dating, drama, heartbreak, relationships, Uncategorized

Do I know you at all?

There’s a certain freedom that comes from building a relationship through a screen. There’s a certain lack of accountability that comes from building a relationship through a screen.

I met Frank Churchill on a holiday trip to New York City. He grabbed me as I walked past him with my friend towards the back of a club in Chelsea.

“I just have to say,” he said, eyes serious and piercing, “‘you are the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.’”

I smiled and allowed him to pull me closer. His hand moved seamlessly from my elbow to the small of my back.

“Is that so?” I asked, our faces dangerously close to each other. Strangers shouting out orders to apathetic bartenders bumped into and nudged themselves around us.

“Yes,” he responded. “Let’s go.”

I didn’t have much time to spend with Frank before I left for California. But I felt like I knew the basics of who he was through our conversation held the evening of our meet-cute: pizza, rescue cats, Catholicism, the law. He had piqued my interest during a drought of dating-related interest. Although I am not one to delve into long-distance relations, I had enough to build a base until I could return.

Over the next few months Frank would text me asking me to come to New York to visit him. “I can pay for your flight with miles. You can stay here. We can see Hamilton.” Each conversation followed a similar format and occurred at a twice-monthly frequency. I had to begrudgingly decline each invitation since my private practice was taking off, but I promised that I would visit as soon as possible.

When the PhD program I applied to in NYC-adjacent Boston rejected me mid-February, I delivered him the bad news.

“Are you serious?? I’m sorry.”
“Eh, I guess it wasn’t in the cards for me,” I responded, trying to downplay my disappointment.
“Not going to lie, I was holding out hope that you would move to Boston and we could start dating.”
“Me too,” I ended. Sad-face emoji.

I thought about Frank three days later while pretending to get ready for church, aka taking 20 minutes to apply eyeliner and half-heartedly watching reruns of The Good Wife on my laptop. I had finished feeding my Neko Atsume cats and pulled up Facebook, in a natural progression of procrastination, to reminisce about the missed opportunity of a boy in New York. There, on my newsfeed, were two enlarged images, a picture of Frank and a picture of a dowdy redheaded stranger, connected by the word…


My heart momentarily stopped beating. I muted The Good Wife to restore focus. I scrolled back through my feed to make sure I wasn’t misreading the message.


It had to be some sort of hoax. I had spoken to Frank Thursday night about flying out to see him. Surely someone must have logged on to his page and posted a joke relationship change.

“288 likes. 56 comments.”

I scrolled through the comments section, searching for any suggestion that this wasn’t real.

“Congrats!” “We love you two together!” “It’s about time, man!” followed by reposts of Snapchat pictures of them kissing. A feeling of disgust fell over me. I was going to throw up. I was actually going to throw up. And yet the lump of emotion stuck to the inside of my throat, just making it more difficult to breathe.

I threw my phone across the kitchen table and pressed my palms against my sternum, willing my chest to rise and fall. My breathing resumed, along with my pulse. Now it was racing, agitated, my blood becoming claustrophobic in my veins. I stood up and began pacing.

Who was this guy? What sort of double life did he lead? I heard my father’s voice in my head, “Never trust lawyers.” He had seen too many episodes of The Good Wife to think otherwise. “But he seemed so normal!” I said aloud to my father’s voice in my head. Thick shame covered my body. I was the other woman. I was an idiot for believing this guy that I hardly knew. Was I so desperate for attention that I would allow myself to be used by someone so cliché, someone so stereotypically slimy? Was I so desperate for connection that I allowed myself to be blinded by the promise of a guy with religion, a love for neglected cats, and (supposedly) Hamilton tickets? “He probably didn’t even HAVE Hamilton tickets!” I found myself yelling to my empty house. My cat Sophie looked up from her cat tower, annoyed at my sleep-disturbing volume.

Determined to prove to myself that I wasn’t just another fool, I raced to the table and grabbed my phone. I investigated all of his social media: Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram. Nothing. There was no sign of a girlfriend let alone a fiancée on any of these sites.

I pulled up our texts from Thursday night. There it was, “Not going to lie, I was holding out hope that you would move to Boston and we could start dating.” Was I missing something? Did that not mean what I thought it meant?

