What is it with me and guys with J names–particularly YOUR name? I’ve dated, and loved, 3 men with your name. How weird is that? So, forever, you will be known to my friends as J#3. My roommate calls you The Frat Boy.
He couldn’t have been more wrong. You were as far away from a frat boy as it gets. I don’t date frat anything.
We met, of all places, on OKStupid. I just happened to log-in one day–I think to actually close my account–because I was weary of this love business. It was about 7 months after my ex moved out and drove to the East coast. But it had only been 2 months since I stopped speaking to him. That relationship had, basically, gutted me. While I was heartbroken over him, I sort of bounced back into the dating scene easily. I was determined to move on and to be a different me. You were one of many men during that whirlwind year of rebuilding–during a time when I really didn’t like myself anymore.
May was an important month for me. I finally stopped speaking to my ex completely–which was such a good thing for my mental health. Our interactions were abusive and awful at that point, and as much as I loved him still, I just couldn’t keep doing it. I couldn’t deal with the fake pleasantries, and it brought out the worst in me. I had been licking my wounds, talking to a near miss who I knew it would never work with. And then, I met an erotic photographer who I thought hated me. And a conversation with him made me realize how much I’d lost myself in that other relationship–in TFA–and saving the world. I couldn’t even tell him what I did for fun. I honestly didn’t even know anymore.
I spent a few weeks reconfiguring my life. Doing things for me. Being independent. It was a renaissance of Alma. And a hard time for all kinds of crazy reasons. So, while I was looking to date, I had a full plate and I wasn’t exactly patient about love. It wasn’t the right time.
But, then, there you were. Your smirk splashed across the page as I logged in. You had a purple tie and was exactly my type, but it was that smirk that got me to click.
I’ve always been a sucker for guys with dark hair and light eyes–who knew who they were and didn’t apologize. Cocky assholes, as my friends call them. I never saw it as cocky because maybe I’m a cocky asshole, too.
I read your profile and, while it was the standard stuff–though very well-written (points there), I connected with stuff you said about your mother. I liked how you were so witty and fun, but how grounded you were–how honest and real you were. Okay–and you were ridiculously good looking. I’ll admit I liked your face. And I think that’s what I said in my first message to you. “I like your face.” Yes–I was totally hitting on you–and yes–I’m sure my friends would’ve been shocked to read such things. I have a reputation for innocence, you know.
I didn’t expect you to respond. You lived two hours away, and that was a lot to expect from someone. But a few minutes later, there you were–in my inbox–making me smile. And it never really stopped.
We took it to Twitter almost immediately. I don’t remember why, but it just came up that we both liked Twitter, and there you were. We talked all day long. About literally everything.
You were originally from Chicago. An only child, like me. Your parents were divorced, and your Mama raised you by herself. You had a good, but sometimes strained, relationship with your Dad. You went to school in the city where you currently lived–a school I almost went to at the exact same time. You worked for a school district by day in a job that merged tech and art. You did side gigs, too. But you were a true artist at heart–especially photography.
You’d just gotten out of a long-term relationship with a slightly abusive woman, and when it ended, you lost 60 pounds. You had the most adorable dog, and you were obsessed with cocktails from South America. You loved bands I hated–the moodier the better–and you were hellbent on making me love them, too (and you–of course–won). You had friends everywhere, and you loved them. You didn’t mind driving hours to see people, and you were a damn good friend. This, I knew immediately. You sent me videos of your walkabouts. You flirted possibly more than I did.
Your mind was quick and sharp. You were confident, but decidedly not an asshole–and well, you made my cheeks hurt from smiling. As light as our conversations were, you never strayed from the deep end.
We talked for hours the following night. And it was just easy.
We brought out things in each other that surprised us. You thought of yourself as shut-down, but I brought out a vulnerability in you. You would tell me about your bad days and let me support you. You told me you’d never been a feelings sort of guy, but when you read the play I wrote about my Mama, you admitted you cried. We meshed in every way possible, and I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to even know you.
But it scared me, too. And I–of course–freaked out–as was my way back then. I still was operating on this wavelength that said I was hard to love–reinforced by my ex. I still couldn’t just let you see all the really ugly shit. And it freaked you out because this was so different for you and such a departure for us.
I remember that night you drove all the way to Denver–at midnight. I was not one for surprise visits, and I freaked out a little–wouldn’t let you in. So, you talked to me on the phone from the landing outside my apartment. It was as close as I’ll probably get to a Say Anything moment, and I guess that’s when I knew I loved you. The neighbors didn’t appreciate your stubbornness–but it cemented what we had.
The rest is, as they say, history. Bygones. Crap. Stupid shit. But you’ll always be that guy I’ll wonder about–the one who got away. Who somehow keeps showing up lately–though we never have spoken since it all stopped. And we probably never will. I’m sorry I hurt you. I never meant to.