I’m back from vacation and grounded back in our home space, which means I have space to write again. When we’re traveling, Aurora is unpredictable and our environments are unpredictable, which makes me and writing unpredictable.
In day 73 I introduced you to S***, a man who helped escort me into some darkness, and I said I’d talk about what happened, but I got blocked and then vacation happened. But now that I’m back so it’s time to go there. But rather than give S*** an entire story and credit for my darkness all for himself which I’m sure he’d love, I’m going to split the darkness and share letters to both him and one other relationship that helped flip me upside down and then right side up.
And what I’ve learned in life is that sometimes the whole point of a relationship is to show you either who you are or who you are not. But sometimes as that sorting can happen, things can get messy and mine got messy. But I’ve also learned that messy can be good. As long as peripheral demage is minimized, apologies delivered if need be, and responsibility taken for behavior, messy is necessary for recentering. And I’ve also found that being in the dark is part of finding your way back to the light.
So here we go first back to 2004.
It’s been a while. And I doubt you’d ever read this because you’ve blocked me on all social media (my first experience getting blocked) and you’ve asked me to not contact you again, so this letter is more for me than for you, because I’ve done my best to make things right between us.
You were 22 and new to Park City when we met on Match.com in May of 2004 and you were not only the first guy I called my boyfriend after I ended my engagement in January of 2004, but you were also the youngest guy I’d ever dated. I was only 27 at the time we met but I sure made a big deal out of those 4 years between us. You were fresh out of grad school for architecture, living in a ground floor room of a 3 bedroom apartment owned by a quiet awkward engineer named Marshall. You were exploring life as a part time ski bum and night time snow maker for Deer Valley, which was a premiere ski resort in Park City. When you first reached out to me on Match, I completely dismissed you because I believed you were too young for me. But then you were adorably persistent in your requests for a date, but I was equally stubborn in my attempts to dodge you. But you were quite clever in that you knew I owned my day spa, so one day you called to find out when my last massage was for the day, and then you were waiting patiently for me at the front desk when my day was over. You were easy to recognize because you were very handsome with dark brown shaggy hair, bright blue eyes and front teeth that had a gap in between them. I was immediately at ease with you when we met so I overlooked the mild cute stalking that you initiated to secure a first hang out.
The first increment of time we spent together was oddly perfect; we were in the back relaxation room at my spa sitting on the deep soft loungey green sofa and we just talked about life and who we were being in the world. I was surprised by the insights coming from someone who I’d deemed so young and we stayed in that back space together for nearly 2 hours; long enough that our spa cleaning crew began and my team let me know I’d have to lock up. Time with you was flying by, and I wanted more of it, which surprised me given how reluctant I’d been at the beginning to even give you a chance.
When we finally called it a night, you walked me to my truck and we hugged goodbye, but I noticed the hug lingered for a few seconds beyond a customary hug, and you gave me your phone number letting me know you were about to leave on a 10 day road trip with your roommate Marshall through the southwest. We said goodbye and I knew I wanted to see you again and that felt surprising and refreshing.
Over the 10 days you were gone we exchanged txt messages several times a day keeping each other updated on what we were up to, how our day was going and anything funny or peculiar unfolding in our day. In a way it was as though we were skipping the first few dates of small talk and feeling each other out. And our connection was deep enough that I felt a punch in the gut the 1-2 times I logged into Match.com and saw you were either active or had been active within an hour. I wondered who else you were talking to, and noticed that I wanted it to just me be.
When you returned our connection and chemistry together was electric instantly and from the first moment we came together again it was hard to peel us apart. I spent nearly every night at your place, utilizing the sliding glass porch door to enter in the evenings after work and I’d climb right into your bed and we’d watch stand up comedy and have long passionate make out sessions.
I’d recently gotten off birth control pills, so I’d dropped 10lbs in just a few weeks so I felt incredibly sensual and sexy in my body and we took advantage of that. I’d come from a space of nearly no sexual chemistry with my fiancé, so to be with you felt like a new world.
The only thing I found exceptionally strange about your life was your relationship with your roommate Marshall. You two had a standing date every Saturday night for dinner, and Marshall would cook, and set the table upstairs for just the two of you. I think I wouldn’t have found it so weird if Marshall was friendly to me; but instead he barely acknowledged my existence and when I’d be face to face with him saying hello, he looked everywhere except in my eyes and barely acknowledge me. I didn’t know if he was protective of you because of your friendship, or if he wanted to be in your bed instead of me.
Our 4-5 night per week relationship was up to 3 months, which to me, was a long time. Long enough that I’d heard about your family in North Dakota, I’d heard about your college & grad school experiences and I’d heard about your ex girlfriend Stephanie who you dated through your senior year of high school and all through college and grad school. Of course I didn’t like her because she obviously had something quite special about her to capture your attention for so many years. At that point my longest relationship was around 7-8 months, even with my fiancé, so I couldn’t imagine being so young and being with someone for so long. You told me you’d been broken up for almost a year, but you still spoke to her occasionally because you were such good friends before you dated. And I hated that about her as well.
