The Man Upon My Pedestal

There are times when I get lonely, and my mind goes back to younger days. Inevitably, there is always this one scene that flashes through my head.

He was a year ahead of me in school, so he went to the big school while I was still stuck in “Junior High.” Even though I was older than most of my classmates and SO much more mature, I was sure of it!
I would often see him walking by the Jr. High; on his way home from the big school, I would surmise.
Sometimes, he would be with a beautiful girl and I would eat my heart out. Most of the time though, he was alone.
I would always stop what I was doing (usually talking) and watch him as he walked by. There were times I was sure he knew I was watching him, since I did so unabashedly; but he never let on he knew. He never once looked my way. What would I have done if he had? Freeze…cuz that’s what I do. Act like an idiot? That’s the only other option available to me.

He had this way of flipping his dark brown hair to the side, since it was almost always in his mostly blue eyes. Maybe he had caught a glance of me as he did so, and feigned ignorance of being watched. I would never know. I decided he would see me long before I ever saw him, so he had no reason to look my way. Made perfect sense. Nothing to see here, folks, move along…
He always had his hands in his pockets and his head down. He would roll on his feet from the back to the sides and front and his bum had a nice little shake to it when he did. I personally couldn’t help but notice it, and would often be mesmerized by it, watching him walk further and further away until he was out of sight or someone demanded my attention. I would continue with my friends as if nothing happened.
One time one of them asked me why I was staring at this guy.  Was I staring? That guy? Oh yeah, I know who he is, but that’s about it.
All the while I would wonder  about him as he walked along with his head down.  Was he sad? Reflective?  Or was that just the way he walked?  Always with his hands shoved in and head down… Mostly, I just missed him and wondered if he ever missed me too. But I knew better. Mostly, I just missed him.

