I’ll Surf With You

“Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” T.S. Eliot

At the beginning of November, I told my friend, Laura, that I was over this whole dating thing. I had tried Bumble at the start of the summer. Dated my first online match ever for about four months. And realized that making anyone else a priority at this time in my life wasn’t actually possible. So with that in mind, I decided to go on my own for a while. I preferred it anyway.

Laura encouraged me to try Bumble again, but to be really picky this time. Like really, really picky. Fine. Couldn’t hurt. So I went back on. Swipe left, swipe left, swipe left, swipe right, swipe left. I don’t know what it is about my profile but the matches were overwhelming. Did I really match with all these guys? Ugh. I let them expire one by one. I wasn’t in the mood.

On Election Day, I was feeling extra skippy because, so I thought, we’d be electing our first woman president and, so I knew, I’d finally be closing on my Brooklyn apartment. That same morning, I had matched with someone who seemed to be the guy version of me. For the first time in a while I was curious. Interested. But election day was absolutely not the day to chat…so I sent him a message.

Me: Hi J! Just another regular ol Tuesday, right?

J: Couldn’t be more normal for me.

Me: (I should delete this guy. WTF. It’s election day.)

J: People get so worked up…If they would channel that passion and enthusiasm into their families, and communities, and careers…I’m not a fan of election years.

Me: (Hmmm…I’ll keep chatting.)

We proceeded to talk about life and travel and somehow managed to plan a fake/real excursion together.

Me: I need to learn this whole surfing thing.

J: Let’s learn. If you wanna go to Maui or Sri Lanka, I’ll surf with you.

Me: MAUI IS MY FAVORITE. (Do not tell him you have a cat named Maui.)

J: We should meet at the airport? Despite the utter creepiness, wouldn’t it be kinda exciting?

Me: We should.

The next day, we were both feeling giddy AF about each other. The way I felt surely helped me get through the election results. There was even a point where I thought I could fall in love. This is DAY 2, mind you. But omg omg omg I found him I found him I found him.

By the end of day 3, we had set plans for him to meet me in Los Angeles while I was out there for work and then the next day I’d go with him to Seattle for a Seahawks/Panthers game. This wasn’t a completely random idea. We had just “met” and he was, unfortunately, going to be moving away from New York at the end of the year. But I was also going to be traveling all the way up until then. So the only way for us to spend time together was if he joined me wherever I was.

“I just want to be with you,” he said.

I was incredibly anxious since this little rendezvous was nearly a month away. Would we still feel so strongly by that point? Plus, we had only seen each other in person once over a 45 minute meal at a grungy, underground Thai restaurant near the hospital where he worked (yes, our first date was during his coffee break). But the way he spoke to me made me feel so alive. We were both being crazy and I found comfort in that.

Me: Where have you been all my life?

J: On Bumble! Where have you been?

M: Want to go to Paris with me?

J: Want to go to Jazz Fest with me?

M: I’m so happy.

J. My heart is full.

We went on a proper date a few days later. The spark? Nowhere to be found. While we were similar, we were different in some pretty fundamental ways.

Before I left on my travels we agreed to FaceTime every single day. We ended up FaceTiming twice. The texting went from all day to sometimes. I went from giddy AF to meh AF. And this trip was inching closer and closer. Fuck.

A week before he’d be meeting me in LA, I had a pit stop in New York. We thought it would be a good idea to see each other in person since it had been a while. He was working that night so I told him that I’d come to the hospital to visit him. “I only have ten minutes,” he said.

I could tell his mind was all over the place. He seemed stressed. I walked with him to get a burger and our conversation was just off. During our chat, he said things like, “I feel bad, I didn’t really think through this Seattle trip. Do you still want to go?” “There’s going to be a lot of guys drinking all day and acting ridiculous. It’s going to be rainy and cold. I should have prepared you for that…But you’re more than welcome to come.”

Oof. More than welcome to come? I couldn’t have felt any more uncomfortable at that point.

I walked him back to the hospital and we said goodbye with a hug. Yep, a hug. I knew this was bad. Maybe it will come back? God, help me.

