Monday, September 18, 2017

How It Started


June 22, 2017

He tells the story as though he had written it himself. I caught his attention thirteen years ago, before I had ever heard a mere whisper that he had been looking in my direction. 

I've never been too good for my hometown. Although there are a trove of now-strangers who want to act as though they're playing on a higher-tier than the rest of us, I've never been too good to believe that my someone could have been right under my nose the entire time. But when the one whom I thought was my someone strayed, I didn't think there were any decent ones left roaming around these Tennessee roads.

But then I was in Williamsburg, Virginia sipping on margaritas while subsequently diving into a plate of chicken enchiladas, replaying all of the hilarity that my short ten months of single-mom status had offered up, when something else happened. I said goodbye to one more waste of time and watched as another new man, unprompted, came waltzing in at sunrise the next day.

I sat in my best friends' living room laughing. But I was also hurt.

"Why," I thought out loud, "what was the point of that?"

Thomas had just finished reading the now-infamous letter. 

"I'm scratching my head over this one too," he said with a grin and furrowed brow. 

And that's what I told the man with a thick beard who had written me a very flattering and specific e-mail sent over on Easter Sunday. He deserved for me to meet up with him, at the very least, for coffee, I remember thinking. He took so much time and paid attention to so much detail. He wanted to make me feel special and he did. Particularly with this line:

"So, that's why I wrote you; to tell you that you are admired for far more than just one reason."

When I met this man we sat at my Starbucks and talked up until closing time (and I say "my" Starbucks because I allowed him into my private, special place at my private, special table for that evening - where I did every stitch of writing for my first book). The next morning he described a dream that he had about the two of us that night. He was still very much involved but not smothering, that was an attractive quality.

A few days later though, he became as flaky as a Pillsbury biscuit. I was out before I had even thought about taking a step in. I wanted him to admit it though. I wanted him to grow a pair of balls and say ... anything. I texted him while sitting at the Mexican restaurant in Williamsburg reaching for an explanation. And I got one. I promptly texted back that evening telling him that all of the time and effort he put into that beautiful letter was negated the moment he decided to juggle more than one interest. 

Later that night, as we sat mapping out our weekend plans, I told my friends that I was done. I was praying for one thing and that was for my career. It wasn't for a man. In fact, most of my prayers came out as, "I'd rather check this goal off my list for me and for Claire than for another man to come in. I'd rather do without if it means reaching it."

And I was comfortable in that thought. I had pocketed some uplifting news concerning my book. I had received a kick-in-the-ass that I desperately needed to get me through the rest of the summer; I was content.

After we had gone through every silly scenario and figured out where our first stop in the morning would be, Aromas downtown, I went into my room, more specifically Jeffrey's room, Thomas and Maddison's son. I grabbed clothes to change into and set my alarm. I vowed before closing my eyes that night that I was really, really done. I hadn't gone after any one of these dickheads that had kept popping up in my life and I wasn't planning on starting anytime soon. But the dickheads seemed to like to go after me, at least for a minute.

June 23, 2017

I woke up to a message from him on Instagram. Before I even opened up the message I thought, "Um why?"

It read:

"You popped up on Bumble."

I laughed. I laughed too hard and for far too long. Then I showed Maddison, and she laughed too. Partly because of the vow I had just made around twelve hours before this DM rolled in. And also because I wasn't even in the vicinity of my hometown, where he was. The app had been deleted off of my phone since March. I smelled bullshit and that's exactly what I wrote back.
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