"I really liked this guy...."
After eighteen months of travelling abroad, I’m back on Amelia Island, Florida, house sitting for a friend in Amelia Park. I love the peace and quiet in this richly planned community of lovely homes, nestled close to each other, with meticulously manicured gardens and expansive porches…reminiscent of a days-gone-by southern culture when time imperceptibly moved forward. It’s a comforting shift from a frantic life of world travel. I’m blessed to tarry for a bit.
Granted, I have also taken advantage of this tranquility, clearing my path to connect to the work I love: presenting at the Story and Song Neighborhood Bistro and Bookstore; publishing a newly revised version of my novel, “Just A Girl”; playing and singing a playing my guitar at the local open mics; and updating DiannAbroad.com. But most important, catching up with family and old friends, both here on the Island, and elsewhere.
To the point of this blog, I agreed to catch up with a friend, an old flame. I met him here on Amelia Island, seven years ago, in the lounge at the Ritz Carlton during the Concours d'Elegance car show. The boisterous crowd filled every corner of the room.
He was staring at me. I looked away. Then, I looked back. His blue eyes didn't waver. He nodded for me to meet him on the dance floor. I obliged.
We danced like nobody was watching to the outstanding music of The Instant Groove Band. The Groove went on break. We didn't. Piped music filtered in and he sang the lyrics to me: “It's a quarter after one, I'm all alone and I need you now”!
I liked this guy.
Over the next four days…days is the operative word...we we spent those days together. He was adorable, fun, down to earth, smart, personable, with great hair and, gosh, those lovely blue eyes. We drank pinot noir. And, he proudly introduced me to his friends.
I liked this guy.
After four days, he left Amelia Island to return to his home in Philadelphia, with promises of future contact. Indeed, we had long, wonderful phone conversations, always sweet and upbeat. We learned a lot about each other.
I really liked this guy.
We made plans to meet. But, it didn't happen. I was bummed, of course, but time passed and life went on.
For the next four years, he repeatedly said he coming to visit. I believed him, at first. I even believed him for a year. Then, as time went on, I didn’t.
Still, our conversations were always interesting and fun. I never knew when he might call and, each time, I was pleasantly surprised. Our friendship deepened, and I grew to understand we had the perfect relationship: no expectations, no demands, no pining, no grieving or whining, no reference to a future, no wishing, and no hoping… nothing, except a very rewarding, albeit intermittent, telephone relationship.
I liked this guy.
Then, it happened.
He called to say he would be coming to Amelia Island. He sounded much more convincing, this time.
I said that was wonderful, adding, “I don’t live in Amelia anymore…I moved to St. Petersburg, Florida.”
His called nearly every night for the next two weeks. Laughter, self-disclosure, and his kind words increased. Still, no expectations.
Eventually, he said he was coming to St. Petersburg.
I explained that it was unnecessary…he didn’t need to convince me of our friendship…I didn’t expect him to visit…his choice not to visit had no negative effect on what I considered the perfect friendship: a telephone relationship.
“You could ruin it, you know,” I said.
I really, really liked this guy.
Indeed, he came to see me in St. Petersburg for four days and, sweet Mother Nature also intervened. A crippling snow storm in Philadelphia closed the airport for two days. We had a beautifully romantic six days together with his initiating, again, concentrated discussions about our future.
At first, I pleasantly avoided engaging in his describing our future...at least for the first 3 days. On the fourth day, I gave in to his sweetness.
He left with assurance of a life together.
I waited by phone the first few days. Well, seven days. Truth? I confess, I hovered over my cell for twelve miserable days.
To be clear, I was not happy for a few reasons: He said he would call. I believed him! He didn’t call. Most important, I hated myself for wallowing in this self-imposed state of wonting. Yep, wonting: my habit of distressed needfulness! Truth is I regressed to the outrageous longing emotions of a seventh-grade teenager…a horrible state for a late sexagenarian!
Problem was...I really liked this guy! I had to change something…anything…to break out of this self-flagellation!
I called him.
His voice was cold. His comments, condescending and aloof.
I remained an adult, ending the call and the telephone relationship without malice. Why work myself up into more emotions that would serve only to deepen my wounds?
I allowed myself to mourn for an appropriate amount of time. I successfully embraced the pain of the loss of the relationship…a necessary step to achieve complete healing. And, I went on with my life, leaving him only as a dim memory of another lesson learned.
It got easier.
Fast forward a year later, he called, “I’m coming to visit you in St. Petersburg.”
“Wonderful! Have a great time, I’m in Spain, on the Mediterranean Sea,” I said warmly, with a tinge of sarcasm.
“Ah…I’m coming to visit you in Spain.”
“Ok, good,” I said, thinking… here we go again....
After three days of his describing, in great detail, how hard he was trying to get away from his projects to visit me in Spain, I breathed deeply and listened carefully to my inner voice who was whispering loudly in my ears and pounding in my heart.
This guy was not right for me. However, I didn't say that to him. No, I chose to tell him that I was not the right person for him. He needed to find someone else. I knew the definition of insanity: going back, expecting something different. I knew our pattern (or his pattern) and I wasn’t willing to engage in it again.
Note, I was not unkind to him. I didn’t cast blame or say that I thought he had a screw loose. Of course, not. I simply said that I wanted him never to contact me again.
Of course, as you likely guessed, he called. He texted. He called. He texted…texted. He texted, again.