The truth was, I knew him better than I let on. I wasn’t completely lying when I said I didn’t REALLY know him. It’s not like I had intimate knowledge or anything. But better than I let on.
I knew his phone number and his voice. I could still hear it in my head. I knew he worked, and he worked hard, at a restaurant down town, just off the main drag. He woud tell me about something called a “grease pit” and how it was his favorite thing to clean. Not! I still don’t know what he was talking about, but have always had a mental note in my head that if I heard the words “grease pit;” run.
What I knew most was what it was like to have him kiss and touch me. It had been seared into my brain. My skin would burn remembering his hand running down my back or legs. I knew what it was like to just lounge on the couch and watch TV saying, “Kiss me, you fool” at different intervals; then we’d kiss and laugh. We laughed alot. I missed that…him..
I also knew that he had this way of…calming me. He was just so comfortable, like my favorite chair…once I got over being so dang nervous around him, that is. He made me nervous and comfortable every time I saw him. I can’t explain it any other way.
I find myself wondering if he called me up today and said, “Guess who this is!” if I would be able to guess. I still hear him in my head sometimes and I can’t be sure if my memory is still accurate. I think though, I would be able to guess it was him. After I came to from passing out, that is.
I think about a brief exchange of texts we had a few years ago. Now adults and reconnected after what seemed like a gazillion years. I got an email that he was inviting me to join Face Book.  Holy crap!! No way!!! He DOES remember me! He was looking for me!  Hot Damn!  Happy dance! Happy dance! Ok, be cool. The cat is watching.
I couldn’t join fast enough!
The rush was soon quelled with disappointment. Damn, he has a girlfriend! Of course! Why wouldn’t he? He’s great! Pass me a tissue, Tito. But! He’s not married! That means there’s hope! Right?!?!
Sure. In some far away place called NEVERland! Where he would realize I was the perfect woman, come whisk me away, and we would live happily ever after. He’d kiss me passionately, and I’d whimper breathlessly, “I love you! I have loved you my whole life!”
He would gruffly reciprocate his affections and propose marriage.  Then he would ask, “Does the 12th of never work for you?” and that’s about the time reality would settle in, and everything would come tumbing down. Yeah, that would be great, thanks. Sigh…
But I digress.
Anyway, we would chat and catch up from time to time, and this particular day we were texting. I remember I got upset about something and was all in tears and being….stupid, mostly. (Cuz I rock at that.) I made it known I was upset. He wrote back, “Hey, take a deep breath. Let’s sort this out.”
Wait. No rebuttal that I’m just crazy or irrational? No dismissive statements or attitude? Wasn’t expecting that! Nope. He still had that way about him. In no time flat I was completely calm and going about my day. I was still disappointed or whatever my issue was. (I remember, but frankly, I’m too embarrassed to say.) But I no longer burned.
For me, that’s rare. In fact, now that I think about it; he’s the only guy I’ve been around who could calm me down. The good news? It can actually be done. The bad? He’s literally one in….oh….thousands.
It’s a relatively big deal you know. I’m not as bad as I used to be…not as easily riled. But I can still get in my head and spin in so many circles I don’t know if I’m coming or going sometimes. It’s quite annoying, really. Like, I get sick of myself even. I have learned to calm myself down. It’s better that way.
The last time I really communicated with him, we faught….sort of…I think…??
I had written him a note just wanting to let him know I appreciated him and whatnot. However, true to form, I had prefaced my main objective with so much babbling about nothing; he totally missed the point and interpreted it in a much less favorable light. I was so heartbroken that he misunderstood me that way. Like, why would I write you a note to dis you, sire?!?! You’re my night in shining armour! Nope. Can’t say that. Why do I have to be such an idiot?!?! Back and forth the emails went. Me telling him I didn’t mean anything bad by what I said and him being obviously ticked….and I couldn’t really blame him. I felt about two inches tall. I was so distraught I didn’t sleep all night and had to call off work for the first time because my eyes were still so red and swollen from crying. It was a living nightmare for me.  (Insert drama here.)
Luckily he wrote back that he forgave me, and, “How bout if we started over?” Not that I recall having the wherewithall to actually apologize, because my head was spinning and I was busy defending my honor. I probably did apologize, but I just don’t remember. I do know that I apologize to people….alot…cuz honestly, I would rather get along than fight. Plus, I’m wrong. Alot.
I only remember he forgave me & the relief I felt. But we didn’t correspond much after that. I resigned to my corner to lick my wounds.
It wasn’t long after that I realized he just did not look at me like I looked at him. Where I saw him as “special” he saw me as just another gal.  That sucked. But the rational side of me was like, “Why would he?” Yeah, I had no real good answer for that.
