letters // part two

(part one here)

To: Katelyn B.
From: Alissa Erin
Date: Tuesday, March 10, 2015, at 10:03 AM
Subject: And another thing...

I ended up texting Derek last night. I haven't heard from him in a few weeks, and I haven't been the one to reach out to him first in quite some time. I wanted to see if he watches The Jinx, because I'm so desperate to talk to someone about it.
More than anything, I obviously just wanted to talk to him.

He responded right away. Said he doesn't watch it, but will on my recommendation, since he listened to Serial after I told him about it, and loved it.

I'm attracted to him physically. That goes without saying. He's 6'1, with thick brown hair, and incredibly handsome, in my opinion. But what attracts me even more to him is his personality. And his intelligence. Basically making him a triple threat.

He went on to tell me that he was offered a full time position with the company he's been working with.

Then he asked when he was going to see me again. And I said, "I've been waiting for my invite." To which he said, "Well, I'm still in a hotel, since I didn't want to sign a lease until I knew I was staying. So how about I come visit you?"

I know this is all talk. I know it.

So I said, "Sure, when?" because I've heard this before, and I've yet to see him living and breathing in my living room, you know? And he said, "I'm trying to get home, since I haven't been back in a few years, but I don't see that happening because of work. So I'm probably free whenever."

So I said, "How about next weekend?"

STILL. I KNOW THIS IS ALL TALK.

"And he said maybe!" - Mike Birbiglia

No, I'm kidding. He said he'll come if he doesn't go home. So I said, "Hmm, home or New York in March...tough choice!"

He didn't respond.

I know he's not coming. I know I won't hear from him again for a while. I know that this has turned into some type of weird friendship, and that's all it will ever be. The odds of me seeing him again are slim to none.

So, why do I think about him all of the time?

You asked me my biggest regret is, who hurt me the most (or something along those lines!) and it's not him. It's not.

But I don't know where he fits in the grand scheme of things. I don't know if I ever will.

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To: Alissa Erin
From: Katelyn B.
Date: Tuesday, March 10, 2015, at 2:08 PM
Subject: Re: And another thing...

I don't know much about Derek. I don't know what he looks like in pictures or in person. I don't know what his favorite band is or if he carries an accent from his childhood. I don't even know his last name or why he means so much to you.

But I know that for all the dead ends and uncertainty this meeting has caused you, there must be something about him that gives you hope. 

Because while I am no expert on pre-single you (we literally met the day you kicked your live-in boyfriend out of your house), one thing I do know is that you are not, at this moment, in a fragile state of desperation. As you clearly explained in a recent blog post, you know the difference between needing and wanting. 

You know you don't need Derek, or any man for that matter. But despite your better judgment, you want him. And you want him, in a general sense. This person you have been working towards, building up to, sitting and waiting for. 

I guess the question is...do you think that Derek, is him? Or, I guess the more telling question is, do you hope- in spite of any evidence to the contrary- that he could be?

I was thinking earlier today about close female friendships, and about how, through nothing but endless rounds of conversation, we grow to really know each other, deep in our cores. We come to know our shared and individual idiosyncrasies; what pushes our buttons, what drives us, what stops us in our tracks. 

I could go through my list of truly trusted friends and build a perfect man for each of them based on all of this slowly acquired knowledge. For example, I know that all it takes for Kelsey to fall in love at first sight is for a charismatic man to really know his way around a dance floor. Emily would need somebody strong, and bigger than her, and self-assured in a way that she is not. Abby puts less stock in personality and conversation and more in chemistry, and how that person makes her feel, in a instinctual, physical sense. 

But when I was thinking about the man I'd draw up for you, it kind of stumped me. Not that I don't know a long list of men that you find attractive- I do, so many. But perhaps therein lies the problem- the fact that the list is so varied. You've loved- or could love- so many different kinds of men in this life. You are unabashedly and unapologetically open to love. Even if you don't realize it. 

