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Ah yes, my first poem to go viral on the old tumblah. Hello, November. The crisp autumnal air always sparks a certain joy within me. Fall is certainly my favorite season (says everyone, ever), but I cannot deny the ghost of nostalgia that comes to haunt me during these golden months. Everyone must have someone that comes into their life and leaves a special imprint, but I’m not talking about the good kind. You know what I mean. That fuckboy you dated that you can’t let go of? Yeah, that kind of imprint. I hate the phase “the one that got away” because it’s more like “the one that pushed me away.”
You see dear reader, I too once had someone in my life that crushed my soul into pieces. Would you believe me if I told you that we never even dated? Hell, we never even kissed. But I was mad over him. Not anymore, of course. I am happy and so in love with Connor. I don’t regret anything with anyone I dated before Connor because it led me to him. I still want to explain this story because I think that as women, we can get classified as being psychotic, or weird, or unstable when we are madly infatuated with someone. Personally, I like a little psycho. Keeps things spicy. If I was a chill cucumber, how boring would that relationship be? Connor has always said I keep him on his toes. A little drama here and there never hurt anyone. That’s a lie, but you know what I mean. Anyway, I want to tell this story mostly to exorcise my own demons, but maybe there is a sliver in it that you can relate to.
If you can recall Tumblr days, you’re a real OG. I loved Tumblr. I actually didn’t really stop using it until four years ago. One day, I followed this attractive guy on there and he followed me. I don’t remember who slid into the messages first, or whether or not it was a “ask me anything” sort of deal, but this guy started messaging me and I had no idea who he was. All I could see was his little icon pic and I could tell he was attractive, but I didn’t have a full picture (which seems to be a theme for me – I met Connor with only one photo in mind that was his profile angle). Anyway, we started talking on Tumblr. I didn’t even know his name for a while. He just messaged me everyday talking about everything and anything. Not small talk either, we got into very deep, detailed conversations. I thought this was so cool. Someone I could just chat with. He wanted to know my mind. This was also after I had just gotten out of a horrible break up of my five-year emotionally abusive relationship. I was in no hurry to rush into anything new. It was so nice to have someone interested in just talking to me. It really felt like something special.
We talked every day for three months. Every single day, all day. He finally posted something that indicated Syracuse, NY. So I was like… wait. I asked him if he lives in Syracuse and he told me he did. Naturally, I stalked everyone on instagram until I found him. He wasn’t just in my area, we had the same friend group. You know I stalked his gram as soon as I found it. & I got all the info I needed. He had a girlfriend of five years.
I was like okay, sooooo we’re not talking anymore. I couldn’t believe he had just talked to me every day all day for three months and had a girlfriend. I was a little upset of course, it was nice talking to someone, but I moved on from it quickly as I was still going back and forth with my ex of five years at the time: Z. More on him another day.
So I forgot about my mysterious Tumblr crush for months. We had stopped talking in January of 2016 and then I didn’t hear from him again until I went to a fundraising event and saw him. And this is where my life flipped.
I debated using his real name in this post for a while. I couldn’t think of a fake name that would embody his dark, alluring persona. He was tall, dark, covered in tattoos, played in a band, and he had a beard. He was also an avid outdoor enthusiast. Safe to say I have a type. Connor is a bearded man & wilderness junkie, if you don’t already know; & I have a history of dating emo band boys. Anyway, He was the opposite of Z who was short, bright blonde, skinny, and bare (besides one tat on his ass – again, another day). My heart dropped into my stomach and buried itself in my guts. I was infatuated when I saw him. What kind of name do you give someone who turned your heart inside out? Who made every atom of your being catch fire?
In efforts to be civil & not expose him, I decided to give him no name. It seems more fitting. It’s mysterious, and he was mysterious. I also decided on no name because he never gave me one throughout our affair. Was I a friend? No way. Definitely not girlfriend. FWB? That’s a shit name tag.