I penned a new text, careful to not sound like the level of crazy that I felt emoting from my pores. Even in my reactive state my subconscious cared about how I looked like to this liar. I would later discuss this with my therapist.

“So you’re engaged?” I typed.
After a minute of no response, I grew more courageous.

“Well, you probably shouldn’t have been texting me telling me that you wanted to date me on Thursday if you were planning on getting engaged this weekend.”

I sat back, pleased with my texts, daring him to respond.

Within minutes of my texts Frank had blocked me from his Facebook page, a fact I found out while trying to screenshot his relationship status for my sister. Upon realizing this, part of me was offended. He was taking measures to ensure that I didn’t post anything incriminating on Facebook. “Didn’t he know me well enough to know that I wouldn’t do anything like that?” I asked myself, automatically incredulous. “Well, I guess he didn’t know me at all.”


Snapshots Of A Relationship #4

“I wish you lived closer,” she said softly over the phone. The tiny hairs on his arm stood at attention at the sound of her voice. His pace quickened.

“So do I,” he replied.

They laid in their separate beds an ocean apart. She was in for the evening, outfitted for a long’s night’s sleep. He was postponing his preparation for work, ignoring the alarm’s buzz as it vibrated on his nightstand. He pressed “snooze” and turned his attention back to the phone.

“What would it be like?” she asked playfully.

He closed his eyes and recalled from his mind the image of the relationship he so often ruminated about.

“I’m pretty sure it would be wonderful,” he responded after a moment of indulging in their hypothetical. “I’d have done everything I could to become your boyfriend. I’d wake up next to you on the weekends and we’d stay in bed talking… and maybe fooling around a bit.” He paused, smiling in anticipation of her reaction.

Right on cue, she giggled. “Is that so?” she said.

“Yes,” he continued. “But we could do anything you wanted to, really. I just like the idea of spending time with you.”


Stranger Craig And The Worst Date Ever

It had been the longest of days. I looked like the Walking Dead, the product of a sleepless weekend of trying to explain Hamlet in some original way in 14 single-spaced pages. I hadn’t showered in days. The tangled mess that was my hair had grown from one single French braid into a mop of braided stray pieces, my ‘genius’ plan to conserve time by keeping with the braided theme. I wish I had photo evidence. Needless to say, attending a blind date was the last thing I wanted to do.

A champion of love-related optimism, my roommate Lauren refused to let me phone Stranger Craig to call off the date.

“What if he is your soulmate?!” Lauren protested.
“I’m too tired to be witty, and frankly I wouldn’t want the soulmate who was attracted to this,” I Vanna-White’d my frame.
“I can take care of that.”

And take care of it she did. Lauren transformed into my own Fairy Godmother/Nursing Home aid as she washed my hair for me, picked out a purple and blue outfit (so I could look the part at the Jazz Basketball game), and applied make up to my face. The doorbell rang. I looked at Lauren with pleading eyes, but she opened the door and shoved me out of it.

Stranger Craig was not as creepy as I had imagined him to be. He managed to engage me in small talk as he led me to the backseat of a running Ford Explorer. SC introduced the couple in the front as his newlywed cousins.

“Newlyweds! That’s fun,” I said a little too loudly to cover my intrinsic horror. A blind date is bad enough. But a blind date with another couple you don’t know, who are newlywed affectionate?! “How long have you been married?”
“We got married on Saturday” they said in unison while gazing into each other’s eyes.

It was Tuesday. This was going to be a long night.

My fight or flight response kicked in, and since I had already tucked-and-rolled to get out of a date earlier that year, I decided to gear up for the long battle. Surprisingly I was able to double-dutch two conversations: a getting to know you first date with a stranger line of queries, as well as a wedding recap to include the aforementioned married couple. My date turned out to be a juvenile 27 years-old and found my picture from an advertisement for writing advising sessions around campus. The couple had a bouncy house at their reception. My date enjoyed Japanese anime cartoons. The couple’s married siblings pulled an amusing stunt and covered their car with condoms and lubricant before their getaway, which is why some of the seats were a little slippery. I prayed to Jesus for strength and conversation topics.

