“I’m seeing someone,” he says. “But, I would still like to surf with you.”
I deleted him from Facebook, right then. There was clearly an attraction already, and I was not going to allow anything to get messy. The universe had other plans.
The following week, I surf a break I’ve never surfed before on the suggestion of a friend. He is there. This is where he finds me. It’s his break. His friends. I fit in immediately. We don’t talk. I’m smarter than that. But, I feel his eyes pressed against me countless times that afternoon. I’m always aware of where he is in the water.
I make my first mistake, later. I reach out to him. I tell myself that this is harmless.
“Hey. I’m sorry I cut you off. Sure, let’s be friends,” I write. It escalates quickly.
We text non-stop for days. We send each other music and pictures.
“Let’s always be 100 percent honest,” he says.
This is the perfect time to ask about the other woman. I don’t.
“It’s rare to connect so quickly with someone,” he goes on. “Promise me you will stay in my life forever?” I read his texts and my heart beats against the bars of my rib cage.
“Spend the day with me,” he says. And, I accept his offer. The day is just the kind of simple that makes it beautiful. Just the kind of day that makes you believe in things like fate.
We hold hands, and it feels intimate.
“I want to see you again,” he says, like it is the most natural thing. “Let’s set up a movie night,” he texts before I’ve even driven away from him in the parking lot.
And so we do, but there is an elephant in the room. She lurks at the corner of my consciousness. I want to ask, but he is texting, calling, and making plans with me. I push her further into the corner.
She must not be that important. They are new. He is free to do what he choses. These are all the things I tell myself to justify what I am doing. He is going to pick me. This is really what my heart is saying.
“I hope we stay friends forever,” he says.
“Friends?” I question, as we make plans for him to come over and cuddle with a surf flick and glasses of wine.
“I care about her, Kelly.” He tells me.
This is all I need to hear. “We can’t do this,” I say. I tell him that it’s over.
He pursues me harder, then. “My soul would be torn apart if you left.” This is the line that gets me.
One Friday night we talk for two hours. We are breathless and excited on the phone. Things get sexual. I wake Saturday morning to his flirtations. He is thinking of me the first thing when he awakens. He is reaching out to me, not her. This is more than him just being horny.
“I’m blushing,” he says. And, it feels like we are creating something magic. I stand looking out at the ocean where we met. He is texting me from work. “I wish I was there,” he says. “Me too,” I answer.
That night, he disappears. I don’t hear from him for hours. This isn’t like him. Normally, my phone is blowing up with playful texts. I instinctively know that he is with her.
The next morning, we are set to meet, and I don’t hear from him.
“Don’t pick her, Buster,” I call him and say. You can’t pick her, yet. There is still so much I have to offer. And, when he comes to me straight from her bed, I imagine I can give him more that she can. I tell myself he couldn’t possibly love her if he didn’t stay with his arms wrapped around her, but instead he drove to find me.
I mistake what we do, and how passionate it feels, to be love and fate colliding.
After, he is distant.
“Walk with me,” I say. We walk our boardwalk holding hands. He is trapped inside his head. “My head is spinning,” he says. “I don’t know what I’m doing.”
“It’s okay,” I say. I wrap my arms around him. “Just tell her.” I beg.
This is beginning of the end, but I don’t know it.
“This was a mistake.” He calls and tells me just hours later. “I’m going to tell her, but in the hopes that I can fix it with her.”
I am in shock.
“But, if you love her, why did you keep reaching for me? It has to mean something that you kept reaching for me.” But the truth is that it doesn’t.
“Stop.” He gets annoyed with me.
In the next few days, he completely detaches. Slowly at first, trying his best to explain, using the word confusion, telling me he needs to see things through with her. But, finally, he simply blocks me on social media.
I am devastated.
“What did you expect?” The one person I tell asks. “Love doesn’t start with lying.”
So, I do the immature thing and I lash out and tell him I hate him. I feel used up and angry, but those words couldn’t be further from the truth. The truth is that I miss him. The truth is that I want him to miss me too.
But, he doesn’t.
A million thoughts run through my head. Did he really tell her? Does she forgive him? Was I just a sexual thing? Would he have grown to love me?
But, the worst thought is the one that rattles in my head like a penny in a tin Band-aid box. It is the creeping doubt: “Am I worth being loved in the first place?”
There are countless men. Strong, beautiful, available men in cars, running down streets, in supermarkets, and on surfboards. Any one of those men have the potential to love me if I let them. But, can I let them? Instead of looking for a healthy relationship, I chose to play around with a man who was already taken, and man who was set from the beginning to do nothing but crack my heart.
It makes me afraid to answer my own question.
Am I worth being loved?
There is work to be done. I have to let go of my past, and forgive myself my mistakes. I have to resolve some deep-seated insecurities that had me running into the arms of a man who could only reject me. I have to stop rejecting myself.
I want to believe in romance, love, and fate. As I write these words, I hope that they will release me in some small way, to begin my journey to believe in it all. And so, I let him go in my heart, and hope the universe will rush in to fill the hollow, aching, empty space with genuine faith in myself.
Author: April Pojman
Editor: Catherine Monkman