#109 Sleepless in Seattle
Where were we? Ah, yes…
Wednesday, May 4th
He was picking me up around 7pm. Instead of waiting inside my Airbnb, I decided to walk around the neighborhood until he arrived. I told him to call me when he was nearby, then meandered down a street I hadn’t yet explored. I was admiring the fancy Capitol Hill homes when I stopped to read a poster on a street pole.
I turned around and there he was, looking just as shocked as I felt. Apparently, he’d arrived early, parked a couple blocks away from my Airbnb, and had been waiting for me to text that I was ready. Somehow, I beat him to the punch and serendipitously stumbled upon his parking spot. We laughed and hugged before getting in his car, stunned and amused by the surreal synchronicity of it all.
Still in shock from our abrupt meet-cute, I felt flustered as we picked up food and drove to Discovery Park. I was overstimulated, both by my new surroundings and the novelty of sharing airspace with him. It wasn’t awkward—we picked up right where we’d left off—just sensory overload.
Inside the park, we sat on a log and looked out at the water, eating and catching up about our respective trips. I could feel his eyes on the side of my face. I was so used to staring at the walls of my apartment while we talked on the phone, that I had to make a concerted effort to return his gaze. Eye contact felt radical.
By the time night fell and we left the park, I had adjusted to being in his presence. Back in his car, we drove to Bhy Kracke Park, where we had a pretty spectacular view of the city. We got out and sat on a low wall. Behind us was a carful of teenage boys doing teenage boy things, so romance didn’t cross my mind. After chatting outside for a bit, we went back to his car so I could drink some water. Meanwhile, another car pulled in two spaces over from us. From my passenger-side window, we spied on this vaping, laptop-using weirdo, imagining that he must be the father of young twins and this midnight escape from the diaper cycle was his only chance to work on his passion project—but I digress. By now, Rotary Boo was leaning all the way over, craning to see the guy beyond my head. And his hand was on my knee. When I turned back toward him, he didn’t move away. Instead, after a moment, he kissed me.
I wasn’t expecting it, but I was also relieved. I literally thought to myself, “Thank god he kissed me so I didn’t have to verbally express my feelings.” Ha! (It also felt a bit odd to be kissing someone new, having grown so accustomed to Goodtime Guy. Not bad, just different.) We stayed there for a while—“parked”—making out in his car above the beautiful vista. It was some real teen movie shit and we acknowledged that, indeed, we felt like teenagers. He drove me home around 1am and we kissed goodnight.
Thursday, May 5th
It didn’t dawn on me until the next day that we’d basically been on a date the whole time. He’d paid for our food, chauffeured me to various scenic lookouts, and put the moves on me in his car. Had we talked about our feelings at all? No, but at least we confirmed that I wasn’t in the friend zone. That was good enough for me!
Friday, May 6th
I was out and about when he texted me around noon:
“Heyyyyy hope you are finding some cool stuff today even tho it’s wet! I’m gonna stop working at 5 wanna come by my place? I can make us some tea and get us Thai food later 🤠”
The sun eventually emerged, so I walked the 45 minutes to his house. I was excited, but still a bit nervous. His place was cute, and the boat phone was even more beautiful in person. He gave me a tiny bobble-head turtle he’d picked up in Mexico and a collage-y card he made me. We chatted on his couch for a couple of hours and then walked to dinner (I paid!). It was raining when we left, so we huddled under my umbrella for the 15-min walk back.
Back on his couch, we started to make out. As things progressed, it felt slightly weird that we still hadn’t addressed the small herd of elephants in the room/my brain (i.e., “Soo… we have feelings for each other, right?” “What does this mean moving forward?” “When do I mention Goodtime Guy?”). But I was enjoying myself, and wasn’t about to interrupt the fun to initiate a serious conversation. BO-RING! We could deal with all that later. Instead, I was focused on getting naked and moving to the bedroom. ;)
Saturday, May 7th
After waking up and doing it again, we ate our leftovers for breakfast. Needless to say, I was flying pretty high. Our connection seemed to be just as easy and fun in person (both clothed and nude) as it had been over the phone. He had a work call later that afternoon, so we went for a walk and found somewhere sunny to sit and talk…
His lease was up at the end of July and he was thinking about not renewing. He loved his Seattle community and underpriced apartment, but was contemplating a more adventurous, nomadic life while he had the chance. Unattached for the first time in a long time, he wanted to explore his various whims and had some cool solo excursions in mind for Fall & Winter. It all sounded very exciting and inspiring—not to mention extremely appropriate for his Saturn Return (occurring in Aquarius and his 7th house of relationships, no less).
