My Last Crush

Everything looks good in my life right now. I love my apartment near the Jersey Shore, though it’s not a fancy place by any means. And the low cost of rent attracts large immigrant families with loud children. This is one small annoyance I deal with, but it is small. I love my job and have great potential for moving up. I work with mental health consumers, who I feel need me. I think I have something to teach them that is worthwhile. And they usually listen to me. I let my “fun self” out at work as well, and always have a new and creative perspective to help make life more tolerable, which seems to be one of my gifts. As I mentioned before, I just joined this new dating site, where I am constantly receiving emails from guys who say I’m attractive, sexy and other nice compliments. It is worthwhile just to go there to feel desirable. I have very little to complain about, and things are fine. I don’t feel I have a great amount of unmet needs in my life, until I start to think about the last guy I had a crush on.

I found him in a sociology chat room and we connected. I’m not sure how. Maybe it was my doing. I knew he was taken. But he acted to me like he wasn’t. We never talked on the phone. We just emailed. And I have never met him. And I’m sure that he in actuality bears no resemblance to what has been triggered in my feelings. I told him. I’m not sure what. He was intelligent, a product of a higher education, and out of my reach. He led me, and I’m now convinced this is what I connected to, clung to. He went on vacation with me through my computer. And so when I remember Michigan, along with the other lonely moments; swimming in my mom’s pool alone because none of my friends could make it, rollerblading through old and familiar grounds, driving to the park to get away and sift through old feelings that reappeared without invitation. Along with these memories, are memories of Joel.

Through a computer one projects, but this projection is no less of a reality. And my projection was a reality to me.  Joel got all my jokes and added on to them. He supported me. In the middle of nowhere one day, when I went into the online community we were a part of together, I asked where everyone was. Joel’s name suddenly appeared and he said, “I am right here with you.” Somewhere inside me I believed it. He was here with me. I was not alone at my mom’s, as I had been so often in my teen years. He was no longer in my computer, but by my side. I emailed him and told him things about my past, about my present. He sympathized. He heard me. He wanted to hear more.

The rest of the group seemed to be with me too. We cared about the betterment of society together, about the homeless and drug abusers living on the street, and how we could make the world better, if only with our ingenious collective thoughts. I thought that transformation could occur. I thought that my sociology friends would support my new theory for change in the world of addiction, hear my thoughts, build on to them, change the world with me. For a moment this group was my most important social club. It was in my life no more than a month or so, and seemed to disappear just as quickly as it had arrived. Joel seemed to be dishonest. He was not available for me. He had someone else he cared about more. He got busy and lost interest in the group. I could see he was also losing interest in me.

He was not the teacher whom I could confide in anymore. He wasn’t really there. And now regretfully, I had to let that be my reality. I let him go, this charade of friendship, the daily emails where I confided so much to him, believing somehow he was listening and was the one who had the answers for me, as he encouraged me to talk, and share, even my dreams of him. I wondered about that other relationship, and who I was supposed to be to him, and why in the world he cared, or what unstated needs he had of me.

I let him go and stopped responding to what I perceived to be games, whether they were or not. I let go of the illusion my heart wanted so much to believe was real, because I have come to know through all my years it never would be. I have been in this place of disillusionment so many times before. Removing the emotions for one moment allows me to see. This thing that happened was silly. And I doubt that many women would be taken in by it. But I am just the type that attracts this kind of thing, a guy with opposite mental dissonance and longing to mine, a guy who senses the openness to whatever strange contributions he has to offer. I take the blame so easily onto myself. But I convince myself that it is not all me, as it never really is. In fact, the lesson I need to learn is always the same. If I had trusted myself from the beginning, my own directives and wisdom, knowing I didn’t really ever need anything from this person, as he may have subconsciously implied, if I had trusted myself from the start, this thing would not have happened, this pain, this sense of longing and loss.

