The Final Part of My Journey (Part IV)
Ever since I wrote this post in May, I debated whether I should share it or not. A total of six people have read this because it’s one of the most personal stories that I have ever written, and they only read it because I needed their help or because I knew reading it would help them.
But now that I have left the U.S., I’ve decided that it’s time to let people read the story because it might help them in their own life and because fuck it, why not. I have made some edits from the original version that I wrote, but if Mr. Dawson or his daughter ever read this, I hope they understand why I went into so much detail: Even though this story includes them, it is not about them and I am simply telling my story the way I always do… being open and honest.
The Unlikeliest of Meetings
Few people know or remember that I created an online dating account on match.com back in November as a desperation move. I figured I could find someone who I legitimately wanted to marry by August (roughly ten months) and that way I could keep the amazing job I’d earned in the most persistent of manners and I could also permanently fix my legal/citizenship issues. This sounds a lot like the movie “The Proposal” except for the fact that I was not planning on cheating the system. I was going to meet someone who I was truly interested in and who wanted to settle down, and I was going to do it all by being honest about my situation and getting to know them well during 6-8 months (I’m really good at understanding people and developing relations with them so I don’t think it would be hard for me to settle that quickly if the other person was similar).
Although I interacted with people, I didn’t really go on dates because I [ironically] have always had a thing against dating… (too much pressure, too many reasons for people to not be themselves, too superficial… don’t even get me started). Besides, no one that I interacted with on the website stood out.
Four months went by without much action, and I only had April and May left on my account.
Then, on April 15th, my worst nightmare happened:
You seemed very interesting, mostly because I love cultures and you seem to as well. I am traveling to Spain here at the end of the month and it’s going to take a lot of will power to come back. You seemed like someone who I would get along with well, so I thought I would swing in and say hi. Don’t be fooled by the hair, I like my fair share of intellectual conversations.
Have a good day,
GIRL ((In case you need reassurance: I edited her name out of this))
She was blonde and definitely seemed cute even though most of her pictures were cut off. I hesitated about responding because by this time it was April and there’s no way I was going to marry someone within three months. But being the hopeless romantic that I am, and knowing that we didn’t have to get married I figured “Maybe we will date for a while and then she’ll come to Europe with me… at worst I could still become good friends with her… fuck it, let’s see what happens”
Gosh, I’d love to chat but I happen to be a cereal killer so I don’t think I pass your pre-screening stage…
O wait, we’re not talking frosted mini-wheats…haha
Hello, GIRL. My name is Ed (Eduardo). And yes, I do love cultures and travelling. Lately I’ve been getting a kick out of asking people what ethnicity I look like. I get a lot of Turkish, which is awesome because it happened in Europe too. Soooo I guess I need to learn Turkish now(?)
I was trying to choose the best question to ask about you Spain trip, so I narrowed it down to 4 words:
Where? Why? How long?
Feel free to respond when you get a chance and ask anything else you’d like!
(My first line was a reference to her profile that said she didn’t want “serial killers”). We messaged back and forth and she stood out immediately because she seemed really honest and didn’t care about responding eerily quickly. We talked about the three people in history we’d want to meet (she said Jesus, Marie Curie and FDR) and the super power she’d want to have (teleportation). But perhaps the biggest reason why I eventually agreed to meet her was because she asked me the mother of all questions that I had been scared of answering all my life:
if the cost of education didn’t matter, and you had an endless supply of money so what you made didn’t matter, what would be your dream career/job?
This question was so vital for me, that you can find it in the “¿Why?” section of this blog.
We did some small talk for a while about our favorite foods and holidays, but I did put her through a philosophical/mental scenario about what she would do if a friend of hers accidentally killed someone with a car (because I do that asshole thing of interrogating people until they say “I don’t know”).
Throughout our conversations, she eventually said some things that were pretty attractive to me:
– I could go on forever about immigration and how people are assholes, but I won’t. I especially love Mexicans (I’m not sucking up to you lol)
– I’m on match.com I’m not going to just not talk to a guy I think would be a good match.. sheesh. Even if it is just friendship or I think it’s someone I could go on a date with, I’m not going to miss the opportunity to have a conversation with someone who I think will be interesting!
– I like a lot about the US but I think I actually hate a lot more about the US. haha. I’m not a very good/proud American these days. Too much xenophobia, homophobia, bigotry and hate for me! I also like socialized medicine, and I’m not into corporations being people and owning our entire political system.