So anyway, that day I met him for the first time, we had a very casual, normal conversation, and I remember staring at his grey fitted tee from behind wondering what he looked like without a shirt. But instead, I discovered he no longer had a girlfriend. They just broke up. Bingo.
Every ounce of the universe screamed DON’T DO IT EMMA, DON’T DO IT. HE’S VULNERABLE. THEY LIVED TOGETHER. THEY HAD DOGS. FIVE YEARS IS A LONG TIME. YOU ALSO JUST GOT OUT OF A FIVE YEAR RELATIONSHIP… DON’T DO IT, BITCH.
— I did it.
So then began our several month FWB ordeal. I will avoid the dirty details because that isn’t what this post is about. What I will say is that he was the first guy I had sex with after Z, my five year ex. Now Z was the first guy I ever had sex with. So mystery man was the second. I was inexperienced, sort of. I just came out of an abusive relationship. I was extremely vulnerable and longing to be loved.
The one thing I still struggle to understand is the way he made me feel. Maybe it was the age difference, or maturity difference. He was six years older than me and had a masters. It felt wrong. Like dirty wrong.. As if I wasn’t supposed to be there on his couch and he wasn’t supposed to put his arm around me. It felt like it was bad, but oh so sweet. There was no reason for it to be wrong. We had mutual friends and we didn’t tell anyone we were seeing each other, so maybe that’s it. For whatever reason, this guy could just sit next to me and every atom of my twenty year old body would explode. Every pore melted. I would start hyperventilating and sweating when he’d put his arm around me. What was this? Who is she? But really, who is he? Looking back on it now, it likely has something to do with just getting out of a five year relationship with the only person I had ever slept with. Mystery man was new. New territory. New hands. New bed. And boy, did I fall fucking hard for him.
I’ll spare the dirty details. However, one thing I do want to mention is that he never kissed me. Not once. We were seeing each other for several months and had sex a handful of times. I never talked to him about it because I knew it was to separate feelings from sex. He had told me up front he wanted to just be friends. He made that very clear. Of course, my twenty year old mind jumped to all the “what if’s.” I asked him countless times if we’d ever be more, to which he’d respond he wasn’t sure. This drove me nuts. I remember us having a very deep conversation outside of a laundromat (yes, he invited me to do laundry with him.. wtf?) in the middle of a cold winter night talking about this. He was firm that if something organically happened, great, but he wasn’t going to promise me anything and he just wanted FWB. I told him I was okay with that.
The sex was sub par, but our intellectual conversations were everything. A good conversation is orgasmic for me. I crave deep and intimate conversations. We had a lot of them. They’re better than sex IMO. Anyway, although not kissing drove me fucking insane, it was also really stupid hot and one of the most erotic sexual experience I’ve ever had. I both hate him and thank him for that.
Now the real story comes here: you get that we were FWB for several months. You have some context. He didn’t want anything more and I was absolutely infatuated by him. I knew how to play it cool, don’t get me wrong. I wouldn’t text back right away and sometimes I’d blow him off. I know how to play the game.
He drove me mad. I couldn’t focus in school. Every time I drove I thought of him. Every City & Colour song reminded me of him (if you know, you know). And every fucking orange subaru I saw had me double-taking just to see if I could catch a mere glimpse of him. I couldn’t escape him. I sought out therapy and that was a disaster. On my second meeting she asked me what made me so “obsessed” with him. I hated this. Wtf does that mean? Obsessed? Like some stalker on a Netflix series? I didn’t like her. She later tried telling me my anxiety was my fault and that I have an eating disorder because I follow a meal plan given to me by a coach. So, that was the second and last time I saw her.
I then switched to spiritual rituals. I’ve never been much of a spiritual person, but I was getting desperate. I wanted him, bad. And I know he wanted me, too. One night after our rendezvous, I decided to simply not text him when I got home. I figured why would he care? He doesn’t want me. Oh, he cared. After I went to bed, this mf blew up my phone. I woke up to a million texts and calls from him asking where I was. But I’ll never forget the final text he sent me in that cluster of worry that read: “I’m worried about you and I don’t like it.”