When we entered month 4 of our hang out, there’d been no title given to us, and no official talk of either of us going off of Match.com, but I wasn’t actively seeking other dates because you had a monopoly on my time and attention. Sure I could take those Saturday nights you had with Marshall and go exploring another connection, but that felt awkward and like it would be cheating on you in a way, especially since we’d been physically intimate. But we never talked about being exclusive which to me felt hard because I love feeling secure and having a label on my relationship.
But just as I felt I was quite close to opening up a conversation about the status of us, you let me know you’d been invited to Santa Fe, New Mexico the next month for a friend’s wedding, and you wanted to know if I would be your date. Yes!!!!! I would love to!!!! Finally I’d arrived at girlfriend status (in my mind)! But wait, isn’t that what being a date to a best friends wedding meant? That we were an official couple? Again, no clarity was established and no labels given, so I marched onward as your ambiguous plus 1 to your best friend’s wedding. We’d planned to make it a fun road trip by driving directly to the wedding, but then camping a few days on the way back. A perfect time for a “dtr” (determine the relationship) talk. But something unfolded right before we left that made the trip a little unpredictable.
The night before we left I noticed that you were on your laptop a lot and always had it tilted away from me in a way to ensure that I couldn’t see what you were up to on the screen. Your computer behavior was odd enough that I mentioned it, and you dismissed my question and said it was personal, and not to worry about it. Ummm, you say something is personal to your 4month talk every day, sleep in the same bed 5 nights a week no title relationship? That’s going to send up some red flags, so up mine went. I prickled when you gave me this response and everything in me wanted to know what was so personal that you couldn’t mention it to me. So rather than let things unfold naturally and respect your privacy, I instead bombarded into your personal space with muddy boots looking for an answer.
The morning before we left town when you were in the shower, I knew I had 4-5 minutes of uninterrupted time with your computer, so I went for it. I opened the lid and opened a fresh page and opened gmail, hoping it would automatically log into four account. But nope, I had to actually type in your email address which I already knew, and enter a password. You’d think this was game over in my quest for answers, but no. Instead I tapped into my largely unused psychic powers, and tried 2 potential passwords and nailed it on my second try. Boom, I was in and my heart was racing. But there staring at me in your inbox was an unread message from your ex Stephanie that was several message threads deep. My heart began to race more both in confusion and anxiety because you’d already been in the shower for about 3 minutes and I would have a lot to explain if you walked out of the bathroom and saw me staring at your gmail inbox. But did I sign out and safely close the lid and go about my business as though it had never happened? Nope, instead I clicked on the message and opened it, and felt my heart break.
The message was back and forth between you two professing your love for each other and sadness that life had dealt you hands that prevented you two from being together. In the more recent thread Stephanie had asked if you’d met anyone, and that’s where things got ugly. Your response the day before was that you’d met girls here n there, but no one of significance, and no one like her.
Talk about a punch in the gut. I wasn’t like her, but I was like me; but apparently that went enough. And that’s when I heard the shower turn off and my heart nearly exited my body it was pounding so hard out of fear of getting caught red handed reading your personal message. But I had the foresight to click on the message, mark it as unread, quickly sign out, and close the computer lid and drop my body onto the floor pretending to do some stretches just as the bathroom door opened.
“Where are you?”
“I’m on the floor stretching because my back was hurting.”
“Ok, well shower is free so you can jump in there and then we need to hit the road.”
Wow, I’d done it; I’d gotten away with hacking into your email and having my question I was curious about answered, but I didn’t like my answer and I didn’t know what to do next. I’d never felt so insignificant before in my life; apparently I was a fill in girl, until what? Until you found someone better? Until the steer aligned and you got back together with Stephanie? I thought you’d made it clear that she wasn’t what you wanted anymore, so why lead her on in the messages, or why lie to me and lead me on? I was hurt, confused and embarrassed all at the same time, so the floor was a great place to regain some composure. But I had to keep a friendly poker face and hide any indication as though something were array since we were about to depart on our trip.
Luckily we listened to a book on tape during our drive, so I didn’t have to fake my attitude and I had 11 hours to try and talk myself out of the conclusions I’d drawn from what I’d read in your email. Once we reached Santa Fe things moved very fast and there was no time or space for my head to entertain my different scenarios, so I did my best to stay present and upbeat in the moment. We arrived in time for the rehearsal dinner and we stayed in the same hotel as all your friends, so there was always someone in our room, or we were in their room hanging out. The next day we did a short group tour of Santa Fe which was fun since I hadn’t been there since 8th grade, and then the getting ready began. The hotel was also the venue for the wedding, so that was easy, and you got ready with the groomsmen, and I took my time getting dressed in our room and upping my makeup and hair game to match my fancy floor length fitted dress that was deep maroon, had spaghetti straps and a deep v neck that accentuated my large fake breasts. I wrapped a light weight scarf around my shoulders, perfected my lipstick and added lip gloss, face blotting tissues, my cell phone, a credit card and my room key to my purse, and I went downstairs to meet you for the ceremony.