The most mind-blowing thing she did was after I took too long to respond to one of her messages and she said this:
What are the chances you would go on a date with a girl like me? No pressure, I just figure it might be easier to talk about all these crazy things in person 🙂
Here was an attractive and intelligent blonde girl asking me on a date. I couldn’t believe it. THAT’S my definition of my ideal girl.
I responded by sending a long message (because I’m Ed, so of course). In my message, I made sure to stress: “before we consider meeting, I’m gonna open up a can of worms by reminding you that I am going to study in Vienna this fall, so we can talk about the reasons and implications of all that in person.”
She responded with: “I do know that you’ll be leaving for Vienna so obviously I’ll just come with you. HAHA Totally kidding. No, I just think you’re an interesting person who I would enjoy being around and talking to. Doesn’t mean I’m looking for anything necessarily. I rarely find someone that thinks on these levels the same way I do, so I’m more just interested about what you have to say about life in general, I guess.”
I couldn’t say no to that.
Meeting in Person
As soon as we made that decision, I began making some notes to myself about how we met because I knew it would be a good story to tell some day:
-The first time we met, we decided to reenact the “First Kiss” video. I had messaged her earlier that day asking “how adventurous are you?” and “how good are you at dealing with awkward situations?” and after I told her about the idea she said “omg I was about to say that the only awkward thing that I don’t know how to handle is first kisses but I didn’t want you to think that I was some crazy girl who was trying to get you to kiss her!” So we agreed to kiss before we even knew each other. We met up at the parking lot of a Starbucks, kissed, and then introduced ourselves before going inside. We said a couple of pointless things as we walked in, but some of her first words to me pure gold. As we waited for our order, she picked up a Sharkira CD that was next to us and said “this is what I look like naked, in case you were wondering.” We talked for 3 hours at a coffee shop, then 2 hours at a bar, and then 2 more over text (where things got pretty heated and there may have been a picture or two involved).
She was my ideal girl in a lot of ways. I do not have “a type” but she did have a lot of features that I was really attracted to: blonde, light-colored eyes, in good shape, attracted to Hispanics in the same way as I was to blondes. And that was only the superficial things. More importantly: she made the first move, she asked me on date (i.e. she made the second move), she didn’t wear much makeup, didn’t care about a guy’s height, wanted open communication, liked to do play on words, talked in the same way as me (modifying wordz with z’s or using puns, cursing, etc), she responded to messages in the same way as me (quickly and covering all the topics). And just as a bit over overkill, I also wrote down: “similar political/religious views, not patriotic, cares deeply about people, has trust issues, pacifist, loves learning, watches same kind of documentaries” ((Note: This list is something that I added to as I went along)).
I was iffy about messaging her immediately after our first date but she contacted me and said:
I had a good time on our ‘not’ date 🙂 I hope my kissing style didn’t scare you off.
(She knew I dislike dating and her ‘kissing style’ was lips-only). As we chatted that night, I eventually confessed that she was my worst-case scenario because I didn’t want to meet someone who I liked this much right before I left for Vienna. She confessed that it made her sad to meet someone she liked so much who was leaving so soon. I said I still wanted to see her and potentially spend a solid amount of time with her before I left, even if we had to say goodbye in August. Her words were “Sounds like heartbreak city to me… But deal.” I responded by saying that maybe we would grow sick of each other but then she said “Or maybe you’ll be my reason to go to Europe 😉 hahaaa kidding.. Don’t get creeped out.”
Eventually she said “this could just be the summer that we never forget Notebook-style” and I agreed.
Building the Story
After our first date, we started a cycle of basically trying our best to scare each other off. She would message me things like “I kinda miss you” while we were at work or “I think I like you too much. I can’t even think of other guys right now… Does that freak you out?” All of this led to both of us deactivating our online dating accounts because we were like stupid teenagers and we couldn’t even fathom the idea of seeing someone else. We posted links on each other’s Facebooks and I noticed that right after we met she had posted a link of a 100-year old lady talking about her husband saying “Shirley describes the first meeting with her future husband Moe as ‘a meeting of the souls.” Being the idealist little shit that I am, I remember thinking “God, I hope she’s posting that because of me.”
Even the first time she messaged me on Facebook was memorable. She said “I think I found the place for our next 40 dates” which was a list of beautiful places around the world. The sexual innuendo conversation that we had afterwards about a beach in Portugal was one of the most genius things I’ve ever been a part of (seriously, some of my friends even read it). She would message me on facebook and text me at the same time. One time she even apologized for not responding quickly and when I said it didn’t matter, she said “I think you underestimate how much I enjoy talking to you.” She would tell me that the songs Classic, Talk Dirty to Me, and Not a Bad Thing reminded her of me.
Seriously this girl was a creep/psycho.
