I met him at my sister’s wedding. I tipsily made my way over to him and introduced myself. I exclaimed how happy we were that he was there, being that he was my sister’s best friend in college. He tipsily complimented me on my maid of honor speech, telling me it was “beautiful.”
It was the perfect opening to my romantic comedy. The perfect opening to my love story.
I have been single basically my whole life. I have dated men, hooked up in the most innocent ways possible, and gotten my fair share of numbers. But, there are rarely men I plan to pursue. It's for entertainment. It's to fill the time. It's because we all desire to be desired.
These men did not meet my strict qualifications; we had no future together. And, while my family and friends said maybe I was just too picky or I needed to put myself out there more, I refused to agree. I was fine with this setup for the time being; I was young, focused on my job, and men were just for when time permitted.
Five months before my sister’s wedding, I met Andrew. He did not meet my standards; he didn’t have everything on my “list.” But, with a drunken smile and a hand wave over, he had my attention.
Six short weeks later, he had gotten my hopes for love up to their highest point and then dropped them to their lowest low.
He told me he didn’t want anything serious, shortly after he changed his mind, and then finished with cutting me out because he just wanted to be single. A few weeks after that, he drunkenly informed me he had a girlfriend (on whom he wanted to cheat with me).
It was then I realized he just didn't like me. He didn't want me as his girlfriend, which had nothing to do with him wanting to be single. It was me. I couldn't understand how this happened.
Deep down, I felt like I was only good enough to be the other woman, not the girlfriend. I wasn't sad; I was mad. I blamed myself for taking a risk. I should have just stuck to the list and to my standards. This is what happens when you deviate.
And, that was it. The summer was spent focused on work and prepping for my sister's wedding. No men.
My sister's wedding was beautiful. I worked hard to ensure it was what she wanted, and as the maid of honor, I, of course, made my speech. It was long, heartfelt and made the majority of the room cry.
As I mentioned, that night I met my sister's best guy friend from college, Oscar. While this may have seemed like the opening to my fairytale romance, at the time, I thought nothing of the sort.
Oscar was at this wedding with his girlfriend. Talking to him, welcoming him and getting his phone number to send the picture of him and my sister was all very well-intentioned. In my mind, it was all very innocent. I was not a home wrecker. I was just excited.
The next morning, my little sister said Oscar's girlfriend was mean-mugging me. I felt horrible. I sent a text thanking Oscar for coming and said something nice about the girlfriend, too. He texted me several hours later, thanking for having him. I thought I was in the clear.
About three weeks later, I found out from my sister that Oscar had broken up with his girlfriend; they'd been dating a little over a year. We joked that it was my fault. To this day, I do not believe this to be true, and think it was just a coincidence, or maybe the pressure of a wedding. I thought nothing of it.
We got to my sister's birthday in November. Having recently rediscovered their friendship, my sister invited Oscar. He came to dinner, and after, we all went to a bar. And, here is where I am unsure of whether my heart or mind took over.
I suddenly realized how cute he was. That night, he told me I looked good and I legitimately blushed. He came in close to me, as we were trying to have a discussion at a loud bar. I spent a large portion of the night talking to him. My heart said he was flirting, but my mind said he was being polite to his friend's little sister.
It was the beginning of something much bigger — but just for me.
That night, I went home thinking. I compared my list to this man. He met every requirement; he was educated, bilingual, sarcastic, ambitious, opinionated, cared about others and could hold a conversation. He mentioned something about being a first-generation college student and going back to help his high school, and, as an educator, my heart melted a little.
Oh, and my family all knew him and adored him. What a lovely coincidence.
My mind moved to every romantic comedy I had ever seen. Andrew had been the villain and Oscar was going to be the hero. I, as the protagonist, was going to fall in love after being so let down. And, this is when I saw some hope.
Since it had been just one interaction, I obviously kept my thoughts to myself. Pursuing anything with this man was absurd. He wasn't interested. It was just a mix of alcohol and conversation. It was nothing and I wasn't going to see him again. He wasn't even MY friend.
Around Thanksgiving, I started to text him intermittently, in a way I like to think of as casual. Breezy, if you will.
Around Christmas time, a conversation led him to bring me tamales for my grandfather. This was an act of kindness that confused me, and even surprised my sister. I gave him a bottle of wine in exchange. He suggested “we” drink it. I couldn’t let my guard down, so I convinced myself he was just being a good person.
He wanted to make sure my grandpa got tamales. That was it.
Over the course of the next few months, I texted back and forth randomly with him. We hung out in a group setting once, and he drove me home once. Really, it was nothing noteworthy. There was flirting and chemistry, but nothing ever happened. It took everything in my power to not have a crush on him.
It took everything in my power not to think about him. I couldn't bear to get my hopes up again. And, while I knew some of the texts were flirty, I couldn't buy into them. I didn't want to like him.
Every now and then, I would have these weak moments. I would fantasize about what it would be like to date him. I would think about if he could possibly be The One, knowing he was not thinking about me. But, I couldn't help it.
The rational part of my brain told me he was everything I was looking for. The secret romantic in me was telling me he couldn't have come into my life like this if something wasn't bound to happen.
My emotions got the best of me; I just wanted him to want me. I wanted to try it out. I wanted to see if it could work. I didn't want to live my life wondering whether or not he was interested. But, I was too scared to say it.
So, instead, I sent weird, insecure (or passive aggressive) text messages, which I tried to play off as flirty. I am sure he was confused about why I was so weird and any appeal that I had disappeared with my insecurities. In between my mess of emotions, there were still nice texts and hints of interest. I hated it. I became irritated.
By the middle of summer, I began to realize my interest in him was ridiculous. I realized I couldn't like him anymore. Even though he was almost perfect in my mind, it wasn't going to happen because it would have happened already.
I started to psycho-analyze the whole situation. I decided he was not in a place in his life for a relationship. He had growing up to do. He didn't know what he wanted. He was focused on work. He occupied his extra time taking care of others. He hid himself from new people by caring for his family and friends. He was convinced he didn't have time for anything else.
He had priorities and I was not on the list. I was not crazy; there were points when he was interested in me. But, it wasn't meant to be. He didn't know what he wanted. And, honestly, neither did I.
I saw him again in July. I played it cool, barely spoke to him, but made a point to act normal when we did talk. I was sassy and passionate about whatever we talked about. When I got home, I drunk cried for him. I drunk cried out of frustration. I cried because he did not want me, and I couldn't understand why.
I cried because I hated that I had any interest in him. I cried because I was drunk. I mostly cried because I was drunk.
Communication slowed to a halt. I still thought about him and still felt frustrated. I still thought about how maybe, just maybe, something might happen.
During the summer and fall, I talked to other men and had a few flings, but he was always kind of in the back of my mind. I would be weak and text him. I texted him just to be disappointed and get one-word responses. It was like talking to a wall — or a very disinterested man. It was so annoying.
I finally gave up; I stopped liking him. I distanced myself. It was easy.
On Halloween, he sent me a flirty message. I was furious and ignored the message. This was unfair. He couldn't flirt with me when it felt convenient to him. I wasn't just sitting around waiting for him.
Since then, I have kept him in the back of my mind. He won't go away, and I honestly believe this is one of the worst feelings in the world. I know heartbreak must hurt more, but the idea of an almost love is almost as painful.
Having mutual friends tell me we would be “cute together.” Wondering if he ever thinks of me, knowing he most likely doesn't. Having every lack of communication reassure that he does not care about me. Knowing that if I did have the chance, I would have taken it.
Thinking I might be losing my senses because nobody has feelings for somebody for more than a year without dating the person. Wanting to stop liking him, and having no control over it.
But, I think the part that hurts the most is that I remember every moment, every compliment and every sentence he said that made me like him in the first place. I remember all of this, and he doesn't know. He will always be my "almost."
There is a point when you have to give up on an idea of being with someone. While I cannot control how I feel about him, I can understand that we are not going to happen. It hurts a lot; it hurts to think somebody came into your life to reassure you that love does exist, only to find out that he was not for you.
It hurts to think that it is your turn for true love to realize it is not. It hurts to think you can have it all -- your list of standards -- and there is somebody who will make the cut. It hurts to think good things happen to those who wait and then find out you have to keep waiting.
A little over a year ago, an encounter started an almost love story. An almost love story that only one person knew about. A little over a year ago, I thought my happy ending was coming, but have now realized that my fairytale romance never really even started.
We all have our “almosts,” the one about whom we will always wonder. The good thing is after an almost, comes The One. So, now that my “almost” has passed, maybe my real love story can finally start.