At the same time, I was starting to feel overwhelmed and emotional. He was so excited to be in complete control of his life, to not have to consider a partner in any of his decisions. I, on the other hand, had been yearning for the opposite. Ever since moving to NYC almost a decade ago (and consequently being dumped for it), I have governed my life with complete autonomy. It’s both a blessing (I do whatever I want, whenever I want!) and a curse (what the fuck do I want???). Well, the one thing I do want is a partner; someone with whom to co-create a life that’s bigger and better than anything I could possibly imagine on my own. So, in planning to move back to the West Coast but not knowing exactly where, I had sort of been assuming that if things went well on this trip, the decision could be made for me. But it was now clear that that definitely wasn’t happening, and I was once again saddled with the annoying responsibility of figuring out my future on my own. UGH! (However, I was a little relieved to cross Seattle off my list of options—I liked Portland more.)
To be clear, I can’t say that anything Rotary Boo said came as a total shock. Dreaming up out-of-the-box artist lifestyles was one of the first things we bonded over back in January. In fact, when he was initially reading ABCDEFG and messaging me compliment after compliment, he had said:
“I really appreciate your writing tho because being single now I just want to make sure I can focus on what I want/need because that’s never been a thing and it seems like that’s what you do.”
The irony stings.
The other reason I was getting emotional was because I really liked him, and it was apparent that his feelings weren’t nearly as strong. As I attempted to articulate all of this, I, of course, started to cry—less out of sadness and more due to my physical aversion to vulnerable self-expression. I’m soooo resistant to putting myself out there (Scorpio Sun, Venus, and Mercury ftw) that in order for my True Feelings to escape the bodily bunker I’ve trapped them in, I assume they have to melt themselves down into an embarrassing liquid and seep out through any available orifice—usually my eyes, nose, and sweat glands. (Imagine my emotions are like Alex Mack morphing into a silver puddle to slip under doors). When I asked if he had a tissue (he didn’t), he suggested I wipe my nose on the corner of the flannel he was wearing. I hesitated, but he insisted, saying he needed to wash it anyway. Thus, for the duration of this outdoor conversation, he encouraged me to BLOW my nose into the corner of his shirt. It was both very sweet and supremely disgusting.
Overall (and in spite of my facial leakage), it was a productive conversation, albeit a bit convoluted and abstract at times. I told him I liked him a lot. He said he liked me too but [see above]. Then, we started pontificating about relationships in more general terms. We agreed upon the importance of independence in a partnership, and how both people deserve the freedom and support to grow, explore, and change. Obviously, this requires healthy communication. We pondered alternatives to the traditional model of a partnered lifestyle (e.g., sharing a single home/room/bed every night for the duration of a 30-year mortgage) and wondered what it could look like to live more seasonally, in different locales, sometimes together and sometimes independently. (As someone who adores having my own space, I’m intrigued by the idea of being in a committed relationship that isn’t necessarily defined by constant physical proximity. More on this in my next email!) It also helped me verbalize the idea that I want to anchor myself to a person/relationship/connection rather than to a particular city, home, or lifestyle.
We also talked about my next moves, post-NYC. Knowing how much I love the beach and warm weather, he asked why I was even entertaining Portland over my lifelong lust for San Diego. This alone set off my eye sprinklers. Why not go all in on my beach bum dream? San Diego will probably be underwater in a couple of decades anyways, so I might as well live out my surfer girl fantasy while there’s still time!
As we walked back to his house, I told him that our conversation made me feel better about the fact that I’d been casually sleeping with someone else this whole time. He said that made him feel better, too. (So, I secretly celebrated the fact that we were all in favor of me continuing to have guaranteed orgasms with Goodtime Guy. :))
Back at his house, we continued talking, but I felt like I was overstaying my welcome. Our honesty was great, but I was reminded of all the Beginning-Of-The-End conversations I’d had in the past (see: Mr. Pineapple, Neighbor Boy, Diet Coke Dealer, Sauce Man), the ones where I’d been deluded into thinking there was still hope. I felt confused because we were still talking about visiting Whidbey Island while I was there. So I did still have hope—for exactly what, I don’t know. Making myself as compact as possible on the far end of the couch, I felt myself closing off as I entered self-protection mode. I was experiencing a myriad of emotions and it was all very overwhelming. This is probably why I could not stop crying. The waves just kept coming and it was all quite embarrassing. But shoutout to Rotary Boo for not batting an eye at how much of a weepy mess I was. I’ve never had someone be so unphased by so much ugly crying. My feelings and I felt very safe.
