Exit 12. I chose poorly.

This image has been circulating among my Facebook friends again.

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I always have the same answer whenever I see this: “‘Stay home.‘  And I’d write it on a page torn out of a 2010 calendar, with July 17 circled.”

That’s an oddly specific response to a whimsical question, but there’s an oddly specific event that affected my life in far-reaching ways, and I’ve always wondered if life would have turned out differently had that specific event not happened.  This has been on my mind again the last couple months, because I’ve been seeing this meme again, and because that specific date, July 17, just occurred again recently.  (Of course, when I actually post that answer, I’m just being annoyingly vague, to see what others’ reactions will be like.)

Let’s recap for those of you who didn’t know me in 2010.  By the way, when I’m telling stories on my Facebook page, and I don’t want to mention names, I have this tradition of using names of planets, stars, comets, things like that as pseudonyms, and some of the stories I tell on here involve the same people multiple times, so I’m going to start doing that on this site too.  I should also point out that I’m still friends with everyone in this story except one (Acrux*), and I haven’t told them that I would be writing this, so hopefully they won’t be hurt or offended by anything I’m going to say.  That is not my intent at all.  I’m just trying to state facts and tell a story from my perspective.

On July 17, 2010, a close guy friend invited me to a party that I didn’t really want to go to at first, because I knew I wouldn’t know very many people there.  The party was hosted by people from another dancing group, not the one I usually go to, but there were a few people who were part of both groups.  Not knowing many people would have been the perfect excuse to talk myself out of going (in case I got a warning to stay home from a future version of myself), but I decided to go anyway.  I ended up knowing around a third of the people there.  I had a great time, mostly because for over an hour, I had the attention of a really cute girl.  We’ll call her Mimosa*.   I’m usually pretty oblivious when someone likes me, but that night, the way she was acting, looking at me, and the like, made me wonder if there was something there.  I should point out that, at the time, she was a college student, and I was older than her by well over a decade, not exactly within the healthy range of age differences.  I had a Facebook friend request from her the next morning, and we spent the next two weeks exchanging five-paragraph-long messages pretty much every day.  I had a party at my house a week later, and she showed up for part of it.  Someone else who was there noticed that she was making googly eyes at me the whole night, and asked me about her a few days later.  Like I said, I’m normally pretty oblivious to someone being attracted to me, but having someone else notice it really helped boost my confidence in the sense of making a so-called move.

(*The stars Acrux and Mimosa are also known as Alpha Crucis and Beta Crucis.  I’ve used those other pseudonyms to close friends before, referring to these same people.)

That led to a brief fling of a few days involving lots of kissing, which is much more than what usually happens on a first and second date for me.  What made it different that time was that I was tired of being cautious, I hadn’t kissed anyone in over three years, and whatever I had been doing the rest of my life wasn’t working, so I figured I would just go in off the deep end and see what happened.  What happened was, a few days later (this was now mid-August), Mimosa told me that we were just dating casually and I could date other people.  That really hurt.  This was different from any dating-like experience I’d ever had, and I thought it was special.  But I should add that I really did feel (and always have felt) like she never meant to hurt me.  It makes me really sad to know this, but in this culture, it is my dating practices, not hers, that are unusual.  From her end, what happened was all perfectly normal behavior.  (By the way, Mimosa, if you ever read this, I’m pretty sure you’ll recognize yourself in this story, so please, please know that I am not writing this to criticize or shame you, or put you in a bad light.  I hope this didn’t come across that way.  I still consider you a friend, I have never wavered in my belief that you never intended to hurt me, and I know that what happened had more to do with misunderstandings than anything else.)

So, back to the topic of writing a note to myself in the past…  naturally I was so hurt that I wished that none of that had ever happened.  It’s entirely possible that I still would have met Mimosa had I not gone to that party, but it would have been at dancing a month or so later, and those circumstances most likely wouldn’t have led to a fling.  We may have gradually become good friends, and I would have realized gradually that she wasn’t my type, without being hurt finding out the way I did.