To trust myself always is key. It is the thing I need most to learn. Until then I don’t talk to Joel, though I know where he is in my computer. I do not talk to him because there is still a child longing for this sort of thing, whatever form it arrives to me in. Should I talk to him, I have little fight against it. The child is real. She is here. She does not need such a man, but has not quite learned and accepted that yet. And after all, he really doesn’t know me. He doesn’t know I sing, or write. He doesn’t know my heart. But that same heart is not convinced, and so I think of him frequently. I long for him so foolishly. I do not dream real dreams – that he is beside me shopping with me in the supermarket, laughing at my jokes, planning family get-togethers, daily doings. I only feel him, desiring that thing I have desired so oft before – to be known, to be loved, to be close to something real and warm and trust-worthy.

This is something which my heart believed it had when I was in Michigan, though my mind knew differently. But there was never any evidence to support it. And this, unfortunately, has been a recurring theme in my life for as far back as I can remember. Sadly, the backdrop has been multiplicit, the characters diverse, the theme constant, and crushing, but somehow less and less each time I go through it.

Crazy Jae (meeting in the meat department)

Tonight I had planned on going to the beach in Belmar to see a guy who plays drums on the boardwalk every Saturday night. He would be the first guy I’d meet from this online dating site I just recently joined. Without much correspondence, he had informed me of the dates and times, and I said I would go out there when I could make it. The weather forecast, promising a thunderstorm tonight, caused me to change my plans. But the mid-August coolness in the weather has been alerting me to the fact that the summer is near its ending, and the prospect of time on the beach will soon be coming to an end as well. Of course it is a probability I will be spending time in New York in the Fall, and even on occasion take excursions to the Princeton campus to soak in the reverie of the incoming Freshman class, as I walk about, pretending to somehow belong there.

So I decided to postpone my trip to the evening beach side. But another meeting occurred which I had barely planned on. And its ending was better than I would have hoped for. Today being Saturday, I worked my normal 10 hour shift at the residence where I am a service coach to men and women who have mental health diagnoses. One of the consumers had decided to go shopping, and so we headed as we routinely do, to the local Walmart. During the ride I recalled that one of my new online acquaintances worked there.

Jae had been a little over excited to meet me. He showered me with compliments, saying I was beautiful, hot, and sexy; not adjectives a respectable lady would want used at the beginning of an actual relationship. And being that he claimed to work in the meat department at Walmart, I really didn’t see myself having a relationship with him. But it seemed harmless to consider simply stopping by to say “Hi,” since I shopped at that store so frequently. Anyway, I wanted to get the ball rolling. I wanted to meet at least one guy from the site, if only to prove to myself these guys were normal people just like me. As I began walking through the store, my consumer from work looked around for the items on her list. I approached the deli counter and asked if they knew who Jae was. At first the ladies seemed confused. Then one said, “Oh yeah, ‘Crazy Jae!’ He works in the meat department.” I asked whether the deli wasn’t the meat department, but was kindly redirected. Now knowing his coworkers called him “Crazy Jae” I really wondered what to expect.

As myself and my friend approached the actual meat department I looked around. There was a guy in a white coat. I said, “Are you Jae?” “Yes,” he responded positively. “My name is Kate” I said. He seemed so warm. I felt like he already liked me, as he looked at me and smiled. He did not seem at all like a letch who insisted I was hot, and said he wanted me, and had to meet me, which was the persona I had picked up from him online. In fact, if there hadn’t been something soft and kind looking in his online photos, I suppose I never would have given him a second thought. Jae said that I looked good, and that my online pictures didn’t do me justice. I immediately thought this must have been a line, because I was at work and not dressed fancy at all. And besides I had taken great care to make sure my very best pictures were up. How could I possibly look better in shorts and a tank top?

We didn’t have a very long conversation as he and I were both actually working and had other matters to attend to. But during our brief talk he kept a very kind and welcoming smile on his face, which was genuine and in no way forced. He was very attractive to me which I was surprised by. His teeth were uneven, but in a way you easily forgive someone when they are so friendly. He was extremely likable and hard to forget. He said something about singing to the ladies in the deli when they were having a bad day and that this made their day better. I immediately thought of karaoke. He said he never had tried it, but would be willing to. I told him of a place I knew in Hazlet that had karaoke on Wednesdays. He told me how he had places where he hung out with friends in the area, and how he liked to have fun. I would have given him my number if I hadn’t stopped myself; he made me feel so comfortable.