Yes dear reader, that’s exactly what it sounds like. He realized he had feelings for me. That was one of the last texts he sent me before breaking off our FWB fictitious contract. I don’t remember how exactly he ended things, but I remember that he was seeing someone new who he liked. So, that felt great.
I turned to spiritual guidance. Think crystals, moon ceremonies, spells, and giving gifts to the earth. Every fiber of my being wanted him, desperately. I felt like we were meant to be together. We liked similar hobbies, music, literature, and coffee. We had similar goals and aspirations. He also helped me with my essays for school.. Boner status. Not to mention, we had talked every day for three months on tumblr prior to meeting. I felt like we had a deeper connection than he knew.
I sought comfort in Mother Earth. My witchy BFF Anna helped me with learning rituals. She would perform spells that involved burning letters while holding items he touched (good thing I held onto that playbill from a Dickens play he took me to). Anna and I would have girls nights cooped up in my bedroom playing with rock crystals and pendulums. Which honestly, now, sounds like an ideal girls night, and back then it was.
& FYI the pendulum always said I would marry him.
It was then that I also got really into horoscopes & zodiac. He’s a fiery Saggitarius and I’m a moody moon child Aquarious. Of course I went to every last zodiac matchmaking site to see what each said when I put in our signs. And of fucking course, they were always an amazing match. I really wish I knew what time he was born so I could look into his moon & rising, but alas, I may need to repent. Regardless, I checked my horoscope daily & his horoscope weekly, especially if we had plans to see each other. Always wondering if anything could even have a sliver of relevance to me. Newsflash: It never did.
I was fortunate that my mom is also a very spiritual gypsy. My mom helped me partake in moon ceremonies where we would burn tobacco and other earthly items while praying to the moon. As you can imagine, I asked for him every time. When it wasn’t working, I asked for more help. Anna suggested I give gifts to the earth. This included pennies, egg shells, coffee grounds, etc. Things that came from the earth and needed to be returned.
I can’t tell you how many fucking pennies are burried under my neighbors house.
Anna reminded me to be patient—I wasn’t. I’m the most impatient person I know. After a while I realized it wasn’t working and while I tried to settle for being patient, I realized that this was absurd. Who is he? What makes him so special? I found myself no longer begging the moon for him and instead asking for someone who made me feel the same way.
This is where I realize now that I don’t think it was ever about him in general. This is cliché, but I understand now that it was lust, not love. I should mention that half a year after he started seeing someone else, I had decided to date someone who resembled him. Big mistake. More on that later, he started getting physical with me & I dropped his ass faster than I’ve ever ran.
Anyway, I was still on and off with my ex before mystery man even after mystery man. Long story short, mystery man & I started chatting again a year after he ended things. Of course all of my previous feelings were triggered. I wanted him, bad… Anxiously checking my phone every second waiting for him, but then casually and aloofly responding when he did. I used to consciously and quite mathematically post on social media images that might interest him and get him to talk to me: cute selfies, maybe a sultry lip singing video, pictures of me in glasses (keep reading), or outdoorsy things. And quite honestly, it almost always worked—poor guy. I scare myself sometimes with how easy it is to play the game, I say as I curl my lips into a half smirk and wink. Anywho, eventually we saw each other again at a bowling alley. He talked to me all night. He had his new gf with him, though I didn’t know that’s who she was. He talked to me more than I saw him with her. When I did find out that was his new gal, I ran to my car and broke down. & that was the last time I ever had a really severe panic attack. Did I mention I get those? Yeah, more on that another time.
Anyway, I drove to Z. He always did feel like home. He held me as I cried. I’ll always hold a special place for him in my heart, but when he wanted to get back together again after this whole ordeal, I shut the door and never looked back.
