Fast forward a few years. I randomly signed on to AIM before heading to my part-time job, and just as I was about to sign off, a message from B. popped up. I was absolutely stunned. We hadn’t talked in more than three years, so I was thrown for a loop. I just sat there and stared at the message. I did not respond; I was too stunned. The next night, I hesitantly logged back in and he messaged me almost immediately. We talked for about two hours, getting caught up on each other’s lives. It was like no time had passed.
After that AIM conversation, we didn’t talk again for over a year. The next fall, he started writing on my Facebook wall about the Red Sox, which he knew I wouldn’t let go without comment; he’s a Yankees fan. After exchanging a few wall posts, I decided one Saturday night, after a few glasses of wine, to message him with my post-college phone number and tell him if he wanted to talk to me for real, he could use the phone. I woke up the next morning with a text from him saying he’d call me soon.
Over the next few days, we texted off and on, and it seemed like we had really turned a corner. Granted, my feelings came flooding back like a tidal wave, but it was nice to have him back in my life. Later that week, he called and we talked for more than two hours, like we used to do on AIM. We even made plans to meet up in December, when he would be back home for the holidays in the same NHL city I happened to be visiting. Needless to say, I could barely sleep that night because I was so happy, and excited to see him for the first time in more than four years.
I still vividly remember what it was like to see him four and a half years after I graduated. I met him at a mall near my hotel, and as I walked out of the store where he was planning to meet me, he opened his arms, I smiled, and he pulled me into his arms. It truly felt like I was starring in my own romantic comedy. After hugging each other for what felt like both hours and milliseconds, we walked around, grabbed coffee, and just caught up. It truly felt like we had moved beyond college and were having a real, adult friendship. I was elated.
In the weeks and months that followed our reunion, we communicated less and less, and when we did, he seemed distant. I knew, then, I had gotten my hopes up for something that just wasn’t going to happen. Although he seemed to have matured a lot, he was still very similar to the person he had been in college. We seemed to always be taking two steps forward and five steps back. I, on the other hand, was more confident, outgoing, and self-assured, and most importantly, happier. I was no longer as afraid to talk about my feelings as I once was.
The first time I listened to Adele’s “21,” I was Hot Mess McGee. Every single track resonated with me. I made the mistake of first listening to the album while driving, which resulted in blurred vision from the mass amount of tears that fell.
Because I figured Adele could say what I needed to say for me, I decided to burn B. the CD, write him a letter, and include both in a care package filled with Girl Scout cookies. I still wasn’t at a place where I could verbalize everything I needed to say, but I could at least write it out, so that was progress, right? Wrong. Turns out, even though I tried my best to put pen to paper and really express my feelings, it was all still pretty vague. After the letter and box of treats, our contact once again trickled off to nothing during the summer of 2010, and I still felt like I had no closure.
After not talking to B. for awhile, I’m always able to push my feelings for him to the back of my mind. I even got to a place where I could listen to Adele and appreciate her for the brilliant artist that she is, without getting emotional. I could also listen to John Mayer’s “Comfortable” without wanting to crawl into bed for three days. “I loved you, gray sweatpants…so perfect” (I was/am the cheesiest).
In January of this year, I made the decision to unfriend and block him, as well as delete his number from my phone. I had tried, and failed, a couple of times since the summer of 2010 to stay in touch. I finally realized that I deserved so much more than the half-assery he had given me since I first met him 11 years ago. I deserved someone who wanted to be in my life as much I wanted them in mine. I couldn’t even call this a friendship, because friends don’t act like that. I lied to myself and said it was a friendship because I didn’t want to let go. Let me tell you something, I would never let a friend get away with treating me that way, and it was high time I finally realized I couldn't let him, either. I knew that if I needed to make a real break, or it wouldn't work. After taking those steps, I finally felt like I was giving myself closure, something I never felt like I had.
I didn’t hate him, and I don’t think he’s a bad person – not even close – he just isn’t capable of giving me what I expect out of a friendship, let alone anything more. Coming to terms with that was a big step for me, and I was very proud of myself.
Since I had my own version of the closure that I desperately needed, I really started to think about the whole situation and the last 11 years. Was I really in love with him, or was I more in love with the idea of him? There is nothing quite like the feeling of being head over heels for someone. Maybe that’s what I was holding on to? I still wasn’t sure.
A few months ago, I, for some reason, decided that blocking him was probably a little too harsh. I thought that he should at least be able to contact me, if he ever felt the need to, so I unblocked him and forgot about it. About a month ago, I got a friend request from him and it felt like I slammed into a brick wall. A lot of crying happened that day. I almost never cry when I’m sad. It almost always because I’m angry or stressed. Whatever I was feeling that day, the flood gates sure were open.