But I was loving it.
In return, I would reference Italian movies by saying “Buongiorno principessa!” and I would also say equally-creepy things like “Please take care of yourself because my worst nightmare is falling for someone and losing her to a freak accident. And your last name is Dawson, which has Titanic written all over it.”
Four days after our first date, I was going to one of my best friends’ wedding and the last message she sent before the wedding was “feel free to get super wasted and let me know if you want a ride. I promise I won’t take advantage of you.”
This was funny because days earlier we had decided that we would wait to get physical since we didn’t want to rush anything or make it feel like a cheap fling… but roughly eight hours after ^that message^, she picked me up from the wedding and we went to a random field in Paola where um, certain things happened as we were looking at stars.
It’s also hilarious that we had actually gotten very riled up sext..*cough* TEXTING throughout the morning and we knew we couldn’t wait any longer, so the original plan was to meet the next day at her [dad’s] house while he was gone and do the deed. ((Sidenote: remember that we were like 24-year-old-teenagers. We were stuck living with our parents again so we had to be sneaky if we wanted to do anything ‘adult-like’. It’s hard for parents to understand that at this point we’re not 17 and most of us do know what we’re doing when we get involved with someone.))
So after that post-wedding Saturday night, we still went ahead with the original plan… sort of. After getting to her house, we talked for about 4 hours instead of “getting down to business.” This also became a brilliant little aspect of our story because the minute we were done, her dad walked into the house. What made things worse was that he quickly made his way to the basement, where her room was, so I couldn’t just sneak out.
We panicked. We had to figure out what to do or say. “Hi! I don’t think you’ve heard anything about me because your daughter and I just met very recently but we couldn’t keep our hands off each other even though we tried…Nice to meet you, sir!” Probably not the best way to go if I hoped to see her again.
But suddenly he made his way upstairs, so I sneaked out of the back door and waited for her to pick me up after she had a quick chat with her dad.
O… by the way…I should also mention that I ended up standing in a freaking monsoon for ten minutes before she came and got me…. I don’t think it had rained that hard in Kansas City for a long time and there weren’t a lot of bushy trees nearby. so I was absolutely drenched within one minute. By the time she got to me, the rain meant nothing physically but definitely meant a whole lot poetically.
That entire weekend was on par with any romantic movie that you can think of.
A few days later she went to Spain and I got scared because I realized that I was starting to get really into this girl. I thought “If I don’t end this now, while I can spend 10 days away from her to get over it, then I don’t know if I can handle the heartbreak in August.” But then I remembered my favorite TED talk (“The Power of Vulnerability”) where the speaker says “whole-hearted people, living from this deep sense of worthiness… They’re willing to invest in a relationship that may or may not work out. They thought this was fundamental.” I knew I wanted to be one of those people and I knew I didn’t want to break the heart of the one girl who had the guts to ask me on a date and who explicitly showed how interested she was. So I decided to let her do her thing in Spain, not worry about asking how many foreigners she hooked up with (because we weren’t even officially dating), and not to bother her until she came back from Spain.
But then she messaged me from Spain.
hey you, made it safe… been thinking about you
there is internet at my hostel so i can get on now and then but my wifi is being a bitch and wont let me connect anywhere so that sucks
anyways, hope you´re having a good day
Over the next few days, we talked over WhatsApp. A lot. I even warned her that we were talking too much but she said “Oh that’s alright. You’re supposed to be crazy about the person you’re talking to at first. The trick is making it last FOREVAH!”
One night this wild child got a little drunk and she said that she loved me. Of course she didn’t mean it in ‘that’ sense and she was mortifyingly embarrassed about it the next day. But at one point we did have a chat about whether we should continue ‘talking’ or not, and towards the end of it she said “Just don’t leave me yet. Maybe something crazy will happen and somehow things will work out. All I know is I’m not going to stop talking to you because we are both scared ‘maybes’… Basically, I’m falling harder and faster for you than I have for anyone in my life. I don’t want to lose that.”
And so the story was set.
The Notebook vs. Titanic
If you didn’t know, I’m the kind of crazy guy that likes to make fun connections between everything that happens in my life. Since we mentioned both of the following stories at one point while we were talking, I’m going to compare my one month of knowing this girl to two of the greatest love stories of our generation:
The Notebook and Titanic.
