Much to my surprise, things were going better than good with the new guy. The past weekend, our first unplanned sleepover had turned into a delicious entire weekend together full of comedy, music, lively intellectual and spiritual conversations, a long bike ride, decadent breakfast buffet and late afternoon at the beach. If I had any doubts that this man 16 years my senior could keep up with me, they were more than silenced by his joie de vivre and seemingly boundless energy—even in the middle of the night. On top of all that, this Renaissance Man turned out to enjoy inventively cooking and sweetly cuddling and had a wicked sense of humor that came out when I least expected it.
With all that goodness, I should’ve had my guard up for interference, which sometimes seems inevitable in my complicated love life. Right before our beautiful bike ride that crossed state lines, the last man I was involved with, The European, sent me a text. It was just a simple hello, but enough to rattle me.
It’s not that we haven’t continued to keep in touch, but I had stopped initiating contact since I started seeing Renaissance Man. For several days, The European had kept his distance, but when I couldn’t sleep the night before, I couldn’t help my mind from having a couple flashbacks from our not so distant past, which truthfully never had a proper ending.
That night, the flashbacks got more pronounced; there were many good ones to run through my mind’s projector. The next day The European sent a photo of his best friend’s daughters playing in his living room and asked me how I was spending the holiday. I told him about the holiday brunch and my excitement about the planned trip to the beach.
Despite this brief distraction, my day with Renaissance Man was full and lovely as we walked by the water and admired the blooming daffodils on the nearby manor’s grounds, had a leisurely and picturesque drive home, then shared a delicious meal and conversation before retiring for the night. In the bed that night, I thought about Renaissance Man’s kindness, sense of adventure, humor, intelligence, maturity, versatility and the myriad of wonderful attributes that would make any woman feel blessed to have him by her side.
And then as the hours of insomnia rolled on, my mind once again wandered to The European and all the reasons why my heart still hadn’t fully kicked him out of its premises after all the confusion and hurt that he’d help to put us through.
Monday night, I was reading before bed when I got a text from The European informing me that he had finally taken one of my recommendations given after I had put on my health counselor hat. He said it seemed to be really helping him, so I replied that I was really happy to hear that. Then he asked if he could call me for a minute.
I hesitated. A call from him is never just a phone call. Ever since we discovered FaceTime on our iPhones, he uses it whenever he calls, so I see him face to face during our conversations. After our relationship unraveled, those calls gave me hope in spite of myself because I could still see that magic on his face, in his eyes. We’d attempted a reconciliation of sorts but his workaholic ways, living an hour and a half away and his confusion over what he really wanted prevented us from ever getting fully back together. As much as I still cared for him and enjoyed our conversations, it was obvious to me there would never truly be an “us” again, so I had moved on.
I’ve moved on, I thought. I am dating a guy who knows for sure he wants to be with me right now and is moving forward on all cylinders. I can talk to The European as a friend. So stubbornly ignoring my perhaps better judgment, I accepted his invitation.
Our call was cordial as we caught up on the latest. It had been less than a week since we’d last spoken, so we could skip over the mundane and go more in depth into things that were more interesting or revealing. It wasn’t a long conversation as both of us were tired, so we said pleasant goodbyes. I ignored his “honey” endearment, knowing it meant nothing, but I had to admit it was really nice to “see” him again.
The next night I had another date with Renaissance Man. After an absolutely beautiful performance by the extremely talented musician Anoushka Shankar, melding her sitar and India raga with Spanish flamenco, we were hungry for a skipped dinner, so made our way to the only place still open in the area: The diner. It still held memories of my obscenely late brunches with The European, but I was able to shake it off until I felt my phone vibrate—with a text message from you-know-who.
He was telling me he was increasing the supplement that we had talked about the night before, despite my recommendation to wait a few more nights, so he was giving me fair warning if he was “found cold” the next day. I jokingly replied his roommate should contact me if that was the case. Then he replied if he could call me a bit later, after he got home from work. Again??
I sat through my meal with Renaissance Man, distracted but still trying to participate in the conversation. I think he could tell I wasn’t fully present, but he didn’t push. When we got to my house, he came in with me, immediately distracting me in a way I couldn’t ignore. After I sent him home to get some sleep, I retrieved my phone and saw that The European had tried to contact me.
After our phones had some issues communicating, his face finally greeted me, and he marveled at how happy and lively I looked. After I told him all about the concert, and we discussed the latest with his fellowship and grant, the conversation winded down. Then he completely stunned me by asking, “So do you want to come up to visit me in Boston again?”
I had waited more than four weeks to hear these words before I got involved with Renaissance
Man, and now here they were, dangling before me like someone else’s panties. I looked at that face I had loved, listening to that wonderful accent that still caused me to smile no matter what he said, and I actually found myself hesitating. It was obvious there was still a room in my heart where he was still deeply nestled, and yet…Renaissance Man and I had Goliath legs.
Were The European and I just destined to have the fate of Icarus, who flies too close to the sun? I think we all remember how that ended.