This sh*t is crazy.
I dated a blonde boy once. Years ago. A tall blonde who sometimes wore glasses, knew how to build things, could keep up with me in conversation and used to play guitar in a band but now had a real job and a mortgage. I would have ordered him off a menu.
Back then flirting happened throughout the workday over Instant Message. Do you remember that? What an unproductive year 2008 must have been. Every time I’d dig into a task there it would be, the optimistic brrrring! on the screen tempting me with something much more entertaining than…you know, work.
In a sense we were spending our days together, constantly in communication, getting to know each other and developing an attachment, a reliance on that person always being present on the opposite side of the screen. He was funny, but witty funny…smart funny, my favorite kind.
I felt consumed by thoughts of him. These thoughts had power, and potential. It was so rare for me to think of someone in terms of an actual future. Looking back on it as an older, wiser, saltier woman, I know why I wanted him so much. He made me.
He brewed my affection for him like pour over coffee, tending to it, feeding it. He seemed so into me, that there was no visible reason for me to be cautious or apprehensive about developing real feelings. It wasn’t an ill-advised whirlwind romance, it was patient, and easy — I never wondered if he felt the same for me, he always made it clear. I so rarely felt safe in liking someone, and he was doing his damndest to fortify my heart.
One Chicago summer night he took me to a barbecue, a patio affair with string lights and all of his close friends from college. Until that point I’d had very few relationships (still haven’t) that involved meeting someone’s friends, and while he and I hadn’t had a state-of-the-union discussion to establish exactly what we were, the invitation to this event was another confidence-building move. I wish he’d just gone by himself.
It was one of the best nights I’ve ever had. A beautiful spot, people who were actual grown-ups. Confident pairs who, within 2–3 years or so, would all have kids. They were friendly, warm people who looked happy to see me, happy to see me with him. More than that, even. They seemed…