I wish I could bottle up the look you gave me when you saw me; it was complete bewilderment. And you were right, I looked damn good that night, and I felt your affection for me double. You touched me more, you held my hand, and when we slow danced towards the end of the night, I heard you whisper “I love you” into my ear, and I was pretty sure that the wine on your breath helped you find these words. I soberly responded with a kiss, feeling light from the sentiment that was now on the table, but heavy from what I also knew. That just days before you’d told your ex that you also loved her and there was no one on your romantic radar. Ugh. Way to go me for doing too much and sabotaging my own romantic moment.
The next morning when we woke up I wondered if you’d be as romantic and sweet as you were with alcohol, and you were somewhere in between. I didn’t hear those 3 words from you when we woke up, or at brunch with your friends, or when we packed up our stuff and loaded it back into my truck to begin our 4-5 day romantic return road trip. Did you remember what you said to me? Did you only feel that way because you were drinking? Was this okay to bring up? All valid questions I thought, but it also felt like I was tip toeing through some very sensitive topics and uncharted territory for us and we still had several days together so I wondered how it would come up.
When we reached Taos it was beautiful and mildly chilly because it was middle of September. We stopped and grabbed some food and water and then drove my truck deep into a gorgeous back country dirt road with high red rock cliffs. We found a few camp spots and pulled over and set up a bonfire to cook some s’mores we’d gotten and I did my best to feel happy. We’d be sleeping in the back of my truck because I had a futon set up in the back of my truck so we’d brought plenty of pillows and blankets because the plan was hang outside but get cozy in the truck. It was all so romantic and perfect that I thought it was the perfect scene to come clean and apologize about what I’d done regarding your email. And by how well the last 48 hours had gone, and because of the love bomb you’d dropped on me, I honestly didn’t think it was going to be a big deal; I thought you’d laugh, reassure me of your feelings for me, tell me you were letting your ex down easy and kindly protecting her from knowing about me, and you and I would make love under the stars and fall asleep in each other arms.
But that’s totally not how it went down.
We made our s’mores, laughed around the campfire, you shared more stories about the people I’d met and connected with at the wedding, and then we retired into the back of my truck for some peaceful sleep. Now was the time. So as you snuggled me from behind, I held your hands around my waist and let you know there was something important I needed to share. You responded by unwrapping your arms and shifting your weight so that you were above me and we were eye to eye. And I told you everything. From me not wanting to have feelings for you, to having feelings for you, to feeling insecure, to wondering if I was your girlfriend, and to the curiosity I had about your personal stuff you clearly didn’t want me seeing on your computer. At that point I felt your energy and body language shift and you sat up, still staring at me, but this time defensively, without the look of love for me that you’d had the night before. And the moment I said I read an email between you and Stephanie, you jerked your body backwards in horror, opened the bed of my truck, jumped out, through a few miscellaneous items from our romantic campfire scene into the back with me, closed the lid and got into the drivers seat and began to drive. Umm, what the fuck was happening?!
Here I was unworthy of your forgiveness or communication, isolated to the back of my own truck and being driven where? When I opened the window connecting the bed of the truck to the front, I asked, “hey so are we going to talk about this?” And his answer was short and perfectly to the point.
“No we are not; this is over and we are over. I’m driving you straight back to Park City and you need to stay back there because I don’t even want to look at you.”
Holy shit; this was really happening. I felt like livestock being transferred from one location to another and I had nothing in the back of the truck with me to take my attention off of what was happening. I’d signal with a knock on the window if I needed to pee, and he drove all night and into the next morning to get away from me for good.
I briefly fell asleep, but when I awoke and looked out the window of my camper top I recognized that we were almost home, so I began to prepare myself for the talk I thought we’d have when we arrived at your house. But nope, when we arrived back at your house you pulled over to the curb rather than go into the garage, and you took out all of your possessions from my truck in less than 1 minute, and then you looked at me one last time and coldly said, “goodbye Harriet.” And you walked up the stairs and didn’t look back. I climbed out of my truck, moved into the front seat and drove myself home completely stunned at what had just unfolded.
I called, I emailed and I txted, but you gave me radio silence. In 24 hours you’d gone from whispering I love you into my ear to coldly cutting ties and extinguishing any flicker of a fire that was left, and that’s how we left it for 3 years. But then you reached back out under a completely different context, and we reignited so that we could continue to explore the darkness together, but that’s another story.
And more on S*** coming soon.