I am not sure when you watched the Notebook for the last time, but in the story Allie is going away for school after the summer and Noah pretty much coerces her to go on a date with him by insisting (in my own version with this girl, apparently I was the woman, but let’s ignore that). Eventually Noah decides to end things between them long before the summer even ends. She insists on getting him back but she fails. They go seven years without seeing each other but eventually they cross paths again. While they are eating dinner after they reunite, Noah jokes about taking advantage of Allie if she drinks too much (ugh, okay I was the woman once again in my version). Eventually, she chooses him over her fiance and you would think it’s time for “happily-ever after” but we all know what actually happens: she forgets him and he spends his whole life trying to make her remember.
We all know the other story, so it should suffice to say that in Titanic Jack Dawson and Rose meet and hit it off immediately. The amount of time that they spend together from when they meet until when they separate is not very long at all, but there is no question that they fall in love. In the end, Jack sacrifices himself and Rose has to move on, but she never forgets him.
Despite being considered among the most iconic love stories, both of these are actual tragedies where one person ‘survives’ an accident and is forced to live with nothing but a memory of the way things used to be with their lover. Both of these are stories about a love that was not supposed to happen and a love that was probably a bad idea to begin with because the girl was heading somewhere and the guy was broke and in debt.
Both of these are decent works of fiction, at best and I’ve always thought real life is better than any fiction.
Blurring the Line Between Real Life vs Fiction
Back in real life, one Thursday night, I went to hang out with this girl and some of her friends. But I could tell something was different. She wasn’t very into me, and she barely even made eye-contact. We slept next to rather than with each other, and she barely even said goodnight after she laid down facing away from me. The next day (Friday) I didn’t really hear much from her and we only messaged a couple of times so I could tell something was definitely off. On Saturday was the first time that she didn’t send me a “Good Morning” message so I knew that something was up. I gave it a few hours but after I hadn’t heard from her I decided to ask her if we were still hanging out the next day as we had planned. She said “Yeah most likely. I kinda need to talk to you though… I’ve been thinking a lot lately and I really don’t want to be tied down in any way right now… I want to date around and enjoy being young. Especially since in two months you’re leaving I just don’t think it’s very smart on my part to cut myself out from being able to talk to whoever I want. And maybe you’ll hate me for that, I don’t know. But it’s kind of been bothering me…”
I asked her a few more things, stressed the fact that we weren’t even officially dating, and told her that I never tried to tie her down, even when she went to Europe.
“I know you didn’t try to tie me down. I’m not good at talking to multiple people and keeping my options open. Once I have someone I like, I’m likely going to give my all to it. I’m not trying to pull a 180 I’ve just been thinking a lot. What I thought I was ok with and could handle, I’ve thought more about and can’t help but ask myself why. The more I think about it, the more I want to see what’s out there and really live the single life. I’m really sorry. I know you’re going to look really deep into it but it’s as simple as me deciding I don’t want to put so much into something I know will end in months. I refuse to do long distance and I don’t know. Yeah, we can talk.”
She said we couldn’t talk more that day because she was busy. I tried to message her about finding a time when we could meet the next day and she never responded. Later that night I was so upset that I sent her a message about how she would never be able to ‘live the single life’ if she couldn’t talk to multiple people at once, therefore we could still technically see each other and learn to ‘live the single life’ by seeing multiple people (which I am also not great at). I sent her a screenshot of the things that she had said to me in Europe where she had convinced me to stick around(^refer to earlier^). Worst of all, after I sent that message at 2:25am, I was flipping through channels and guess what was showing on tv… The Notebook! (no joke, I have a picture of the tv screen to prove it). I clicked on it because apparently I crave punishment and it was right before the “What do you want?!” scene.
I lost my shit. I cried harder than I have ever cried (and I’ve broken that record multiple times in the past year so I’m legitimately keeping track). My worst nightmare was finding a girl that I really liked and losing her in an accident like Titanic.
This was much worse.
Her answer to “What do you want?” was “I don’t know. But it’s not you.”
Writing this Story
One week later, when I wrote this post, I was still struggling to understand just what hit me. I have not seen her since that Thursday night in May (and believe me, I tried: she had told me that she was the kind of girl who rarely got flowers from guys, so I dropped off a rose at her dad’s along with an open-ended version of this story so that she could choose the ending). The Wednesday before she decided to end whatever ‘thing’ we had between us, she said that she was a hopeless romantic and that’s why I was sure we were in for a good story about this summer. I found a definition of hopeless romantic that reads: This person is in love with love. They believe in fairy tales and love. They’re not to be confused as stalkers or creepy because that’s not what a hopeless romantic is. All hopeless romantics are idealists,the sentimental dreamers,the imaginative and the fanciful when you get to know them. They often live with rose colored glasses on.