While we spoke briefly of our online experiences, he said he got more hits on his profile when he made overt sexual references, than when he was a “nice guy,” and this was surprising to his friends, so he showed them by switching up his profile once in a while. It occurred to me that Jae’s initial message to me may have come in that first night I joined while I had over 100 emails, some of which I didn’t even have chance to get to at the time. Perhaps hungry for attention, I had put up a slightly suggestive picture of myself. Reveling in the accolades from so many unknown men, and slightly overcome by the moment, I suppose I encouraged their bad behavior, and may have gotten a little carried away, later putting them in the dungeon, better known as the “permanently blocked” list, in order to avoid the innuendos, or more obvious suggestions later when I had come to my senses. I asked Jae if he saw the picture I had put up and he said “Yes!” I said “Wow, I can’t believe I’m talking with someone who saw that picture.” But what I really felt was trust. The possibility of having a friend who knew I was not a perfect shining example of a Christian lady, and yet accepted me anyway, was suddenly very attractive to me. While striving to present myself with integrity as I generally do, it was nice to consider having a friend who knew that women weren’t perfect angels, any more than men were really.

Jae was anything but the dangerous online fanatic people had warned me about. His kind puppy-like demeanor made him seem like someone I could just go out with in a group and have fun. He could be one of those types of friends who is in the audience watching me sing my favorite karaoke songs, surprised that I could sing so well, telling me I did great at the end, then trying it out himself and not afraid to fail. For a moment I envisioned myself having better friends on the Jersey Shore where I have regretfully failed to make a connection. Though our first chat offline was very brief, something about him lingered as I continued to shop for the next hour or so. Something inside me felt I needed him in my life. He wouldn’t be that new boyfriend I was looking for, but definitely a friend – a friend who could laugh with me at my momentary attempt to integrate with my new community, and not scold me for it, someone who I could talk to, someone who understood. I didn’t have to be a saint but hopefully he could also allow me to be the good person (who I am more likely to present), going forward.

I sent him a note on the site when I got home from work, telling him it was good to finally meet him, and how I was pleasantly surprised. To this he replied, “Thanks so much, I can see me having feelings for you. You are very good looking.”  As I read the note I realized this could mean trouble for me. I didn’t really know if a friendship could be possible now. I decided to just not respond for the time being. After all, there were a lot of other guys also grabbing my attention, which I will tell you more about very soon.

Aside

Day Off

Every time I go to my inbox on the new dating site I joined, there are at least 7 emails waiting. I seem to be checking it several times a day. It is like a new addiction. Some of the messages are ongoing conversations, some are new. Some guys are way too young. I just tell them right off the bat. Some guys are simply not attractive to me. I respond to their message by telling them I am sorry I’m getting a lot of emails right now. If I have even the slightest amount of interest in them, I will ask them to stay in touch. Otherwise, I am hoping that on a site with so many people, they will easily find another lady to go after. Some guys are way too persistent, to a dysfunctional degree. I have been called names that I don’t care to repeat, which doesn’t really phase me being that I work in the field of mental health, and am actually amused by just about anything which is outside the norm. It is interesting I must say that a guy can appear to be SO incredibly nice, until he has to come face to face with the fact that he is not going to get what he wants. It is a part of my decided character to be very direct and not take any crap. I don’t like being played. Well, sometimes I do, but that is another story. I will get to that later.