He eventually drove me back to my Airbnb around 3pm. We had obviously talked about A LOT of stuff, and I told him I was excited to journal it all out. Parked outside, I apologized for making things weird that day. But he said it hadn’t been weird at all; he was glad we talked and that he’d been able to articulate some of the things he’d been thinking about. He said he would text me in a few hours (after his postponed call with his work friend) to let me know whether we should go to the island the following day (Sunday) or Monday (my last day). We kissed goodbye—which was equal parts surprising, reassuring, and confusing.
When we got back to his place (and I finally got some tissues), I checked my phone and saw a text from Goodtime Guy:
“Wanna go to Mexico? Planning a lil getaway to Sayulita May 29 - June 6”
WTF?! My booty call was inviting me on a TRIP?? This made me even more confused! Later, I was comforted to learn that he’d also invited our mutual friend (but only after inviting me first). I guess I can’t blame him for wanting vacation sex, but I couldn’t go, regardless.
~~END OF INTERMISSION~~
Back in my Airbnb, I sat down for some 4pm Morning Pages. As my thoughts flowed freely, so did the tears. I was overwhelmed by every emotion under the sun. I felt inspired and activated by Rotary Boo’s outlook. I was devastated that our timing was so off. I was steeped in uncertainty, unable to envision what my life might look like in 6 months. And I still couldn’t stop crying! What the fuck was happening to me?? I was genuinely excited for him to lean into the soul searching that a Saturn Return demands. I wanted him to explore and find his way! But I also hoped that way might eventually lead back to me… But even if it didn’t, I still wanted the best for him. Really! Because I… <gulp> loved him? Fuuuuck. Was that crazy? Or did it just feel crazy to finally be telling myself the truth?
To be clear, I wasn’t dick-matized (the sex was really fun but I hadn’t come). I once told him I loved the way my brain worked after rubbing up against his, and this was still true after our intense afternoon. I just loved being around him, talking with him, everything. But I also wanted him to have all the experiences he was talking about. I wanted him to be free to explore and grow and do whatever he wanted to do with his life. If that’s not love, I don’t know what is.
The flood gates were officially open and there was no going back. I needed him to know exactly how I felt. I didn’t want to make him feel pressured or guilty, but I also couldn’t hold this in any longer—that wouldn’t be fair to me. However he reacted or responded would be on him. It’s not like I was expecting him to feel the same way (I already knew he didn’t) or “choose me” after sowing his wild oats. I couldn’t possibly expect that. But I could still want. I could still hope. I could put myself out there, heart on my sleeve, and actually do something about my feelings. If it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out. I knew I’d be okay—I’ll always be okay. But at least I’d know I tried, that I went after the thing/person I cared about most. I would do the scary thing!—while remaining unattached to any particular outcome. <Insert Exhausted Sigh>
After four pages of manic journaling and a few hours of further emotional processing, I decided I needed to get clarísimo on everything I wanted to say. Considering what a struggle it had been for me to communicate earlier that afternoon, I ended up corralling my thoughts into a short letter that I planned to give him at the end of my trip. With my feelings finally crystallized, I felt calm aka emotionally spent. He texted me before bed to say we should go to the island on Monday (my last full day). Knowing I’d have the next day to myself, I fell asleep.
Sunday - May 8th (my half-birthday btw :))
Upon waking, the journaling and crying continued—LOL. My chest literally hurt. But it didn’t feel like my heart was breaking (been there, felt that). Instead, it felt like it was cracking wide open. I’ve blathered on about being OTL, but this was when I realized that OTL is a two-way street. It isn’t just about being open to love coming in; I had to be equally open to love pouring out of me. Much like the Grinch, it felt like my heart was growing 3 whole sizes to accommodate all these new feelings and pathways—and it was fucking exhausting! #eclipseseason
After calling my mom for Mother’s Day and fiiiiiinally reaching the bottom of my tears tank, I stepped out into the rare Seattle sunshine for a much-needed stoner stroll. With the exception of my sleeping hours, I had basically been crying for 24 hours. My puffy eyes and I were grateful for sunglasses-weather.
