I Hope Our Paths Will Cross AgainThis is a true story. No names or cities are given to protect those involved.
I was a "nontraditional" student at a community college then, which meant I was often the only one who understood the references the teachers made, the only ones to laugh at their jokes. So I guess it shouldn't have come as a surprise that something more would develop between me and one of them.
When I first saw him, he didn't really look like my type. He dressed like Charlie Sheen in Two and a Half Men and looked a little like Emilio Estevez, but was shorter and stockier. However, he started to grow on me over the course of the year-long sequence. He had a sassy, irreverent sense of humor, and he did seem to be flirting with me. He had a cute, boyish face and gorgeous, light hazel eyes. Sometimes I would talk about him when I went out with friends but not my boyfriend. However, I dismissed any chances of us together, as he was married, I already had a boyfriend, and we were teacher and student. He was a harmless crush, and I didn't even really think that he liked me until one day in lab I wanted to know if I was using the microcalipers correctly.
He gently wrapped his hand around mine and said, "That's perfect."
His hand was holding mine. Wow. I nearly passed out.
But nothing really happened, because it couldn't. Sometimes I would stay late in lab, just him and me. I had a lot of interest in science, and he and I seemed to have a lot in common. He talked about his family and how he missed his partying days. "Are you happy now?" I asked him.
"There you go." I accepted it and didn’t try to convince him of what he was missing. Because he’d grown up and moved on. Of course he was happy, I reasoned. He had a wife, a good job, two kids, and I really didn’t want to ruin that. They were surely happy. After I finished my course with him, I moved to a town an hour and a half away to continue my education. Our story ended here. Or so I thought.
For months, friends had been bugging me to get a facebook account - it had taken me forever to get myspace, and I didn't see why I had to get both. But eventually I did. I added friends who had been classmates at the community college, and thought about adding my teacher as a friend. No, it would be inappropriate, I thought. A married man and a single woman, even if taken, have no business associating with each other, except professionally. Surely he would consider it inappropriate if I were to add him.
One day, I logged into facebook and noticed that I had a "poke" from him. Yes, my mind went there too. I felt a rush. Maybe I'm making too much of this, I thought. It's professional interest. He sees promise in me as a scientist. So I added him as a friend, and he accepted.
I began to sense that he wasn't as happy as he'd said. I felt some of his facebook comments were inappropriate, but I figured that was between him and his wife. His kids made him happy, but I could tell his marriage was troubled. At some point, his status went from "Married" to blank. I couldn't help but wonder.
Over the course of a year and a half, life changed for me. I broke up with my boyfriend. A close family member died of cancer. About a month after the death, I was trying to figure out what it meant when I saw a post my teacher had put up. He expressed the hope that his mother, who had died a year ago that day, was proud of him. I responded that, of course she was. He was gorgeous, kind and a genius - what mother wouldn't be proud of a son like that?
The next day, I had a private message from him, thanking me for my kind words. He wanted to know how I was. I told him I'd broken up with my boyfriend, and that I'd lost a close family member.
He responded by giving me his cell number and saying that the town where I lived was on the way to his mother's house, and he'd like to get together to chat, if I wanted.
So many questions, so much emotion...
Was he divorced? Did he really like me that way, or did he just like flirting with me to alleviate boredom?
We texted a lot and talked on the phone a few times. I felt something I'd never felt before talking to him, a sense of connection and attraction, but also respect. He'd had no idea I liked him. He, like I, had assumed it was a one-sided crush. It seemed like a dream come true, except he hadn't brought up the question of his marital status yet. Surely he wouldn't be talking about how he felt if he were still married? So I asked him.
He was in the process of getting divorced, he said. He really liked me, said I was gorgeous, intelligent and kind, and he wanted a relationship with me. Don't write me off, he said. He would come to me wherever I ended up going to grad school.
We planned to meet for dinner one night in my town. When I saw him, I couldn't help but smile. He got up and gave me a peck on the mouth and hugged me so tightly I thought he'd never let go. I hadn't seen him for almost two years, and to see him like this...
I got into the booth and he sat beside me. We chatted animatedly, ordered whiskey drinks. I felt like a giddy teenager. I babbled on and on about science, anything and everything. He said that he wanted to be a house husband with a lab in the ba
"Wow," he said after we broke it off. My thoughts exactly. I felt dizzy from the power of it.
Predictably, we spent much of the rest of the date kissing. After a couple hours, the restaurant started filling up, so we went outside to the parking lot and made out some more, as it was a nice spring evening. We talked a little more. He was a mess, he said, and didn't want to hurt me, but he was in therapy. We kissed some more and then parted ways.
The next morning he texted me and I guessed he didn't regret having driven an hour and a half to have dinner with me. But what now? I knew his kids meant a lot to him - he'd said he wanted custody. His dating someone else while getting divorced could endanger that, even if there was no law against it. So I brought it up by text - mistake. He said that our state is a no-fault state, but that if I have a problem with his situation, then I should just go. I apologized and said that I didn't want anything bad to happen to him. No response.
For about six months, all I got was the occasional like or minimal comment on facebook from him. It hurt so much to not hear from him, and the only time I contacted him was when I posted a birthday message to him. I decided that this was probably for the best, as now I doubted that he was actually getting divorced, and that he actually had any interest in me. I got on my school's varsity rifle team and got busy and started having fun. I wasn't even thinking about him when the texts arrived. It was the day before Halloween, and I got two texts from him wishing me and my zombies (I was playing Humans vs. Zombies at school) a happy Halloween. He further said he was a ****, and it sucked to be him. I wondered if I should respond and decided at the very least I deserved an apology for how he treated me, so I ignored it. The facebook contact increased, and I decided that I wouldn’t respond to him unless he asked a direct question of me. Three months passed and finally, it happened. He asked me a simple question about the rifle team, and I responded. A few days later, I got a text. He apologized for not contacting me, saying he’d wanted to do it for months but was too nervous, and that he remained quite fond of me. I said I had missed him, and that life was going well. This was a few days before my birthday, mind you. I figured he might have been wanting to plan something…it made sense. At the very least he would wish me a happy birthday, right? Wrong. My birthday came and went without any acknowledgement from him. And he had liked two restaurants on facebook the day after my birthday – I didn’t even look at his profile – it was in my news feed! It might be possible to do that without logging on…but I saw no reason to cut him slack. He'd had long enough to address his marital status and to address the situation – whatever it was and wherever he saw it going. He’d done neither. I told him not to text me anymore unless he was totally divorced and ready for a relationship, and to keep the facebook contact minimal and professional until then. He responded by apologizing and saying he hoped our paths would cross again in the future, then unfriending me.
It was heart-breaking, but also liberating. Sometimes I think for sure he’ll get back in touch to re-ignite things. We never even slept together, and if our kisses are any sort of indicator, then…WOW. I know that lust unsatisfied can turn into obsession, and sometimes something sweeter. There are the many dreams I’ve had that suggest that he misses me too – in the most recent one, I’m swimming in a pool, and he’s sitting on the edge, looking at me with sad, silent longing. Other days, I’m certain that he decided to stay with his wife, or that he did get divorced but met someone and has forgotten about me. These are the things I cannot know for now, and maybe never will. I think of him a lot, it is true. Meanwhile, I date others and try to move on.