I ignored it all and after a time, he finally stopped.
It was over, and I was over him.
But, no, of course, not!
Eighteen months later, just this past May, he texted, “How are you? Where are you? 'It’s a quarter after one, and I need you now!' When are you coming back to the States?”
Yeah, I know what you readers are thinking? What? Are you crazy?
Yes, yes, but, honestly this fella was the first guy in years…I’m talking 15 years! …that interested me…that I had some chemistry with…that I felt completely comfortable being myself…blah, blah, blah.
And, no, of course I did not ignore the text! I texted back.
I told him I was going to be in the States (Florida, Ohio, and North Carolina) for a short time and gave him my itinerary. I added he was welcome to meet me anywhere, knowing it was a safe invitation, given his track record. I added that I would be free except when on Amelia Island where I would be busy, giving some presentations.
“Presentations? About what?”
“My books – a novel and a non-fiction reference guide to travel.”
He said he couldn’t wait to read them.
“Sure, you are,” I said to myself.
Then, I received his text late one night, “Just finished your novel three minutes ago…so many questions! Wow! When and where can I come visit you?”
He read my book?!
I liked this guy, dammit!
Meanwhile, my scheduled changed and became more complicated due to shifts in my friends’ calendars and book signing agreements. Now, North Carolina was out, and I wasn’t sure how long I was going to be in any one location.
He asked me to visit him: “Come to my world…I've been asking you to visit me for seven years. Now is the time...come to my world...for a week, a month, 6 months…as long as you want!”
It was true, he had asked me many times, usually after he cancelled our meeting somewhere. I always said no. This time, after a great deal of thought, I relented and agreed to visit for ten days.
As I left for the airport, I said to my good friend here, “Let’s compare. If I were speaking to an audience 15,000 people or visiting this guy, which would be the most frightening for me?”
She laughed, “Visiting this guy…but, it’s important that you find out…once and for all. It’s going be great or...a bust.”
I left JAX airport with a commitment to myself: I would be open to whatever might happen…the good, the bad and the everything in between. I would risk another heart break, knowing it would be the last heart break with him.
He eagerly jumped out of the car at the baggage claim area at the Philly airport. He looked older. (I’m SURE I didn’t!) He was stooped over some, but those blue eyes and that big smile.
“Be still my heart,” I whispered to myself. It was wasn’t easy.
But, pretty quickly, a red flag emerged. I detected a difference...he seemed less personable...not as personable…not as warm...not as engaged.
I waited, assuming it was natural. It had been a long time since we even had a lengthy phone conversation.
Two days later I knew time was wasting. I decided to be honest with him, like never before, and explain my feelings for him, over these seven years. We laughed, reminisced, and drank too much. It was a lovely, tearful, romantic evening.
The ice was broken. Or, so I thought.
The next day, he returned to his distant, impersonal demeanor and added a condescending attitude. I ignored it, as best I could, noting to myself that this was turning into my worst nightmare: trapped with someone that had left this “relationship” before I had.
I secretly scanned the internet for a flight back to JAX. No luck, unless I wanted to spend $700. Ah, not a chance!
I repeated to myself: You are adult, Diann. You can handle this. Remember his view of you, what ever it is, good or bad, does not define you. You are a strong, independent woman, entirely capable.
Again, time was getting short. I decided to get to the bottom of his change in his behavior from the time he asked me to visit until now. I wanted him to say it, whatever it was. I needed to know and I wanted to hear his words.
At dinner, I asked him what had changed.
He said nothing had changed.
I explained that I was confused and thought I was getting mixed signals.
His response was nothing I expected.
He tried to argue.
Of course, I didn’t engage in that dysfunction. We are too damn old to play games. At least, I am.
Suddenly, I had a brilliant idea. I swear, it was divine intervention!
“You know," I said, "I think... we missed our time. We missed the time...the time our being together could have...might have... worked. And, now, that time has passed."
He hesitated, searched for his words, and said, “I think…I think…I agree with you.”
“How adult,” I thought.
We finished our meal in silence and were pleasantly cordial to each other for the next two days...which happened to be the last two days I was there.
Now, the circle was complete. I felt bad about this loss.
With more self-evaluation, I came to know that my relationship with this guy had been a hopeful dream, not a reality. In turn, I was happy about my behavior when I was “in his world,” how I managed myself, my emotions, and my brilliant idea that let us both off the hook, free of any more awkward discussions revealing our feelings, or lack thereof.
Timing is everything and our time had passed.
I returned to the serenity of Amelia Island. I went for a run the next morning, jogging through a path covered with sweet-scented pine needles, passed a
serene lake with danger signs warning of alligators. I glanced at the water’s edge, briefly scanning for enormous jaws filled with sharp teeth. I saw none.
Trees and bushes canopied over the trail, interrupted with large roots threatening a potential nose dive. I simply stepped higher. It was a great, refreshing, mind-clearing run.
That’s life, isn’t it? We move forward on a path of our own choosing, aware of the uncertainties, informed of potential dangers, but determined to continue. It requires a willingness to be vulnerable, to risk failure, even heartbreak. In my case, repeated heartbreak. And, a conscious choice to step higher...to rise above it.
I’ve learned, again for the first time, heartbreak isn’t the worst. Not being willing to risk love for fear of heartbreak is not living life to the fullest. I am very happy all of this happened. I am better for it.
Finally, I really did like him.