But when it ended too soon I was crushed. It might sound strange, but I decided to watch The Notebook again because hey, why not twist the knife if it’s already in there I guess. I just didn’t know what else to do because I didn’t know what happened. I knew she was stressed with work and her boss and her didn’t like each other. I knew her ex was pressuring and trying to get back with her (after he cheated on her). I knew we had been going way too fast and there was no chance either of us would be optimistic about doing distance. But I didn’t know why she closed me entirely out of her life and she refused to even talk to me, so the only thing I could do was embrace the immense sadness in order to eventually move on. And that’s exactly why I decided to watch the movie that reminded me so much about what we had been creating before she gave up on it.
Towards the end of The Notebook, a few years have passed and Allie reads the last letter that Noah sent her that first summer.
“My dearest Allie,
I couldn’t sleep last night because I know that it’s over between us. I’m not bitter anymore because I know that what we had was real. And if in some distant place in the future we see each other in our new lives, I’ll smile at you with joy and remember how we spent the summer beneath the trees, learning from each other and growing in love…”
I felt the exact same way that fateful Saturday when she ended things with me. Sleepless. But today I am not bitter and I also plan on smiling at her with joy if we ever cross paths again. Selfishly I just wish I had spent more time with her because in our case we only spent one month instead of a whole summer… but aren’t those brief ones the the best love stories?
Our short time together was not underneath the trees, but one night was underneath the stars. We were learning from each other through documentaries like Religulous or I Am, and from articles on Medium or another one she sent me about a prisoner who wrote a letter to the government. In my eyes what we had was real because it wasn’t a work of fiction and because we were crazy about each other, even if only for a few weeks. I know we didn’t technically fall in love, and we didn’t even officially date at any point, but I want you to hear the rest of the letter that I just started quoting from The Notebook:
“The best love is the kind that weakens the soul. That makes us reach for more. That plants a fire in our hearts and brings peace to our minds. And that’s what you’ve given me.”
Ever since she decided to end whatever we had, I discovered how much fiery release I get from writing and I have also been more at peace than I have ever been in my life. I went through some serious trials in my journey since graduation (lost the perfect job, couldn’t navigate through a legal system, etc) but none compared to her because nothing takes more of a toll on me than my love for women. Nothing. That is why I don’t hook up a lot, because I prefer love to sex. I could handle missing out on the perfect job and then fighting for it only to lose it again. I could handle fighting against an entire country’s legal system and eventually realizing that I can’t win. But I did not think I could handle losing someone like her. I used to have nightmares that I might lose my ideal woman to a tragic accident, but the reality was much worse: I lost her to a change of heart. To put it more bluntly “I didn’t lose the perfect girl by random chance, I lost her by her own choice.”
Although I have not seen her again, and perhaps I never will, I am in perfect peace.
As I said, most of this was written months ago, and I was experiencing the whole melodramatic heartbreak stage of life, but I’m perfectly happy and fine now (duh, I’m in Vienna). There’s no need for condolences or “it will get better” comments from anyone who reads this. The reason I am sharing it now is simply because it was the most essential part of everything that I have learned and yet it’s something few people truly knew about until now (especially in this much detail). I thought I had made it through the worst part of my journey…then this happened. This was the final trial of my journey because it allowed me to finally learn the lesson that has been the theme of the entire journey since I graduated:
Life is full of conflicts and disappointments that we will never predict and cannot avoid,
all we can do is make the best of it and turn it into a good story.
This is nothing revolutionary and I don’t claim to have made any grand discovery. In fact, the only thing I want to say is that I understand now. I understand exactly what Maya Angelou meant (not just what she said) when she stated:
I’ve learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow. I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights. I’ve learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you’ll miss them when they’re gone from your life. I’ve learned that making a “living” is not the same thing as making a “life.” I’ve learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance. I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back. I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision. I’ve learned that even when I have pains, I don’t have to be one. I’ve learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone. People love a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back. I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn. I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
Thank you all for making my life the amazing journey that it has been so far. I would be lying if I said that I will never forget the memories we’ve shared in the U.S./Mexico, but I can assure you that I will never forget the way each of you has made me feel. You have all impacted my life and I will prove it to you when I explain why this blog has such a silly name. I promise to write more happy things about Vienna from now on because I will begin classes/adventures soon, but please be aware that I am basically a drama queen because shit follows me everywhere. But that’s why I have developed a knack for twisting sad stories into happy ones instead of just pretending that life is great and conflict-free. Life is a bitch, and it’s not all KC BBQ or Nutella, but as I said before, the whole theme behind “my journey since graduation” has been conflict and disappointment… and that is exactly what has made it so fascinating to me.
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