I was in a nearby park, sipping coffee and enjoying an emotional support pastry, when I saw that Rotary Boo had texted me:
“Heyyyyy I’ve been doing some work but it’s nagging me that it’s so FUCKIN nice out and my buddy is still silent… I can’t help but think just hit the island today it’s only like an hour drive and suns up till 9 🤔 Are you neck deep in a 6 hour Seattle guided tour?”
I was mildly stoned and moderately puffy. I wasn’t expecting to see him until the next day… but I also didn’t have anything else on my agenda, so we planned to meet in an hour. (I’d like to thank makeup and a frozen spoon for helping me look halfway normal.)
Things felt slightly awkward at first, but maybe that’s because I was still a little high. By the time we reached Whidbey Island, things (including my brain) felt normal again and we proceeded to have a spectacular day. We frolicked on a beach, devoured massive ice cream cones and shared a hot dog, and talked on a cliff at golden hour. He asked me how the previous day’s journaling went. I didn’t mention my emotional breakthrough or the letter I’d written (which I had in my bag), but we talked about our connection as well as our very bad timing. Thankfully, I knew there was no way my body could possibly generate any more tears. I made it clear that I didn’t want to hamper his plans, and he continued to make it clear that he’s not ready for a relationship. (On our drive, he had said he’s not great at maintaining long-distance relationships, platonic or otherwise. While I “believe people when they show/tell you who they are,” I do think our call log would beg to differ. *shrug*) It was quite the mature discussion, if I do say so myself. It actually felt liberating to acknowledge that we had no future to speak of, and I quietly decided to make the most of our time together.
We drove to one final spot, where we hiked up a grassy hill above the water. As the sun set, we laid amongst the wavy, golden grass, beneath a half moon that looked cut out of the slowly-darkening sky. It was indescribably beautiful. We talked, we kissed, we soaked it all up. When two bald eagles soared past, just a few feet in front of us, I knew we were in a goddamn movie. It was a magical, beautiful, fun-filled day that I will cherish for years to come—regardless of whatever happens.
We drove back to Seattle in the dark. On the ferry, I let him read what The Pattern app says about us. When we got back into the city, he asked if I wanted him to drop me off at my Airbnb or keep hanging out at his place. It was 11pm, and I obviously chose his place. We made some tea and eventually went to bed. Third time’s a charm, meaning I came. :)
Monday, May 9th (my last day)
In the morning—after mentally memorializing our final moments in bed together while he slept (Hi, my name is Emily and I’m a CREEPER)—we wrote our morning pages and ate breakfast. We decided to squeeze in one last dinner together, so I took my letter with me when he dropped me off.
Later that evening, we feasted on ramen before going to the pinball/arcade bar he had told me about when we had first started talking. We were having so much fun, but it was soon 11:30pm and my flight was at noon the next day. Arms around each other, we walked back to his house. We talked about what a fun time we’d had together, knowing the end was near. Around midnight, desperate for more time together, I asked if he wanted to hang out with me while I packed. I don’t think either of us wanted to say goodbye just yet, and he said yes (phew!). On our way out, I told him I had written him a little letter, which I left next to the boat phone—#cinematic. When we got in his car, he kissed me and reiterated how fun and easy it had been hanging out all weekend. During the short drive to my Airbnb, we finally talked about how anxious we’d felt leading up to my visit. I had been nervous about our in-person chemistry, comparing our months of phone calls to Love Is Blind.
He chilled on the bed while I flitted around packing. When I was done, we kissed and cuddled and savored our final moments together. We belabored how much fun we’d had while appreciating the unpredictability of this thing we call Life. Fiiiiinally, just before 2am, we knew it was time for him to go. As we reluctantly pulled ourselves apart at the door, we planned to talk on the phone later that week.
Tuesday, May 10th (SEA → JFK)
I felt content and hopeful as I left for the airport. (And no, I didn’t cry!) Even though the future was 100% uncertain (I suppose it always is), I had enjoyed a wonderful few days with Rotary Boo. It confirmed everything I’d felt over the phone, and more. Sure, I wondered if we’d still talk as much moving forward, and I had no idea when (or if?) we’d see each other again, but that didn’t change how I felt about our time together. I had done and said everything I wanted, and I was heading home with zero regrets. If this was all the time we ever got together, so be it. No matter what the future held, these five days had been worth it.
Next time on ABCDEFG:
Stay tuned for a few more updates on Rotary Boo & Goodtime Guy, plus insightful reflections on how I’ve been feeling since I’ve been back.
In the meantime, here’s that love letter I wrote: