Maybe it’s the stars or something: over the past three days I have heard from two formerly MIA men.
First is Tim, whom I met last fall when his girlfriend posted an ad on Craig’s List looking for women to sleep with her boyfriend. Really. In the spirit of living somewhat dangerously, I volunteered. Then it all went pear-shaped when Tim was recalled to the family bosom due to his father’s illness. The crisis put a damper on his libido, and then he and the girlfriend broke up, thus nullifying the purpose of this escapade. I was really disappointed, because we’d met for a drink and hit it off (read: made out over several gins and tonics). Most importantly: he had actually read and liked Happy All the Time, by Laurie Colwin, which I took to be a sign from God. He sent me an email a few days ago and when I recognized his email address I started flapping my wrists in excitement. He asked if I wanted to get together.
Actually the email was weird. It was a response to the last one I’d sent him, meaning he’d saved mine (it was a really nice and well worded email, it’s true) but he didn’t sign his name, which I thought was the first strange part. But the thing that really threw me was that after the greeting he just said he’d like to see me and did I want to get together at the place he was apartment sitting next weekend.
It’s been 10 months, and while I am a slut, I was sort of taken aback at the idea of going to sleep with a guy I’d met once before almost a year previously. So when I wrote back I suggested we meet for a drink first to catch up. After all, I don’t want him to think I’m easy. I mean, not that easy.
So Tim wrote back to say why didn’t I come over to his for the drink, and that he thought of me whenever he saw a Laurie Colwin book, hoped my novel was going well, and was very excited to get together. So that shut me up and, unless there’s another family crisis, I expect I will indeed go over to his place and drink wine (maybe a nice Riesling?) and make out with him on a stranger’s sofa.
And then this morning there was an email from Dean, who contacted me via the personals last April or thereabouts. As I recall, he asked me out, and then bailed on the day of the date. He claimed he had just met someone and it had suddenly gotten serious. I hear this excuse all the time, so I assumed he just wasn’t interested – I’ve noticed that some men seem only want you to say yes to a date, not to actually go on one. In this most recent email he addressed me by my name, which was a pleasant surprise, as I’d forgotten his, and then explained that last year he’d been in a long distance relationship and so, despite the flirting, had not followed through. Which doesn’t make him sound too appealing, does it? A man who approaches women and then backs off because he already has a girlfriend? Of course, as I saw him online all the time after he supposedly met someone new last year, I expect he hasn’t told me the truth either way. If he doesn’t cancel on me again, I will have a drink with him and try to get a straight answer.
This is all very exciting but I can’t help wondering if all these blasts from the past might foretell a missive from the one I really want to hear from: Jeremy. I haven’t written about this because it’s too embarrassing (not to mention unrelated to my sex life and therefore not really encompassed by the theme of Living Somewhat Dangerously) but a few weeks ago I actually went to Enchantments in the East Village and bought myself a pink carved love communication candle, complete with Goona Goona oil (which smells like overripe carnations, not my favorite). My tarot card reader, Jane, told me that this would send out love messages to Jeremy and make him contact me, or at least engineer the stars so that we might run into one another on Avenue B, say. “How soon do you think this will work?” I asked Jane, who was small and skinny and covered in tattoos.
“Sometimes it happens right away,” she said. “Even before you light the candle!”
I wasn’t sure if that actually argued for the efficacy of the candle. “Really?”
“Well,” she backtracked, “In your case it might take a little longer, since it’s been a few months.”
So I went home and took a bath with the oil and lit the candle, after carving the names Lily and Jeremy into the candle, as per Jane’s instructions. I couldn’t find the right sized holder and ended up cutting off the bottom of the candle and trying to soften the wax to make it stand up straight. This didn’t work: the candle drooped at an alarming angle and once or twice toppled over onto my nightstand. I wondered if this negated my efforts, but as the candle never went out, I chose to think it was a good omen. Of course that was before the glass candle holder exploded. But anyway.
I had felt so confident and positive when I lit the candle. Not necessarily that Jeremy would want to see me, but that we were bound to run into one another and that at the very least I would get some closure. Our eyes would meet, and I would smile and say “Hi! Nice to see you!” with no trace of the misery I’d felt over his defection. And then, very gently, I would add, “You know, I really liked you. I was hurt when you disappeared -- I gave you every opportunity to dump me with very little embarrassment to either one of us. Why didn’t you just respond to my email and say you weren’t interested?” All the while maintaining a polite, puzzled smile, like his answer really didn’t matter at all.
And because I understand that sometimes fate needs a hand, I took to wandering his neighborhood – sitting in the park his apartment overlooked, walking up and down the street where we’d had brunch, hoping that I would spot him as he lingered over a meal or bought toothpaste at the Duane Reade. One Sunday morning in this park I discovered that if I sat on a certain bench at a 45 degree angle, I had a perfect (though distant) view of his front door.
This proved to be a bad idea, though, since it meant I was reduced to staring into the distance rather than simply reading in the park, which is probably what separates stalkers from fate’s little helpers. I ended up with a cramp in my neck and a sense of shame at the unbelievable weirdness of what I was doing. Finally I gave up on the whole project, not because I had turned into crazy stalker girl – that apparently wasn’t enough to stop me – but because I couldn’t figure out how to improve my odds of running into him. I’m sure there’s a formula that would increase my chances, but there were too many variables (what time of day should I stalk? Should I approach from the South or the West?) for my math-challenged efforts to be anything but totally futile, not to mention pathological.
I make it sound like all this was months ago, but really I decided that the stalking was in no way joy-inducing or productive only about six days ago. Nevertheless.
Anyway, last night I was IMing with Sweetheart Daniel (who is still a sweetheart, even if he is not my sweetheart) and I Confessed All. And then he said, Well, why don’t you just email him? Casually? See what he’s up to?
Oh, no, I typed. See, if I don’t email him, I can maintain the illusion that he still thinks about me. But if I email him, then I’ve got to face facts: either he doesn’t bother to respond, which leaves me again, without closure, but also unable to tell myself that he maintains a lingering interest, or he responds politely, leaving me in no doubt as to what I already know: that he’s not interested.
I cherish my illusions, you know.
But still. Daniel got me thinking. It was kind of ambiguous, the way things ended. Five days after I sent Jeremy that email and then agonized over his lack of response, I looked in my Spam mailbox and saw that the email had actually not been delivered! Please try again, mailer daemon said. Truly! I was flabbergasted, angels sang, etc. So I immediately sent Jeremy a brief email, asking only if he’d received the note I’d sent him earlier in the week.
He never responded. So actually it wasn’t that ambiguous. But, as Jane the tarot card reader had pointed out, Cancers tend to hide. (I actually don’t know if Jeremy’s a Cancer or a Leo, but for the purposes of my overactive fantasy life, we’ll say he is). Also, maybe he had dropped me because of that conversation we had back in December, where I said I wasn’t monogamous and he said he wanted to settle down… maybe, maybe. These were all things that Caroline and I had discussed, but suddenly putting my pride on the line (again) seemed like a reasonable possibility. I told Daniel I’d consult Caroline.
But first I’m going to light the second candle I got from Enchantments.