This goes for both men. I realized this was a waste of my time. If he wanted me, he’d fucking show it. If Z wanted me, he would have gotten his shit together. This is where I found my confidence and learned to love myself. Why would I want to be with someone who wasn’t crazy about me? I craved love and acceptance. I learned to love and accept myself instead. Z always wanted me to smoke weed, I hated smoking, and I didn’t like weed. Mystery man thought I was more attractive with glasses, so I always wore them with him; I fucking hate wearing my glasses. Mystery man liked educated women & dated girls in PhD programs. I felt the need to get a PhD while in my junior year of college.
I felt tired. Tired of trying to be the girl everyone else wanted me to be. The stoner, the scholar, adventure-craving wonder. I was exhausted and told myself, I really don’t want to get outdoors more. I like staying inside, reading my books, and writing poetry. It was then that I decided to self-publish my book, Bittersweet. Which is filled with a collection of poems about both men and about finding confidence within myself.
Four years later, I still know mystery man. I talk to him from time to time. I feel nothing. I don’t even find him attractive anymore. I still talk to my ex Z every so often too, just to check in on him. Both doors were slammed shut long ago and I threw away the keys.
As you could probably imagine, when I discovered my passion for modeling, my confidence skyrocketed. I became more and more in love with myself because I found something that ignited a passion in me that was stronger than how mystery man made me feel. Going to shows or doing photoshoots had my heart race with excitement more than he ever made me feel. Seeing my photos gave me a greater joy than looking into his deep sad eyes ever did. I think that perhaps when I asked the moon for him, she gave me what I needed more: myself.
And with that, I realized that I didn’t need someone who didn’t accept me for me. I needed someone who wholeheartedly loved everything about me as much as I love myself. Insert Connor. It always comes back to him, doesn’t it? I realized I needed someone who wouldn’t be afraid to bring my head down from the clouds, not play games & put my head in them. Connor keeps me grounded and tells me when my narcissism is getting destructive. He keeps my ego in check. & you better believe when I was thinking of going back to red hair, & he told me he liked my dark black hair, I immediately went back to red. He doesn’t care, of course. In the end, he loves what I love.
In my search for love and acceptance I found myself. Again, cliché, but true. I realized someone needed to love me as much as I love me if they wanted to be with me. Not only that, but Connor calls me out when I’m wrong, egotistic, and loves me for it anyway. When I prayed to the earth that I’d find someone like the mystery man. I now thank the universe for guiding me right where I’m supposed to be. I love Connor beyond words, but I’m not dependent on him. I know I’d be fine without him, but I also don’t ever want to be without him. We compliment the bad parts of each other, and for what it’s worth, I give him kudos for being able to call me out. I’ve been told I’m intimidating. I love that & it feeds my ego. I am sooooo happy that Connor can acknowledge my flaws and help me work on them. I get annoyed with myself sometimes, too.
I never did get someone that made me feel the way mystery man did, and thank fuck. I never want to feel that type of anxiety again. Connor gives me the biggest sense of relief that I can stay true to myself and he’ll love me regardless. I am so grateful for him.
It’s definitely a small world. There have been several occasions where Connor and I have been out and have seen mystery man. One time, they were even standing two feet apart at one of my fashion shows. I constantly wonder if the universe was trying to say something.. and if so, what that message was.
I don’t whip out my rose quartz pendulum anymore. I haven’t touched it in years. After asking every week if I’d marry mystery man, I think she probably got tired of me, too.
Four years later, I can look at him and feel nothing. I can talk to him and feel nothing. But when I hear his name, I wince a little. I can’t listen to City & Colour anymore without thinking of him and instantly feeling rage inside me. Little things like that can easily trigger all the feelings of angst I had when I was twenty. It’s like they transport me back to four years ago and I still feel the same rapid fire pounding heart beat that makes my chest heavy and my head dizzy. I’m not sure when that will go away, or if it ever will. I have made peace with the situation. I don’t regret anything because it led me to a love for myself I never thought I’d have. Forgive & forget isn’t really my style. I don’t forgive and never forget.
And I still think of him every time I see a fucking orange subaru.