Why was he doing this? Why do you go for three years without talking to someone, and then pop back up again for no reason? I was all of sudden filled with emotions ranging some sadness, to anger, to love, to nostalgia. I hated this! This is exactly why I had unfriended and blocked him in the first place. I've always felt like a little pawn in his torturous game of bizarre behavior that had no rules. After I thought about it for a few hours, I decided to accept his friend request, but did nothing else. I wanted to see if he was going to say anything, because I definitely was not.
The next morning, I woke up to a message from him asking, "How were we not friends?" If he wanted an answer to that question, I was going to give him one. I sat down at work and typed out the thoughts and feelings that had been running through my brain for the last 16 hours. I let him know just how sick I was of him coming and going from my life every couple of years, and if he intended to do it again, he could unfriend me immediately and leave me alone. It took a day and a half, but I did get a response, in which he half-assed apologized. I wasn't expecting a response, so I guess it was something.
A few days later, I was on Facebook and a chat window popped up. It was B., responding to a status I had posted earlier that morning about Michigan-Ohio State tickets. Once again, it felt like no time had passed. We talked about college football (he’s also a Michigan fan) and me going to the 2014 Winter Classic in Ann Arbor. He even offered to buy me the pair of tickets at $500 (for the cheap seats) twice. Wait a minute, what? Yes, you read that right. The same guy who has never once acknowledged my birthday and has only given me one burned copy of John Mayer's "Room for Squares" since I've known him, offered to spend $500 on me and a guest for a college football game. I still don't know why he offered, and I didn't ask. I definitely should have, but I was too stunned.
I started to get my hopes up again that we could make a real friendship work this time. I told myself that I was totally okay with just being friends, for now, at least, and we could see where things went. The more we talked, the braver I got about asking him things about college. I even asked him if he knew how I felt about him then, and he said he did. At this point, I'm in full-on sappy love song mode, and all of my feelings are back again. I’m really feeling like that whole “If you love something, set it free; if it comes backs it's yours, if it doesn't, it never was” thing could actually be true. How many freakin’ times does he have to come back? Why does he keep coming back? I don’t know.
After those conversations of alluding to how I felt, but never really verbalizing it, I decided I needed to get it all off my chest, once and for all. There is currently an 8.5 hour time difference between us, so I sent him a Facebook message saying I wanted to talk when he had time, and alluded to what it was about, and didn’t think about it for the rest of the day.
Around 3 a.m. his time, I logged on to Facebook and he immediately messaged me saying, “I still don’t know what you are talking about.” I got a big glass of wine and took a deep breath; it was now or never. After making sure he wasn’t planning to sign off anytime soon, I started typing. Twenty minutes later, I hit ‘send’ and waited. The read notification finally appeared and I got up for another glass of wine. By the time I got back, he was typing. He thanked me for sharing my feelings with him and acknowledged how hard he knows it was for me to do that, which I greatly appreciated.
He then said something that I’ve been thinking about ever since: “You’re stupid to love someone like me. In case you didn’t know, I’m kind of an ass.” At first, I laughed and thought it was so endearing, but now that I’ve had time to process everything, I know he’s right. When a person tells you who they really are, don't ignore it. He is an ass, and I need to always remember that.
After we were done talking, I was beyond elated. Not because of anything he had said, but because I had this five-ton monster known as my feelings for him, finally off my chest. Granted, I was a bit tipsy from the wine I had consumed, but, still. I was 2009 Stanley Cup-level of happy. I had done something that terrified me for 11 years. I was free of those demons. I thought for sure I would sleep like I baby that night, but, I didn’t. In fact, I was so wired, I was still awake at 3 a.m.
We haven’t talked much since I said what I needed to say, and that was about 10 days ago. I thought for sure, after I confessed my feelings, they would intensify. However, the exact opposite has happened. My desire to want to message him every time I see him online is gone. My thoughts are not consumed by making mental plans for when he’s back on U.S. soil, or if we can try to make something work between us. I’m really starting to think that maybe I was just in love with the idea of love, and my real feelings died when I left Meadville.
Taylor Swift’s “Red” album has become one of my favorites since it came out last fall, and has been getting a lot of play on my iPod as of late. “All Too Well” could easily be an anthem for our relationship.
And maybe this thing was a masterpiece 'til you tore it all up.
Running scared, I was there, I remember it all too well.
Hey, you call me up again just to break me like a promise.
So casually cruel in the name of being honest."
I’m certainly not a psychotherapist, but I have my own theories on why he acts the way he does. I’ve finally realized that his behavior has nothing to do with me, but his own version of my five-ton monster. He recently told me that he is “not a sharer,” and again, I have to realize he is telling me who he really is. B. not being “a sharer” really translates into not wanting let anyone in, including me. I cannot continue to fight this uphill battle with him. If he ever wants to let me in, he knows how to find me, I just can’t guarantee I’ll be around when that time comes.