There’s a lot more to the story, though.  Through August, I was still showing up at the place where Mimosa and the others from the July 17 party went dancing.  She told me that she had a friend, Acrux, who “I would probably really like.”  I wasn’t sure if she was trying to set us up, or just saying that we’d get along; remember the whole thing about me being oblivious.  I met Acrux in person in September, and at first I thought she seemed kind of full of herself.  But that group of people kept inviting me to their parties, knowing that Acrux and I would always be the oldest and most sober people there, and therefore want to hang out together.  In December, Acrux and I spent five hours in the back room just talking, and I started to think maybe my first impression of her was wrong.

The years 2010 and 2011 were a bit of an anomaly in my life, in that there were a lot of women interested in me.  In February of 2011, I was kind of seeing someone who was unconnected to the rest of this story.  We’ll call her Aurora.  I wasn’t too sure how I felt about Aurora.  Twice within the same week, I had Facebook chats with two women who both pretty obviously implied that they were interested in me.  The first, Diphda, was someone I had been on one date with in 2008, which she initiated, but that led to some weird tension for a while.  The other was Acrux.  I didn’t want to do anything while I was still seeing Aurora, but shortly after things formally ended with her, about a month later, I made a date with Acrux.  We were officially a couple about another month after that, and by then, my opinion on wishing I could change history had shifted completely.  I no longer wished that I had never met Mimosa, because if that were the case, I never would have met Acrux either.

Acrux moved away a few months later, in August, and we didn’t work as a long distance couple.  More specifically, being apart from each other brought to the surface a number of issues that I had successfully ignored through the first few months of our relationship.  We broke up on New Year’s Eve.  (I referenced this in #9, under “Faithfully.”  I didn’t create this blog to bash my exes, so I won’t tell any more of that story.)  So my opinion on the changing history subject changed again.  I’m back to wishing that I had never been to that party on July 17, but not so much because I wouldn’t have gone through all that heartache.  It’s more complicated.  Were I to have the opportunity to change history, I would rather delete the Mimosa-Acrux chain of events this from my timeline because of what might have happened during that period had I not dated Acrux.

As I said before, Diphda, another woman unrelated to the story, mentioned once that she wondered what we would be like as a couple.  At the time, both of us were kind of seeing people that we weren’t sure if we had feelings for.  I chose to pursue things with Acrux instead, and by the time Acrux and I broke up, Diphda had met the guy that she’s still with now.  In hindsight, I feel like I chose poorly.

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After Acrux moved away, I had been talking with a female friend on Facebook, Markab.  She and I talked a lot for about a month, and once she even drove all the way out to my neighborhood to get Starbucks with me (that’d be about a 40 minute drive).  I couldn’t tell if she was trying to send the message that I should break up with Acrux and get together with her–I’m oblivious, remember–but I do remember that she seemed very interested in talking to me back then, and after Acrux and I broke up, she said she was glad because Acrux wasn’t good for me.  It’s a moot point now, though, because Markab is engaged.  Would I have had a chance to date either of these women had I not met Acrux?  At this point, I can only wonder.

Of course, this is all moot, because I can’t go back and change history now, and I don’t know if I’ll ever be in similar enough circumstances to learn anything specific from this.  There is no point in dwelling on what might have been.  The reason I chose to pursue a relationship with Acrux instead of with Diphda after ending things with Aurora was because I had been interested in doing just that since the party three months before, when we had spent five hours talking.  Even though Diphda had mentioned the possibility of us being good for each other, she had also made things a little weird in 2008 when we first met, and the last I had talked with her, she was of uncertain status with someone else.   And the reason I didn’t try to make anything happen with Markab was because I was still with Acrux when that happened, and I believe very strongly in clearly ending one relationship or dating-like experience before starting down the road to another.  (This seems to be yet another difference between me and many in the younger generation, sadly.)  Maybe I didn’t choose poorly after all.  Maybe it’s just life, mixed in with circumstances and bad timing.  It’s interesting to think about how things could have turned out differently, but there’s no point in wasting a lot of energy on it because there’s nothing I can do about it.  Going through heartache like this is a natural part of life.  I’ve learned from these experiences, and that’s what’s really important here.

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