That is not to imply that you don't have, as Liz Lemon would say, "dealbreakers"- I know a long list of those, too. But, in general, you look for a more holistic collection of attributes within a person of varying form- a triple threat, as you put it. 

And that- I think is the key. Because your triple threat- a person who checks all the boxes of the physical, the intellectual, and the emotional- well they are few and far between, my friend. And in this way, this man, in this (one of many) form, gives you hope that he could be him. If you gave him the chance. 

And if you missed out on this opportunity, then you couldn't forgive yourself. It's the curse that we can reconcile our failures, but not our fears. 

So your mind seeks him. 
You hand reaches out. 
Your heart gives it the old college try, again

Because you are hopeful. And therefore, vulnerable. 

But I think that this time, no matter what happens, you won't be so hurt. Maybe the outcome of this- one way or another- could burgeon a new box to check off in your perfect man application. Maybe that box would say something like:

Present. 

In all senses of the word. 

But hope, whether vindicated or dashed- is always, always a good thing. 

Because it means you are ready. 

For whatever the universe or St. Joseph or Tinder throws your way. 

You are ready for him.

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To: Katelyn B.
From: Alissa Erin
Date: Tuesday, March 10, 2015, at 3:52 PM
Subject: Re: And another thing...

I went once to see Derek in early May, about a month after we started talking, and again at the end of June.

It was the second time around when I found a ticket stub to The Fault in Our Stars in his garbage (I wasn’t snooping, I swear!), and it was after the second time that he sent me a text that was clearly meant for another girl, less than 5 minutes after I left his apartment.

It stung enough as is. The “ompffhhh” reaction I get from people when I tell the story only confirms how bad it was. But I think it’s worse because it didn’t happen the first time – or the only time – I went. It happened the second time around, when I just started to allow myself to think: this could be something.

And what I don’t forgive myself for is never saying anything to him about the text. I let it slide for so many reasons: because we weren’t serious, because I was hanging out with someone else when we first met, because I met him online, so of course he was talking to other people, because because because. Instead of saying to myself: stand up for yourself and say something, because you thought it could work with him, because you like him, and you should know if he feels the same.

So to answer your question: I don’t think Derek is him, but I so badly wanted him to be.

A couple months ago I went out to dinner with Sam and her cousin, and we got to talking about guys and dating (Kim has been married for a few years now), and she asked if I was dating anyone. I said no, and Sam chimed in with, “Because she’s still hung up on someone else.” 

And it’s true – I am. I can’t explain why, so I chalk it up to not meeting anyone else who really interests me, or not actively looking (or pretending to not look) for anyone, or any number of reasons.

But the truth is, he was different – he is different – than any guy I’ve ever dated.

He’s educated, but not cocky about it. He’s charming, but knows when to turn it on or off, depending on conversation, and he appreciates things that I appreciate: music and good television, wit and the ability to be playful with someone, books, and my writing, too – he was/is a fan of the blog.

He’s different in a way that is good for me. So I look for those qualities in men now.

But he’s not present.

Whether it’s because he’s never lived less than 3 hours away from me, or not, I don’t know. And I know that I deserve someone who will be present, regardless of how physically close they are to me. I deserve someone who will show up again and again and again, because that’s what you do when you really care about someone.

He was more…oh, let’s call it… attentive in the beginning. But all men are, aren’t they? They know that’s how they win you over. But to remain present…that’s another thing entirely.

I’m not sure how much of this I’ve already told you, but when I quit online dating a month or so ago, I said to the Universe (my good ole St. Joseph) before I went to bed one night: “Bring him to me. Bring him to me because I’m not going to be looking for him anymore. Help him find me, please.”

And I woke up to a text message from Derek.

I laughed. I thought of it as a test.  I thought of it as the Universe saying, “I’ll bring him to you when you understand that this guy is not him.”

Maybe that’s the case, or maybe not. I don’t know. But I can't wait to find him...whoever he is.