I look at the list of 7 new messages, and pick out a familiar name, and open that message first. Today I am picking the one from Shawn.  I have only a slight interest in him right now, although he does seem nice. What is most interesting to me is that he has invited me to come and watch him and a few other friends play drums on the boardwalk in Asbury Park. If I had any money at all, I could go tonight. But instead I have decided to go a week from today, next Tuesday. This will be my first sort of “date.” But it will be easy to keep it very casual, and not like a date, which appeals to me. Of course the need to be cautious cannot be overstated, and has been driven into me relentlessly by my large online social network, to the degree that I even got angry at them for treating me like some kind of a moron! However, I had to concede that they were as parents trying to help me. Although at 44 I don’t often find I need such parenting, their hearts were unquestionably in the right place.

The message from Shawn today was just a response to my previous inquiry regarding when they (he and his drumming friends) would be at the boardwalk in Belmar on Saturday. He just put down 6 – 10:30. So, I may go Saturday instead. I think I will get dressed up a little, and go without expectations, and just enjoy myself. Maybe I will meet a lot of people. Maybe I will end up just sitting on the beach looking out over the ocean. At any rate, I will be sure to tell you all about it.

The other messages were not of much interest. There is a nice guy from Long Branch who wants to meet me at one of his favorite places near the beach for happy hour. I may do that one day. There was a dinner invite from someone I don’t know. There were some guys who said things like “hey sexy.” That’s not usually a good sign. I hate to admit it but if I don’t sense any attraction whatsoever, I have just been moving on with no response at all. Again I am hoping that there are enough other fish on the site that they will not even be aware that I didn’t respond. Anyway, if you give a light brush off, some guys don’t get the hint. One guy continued to pursue me relentlessly one night, and was quite overbearing. When I told him I was uncomfortable about his persistence, he called me degrading and unrepeatable names, and said that I was a moron for leading him on. Always up for such a challenge, and willing to bet that I will easily be able to outwit such a guy, I told him that he was the moron for not being able to tell when a woman wasn’t interested in him. At this point I believe he blocked me, which simply kept me from having to do it to him first. Let me also remark that I have now I believe 12 men in my “dungeon” as I call it. We will talk about that later.

The rest of the day I’ll be checking email several times. As I said before, it seems to be my addiction for now. I am determined to not let it get in the way of more purposeful activities though, like working out at the gym, talking on the phone with valued friends, contacting business interests, etc. However, it is my day off. And who knows what interesting person could contact me at any time? I’m not sure that I can say exactly what I’m looking for. I think it is fair to say for now I am just looking forward to some great adventures, engaging conversations, and getting to spend time in some interesting locations, such as New York City. Yes, a couple guys have already suggested that I meet them there.

A New Beginning

At the beginning of a new subscription to yet another online dating site, I find myself amusedly sifting through the new terrain, keeping hope alive, charting a new course through somewhat familiar territory. I try to ignore and/or laugh at the vulgarities, pretending for a moment not to be the highly moral lady I am. The question presents itself, “Do I compromise my standards to find love?” One group of friends and “well-wishers” seems to imply that I should do so. The other side says, “Hold out for the best, and never compromise!” In the end it is me, taking all the pieces, putting them together and trying to figure out the best course of action in order to render myself as happy as possible, while keeping myself from falling helplessly into what my well-ingrained Christian belief system calls “sin.”

At this time I find I am apprehensive to share with you all the details of this type of existence I know so well. Our relationship, as all other relationships, will take time to develop. But, granted this ends up being the case, there is much I would like to share with you. In reality I have been searching much of my life for that thing which everyone else seems to want as well. I have journal entries from many years back, men who although I felt much passion for at the time, now are not even names to me. It is always amazing to me how much in love one can feel one moment, the whole universe revolving around a particular person, and then how one falls so quickly out of love with that exact same being.

These strange emotional realities have plagued my life throughout my teens, 20s, 30s. And now in my 40s, I try to get a hold on it all. Can I have love without the crazy, mind illusioning passions? Is there even such a thing as real love? Is it even worth it to seek such a thing? Should I continue to keep all men as friends for now? Is such a notion even realistic? These are the kinds of thoughts I would like to share with you.

How amazing to not be on this journey alone, even if it is the case that only a very few friends, known or unknown, may share it with me.

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