I dated a guy last summer who remains one of the most interesting people I have ever met. Incomprehensibly well-rounded, he had extensive academic achievements coupled with street smarts and was as hilarious and wacky as he was practical and logical. He was handsome and rugged and sensitive and charming, and understood the complexities of my personality and my desires better than anyone I’d ever known. (Read: I’m going to high-five you and call you “dude” a lot, but I secretly want you to open the door for me and pull out my chair for me and treat me like a lady.) He saw my boundless enthusiasm and endless curiosities as refreshing and exciting, not annoying or exhausting, and the latter is kind of what I’m used to (which is fair enough). He was immediately open and vulnerable with me, and I with him, and he spoke to me in a manner I’d never really experienced before; he was careful and deliberate with his words, always putting my feelings first, and was just basically a character from a romance novel come to life. I am brusque, I am mannish, I am loud, I am lumbering; although I have dated only truly nice guys, I understand that I don’t generally inspire feelings of protection, of nurturing, of adoration. This guy treated me as if I were a combination of Chrissie Hynde and Audrey Hepburn, equal parts badass and delicate flower, independent shitkicker and wide-eyed beauty. He supported me unconditionally and was proud of me and wanted to show me off; he loved that I didn’t need taking care of, but he wanted to be there to do it anyway, should I change my mind. He would send me pictures of things he knew I would find funny and send texts that would simply say, “I’m thinking about you.” When I went on vacation to Greece, Internet connections were harder to find on some islands, and during that time when we couldn’t communicate, he sent a series of e-mails for me to read when I was able — because I couldn’t answer at the time, the letters were written as if I were an astronaut who had been lost in space, and he was waiting patiently back on earth for me, and although everyone else involved in the mission had given up hope, he just knew I would come back one day. The missives were so beautifully composed, and once I returned to the mainland of Greece and a steady Internet connection, I wept as I read each of them, following the careful narrative he’d designed over several letters made to sound as if they’d been written by my partner who had watched me launch into space in 1968 and had waited for my return ever since, so detailed and intricate, showing the effort he’d put in and how much he missed talking to me, even after only three or four days of not being able to do so. No one had ever — ever — done anything like that for me before. It was so creative and lovely and the effort put forth just floored me. I don’t have low self-esteem, but I also don’t often think I’m worth things like that, just in the way that I know how I come across and I understand how someone wouldn’t think to do anything like that for me. I’m not the type of lady whose face launches ships or whatever; I’m a goof. It’s not often that people see past that; it’s not often that men see past that. But he did. And he wanted me to know that he did, and he wanted me to know it often. And it made my heart melt every time he did. Every single time.
If a few days went by when we weren’t able to talk on the phone due to our schedules (our relationship was long distance), we’d send each other video messages. His were always so eloquent, and he always made sure to list the things he missed about me, that he hoped I was having fun, that I was out being loud and crazy and doing something I enjoyed, and how sad he was that he couldn’t be with me, watching me enjoy myself.
When we broke up, I couldn’t bring myself to delete those e-mails or videos. I hid them, along with all pictures of us, in a remote file inside of another file inside of another file on my computer, so that finding them would take time and extra navigation. I guess I hoped that after a third or fourth click of the mouse, I’d think, “This is a bad idea,” and I’d give up the search. That didn’t work tonight. It was the anniversary of the first time we spoke, and I thought of him all day. Tonight I sought out those videos, and I watched them. And I cried, but not only purely from missing him… I guess I also cried because it seemed so fleeting, so temporary, almost like I dreamed it, like the concept of someone treating me that way existed only in a bubble that had long since burst.
I need to put those videos in a much harder to reach folder.