For some reason, fall brings out the melancholy in me and makes me wish for things that I don’t have. I love fall, but for some reason, I associate it with being with someone. Maybe it’s because two of my long term relationships (and if you consider this past year with and without Not Boyfriend as a long term relationship, then three) started in the fall. Who knows. What I do know is that fall makes me lonely – almost unbearably lonely, sometimes.
It was around this time last year that I started seeing Not Boyfriend. The first two weeks, we spent pretty much every evening together, and it was great. I fell for him right away – I don’t know exactly why, but I remember the first night that we hung out, we sat in my living room and talked for four hours. Maybe that was it. Maybe it was because whenever he was anywhere near me, he would have his arm around me or hold my hand or pull me close to him and kiss me. Maybe it was because he would remember important things and ask me about them – and he would remember unimportant things and ask me about them. Maybe it was because he made me laugh. Maybe it was because I started to realize that he was everything I wanted.
THAT was surreal. That he could be the one who was everything I wanted, not because of anything but the fact that when we first met, we were 12, and I never in a million years would have thought that 16 years later I would want to be with him more than anything. He was the new kid at our jr. high – big, tall and kind of scary. He was always in trouble and it seemed like everyone was afraid of him, even me. Until one day, we started to be friends. I’m not sure when or how it happened, but I do remember him always hugging me when he saw me. This was a big deal for me – I was a skinny little nerd who would have been perfect pickings for him to torment, but instead, he protected me from everyone. No one dared say mean things to me, because they knew if he found out, well, they’d get their ass kicked. My most vivid memory of him was from the end of our 7th grade year. I was in the nurse’s office (probably from falling down or something) and he was waiting (again) for the principal. He came in and sat down next to me and we talked for a really long time. He asked me what I was doing that summer and I told him I was going to Illinois to visit my family. When school started the next year, he asked me how my trip to Illinois had been. I was amazed that he remembered, and I thought it was so sweet.
I told him that at our 10 year reunion last summer when I saw him for the first time since graduation. I saw him and I hugged him and we chatted, and before I left, I told him thanks for always being so sweet to me – that I’d always had good memories of him. He told me that he had a “monster crush” on me back then and that was why he was nice to me. I did not know that. He asked for my number, I gave it to him, and promptly forgot that I did. So I was surprised when, a month later, he called. We made plans to hang out and when I opened my door, he said “hey good lookin’.” I think I wanted to kick my foot in the (non-existent) dust and say “aw shucks.” File that under “How to Charm Me.”
So two weeks later, he told me we couldn’t date anymore. He was going through the beginnings of a divorce – they’d been separated for a while, but things were going ahead and he was having a hard time with it. They were married for seven years – she was his first serious girlfriend. She cheated on him and he caught her. All things that are hard to deal with one at a time, much less all at once. He told me that he could see us having a really good relationship, and that it wouldn’t be fair to either of us to be together then because he wasn’t in a good place. At all. There was more, but I was working on not crying in front of him, so I don’t really remember. As upset as I was, and as ridiculous as it sounds, I fell even further for him because he had the balls to be honest with me and not just stop calling. He didn’t even tell me over the phone – he told me face to face, and I will always admire him for that. Then he told me that we could still be friends, and I knew that I’d never hear from him again. We all know that’s the kiss of death.
Remarkably, he meant it. We didn’t talk for about a month and then last Halloween he came to my door dressed as Tigger. Yes. A 6’4” man in what amounts to giant footie pajamas and a hood that has Tigger ears on it. He got it at the Disney Store, and when you pressed his hand, Tigger said things. I couldn’t stop laughing. And from then on, we started hanging out again.
It was basically the same as before, only we were NOT dating. He would call me every day, we did things together, we kissed, but no. NOT DATING. That’s when I started calling him Not Boyfriend. And I was totally fine with how things were, because if it made him feel better to tell himself we weren’t dating, then that was ok with me. I don’t want to deal with your baggage, so you work through that and I’m here when you need me. Similar to a girlfriend, but without the scary label.
Then in the middle of January, he stopped calling. Just stopped. No explanation, nothing. I knew it wasn’t about me. I knew he was having a really hard time dealing with the divorce, plus? He had to give his dog up. But even though I knew all that, it didn’t make me feel any better. I talked to him once in March (bad) and once in June (good), and that was that. My heart was totally broken and it sucked.
So the beginning of September, he came back. He spent all that time not talking to many people and just getting through everything. His divorce was finalized. He felt like he could truly move on because he wasn’t legally tied to her anymore. I’m glad he did all that, and I’m glad he did it without me.
Do I know what’s going to happen with us? No. Not in the least. Of all the millions of things we talk about, that’s not one of them. We don’t awkwardly avoid the conversation, it just never comes up. I do know that even after all of this time, I still want him. And all the dating debacles I’ve endured this year have only served to enforce my feelings for him. He is a good man – and the kind of man I could spend my life with. I know girls say that all the time -- “he’s the one” – and I’ve said it before (in high school no less – ack), but I know now that it’s something I have to give A LOT of thought to. Because there are few people I can spend a week with, much less multiple years. I could spend multiple years with him. He would be a great father – and really, really wants to be. I could seriously go on about all the things I love about him, but I won’t. There are a lot.
So yeah. That's Not Boyfriend. Let's keep our fingers crossed, shall we?