I backed off; mostly in the name of self preservation. Every once in a while, I’d write & ask his advice about something. Being the loner that I am, I felt justified in asking, as I truly had no one else to ask. Slowly I realized that for me to carry a torch for him was stupid….and torture. (Torch=torcher=torture.) I let the flame go out, but the smoldering ember was still there.
He was always polite and respectful towards me. The same good guy continuing to be a good guy. He probably felt sorry for me. How pathetic! But that was only one in a list of things wrong here that I could think of. I eventually let go of my preconceived notions (i.e. grand delusions) entirely, & gave up any hope of being anything more than just another girl he knew. Ok, it was when he got engaged & married someone else, but whatever.
THAT was hard to watch unfold. He put a status update on FB that merely said, “good lunch.” I decided it was a lunch date he had with a super model & whether that’s what happened or not, it wasn’t good for me. A year or so later I got a message from him that said, “she’s who I have been dating the past year or so.” I wrote back and said I had already figured that out.
I wondered why he had sent me that message and was never really quite sure. I assumed he was hoping I wouldn’t embarrass him or say something stupid to her. Me? Say something stupid? Ha!
(Yeah, give me a time) See, I have this…talent…for trying so hard not to be an ass, I end up being an ass. After years of painstakingly researching the matter, I have yet to figure out how this happens…or how to stop it. (Please send funds for further research.)
“She” wrote me a note one day asking what he was like when he was young. She was being nice and inviting me into her world a bit. How could he not love her? Hell, I did! And you guessed it. I wrote back some ridiculous thing about how I didn’t want to say the wrong thing and upset anyone. What the hell?!?!?! Note to self: you just said the wrong thing!
He’s a great guy and you are a wonderfully lucky woman. Was that so hard to say??? Good grief!
Ok, just keep swimming; just keep swimming. I never heard from her again, and from him practically never. I had visions of her taking what I said out of proportion & them fighting; and it would all be my fault. I actually felt quite bad about it. No sarcasm here. I honestly do not carry intentions of purposely harming anyone. Ok, rarely. There are exceptions. Like when they have been horrible to me; and even then it is difficult for me to be mean to people. I have to be really mad. Really. I wish people understood that about me…
See, here’s the thing, though. When you care about someone, even if it’s this person you don’t really know anymore, but rather this idea of a person you have in your head from over thirty years ago….you still want them to be happy. And, you also kinda hope it doesn’t work out- and then feel completely horrible that you could even think such an awful thing. Like, if it didn’t work out through no fault of mine, that would be totally different. But I was never a woman who hoped to break people up. Even if the guy was my knight in shining amor. She was a sweet person. Would he pick a woman that wasn’t truly amazing? Highly doubtful. Everything that man does is well thought out, planned out, and a top quality affair. The complete opposite of the perpetually lost, fly-by-seat-of my-pants, impulsive, “Hey let’s just let the chips fall where they may” kinda girl I was. He deserved to be happy. I would most likely drive him nuts. Or…he would be that thing in life that calmed me down and helped me focus and I would finally be this woman I only dreamed of being. Hey, I got potential.
Yeah…my rule. No relying on someone else for that.  I thought about trying to do some damage control.  But honestly, what could I say?   If she wasn’t mad, I would look more ridiculous.  If she was, I couldn’t think of anything I could possibly say that would make it better given my propensity for messing things up.  I could only imagine I would make it worse.  So, the best plan of action?  Keep my mouth shut and move on.
It took me a little while to get there. Reality bites sometimes, but it’s the best place to live when you can. But, I did.
We lost touch except through FB, and I got used to that. The truly great guy is faithful to his woman though, & I wouldn’t want him to be any other way. I could never have anything but respect for him.
It took some time for me to let go of that desire to play the “What If” game. (aka fantasy) But over time I realized that his happiness should be what I care about most. I could not be selfish. Well, I could; but what’s the point in that?
He would always live in my heart. He would always be the one I never really got over. And I would always have those precious days with him when we were young. No one could ever take that away from me. And I could go back there any time I wanted. I’d always remember the boy who walked with his head down, hands in his pockets. The boy who said, “Kiss me you fool,” and laughed. I could, and I would. Especially on nights like tonight. I knew he wouldn’t hold it against me.
I noticed myself smiling when I saw pictures of him laughing next to a beautiful woman who was not me. I knew I had finally learned to be genuinely happy for him.
And that’s all that matters, right?

