The Almost-Right Guys
The deal breakers were always clear: height and religion. I’m 5’10” and I enjoy wearing boots that add two inches. Generally, boys shorter than me shy away. Those who approach me establish the platonic nature of our friendship up front. Height is easy.
Religion is a little more complicated. It’s natural to want to be with someone who shares your worldview, but the question of how closely they need to align is fuzzy at best. Christianity is such a broad spectrum, on which I fall on the extreme liberal periphery. Thus far, belief in God has been my only box to check.
He was 6’7” and Christian. It began with a text. That text cascaded into a phone call, then into a Skype call, which morphed into long distance within a month. We spent my freshman year making plans for the next time we could see each other. My phone constantly flashed with “I love you,” and on Valentine’s Day, he bought me an emerald necklace — true love, clearly. Despite my uncertainty about those affectionate words I was unaccustomed to, I reciprocated his promises. Spending more time together over the summer brought to light my insecurities about our relationship. His depression, anxiety, unstable family, unclear future and finally, his desire to marry me pushed me over the edge. I ran away, feeling guilty for breaking my promises to him ... at least Summer never lied to Tom.
Now, he texts me every once in a while, questioning my current relationship status.
Not long after, I met someone else. He was tall and quiet. His eyes, understanding. His family, close. I was thankful for normalcy. That first Friday night brought our love for pizza, Vance Joy and “The Office” to light. Saturday night consisted of fries and hand-holding. After that weekend, he returned to his busy lifestyle. “Busy”: a word that prevails on this campus; it left me wondering as to whether he had a lot on his plate or I just wasn’t on the plate to begin with. I missed him and the connection that I thought we had. I confided in friends, who pushed me to go beyond my comfort zone and be more forward — to text him, to call him, to ask him out.
Despite thinking that I could never ask a guy out, I caved when the what-ifs began to dominate my pride. I called him in a Costco parking lot and asked him to get pizza with me that night. I had predetermined that any answer that was not a yes was a no. It was a no.
Now, whenever I run into him, he asks me how I’m doing, without any intention of making plans.
Still, I met someone else. He frequented the coffee shop where I work. My first memory of him is hearing him order a double shot of espresso “on the rocks” and immediately bursting into a fit of laughter. My co-worker and I proceeded to make every alcohol-related joke that we had in us. It didn’t take long for him to ask me out for sushi. He was the type of person who would know the date of his death if he could, who didn’t have a Spotify account and who had his own apartment in Georgetown. I thought we couldn’t be more different. A few months and infrequent catch-ups later, I ended up in his apartment holding a glass of wine. We talked about our lives and to my surprise, our pasts and goals aligned. These similarities may have increased our fondness of each other, but they couldn’t hide the factors that made us fundamentally incompatible. This recognition didn’t stop us from watching “Casablanca,” drinking more wine and getting comfortable with one another.
Now, I don’t know where we stand and I don’t mind, particularly.
On a ski trip in Quebec, dedicated to skiing hard and partying harder, I met someone else. His facial hair accentuated his smile, and his strong stature had me melting immediately. A wallflower by the bar, he held his drink and looked around uncomfortably. I liked him more for it. I wanted to talk to him, but I couldn’t muster up the courage. Fortune had it that when I went to the hot tub the next day, he sat next to me. We started talking and didn’t stop; we walked back in the snow, holding hands and seeing our breath in the dark.
Over the course of three days, we entered into a vacation relationship. I learned a great deal about him. He was not Christian. He listened to country music and Top 100 rap. He had a tattoo that all of his siblings also had. Maybe it was the nonexistent stress on the mountain, but he was a clearer image of what I wanted in a partner, more so than my imagination could provide. My anxiety that my standards were too high disappeared. For that, I am eternally grateful.
Our relationship came to a close, and neither of us acknowledged it. We had both done long distance, with no intention of doing it again.
He mentioned that he was planning on studying abroad in Australia the following spring. I too have plans to be in Sydney, but I got scared that telling him would put too much pressure on our casual “vacation-ship.” I lied, suggesting that I was going elsewhere. He kissed me when he left and I didn’t have the heart to say goodbye the next morning.
Now, we catch up over text weekly, trying not to change the memories.