I have been texting my girlfriends to apologize, as I feel like such an effing idiot.
They are all being gracious, but I have been an idiot and I am not letting myself off as easily.
My biggest sin: whining about this man, this Bon Vivant who got in my head and in my heart, despite my better judgment. In part, he gained access to parts of me because his intensity was so familiar, his problems were so familiar, his crazy was so familiar. He is — in large part — very similar to me and to LP.
But he’s shown himself to be open and loving in a way I found charming — and, frankly — important. Being with him was fun to a degree I’ve not experienced in a long time. Being with him was also being essential in a way I’ve not experienced in a long time.
So, he loved me and I loved him and it was still dumb.
I always pick love, as heartbreak is something you can recover from. I always pick fun, as life is difficult enough.
But . . . this was dumb. And I knew it.
He was trouble from the beginning, and it was intoxicating. Then it was all real, and that was even more intoxicating..
I have cried a lot of tears for him, for me, about each of us.
The breakup was so abrupt, so shocking, so in my face, I was left reeling for weeks.
I have deliberately shifted some of my patterns and behaviors — I stopped going to certain bars, going out on certain nights, skipping specific restaurants. I needed to avoid him. I felt an open wound, and then a healing wound, and then a scar.
I am always aware of him, the specter he casts, the inevitable confrontation that awaits.
That I saw him last night, less than 24 hours after the first time he contacted me in six weeks . . . shocking.
And yet, not shocking at all.
I should have known I’d see him. I toyed with the idea of looking for him.
I was feeling all confident and awesome, before joining friends at a party. My weight is 120, which is a healthy weight for me, and I was in a dress that fit me flawlessly, and a cropped jacket and high heeled boots. I looked great and I felt great.
I stopped in at the Chic Hotel Bar to see who was around — I am not alone among my friends who use it as our clubhouse — but there were no familiar faces yet. (I got texts around 1030 from friends there looking for me.) Instead, I grabbed a club soda, and checked my phone obsessively to see who was where. No one was checking in, so I figured I’d see if JerkFace was at his normal spot.
As I walked up the street BV’s building is located on, which also has LP’s favorite restaurant, BV’s favorite sports bar, and the bar at which I met up with BV the last weekend I spent with him, I glanced into each place, and toyed with the idea of walking across to check out BV’s bar.
Instead, I went into the place where I always see JF — and the spot where SD and I spotted the super-famous hipster actor for whom a thousand tumblrs have been launched — and I coined the phrase “licking distance.” As in, he’s so close to me, I could lick him.
I am greeted by the cute doorman with “hello, gorgeous,” which always feels awesome, and then by the girl bar manager warmly. I grab another club soda. I move from the bar and look to my left and see a couple sitting in the corner. She’s completely turned to him on a low bench, he is facing out.
He is the Bon Vivant.
I start shaking. I walk to a table, then I walk back to the bar. I am holding on to the bar for support. I don’t know what I am feeling, but I have adrenalin coursing through my veins. My legs are shaking as I am trying to look casual. I am mostly succeeding. My back is to them. I text FM and it turns out he’s at the same bar, but two flights up on the roof.
I walk up and FM is instantly an asshole when I tell him the man who shattered my heart is three floors below.
He’s going to be there for a while, and late to the party, so I head back downstairs and figure, fuck it, let’s do this.
So, I do.
I walk over to where he is sitting, and he’s surprised, but looks happy to see me. I extend my hand, and he jumps up and hugs me and kisses my cheek. He introduces me to the girl — who’s not the same one as before — and not who I would have expected. Honestly, who knows if it’s a date or not. He didn’t seem too pressed about it and she didn’t get up. He stands and talks to me — he tells me he’s heading off for his big family vacation to the Mexico riveria with his parents, siblings, nephews the next day and he’ll be gone for a week. I tease him that he’ll be missing the two weeks of festivities and he said he’s happy to, as it’s so loud. (Amusingly, he’s back when it’s actually loud, but whatever, dude.) I tell him I am heading off to a party a block up the street where I will be doing karaoke. He says he wants to come, to hear me sing, as long as I wouldn’t find his presence “intimidating.” I tell him it wouldn’t be.
I extend my hand to her, and I think we hug again and he kisses my cheek. I don’t know. It was a bit of a blur. It went as well as it could have gone.
Again, I looked great, and I was surprised by how he looked. He was small. When we hugged, I felt as though I towered over him. He was small. He was wearing a pull over sweatshirt branded from his favorite store patagonia, and he looked more casual than I’d ever seen him, especially for a Saturday night. He looked . . . bad. Unimpressive.
He did look sober, but it was not yet 10 pm.
I walked away a bit surprised by the whole interaction and tried not to freak out.
I was struck by how glad I was I’d not introduced him to other people. Seeing him with clear eyes, I walked up the street wondering what I’d ever seen to begin with.
Great bone structure, beautiful teeth, good body (especially naked), but he’s small and insignificant. He’s a speck. He’s not worthy of the heartache he inflicted. He was someone I was barely dating as he struggled with depression, with dependence, whose life I saved twice. He made me feel loved and needed and I was proud to date him when I did, but he was always a stand-in . . . I was with him instead of with other men who were unavailable — LP, PR, etc. I dated other men. I slept with other men.
And yet the abruptness was what cleaved my heart in two. It wasn’t the breakup — we were barely dating. It was the suddenness, the betrayal, the confounding of every tenet by which we were living this relationship.
It wasn’t about not being with him. It was about being betrayed by him. It was about the lies.
He did not show up at the bar. I actually expected him to, but it would have been a disaster. Perhaps he told the girl who I was after we left — she’s my friend, we used to date, she’s the girl I was seeing, we broke up in January — whatever or however he chose to characterize it. Any of them would have been accurate. My friends would have been polite, but it would have been a disaster.
I did not drink anything. I am currently obsessed with my weight. I am heading into two weeks of multiple parties every day and I am afraid of gaining an ounce. In fact, I am skipping a festival at the moment because I don’t want to be tempted to eat. But, I went to the CHB, and the birthday party, and I successfully stuck to wine at home, club soda out, and no food.
I have been cooking at home more, which is more cost effective, of course, but also very good for me. I have a freezer full of meat (sausages, turkey, frozen fish fillets) and a refrigerator filled with cheeses (including one I made myself) and elements that are framing themselves into excellent meals.
I am poaching things and I have wine that C and I picked up this week from a wine distributor, so I am eating and drinking well and enjoying what I am having.
PR and I have been sharing cooking techniques as we both love to cook and it’s better for us than eating out all the time, which is also what tends to happen. We each cook solo, which has its own pleasures, though I do enjoy cooking with — and for — someone else.
My life feels healthier than it has in a long time. Having a whirlwind like the Bon Vivant, who at any moment could derail a day or a week, out of my life is good. Being over the heartache is better.
I am happy I saw him the way I did. I was solo, I looked and felt great, he looked meh and he was with a woman less attractive than I am. In every way.
Though PR is still not in my daily life, he was a better move for me. He’s in my world on a professional level, which, with two weeks of professional activities happening becomes important. He made me look better. The Bon Vivant made me look less serious in a way that was not helpful. He was fun and, though he had depths and everyone who met him with me loved him, he’s not the path forward and never was.
So, I saw him and he saw me and we both survived.
I texted him late to put a capstone on it: “Bon, it was good to see you looking so well. Have great vacation with your family. Planner”
Nothing more need be said.
When I bump into him again, I will care less and less. There is no more fear, no more horror, no more anything. I feel nothing.