Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Bonus Post: The Rhythm of the Rob

I have no idea where that title came from but it amuses me, so I'm going to let it stay. I wrote on Monday about Rob, with a brief history. Maybe it goes without saying, but he's been on my mind constantly since then.

I guess it shouldn't be a surprise. I mean, we were friends for 13 or so years before everything happened. It's kind of funny...I say 13 years, but maybe it's really only 11. Why the difference? It's because while I knew Rob for two years before I moved, it wasn't until I told him that I was moving that he told me that he'd miss me. Okay, that's not making sense. Let me back up a bit...yeah, this is going to end up being a novel, but I'm mostly writing to sort my own head out. Y'all are along for the ride.

I met Rob about three months after I moved to Buffalo. Someone that I knew invited me to go to a dinner that was held at a restaurant every month. It was just a group of people who shared interests who got together. I was nervous...hell, I was maybe 15 months out of my divorce, the "friend" who was renting my place turned out to not really be my friend, my kids were back in Michigan, to say I was lonely is probably a huge understatement. I was also really shy...believe it or not, this is a thing. I still get really anxious in groups and I pretend really well that I'm not wanting to hide. I was also really trying to find myself during this period.

Anyway, I was taken to this meetup and immediately made to feel really welcome. The host/hostess were really friendly and welcoming. They found a seat at the table for me and I don't know how they knew, but it was just about the perfect spot for me. Rob was sitting across from me and he was so nice to me. By the end of the evening, I was actually a little sad to go.

My going became a regular thing. It never bothered me that it was an hour drive from where I was living. In some ways, it was probably my lifeline to the outside world. Other than that, my life was really isolated. I went to school (I went back to college after my kids were in school.) and other than that, I was pretty much alone. Going to the dinners led to me going to the parties that they had. It was a brand new world for me and I know that I was wide eyed. People were so kind to me though and really watched out for me.

After I finished my degree, the decision was made to move back to Michigan to be with my kids. Part of me couldn't wait to go (the situation where I was renting was bad) and part of me didn't want to leave. I felt as if I finally had friends...not close, I mean nobody invited me to their house or anything, but friends..

I remember going to the party and telling Rob that it was the last one I would be at because I was moving in something like a week. He seemed genuinely sad that I was leaving. He had easily become one of my favorite people but I had no idea that he liked me. I guess I just always thought he was being nice to me. Funny how the brain works, eh?

So, I left. I moved back to Michigan. Him and I kept in touch. We became genuine friends. I thought his girlfriend at the time was my friend too, but that's a story for another day. Over the next few years, I would go over and visit and like I said, we kept in touch. We had a few rocky points, but we always seemed to spring back. Perhaps because he would "avoid" me until I would just let whatever it was go. Fighting was never worth losing that friendship to me. Oh sure, I popped off now and then, but like I said, we always recovered.

Fast forward to when he broke things off with the girlfriend. Suddenly we were talking a lot more. We started flirting with each other and neither of us was very subtle about it. It was nice. It felt good. I had been interested in him for years, but would never cross that line when he was with someone. Turns out he felt similarly. When he moved into his own place, I offered to go over and help him get the place set up. I got there and the place was already set up. Things were different between us. We were openly affectionate with each other. We slept together. It was a great week. I didn't want to go because part of me was truly afraid that that week would change things between us and not for the better.

Sadly, I was right. For the next six years, I didn't see him. It hurt...a lot. He was trying to find himself and I understood that, but man, it sucked. So many times I just wanted to be there for him, but he wouldn't let me. I had to stand back in the shadows and wait. I would get so excited when he would pop up online and message me or flirt with me. Mostly though, I missed "my" Rob..the man I knew he was under all of the garbage. I missed the man who would flirt outrageously with me, who would bring me cider if he went out just because he knew I loved it, who would laugh at me while I watched movies because I get so invested in them. I missed the man who I knew was smart, funny, brave...and there wasn't anything I could do about it.

Fast forward through those six years and he called to tell me Laura died. Even now, tears spring to my eyes. I didn't know how to comfort him. I was in shock myself. I wanted so badly to be there, not just for him, but for me. I needed to see people. I needed the closure that I may never be back there again. I was scared to death though to ask him if I could stay with him. I couldn't go if I couldn't. He'd told me no so many times over the previous years. Somehow though I got brave and asked him. I still wonder if he hesitated in his own head before he said yes. Letting me back into his personal space could change things for him.

The drive there was chaos. I was so emotional over Laura's sudden passing and so anxious about being with Rob again. I didn't know what it would be like between us. I didn't know if it would be like it was before or if we would almost be strangers. When my car broke down, so did I. I have never lost it like that in public before. All I could think was that I had to get there. Not being there wasn't an option. I probably owe that poor mechanic a 10th apology for me sobbing in his lobby.

Once I got back on the road, the tears stopped, but the anxiety didn't. When I got there, of course my phone was being stupid so I couldn't even let him know I was there. Part of me wanted to get back in the truck (yes, a truck...can you imagine?) and drive away. When he came out, I don't think either of us knew how to act with the other. Then he hugged me and things seemed okay again.

Things were different though. Part of it was situational..his mom was living with him and he had a dog now. I don't know if that's really what kept us "apart" though. We weren't openly affectionate with one another, but we still ended up in bed together. I didn't know if we would, if either of us was in that place anymore. He would tell me things in bed though..things I won't repeat, but things that gave me hope that we were still us.

When I went back, it wasn't as hard to leave because I honestly thought that we were going to see each other again soon, probably in a few months. He even came out to the truck after he'd gone back inside to make sure he told me that he loved me. I held onto that.