About 30 minutes away from the Arena I ran out of words. Part of me was relieved because I was beginning to see how every answer I got was just more information I did not care to ever know. I suggested we play some tunes and SC produced his iPod.

“Wow, you sure like the Jonas Brothers,” I exclaimed as I scrolled past his 7th rendition of “Love Bug.” If there was ever a time for a car accident, it was now.

We completed the JoBro anthology as we approached Energy Solutions Arena… and arrived… and drove straight past it.

“I think you missed the turn,” I stated, certain that I was being abducted.
“Oh we’re going to go eat first,” SC explained, “We have a couple hours before the game.”

I looked at the clock. It was 6 and the game started at 8. I pondered what I did in a past life to deserve this as we parked outside a neighboring Applebees.

We spent the next 2 HOURS in Applebees nursing our 1 appetizer per couple. The conversation somehow made it’s way to sexual intercourse again and my hollow stomach suddenly became satiated.
“Just wait until you guys can have sex,” the couple told us while their hands moved up and down the other’s bodies.
“I’m going to have so much sex when I get married,” SC agreed.
I gave up on trying to hide my disgust.

The game was unremarkable. I played the part of over-enthusiastic basketball fan, which was difficult because the Jazz weren’t giving me much to go on. Silently I promised God that I would destroy all of my Kanye West CD’s if he would only make the KissCam malfunction. I made it through relatively unscathed, aside from minor psychological wounds and the beginnings of an ulcer. All of the nonexistent energy I had mustered up to survive this date dissipated. I was running on 3 hours of sleep for the past 72 hours and my body wasn’t prepared for all of the work it had to perform this evening. As I slid my way into the lubricated backseat my brain decided that it would be best to play dead for the long ride home. Within minutes I had fallen asleep on the shoulder of SC, who insisted on sitting in the middle seat. I was too tired to care what message this might send him. I was done.

I awoke from my nap prematurely. I momentarily forgot where I was, disoriented from the exhaustion. What was unmistakable was the putrid smell enveloping my nostrils. I stifled an urge to gag on the thick, warm air violating my open mouth and trailing down my throat.
“What the Hell?” I thought to myself as I opened my eyes.
It appeared that SC had rearranged my body while I was sleeping. My head, previously on his shoulder, was now located in his lap. And that rank, humid air that had just yanked me from my slumber, was a fart.

“He just farted in my face!” I was aghast. “He LITERALLY farted IN MY FACE”
My immediate reaction to choke SC out was halted as my wise mind remembered that it was 11 PM and I really needed to get back home. I waited for the stench to fade and then I employed all of my acting training to fake a sleepy transition, so my eyes could have a better vantage point. Outside of the window a sign read “Provo 26 miles”
“ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!” I cried inwardly. I thought I had slept longer than that. So choking was not going to be an option.

At this point I know what you’re thinking. A normal person would have called him out immediately after. It was a blind date. I had no obligation to this guy. But for whatever reason (I like to think it was my kindness but it was probably because my marbles were missing) I was fixated on not humiliating SC. I was plotting my next move when IT HAPPENED AGAIN! A sulfur-laced heat rose from his jeans ON TO MY FACE. One fart in the face was not acceptable. This was insanity. Was he not aware that he had placed a girl in his lap? Did he think it was okay to release his stored up date gas because I was asleep? Paying less attention to my performance, I moved over to the window and pretended to fall back asleep. I kept one eye squinted open, counting the road marks every mile of those 26 long miles home.


Lucid Dreaming

I have vivid dreams. I also have a lot of nightmares. So I have vivid nightmares. This is not something I enjoy.

The other morning I awoke from one of these vivid nightmares after what seemed like 30 minutes of trying to escape from this dream. I’m also a lucid dreamer. I have vivid, lucid nightmares.

When I woke up I thought to myself, “Well today’s going to be a wash,” since it usually takes me the entire day to recover from the vivid, lucid nightmares, especially when they are about him.

This particular dream was one of the staples. I’m in Utah on a visit. I run into him and his wife. He later shows up at my aunt’s house where I am staying and we go for a drive. I apologize for the Nth time for breaking up with him that final time and say that I love him. He says that he still feels the same and that he is going to leave his wife and kid if I’ll have him. Up to this point the dream is emotional and dramatic but not traumatic. That comes next.

