Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Not so precious.

Editor's Note: A draft of this post sat unfinished in my Blogger outbox for almost a year. It's old, but I figured if I still like telling my girlfriends the story, it's probably still worth a post. Please ignore the references to time as most of them are no longer accurate. Thanks for reading. -V

A guy I used to date asked me to meet him for a drink recently.

The invitation came via gchat the morning after I randomly bumped into him on sidewalk in Brooklyn. I hadn't seen him in years. I thought he lived in Chicago or maybe Spain. It was tough to keep track after he de-friended me on Facebook.

I wont go deep into the convoluted details of our short-lived, mellow-dramatic past (as the always aggressive Facebook de-friend says most of it.) But, it's probably prudent to note that our one month pseudo-relationship included his two sleeves of tattoos, my phone number on a cocktail napkin, a kiss that made me drop my purse, a secret girlfriend, a flight to Chicago and the first time a man seriously said "f**k you" to me. 

I actually wrote the blog post, "Braceface"  back in November of 2010 after the night we met. (For story-telling purposes I'll refer to him as Steve.)

Steve wanted to meet up to say things in person. Jon and I were very happily together. I labored over my email reply.

The thing is, Steve and I were never friends. We met at a bar while he was visiting New York for the weekend. I liked him fast. Even after he admitted that he had a girlfriend. It was romantic the way thunderstorms are.

I ended things with Steve just a few days after I met Jon (my now husband-to-be). Back then, I didn't know if Jon was the one, but meeting him immediately confirmed that Steve wasn't. Steve lived in Chicago. Steve was mean to me on the phone. Steve was unpredictable in the wrong way. I ended it a bit abruptly with an awkward phone call and ill-explained reasons: "It's just that I don't want to do long distance, and we've been arguing, and I met someone else, and I shouldn't be doing this with you  if I can see something with someone else." It wasn't the most eloquent bow out.  

Steve was angry and hurt. He accused me of misleading him, of manipulating him, of needing to grow up. He promised I would regret my decision. Eventually, he de-friended me on Facebook which burned a lot (more than it should). I had some experience with romantic rejection but friendship rejection made me wildly uncomfortable. I feebly tried to make it better with an email. He stuck to his guns. He didn't want anything to do with me.

A "catch up" after a couple lost years felt unnatural. The proposed meet up couldn't and wouldn't be casual. He apparently had things to say. The whole thing made my heart thud fast.

I needed Jon's opinion and approval. Yes, his permission. Steve certainly wasn't worth a secret. Jon, being Jon, didn't care. Meet the guy if you want, he advised. Maybe Steve needs closure.

So I agreed to meet Steve for one drink. Of course he picked the bar where we met. Before walking in, I paced outside the door, smudging off lipstick, fumbling with the top buttons on my cardigan. I strategized how I would greet him.

To be honest, I presumed he invited me there to woo me or win me back. I planned to offer the most platonic vibe possible. Handshake. Limited eye contact.

I passed by where he was sitting at the bar at least twice before I spotted him. He had watched me scan the rows, silently sipping an old fashioned or some other vintage drink to match his Mad Men side part. When I made eye contact he just smirked a smug smirk. He was quiet as I took the stool beside him. He was really good at that whole brooding, pensive, furrowed brow BS.

I broke the silence with an over eager out pour of my pre-approved platonic talking points. How do you like New York? How's work? Stuff like that. After just about every normal thing Steve said he inserted a dramatic pause when he would stare at me or his drink for enough seconds to make me uncomfortable. Finally, he cut to the chase. I wish I could remember his tirade word for word but my memory probably left it out of my brain for a reason.

The overall gist was that I'm a terrible, self-absorbed, naive and unaware person. Oh and he has a new girlfriend now that's much better. He punctuated it all with words I didn't forget.

"You're not so precious, Vanessa."

The whole thing hurt. I wish I could say that it didn't. It shocked me that a man would invite me to a bar, years later, to hurl out some insults and make sure he got the final word. I dismissed myself from the bar stool, wished him well and exited.

When I got home, I felt sick. I had to accept that this person basically hated me, and I hated that feeling. I want to be liked and loved. I want my ex's to be my friends. I want to remember things and experiences fondly. I don't want to be hated. But this time it didn't really matter what I wanted. I couldn't fix this one.

The whole thing taught me a pretty important life lesson: Not everybody is going to like me. I'm not entitled to that.

Relationships can get ugly. Most of us end up hurting people, and even when we apologize, we're not entitled to their forgiveness.

Sure a lot of Steve's insults were unwarranted. I realize that I'm not a mean or self-absorbed person. But I was a little careless with Steve. While we were dating, I prioritized myself and my feelings, not his. As soon as I met Jon, I pulled the plug on him. That must have sucked for Steve and if he wants to de-friend me on Facebook and hate me, I can't really blame him.

I wanted to tie a bow around it and make it "all better" for myself, to assuage my own ego. But relationships aren't always "so precious". Sometimes when you break things, no matter how unsettling it feels, you should just leave them broken. It's better that way, for everybody.

My other big take away from the Steve situation: Mom was right. Boys covered in tattoos are trouble.

1 comment:

  1. Wait, WHAT?! I knew this happened, the run in and then meet up, but I didn't know he said all that! What a big, whiney baby. And how freakin' delusional is this guy? V, you dodged a major bullet with that one.