itself. I told him it was unfortunate that things were ending this way because they didn't have to, but that his behavior was unacceptable and I wasn't interested in continuing any contact with him.

He persisted. However, his mea culpa was even more troublesome, admitting that he'd overreacted this way before and acting like this was somehow normal. He asked for forgiveness, a second chance.

I held my ground.

More emails arrived in my inbox, confused over what he thought had been "real," and apologetic over how "f-ed up" he and his life are.

"Please stop. You're only making things worse," I replied.

But to be honest, I get where he's coming from. I felt exactly that same way when I was 24 years old (he is 30) after going on one date with a guy I thought was the man of my dreams. I felt exactly the same way at 29 years old after one date with my eye doctor. Every rejection, every one night stand absolutely destroyed me, and I couldn't figure out why people would toy with my emotions so carelessly if they never meant it.

And now, at 36 years old, I am to him what those guys were to me. I don't see the point in trying to date someone three times in one week. I don't think a first date means absolutely anything, other than a first interview to see if you'd be able to work with the person. A kiss doesn't mean I love you, it means I want to kiss you. And I want to kiss you because I'm lonely, drunk, tired, in love with someone else who I can't kiss, etc.

I feel sorry for him, because I know intimately, deeply the pain he is feeling, as irrational as it may be given our limited contact with each other. But I do not feel sorry for anything I said or did.

I complain that no one falls in love with me, but that's not entirely true. On occasion, there is someone who becomes immediately infatuated with me, because I awakened something inside of them that they once thought had died. Or maybe I paid attention to them when they were used to going unnoticed.

The last time I remember this happening was in 1994, the summer after my freshman year in college, when I briefly dated a guy who was living at the Rescue Mission. He was cute, funny, and so terribly into me, I found it irresistible. But after a few coffees and a couple public makeout sessions, it was time to drop him back off at the Rescue Mission and go back to college. And I heartlessly left him behind, brokenhearted. I never explained myself. I just...faded away. As so many men have done to me since.

This week, the one for whom I linger asked me to stop lingering. Surprisingly, so far, I'm OK. Maybe it hasn't hit me yet.. Ten years ago, I would've been obliterated and probably jumped in front of a train or off a bridge. And maybe I'll drive my car off the side of the Angeles Crest Highway, but I don't think so. Because finally, after all this time, finally he identified himself as The Wrong Tree. As heartbreaking as it is, I've been hoping for that, waiting an entire year for it.

And now, maybe I can move on.

Because I don't want someone who doesn't want me.

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