Continued from this post
The way we got together almost makes one believe in destiny, but not quite. It was merely one coincidence after another and another and another. Our boy meets girl story could be a whole movie in itself. But I'll try to explain briefly. Someday I'll write the details. They're really quite lovely in parts.
Four years before I dated this tainted love guy, I'll call him George, I had a crush on another boy. I didn't even know George then. The guy I liked was a regular at the coffeeshop where I hung out as an undergrad. He was in the punk scene and seemed to know everyone. But he was also a braggart. The night he found out I was Mormon he told me he had a Mormon friend he should set me up with. He described his friend George to me but I rolled my eyes, I didn't believe his friend really existed-- not the way he described him anyway. Because he just described my dream and well, that just wasn't possible. Later that night, my best friend laughed about how perfect the guy sounded and wouldn't I die if I ever met him. I told her I wasn't interested and he was full of crap anyway. But I didn't forget.
The next year, at a church dance I watched a tall guy walk into the gym. My jaw hit the floor and I began to drool. I had never seen him before. As I checked out the clothes and noted his red hair and Doc Marten steel toes, I remembered my coffeeshop friend's description: a tall red haired ska punk Mormon. That had to be him. How many red haired Mormon punks were running around town?. I let some months pass before I talked to him because he seemed to have a girlfriend with him. Finally, I saw him alone. So, very bravely, and out of character for me, I sat next to him and asked if his name was George? Yes. I told him I knew a friend of his. He didn't remember him at first. But then, Oh yeah! They used to hang out at the Masquerade. So. He told me was going on a mission soon, just waiting for the call. Yikes. Of course. He didn't look that young because of his strapping physique and the age in his eyes. But I figured I should sod off. So I did.
Two years and some months later, I saw him again at another church dance. Wow, he looked just as interesting as I remembered him. So I stopped him in the lobby to talk. Indeed, he had just come home. We chatted a few minutes, the usual 'what do you do' stuff. But not long after, he just turned and walked away. No, 'nice to meet you' or 'excuse me but I hate you so I'm leaving now.' Nice! Ugh.
The next year, in the spring, I showed up for a weekend job proctoring an exam run by people in my ward. They always hired other church members. It was a two day, semi-annual gig. We had to show up way early in the morning. The first day I rushed in late and had to pick from the remains of our catered breakfast. I sat on the floor near some friends. While eating dry biscuits and cold eggs I looked across the room and almost choked. It was him. What was he doing here? How did he know these people? But he looked so cute! All sleepy-eyed and with his glasses on. Crap! Why didn't I take a shower and fix my hair? I looked disgusting. Good thing I at least brought some make up. I kept my eyes on him and ducked into the bathroom to paint my face.
The next day, I showered but still hadn't fixed my hair because, what was the point?. That afternoon, one of my friends sidled up to me in the hall and whispered, "What do you think of George?" "What?" "He told me he thinks you're cute." "What?!" "He thinks you're cute." That was a shock. "Tell him to come talk to me. I think he's cute too." Then I waited. All day. We had opposite rotations so we hardly saw each other. But finally, he appeared in the lounge for the last 30 minutes and sat next to me at my table. I was playing cards, so my friends dealt him in and we started talking. Our words rushed out in that over-excited flurry of two people who've found a kindred and attractive person. We had too much to say to each other and every sentence out of the other's mouth just excited us all the more. Leaving, he walked me to my car and asked for my phone number. Woo-Hoo!!!! Finally, after four years of the myth and a distant crush, I might actually go out with this guy.
But, but. I had to decide if I was going to New York at the end of the summer. Now was not the time to date someone new. But how could I turn him down? I'd wanted him for years now. I had to make an exception. Nothing would come of it anyway so what's the harm?
He called and we dated. They were the best dates of my life. Oh, and I asked about his rude blow off the summer before and he was surprised. He said, "I didn't blow you off. I just felt stupid when you said you were getting a masters and I was just a freshman." "So you just walked away?" "I didn't know I did that." Anyway, as things unfolded he became a factor in my decision to stay or go. I made my decision conditional on several things. One by one, the staying factors fell while I for him. The last factor remaining was whether I got student housing or not. He knew all of this. We even worked out the odds of my getting a room. I think we came up with 30-something%. Neither of us liked the odds.
As I began to understand how much potential we had, and realized this was the first boy that I would consider marrying, I decided that it could be worth putting school off for a year to see where things went. But I wasn't sure how to tell him that. Only the week before he told me about his friend who knew a girl in Utah that he dated. The girl was moving to Georgia just to date his friend. He told me he thought that was psycho. Gulp. Ok.
