what happened next (part 15)

Four – six months ago…

If you’ve followed all this bizness about Chi-guy, you already know that I had developed some feelings for him, that he was a hot mess and that, despite a mutual multi-year crush, we never got it on. And even thinking about what happened next makes me want to slap myself!

I became the über friend, the counselor and confidante. We had discovered that our situations were remarkably parallel in too many ways to ignore:  he had lost his job and was the primary caregiver for his daughter while his wife was the breadwinner, just as in my household; he had been using alcohol to numb his pain, just as my ex did; even our (and by “our” I mean mine and his ex wife’s) roofs leaked following the same winter storm (despite several hundred miles between us).

“You know that’s your fault,” I teased.

“Yes, I’ve been told,” he replied.

He told me he didn’t understand why. I told him (as I’ve now written twice) that he should stop asking, because he’d never get a satisfactory answer. He asked me how her life could possibly be better now, without him there. And I told him that it’s not; it’s hard having to be the full-on single parent, especially when you’re hurting emotionally, and to take on all the other tasks that were once shared. Yet the stress is different because the emotional weight is gone. We even discussed Dr. Phil’s philosophy on what women need from men — to provide income and a soft place to land (emotional safety).

I sent him emails and texts and even small gifts. I dreamt about him — dreams that were too real and projected my fears about my own ex onto him — and then worried that those dreams might be real. I called from time to time, and I was there when he needed to talk.

I loved (and still cherish) the closeness, our conversations, his authenticity and candor, yet I hated what had become of us. I didn’t want to be his friend or his counselor; I wanted to be his woman. I wanted to feel that intensely feminine way that I’d felt when I was near him. I wanted to sit across a table from him, listening while he talked, but mostly smoldering inside as I fantasized about crawling across the table, opening him up and licking his sexy brain.

Sometimes we were flirtatious, yet emotional support or commiseration ruled our conversations. After the holidays, he updated his profile photo on Facebook. I could see immediately that he’d turned a corner. I relaxed. I let go of my need to worry about him.

When I caught myself yearning for him or, more accurately, that feeling I had when I was with him, I stopped and replaced the thought of him with “him, or someone even better for me.” I forced myself to create a list of characteristics that my ideal mate would have — even those things in direct conflict with who Chi-guy is now. And I created an online profile and opened myself to dating.

You see, it wasn’t that I thought I was in love with him. Rather, I believed (and still do) that we have a unique connection, a potential of some kind, and we were (are?) missing the opportunity to fully explore whatever it might be or wherever it might lead.

Maybe this is all we get. Maybe we get to have supported one another through a transition. It’s been strangely rewarding (even if not satisfying). But sometimes I still wonder how our story is going to end…

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