Things seemed okay in the months after that. We talked, we flirted, we joked. Then I log in on Facebook and the first thing I see in my feed is that he's in a relationship with someone. I tried to stay calm. I messaged him and jokingly asked if there was something he'd forgotten to tell me. He said that he'd wanted to talk to me about it...all I could think was all the opportunities he'd had. He'd been dating this woman for close to two months or more at this point. I can't remember exactly. When he did talk to me about it...he told me how perfect she was down to the fact that his dog listened to her. If you're rolling your eyes, I understand. He had a special relationship with his dog and it's true that she probably didn't listen to everyone. I don't know. She listened to me.

I'm not going to lie. I lost it. I panicked. All I could think was ...he's going to break his word to me. The man that I've trusted with my life, with everything, is going to break his word to me. Like I said in the previous post, I was also panicking because I was losing one of the few safe spots that I have left in this world. I don't trust easily. I have a very hard time relaxing. That was never an issue with him. Losing that was terrifying, especially when on some levels, I felt like I'd just gotten it back after so long without it. I wrote him a letter, I messaged him, and he didn't respond to any of it. I spent days crying. I felt like I'd lost so best friend, my lover, my safe spot.

I don't know how long this lasted, but I remember pulling into my driveway one night after crying my way home. In that moment, all I could think was how I couldn't do this anymore. It hurt too much. I picked up my phone and recorded a message for him, telling him what I was going to do and to say goodbye. I sent it to him and went inside. The next morning, I dumped all of my medication into a wooden bowl that he had made and given to me. I guess it was symbolic or something. I had every intention of trying to swallow down every pill in that bowl. My cat, Mittens, had other ideas and would get in between me and the bowl every time I reached for it. I loved her so much so I would pet her and just sit and cry. At the end of the day, I dumped the pills back into their bottles.

I'm not sure when I decided that I had to move on. I know that it took months before I could even see his name on Facebook without crying or feeling like I was being stabbed in the heart. I mourned him. I know that the last message that I got from him was the day after my birthday...right until a few nights ago when he suddenly texted me out of the blue.

To say I had mixed feelings is an understatement. My heart jumped for joy. My brain said woah, slow down, he would have let you die. I think he knew that...and maybe, for once, he was afraid that I would tell him to get lost. I don't know. I didn't ask him. We texted some that night and the next morning when he asked if he could call me. Again, my heart said yes...and my head said Wait, what if he's going to say something that hurts you again? In the end, I figured there was only one way to find out...but before I could answer him, he told me that he wanted to tell me he was sorry.

And he soon as I answered, he apologized for everything he could think of..and even he said...things that neither of us could think of in that moment. I wanted to immediately forgive him, but so much had happened and so much time had passed. He filled me in some on what had happened with the girlfriend. I'm sure there's a lot that he didn't tell me. We talked for a while...about what had happened and a bit about day to day life...where he's living now, his diagnosis after his accident (he fell through a flight of stairs), and other random bits and bobs. Before we got off the phone, he said we would talk soon. I said we had better because I was tired of the bullshit. I said it jokingly, but I think we both recognized the grain of truth in there. He said he promised.

We've texted back and forth since then. It's not constant, but on and off. I've initiated quite a bit of it and I realized that earlier today. It would be so easy to slide right back into what we had before. We've already "joked" that we'd have sex again if the border wasn't closed. That thrills and scares me at the same time. I love him. I will always love him. Part of my heart will always belong to him. I don't want to get hurt again though. Losing him before literally almost killed me. My brain says take it slow...make him prove himself to you. Let him message you first. Let him open up to you and tell you things. You don't have to make it hard, but you don't have to make it super easy either.

It's so hard. Part of me is afraid to ask him what any of this means for us. He told me that he has no expectations. It might help if I knew his hopes. What does he hope for? Does he want to just be friends? Does he want a friends with benefits kind of thing which will only last until he finds someone else? He'll probably tell me that there won't be anyone else at least for a long time. Maybe, maybe not. I mean, I just don't see him alone forever and the reality is that we're amazing when we're together, but if we were always together, we may just destroy that.

I had gotten to a point where I had almost moved on. Now, I'm choosing to be pulled back in, but I'm scared. He told me that part of the reason that he ghosted me was because she was distancing him from everyone and that I was his safety because he knew I'd always be there when he needed me. We're each other's safe spaces...I wonder if he knew how much he was mine.

I really wish that we could sit down face to face to talk all of this hug, to kiss, to...see? This is what happens. I don't know if I can stay strong to protect myself. I don't know if I need to stay strong to protect myself or if I can just ...roll with it. I've never been great with the unknown, especially where heavy emotion is concerned. Do I just enjoy that my best friend is back and is clearly not afraid to make it clear that he's not against the idea of us hooking up again? I really don't know. I had hoped if I wrote this all out that it would help clear my head. It hasn't. I feel just as confused as when I started. I'm also exhausted. The emotional highs then worries has worn me out.

I said that I wonder what he hopes it's only fair that I turn the question back on myself and this time be brutally honest with myself. I want my Rob back. I want my safe space back. I want to know that if I need somewhere to go, I can go to him (once the damn border opens up again). I want to hold his hand again. I want to go places with him. I want a relationship with him that's not a secret. For so long he hasn't acknowledged even our friendship. I want to be his lover in the true sense of the word. I don't see myself ever living with anyone ever again. However, I want someone who can be that person for me, if that makes any amount of sense.

Right now though...I think I should check on the kittens and take myself to bed. All of this mental-emotional confusion is giving me a headache and tomorrow brings a new set of challenges.


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