Every time I pass that corner, I remember…
Every time I pass that corner, I remember how he used to wait for me there, after his class at NYU would finish on Tuesday nights. I remember my own exhilaration and happiness over the fact that he wanted to spend all of his free evenings with me, this beautiful, smart boy whose life was already so full. I would come meet him on this corner and we would hug and then hold hands walking up to his place on 23rd street and then eat dinner and cuddle on the couch.
Those were bittersweet days in so many ways, I had just signed my divorce papers and then I met him, three days later, ridiculously easily, after having been desiring to meet him, imagining who he would be and being utterly convinced that the universe is sending him to me. Our first date wasn’t even a date, we just met for tea to see if we would be good OM partners. But the tea shop in the village where we met would only let us sit there if we also had dinner, and we weren’t hungry, so instead we went to a bar next door and he proceeded to order a Moscow mule, my favorite drink at the time, and so did I. One drink turned into three and the conversation was easy and fun and filled with laughter and curiosity and eventually we started making out at the bar like a couple of teenagers. I had a date to get to and he had a friend in town that he needed to entertain, but our encounter was so good that neither of us noticed the time and I ended up running to my date in Williamsburg and being over an hour late.
I remember the feeling of exuberant happiness, walking through Manhattan like I was flying, listening to music in my headphones and dancing out loud everywhere I went. However, soon thereafter, things turned out to be fairly complicated on his end. And probably on mine too, in hindsight, given the status of my divorce and the hunger I’ve felt for intimacy for so long. One of my favorite songs at the time was by Jessie Ware and I would sing out loud while dancing down the streets of New York “I don’t want to fall in love, if you don’t want to try; but all that I’ve been thinking of, is maybe that you might”.
He would tell me in those early days, while we were both high on molly and after he’d witnessed me receive a tantric massage while sitting in a meditative position and holding space, that he likes me a lot but doesn’t want to hurt my feelings. That he’s fresh out of a 1.5-year relationship and that if she wanted to take him back, he’d return to her. That he’s probably never going to marry me due to the large difference in our age – he was 12 years younger – and his propensity to darkness and depression. And I would laugh and say that I’m still technically married so that’s not a problem. And that if he wanted back to his ex, why not call her? That we were having a fabulous time, but that I couldn’t promise a future either, that I live in the moment and that what I feel for him I haven’t felt in a long time and I’m cherishing it all even if it meant that I would end up heartbroken. And I did feel that this could end in heartbreak. We were falling without parachutes. We were so vulnerable with each other and it was all moving too quickly.
He would listen with eyes wide open, hold me tight and say that he’s never met anyone like me, that I am a goddess and that nobody ever listened to him with such compassion and understanding, that he felt my love and the freedom I wanted to give him. We started talking every day. I was back and forth between Florida and New York, but I’d end up staying in New York longer just to be with him. He had a full time job and two classes at NYU and he was developing an app too. And yet, he’d find time for me every day. I was on cloud nine. Two weeks after he’d said he’d probably never marry me, during one of our long nights spent talking, he grabbed my hands and looked me in the eyes intensely and said that when we get married, it would have to be in a Greek church since his parents are really religious and then we could also do it anywhere else in the world if I do desires. He gave me a set of keys for his apartment and started calling it “our apartment”. He would bring me red roses and we would take baths together, washing each other’s hair. I have never felt so nourished. He was both my biggest adventure and my safest space. I had been yearning for that.
But the cracks were starting to show as well. He started having outbursts that looked a lot like temper tantrums and seemingly out of nowhere. What seemed like a confident man in the beginning started now to look like a petulant, insecure boy. The first time he did it, I laughed and took his insults with amusement. And he apologized the next day and said that he was under a lot of stress and I was understanding and forgiving and somehow loved him even more for this quirky and difficult imperfection.
The second time he did it I felt a little emotionally abused and I fought with him and even though we made up the next day, I was left with a lingering confusion and a bit of sadness, but worst of all, I started walking on eggshells so as not to upset him or hurt his feelings and this didn’t feel right. But I didn’t want to give up the intimacy and the bear hugs and the laughter and what seemed like a deep bond and the feeling of being seen and heard and gotten by this beautifully complicated man-child.
The third time he blew up was frustrating and hurtful so much more than the previous times, because I was in a vulnerable place and needed to be held, while he was first ignoring me, then yelling at me for something that he perceived incorrectly. And I felt shattered. Whatever had happened, in his head or for real, I wanted us to be able to talk about it. I felt punished by him for something and I didn’t even know what it was. I didn’t argue with him nor defend myself. I listened calmly as I kept thinking “This can’t be it. I’m not signing up for a relationship like this. It borderlines abuse.” So I gave him the space to rage, and I stayed there for the night, but I could barely sleep and in the morning I woke up before dawn and quietly snuck out of bed into the living room where I wrote a letter, for him, for me, digesting my feelings, with the desperation of someone whose fantasy is shattering right in front of their eyes, but also with determination to do what honors me, understanding that if I stayed in this, it would only get darker and darker and I would be abandoning myself over and over again. I wrote feverishly for what seemed like hours, I meditated, I cried, and then I grabbed up my stuff, left the keys on the coffee table and left.
The following few months were painfully filled with the absence of our intimacy, and I was simultaneously grieving the end of my marriage and the end of this romance. What seems like a tragic ending is anything but, though. Today, we are close friends, me and my never-meant-to-be boy. I am still single, but now I understand my patterns and needs so much better and I actually enjoy my singlehood.
The hardest thing about getting divorced was to re-create myself as an individual. Someone who now walks through life on her own, like I did before I met my ex-husband. And this painful lesson, the one that came in the form of a beautiful young man with strong arms, was the first step for me on this path. Filled with gratitude for our encounter, today I walk a little taller because of what I learned about myself because of our love.