“Ask him out,” my friend said, folding her denim coat over my beige, suede couch. “What’s the worst that can happen? He says no, and you move on with your life."
She had a point. Valentine's Day is just around the corner, and I think its looming presence injected some sort of courage into me. And, fine. Maybe for just once in my life -- no, literally, because I've never had one -- I wanted a Valentine.
I met him by accident. That's how I know my feelings for him were real. I wasn't Tindering, or being set up by a friend, or sitting alone in a bar secretly waiting to get hit on. He slithered his way into my life, sneakily but surely, like a really great Groupon deal for a cut-and-color when you least need a haircut.
It started off innocently enough: we began spending more time together. We're part of the same friend group, so it was hard not to. For weeks, we flirted. He'd get absurdly drunk and tell me how wonderful I am, and I'd feed him a compliment back. I even noticed he started to look at me a different way, a special way, the way you look at someone who's just trailed out of the room so longingly that you're almost offended by his disappearance.
One night, he and I did *stuff.* I thought I'd be able to put that drunken, one-off night out of my head, but I couldn't.
Later on, his stupid face kept popping up. Every time something funny happened, I wanted to tell him about it first. And I was f*cked, because I didn't ask for him to come into my life. But he did.
So I decided to take my very intuitive friend up on her advice. A week before Valentine's Day, I asked him out on a lunch date. The flirtation had gone on long enough, and seeing little candy hearts at the pharmacy that said "TELL HIM" and "I LOVE YOU" only encouraged me.
He said no. He gave me some bullsh*t excuse about how the time or the place or the vibe wasn’t right -- I can’t remember. This particular part is the part I blocked from my memory.
Did I make this flirtation up in my head? Had I imposed my wildest fantasies onto some guy who is neither willing nor able to give me any of what I want? Maybe I'm not intuitive at all. Maybe I'm just...crazy. Like, Sylvia Plath crazy.
I don't know. I'll never know. I just know I got shut down.
My savvy coworker, Alexia, penned this thought-provoking piece about how a girl will never text the guy she’s crushing on. She just won’t. And you know why? Because men are subjects and women are objects. Objects of desire. We’re just supposed to sit around, be OK with being ogled at, and do nothing. God forbid we speak our minds and take a chance for something we believe in.
Should I feel sorry for knowing what I want and going after it? No, I shouldn't. I should feel ballsy and empowered. But instead, I feel small and desperate and unworthy of being someone’s girlfriend. Only I’m not desperate. I’m driven. I went after my dream job and landed it, so is it really so ludicrous to think I'd go after a guy I dreamt about a future with?
The truth is, I wasn’t expecting “no.” I was expecting “I’ll think about it." I was hoping for “hell yes.” But now, “no” haunts me, and my mind perpetually flashes back to my girlfriend folding her coat on my couch, appeasing me in her soothing tone, before the storm came. The sting is real.
Ladies, I’m not trying to tell you what you should and shouldn’t do. You should be in control of your own life. Grab it by the balls. Feminism all the way. It's perfectly OK to take that leap of faith. Just be prepared to cushion the possible blow.
I’m slowly learning that life isn’t like a box of chocolates. It’s more like a game of Hungry Hungry Hippos. Do you remember that game? It’s the one where you push a black button over and over just to get a marble or two to eat. There are only so many marbles, and you race to get to them before someone else can because no one else will feed you. Only you know what you're hungry for. Only you can feed your own soul.
Who knows what happened with him? Maybe he got the Valentine's Day scaries. Maybe the timing really wasn't right. Maybe he never really liked me in the first place, and every witty remark and loving look and suspicious smile wasn't meant to make me feel good, but meant to be an ego boost for him on a bad day.
And so, here I am, the week before Valentine’s Day, a loveless reject. I’ll get over it, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt to hurt. I know Valentine's Day is just like any other unimportant day that, for unbeknownst reasons, gets its own day, like Groundhog Day or Arbor Day (WTF?). Still, for just one day, I wanted someone to make me feel special.
That’s the thing about being rejected. It’s supposed to toughen us up, right? Make our skins thicker, our thoughts resilient and our hearts more willing to get rejected again. I don’t feel any of those things yet. Weakness has taken over. But I guess that's what you get when you choose to be vulnerable.
Yesterday around noon, I opened up a text. It was from Colin*, a guy I have sex with sometimes (just sex). "I was just thinking about you," it read. I found myself smiling, my eyes entranced in the stupid little light that shines from my phone.
Was he really thinking about me? I don't know. Maybe he was, but maybe it doesn't mean anything more than for one insignificant, fleeting moment in time, he thought about me. I don't have feelings for him, and I doubt he has any for me, but what I do know is I don't have it in me to find out.