While in LA, I saw many special friends each day and literally had a smile fixed on my face the entire time. Then the day came when J would be arriving. Dun dun dunnnn. I was nervous as hell because at this point we were 100% forcing it. But I was set on the idea that I would make the best of this crazy journey. I committed to this. To the story, right?

We said our hello’s and agreed to drink the entire bottle of champagne that I got him for his birthday. Oh, yeah. It was his birthday. Later that night, we had a lovely dinner with his friends. Actually, that’s not true. I felt blocked out of the entire conversation, which rarely happens to me, but hey, the drinks were strong so I kept them coming.

The morning of our flight to Seattle, I turned to J and said, “I don’t think I’m going to go.” He had once again been saying that he didn’t think this trip through when he invited me and wasn’t sure if I would have a good time. I wanted to cry. How did I get myself into this situation?!

Anyway, I got on the flight to Seattle. I was so distracted by everything going on that while I was up in the air I realized I left my favorite red leather jacket at LAX and my new shoes at the hotel in LA. This situation was already super awkward so I couldn’t bring the mood down even further with this mishap. Try to be cool. Try to be cool. TRY TO BE COOL. Who needs a red leather jacket anyway? Gulp.

The rest of the weekend was fine. We went to a party at a bar with his Carolina Panther friends. I invited a couple of my friends and made the best of it since he wasn’t paying much attention to me. That night, he even encouraged me to go home with another guy. Was I being punked? The next day, we took a lovely, peaceful stroll through Seattle. I then went by myself to the YSL exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum, which was truly the highlight of my weekend. Later, I met him at the Carolina tailgate. He did his own thing. I did mine. Along with his friends, we went to the football game at the home of the Seattle Seahawks, which was such a cool experience. J even managed to finagle us some field passes so we could see the teams practice right there in front of us. As you might guess, the Panthers lost. And so did the relationship between me and J.

To be candid, he and I managed to have plenty of juicy, romance novel-like moments over the weekend, which was a surprise to me, all considering. But no one wants to hear about all that, right? Ahem…Hi, Dad…

The day after the game, we said our goodbyes at the airport and I honestly didn’t know if I’d see him again. We loosely agreed to hang out in New York when I got back/before he left. Then he got on his flight back to New York and I was off to Houston for work.

What I’m trying to process as I sit here and write this story is how we could go from ALL THE FEELINGS to zero feelings. How does that happen? It seemed so real, so deep, so exciting. And then bam. Done.  We crashed and burned in what seemed like a matter of seconds. Am I really prepared to risk that again? My heart totally tricked me.

Here’s the deal: I have no regrets. I tried. I put myself out there. We both made it out alive and with a cool experience to boot. I’m actually proud of myself. Proud of him, too. And to be honest, we both had a nice weekend, we laughed a lot and we still remain friends.

I also learned some things. I learned that while I do like being alone and spending time with myself and my friends, I also kind of, maybe want to share my life with someone special again. Yes, I’ve been burned. Yes, I’ve been hurt. And yes, I’ve seen one of the most important relationships of my life fail-and fail hard. But having that kind of warmth in my heart felt amazing, even if it was only for a split second. Thanks for that, J.

So, okay, okay. It might be is worth getting back out there and taking the risk – but this time I won’t book a jaunt with him so quickly. You have my word.  Actually, never mind. I can’t make silly promises like that.

And, Heart? Don’t trick me like that again.

Before I get back out there, I’ll be taking a solo trip to Mexico in four days to clear my head and relax. Something told me to go. So I booked it…a few days ago.

I’m heading to a retreat center in a little fishing village called Chacala, which is just outside of Puerto Vallarta. While there, I’ll be spending Christmas meditating, savoring meals made of leafy greens and tropical fruits plucked from an organic farm, laying on the warm sand, practicing yoga every morning and enjoying me. Funny enough, surf lessons are also on the agenda.

Anyway, it’s been a long, wild year. I’m looking forward to capping it off by saying “yes” to me and only me. Arriba!

“You are beautiful because you let yourself feel, and that is a brave thing indeed.” – Shinji Moon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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