About the same time I made that decision he made some decisions of his own. He began to act weird. Sigh. He cancelled on me rudely. I knew this routine. That's when I called and asked if he wanted to stop dating. He said he didn't know. So, ok, you don't have the balls to really tell me you want to break up. I maintained composure and said, "Why don't you call me when you figure it out." I tried to hang up but he blurted out, "Wait, I still want to see you. Can we still go out tomorrow night?" Fine. I hung up then cried until dawn. Heart break #1. I didn't think I'd ever hear from him again.
We did go out the next night and he played the friend thing. So I punished him for rejecting me. It was so utterly depressing. We sat in Waffle House in the boondocks of West Georgia and he put that cheesy Fleetwood Mac song "Landslide" on the jukebox. We were both so sad. The words seem to cut and we sat speechless. I can't hear that song now without remembering that night, as if it wasn't bad enough already. Then we played pool with the local rednecks, making fun of them and the hair bands on the jukebox. I tried my best to be flirty and attractive. I'm sure I tried too hard. He let me win one game. At the end of the night, he dropped me off at my car without even turning his engine off. A good southern boy does not kick a woman out of his car at night like that unless he wants her to feel slighted. I did. I remember driving home feeling like the last piece of my heart had been crushed forever. I lived in the city 45 minutes away from him, I sobbed the whole drive home believing this was the last time I could suffer like this. After this night, I'd have nothing left to break and nothing left to feel.
The rest of the summer was very weird. We still went out at least once a week but never alone. I wanted to talk to him about my feelings but he never gave me a chance. He brought his sister on our 'dates' or made sure we were too busy to talk. Even on the phone, he'd cut the conversation short before I could work up to anything. So I decided to go to New York. He wasn't behaving maturely enough for us to have an honest discussion, or any discussion. He just said one night in front of our sisters, that he didn't know what he wanted and his feelings confused him.
George had offered to help me move but he didn't show up. I tried calling him all day, I was leaving the next morning, but he didn't answer. Sometime after midnight when we'd gotten the trailer loaded, I called him. I left him a vulgar voice mail message calling him a certain kind of chicken excrement for not even saying goodbye to me. I think I yelled. I knew I wouldn't be able to sleep that night so I left right then about 1 am. I also told him to have a nice life and didn't expect to ever hear from him again.
Obviously I did. He called my apartment the next day and my mom answered. He asked her to tell me he was sorry for missing me and he did want to say goodbye. So, I forgave him and called him as soon as I got a phone, leaving a message with my new number. He started calling me every weekend. We also saw each other in November when I went back to Atlanta for a weekend. He wanted to pick me up from the airport then he took me out to dinner. The next night we got into a fight over dinner after he told me about how much he disliked his current girlfriend and how he unsuccessfully tried to break up with her the night before. (Right after he dropped me off.) When I got back to NY we patched things up and started planning his trip to the city.
What got me about all this was that he couldn't seem to let go. He had multiple chances to gracefully drop contact. He kind of broke up with me but didn't stop seeing me. He didn't have to call me when I moved. With a few exceptions he was the one who always called me. After the fight in November, he could have stopped calling me. After the weirdness of New Year's I really wasn't expecting to hear from him again. Sure enough, he kept calling. After he told me about his new girlfriend, I thought for sure he'd stop calling me then. You can't call your ex-girlfriend to chat when you have a new girlfriend. But he called. I had had enough by then and that's when I didn't answer or return his call for the first time ever. I didn't understand what he wanted from me. It seemed like the healthy thing to do.
Then he called the night before his elopement trip to California. He didn't tell me they were getting married. So it was strange that he called to tell me he was going on a trip for spring break. We had a nice talk though. I still missed him. He said he had our pictures from our trip and he wanted to send some to me. I told him to call me after he got back because I wanted to about his trip. But he never did.
In April, a month after George's last call, my sister called and told me he eloped with the girl in California, then when they got back she got baptized into the church. His sister told her about it and also said their family was very upset. I couldn't digest that information for a long while. The sadness grew slowly. But I wanted him to be happy. I prayed for his happiness with her. That their marriage would work. I didn't understand this at all but who am I to understand everything? Someone joined the church who probably never would any other way so this was probably best. But I also figured I just lost my last chance for happiness. It took me 27 years to find someone compatible AND desirable who seemed to like me back. How long would it take for the next one to come along?
When I finally accepted that he was married, I mailed him a congratulations card with pictures of him from our two trips, so he'd know there weren't hard feelings. I wasn't angry at either of them, just confused and sad for myself. Of course, way deep down in the ugliest parts of my soul I couldn't help thinking, "it won't work, they'll get divorced. So don't give up yet." But those thoughts were evil so I suppressed them and I don't even like voicing them here. I really did wish them well. I did love him.
Read the Finale here: Tainted Love:Take my Tears