By now you must be wondering what tore us apart all those years ago. In a word? Me.
We didn’t have some big blow out. We weren’t together long enough to ever fight. It wasn’t a torrid affair, either.
No. He was perfect.
But I, on the other hand, was not. And I knew it.
He was SO smart. I could look at him and tell the wheels were turning. I knew there was so much more going on with him beneath the surface than what he told me. I wasn’t lying when I said everything this man does is well thought out. I mean that as a compliment, just FYI. He was very smart and always thinking.
Then there was me. I was truly blonde at heart. Ditsy…an air head. Take your pick. Pick all three!
He was also just plain cool. Popular. Again, choose whatever word you like.
And I was certain that when he figured out that not only was I ditsy, but I wasn’t even close to being popular; he was going to dump me anyway.
Had I been smart enough, I would have realized that these things about me, he most likely already knew. He might actually have liked me for who I was. But I didn’t even think to consider that. Did I mention I was not real bright? I was scared to death he was gonna dump me anyway. That was all I saw.
So, I fixed it so he wouldn’t have to.
Briliant! Right?!?!
Yeah, I did that. Hard to believe, huh?
I told you I wasn’t the sharpest tool in the shed, right?
Oy….
I don’t even remember if I told him I didn’t want to see him anymore, or if I just stopped talking to him. What I do know is, that whatever I did; it was pretty $h*tty, cuz I felt bad about it.
I can’t say how much time passed, and I don’t even remember how it happened. We ended up hanging out one day. Somehow there was a phone call, he walked up to my house to get me, we spent a few hours together; I don’t remember doing what. I think we walked downtown and just hung out. I do remember we ended up back at his house and he introduced me to his family.
Awkward.
I didn’t know he had a sister…
I think we hung out in his room a little while and made out a bit…maybe? I’m not sure. And then he walked me home. Or maybe I walked home alone?
I called him later that evening and asked him if he would give me another chance and if we could get back together. Which was dumb (again) cuz maybe we were never even officially together in the first place and I had just assumed it.
But nevertheless, I asked.
He said he would have to think about it.
Iche..not a good sign. I held out hope anyway. We had just spent half a day together and he kissed me. Obviously, he still liked me. Right?
He hasn’t called me back like he said he would.
Double iche…
Well, I had to know. Even if it was bad.
It was bad.
He said no. His exact words were, “I don’t think so.”
I graciously thanked him for letting me know, and hung up the phone.
More than likely I just said, “Oh. Ok. I guess I’ll talk to you later then.” Even though I knew I wouldn’t.
Then I broke down and cried. I had told my mom about the situation and my hopes about fixing it, and she sat quietly in my room with me while I cried and did her best to comfort me. The suckage was truly great.  (More drama.)
I didn’t understand it though, and I honestly did hold out hope he’d give me another chance.
So, you see. It was all my own fault. If I could kick myself I would have. A million times. Obviously, sometimes, I still wish I could.
I know! I know! No regrets! Right?!?!
Yeah, no.
This girl has plenty of them. Mostly having to do with me wishing I had been stronger…and smarter.
That, and that I never said things I should have said.
Oh I’m plenty sorry for things I said and shouldn’t have, trust me!
But what I regret is not saying what I wanted to. What I should have.
It wasn’t until I was older that I even realized what a TOTAL idiot I had been. I had the nerve to ask this guy to take me back and I had never even said I was sorry!
Oh $h*t!
When I realized this, I was mortified!
He never brought it up, and I sure as hell wasn’t going to point out what an asshat I had been! It was uncomfortable, and I wasn’t very good at those kinds of conversations. I had only had one boyfriend before, and our conversations mainly consisted of him calling me names and trying to control everyrhing I did; and me…just trying to cope.
But that’s another story.
I was completely incapable of being able to look him in the eyes and telling him I was sorry. Maybe I could have if I had actually had a SOUL and realized I needed to do that. I know I would have if I had realized I should…but again…not real smart.  So, I just kinda went with the flow. He seemed ok and hung out with me for half a day. Why ruin it?
Wow! The depths of my ability to be so obtuse are truly astounding!
If you ever read this. You know who you are…I’m sure you are completely unaffected and way beyond this. But I must say it….
My God! I was SUCH a fool. And worse; I was a jerk. A real insensitive asshole. You were so completely wonderful to me and I treated you like it did not matter. I did not respect you or how good you were to me. I want you to know that you did everything right. Everything. You did nothing wrong. You didn’t deserve how I treated you in any way, shape or form. I was so blown away by you that I got scared. I did not feel…adequate… enough for you. I was an insecure child. And I am so, so sorry. Much more so than you will ever know. Please forgive me.

The tragedy of my life long flame for him, and even the way I continued to manage to fumble everything up as adults, was not so much about what I said. Don’t get me wrong. There’s plenty I wish I could have said better. But even though you can’t take back the things you say, sometimes, you can still heal them. The scars may be there, but a person can still live pain free with scars. Plus, I know my intent was never to hurt someone, even though the universe and my mouth manage to do it anyhow sometimes.
No, it was always in what I never had the courage to say. I never chose to call him up as adults and have that talk with him I should have. Cleared the air, closure…just said what I needed to say. I had his number. I clearly could have. I chose not to. I chose to continue hiding the truth inside me from him. I chose to believe that he knew and did not want to talk to me anyway. And that, in and of itself, is what made me even more of a mess. I should have trusted him with the truth all those years ago, and especially as adults. He deserved it.
Hell, I deserved it too.

 

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