Once again, as if it’s the few weeks before his wedding and he is calling me asking me to give him a reason to call it off, I am stuck. The same anxiety and panic fill my body. I am once again overwhelmed by immobilizing fear. I don’t trust him. I can’t commit to him. I love him. I wont love anyone else the way I love him. I don’t want him to forget me. I don’t want him to be with someone else. I don’t want to make room for him in my life here. I don’t want him.

He waits for me to make a choice. I tell him that I don’t think I can give him what he wants. I cry as he gets out of the car. I cry as I drive to my aunt’s house. I cry as I wake myself up.

I never use my lucid dreaming ability to fly, like most people would. It seems that each time I dream this dream I use my lucid dreaming ability to make the same painful choice over and over, a punishment for my previous sins. I’m aware enough to know the reality of the suspended dream state. And the reality is that I don’t want to end up with him. The reality is that time and time again he wasn’t enough for me. The reality is that I’m done breaking things for this boy. Which is a good thing, right?

Then why do I feel so shitty?


Snapshots of a Relationship #3

“But you’re the one who let go!” you yelled in confusion and anger. “You broke up with me!”

“I was wrong!” I yelled back matching your vigor and emotion. “I’m sorry but I was wrong. I realize that now and I know it is a little late but I needed you to know. I was wrong.”

You fell silent and looked away from my vulnerable eyes. For the first time in a long time, I had told the truth. It was almost too much for me to bear.

Then looking back up at me, with eyes filled with a mixture of sorrow and seriousness you said,

“Its too late for second chances. The past is the past. What happened between us, whether you meant it or not, happened. There is no going back. I wont let myself go back. I cant pretend like if I did it would be okay. You have to leave. You have to move on. You have to move on from the past whether the future is something you like or not. Cait, we’re done.”

And you walked away from me. Leaving me standing here, feeling this way. Hurt, angry and broken, more so than I have ever been in my life. I didn’t think of a rebuttal or a new scheme to make you change your mind. I couldn’t do much else other than breathe and stay standing.


Tattoos on this town

I remember crying on the phone to my mom after I learned that I had an additional semester to complete, delaying my graduation. She assured me that no one was judging me, assuming the tears were from embarrassment. I kept repeating how exhausted I was, how exhausting it was being in Utah. She didn’t quite understand, and I don’t blame her. She wasn’t there. She couldn’t see the daily torture I experienced living on the graveyard of our relationship.

At the time of our earlier days I went out of my way to establish a sense of us on every street corner within a 100-mile radius, a trick to keep me always in your thoughts. We kissed in every church parking lot. We hiked to every scenic look out. We tainted the mall and the movie theater and the campus and the parks until all the roads in every direction lead back to a moment in time when we existed as one.

The happiest I had ever been in Provo, Utah since that summer of 2007 was December 18th 2011: moving day. Flooded with nothing but relief I packed my VW Bug and made my way westward. The overwhelming memory of us finally became contained in the lens of my rearview mirror as I drove beyond the haunting grasps of our ghosts.

Even now when I travel back to my college town I can feel my heart seize as I cross the Orem/Provo border. The edges of the town have been re-drawn and revamped with CVS and Chick-fil-a, but the feeling has been preserved perfectly. Faintly visible through strokes of new paint hastily applied are the remains of the old, the tattoos we left on this town.

Everywhere, there we are,
It hits me right in my heart.



Sometimes I want to apologize for the way I’ve become. I can see myself, a spirit outside of it’s body, an automated reaction developed from endless moments of behavioral reinforcement. I want to say I’m sorry because I know this isn’t me. And I know it isn’t you.

Here I am screaming at you, telling you it’s over and that I’m exhausted for the Nth time. My voice appears raw and vulnerable although we both know it is so calculated. In reality I’m not as exhausted as I say; I’m not as overflowing with emotions as I display to you now, on the phone, in your car, on the front porch. At most I’m regaining awareness of how clumsily we fit together. My subconscious mind musters up the energy for the scene that you have taught me will be the key to regaining your affection momentarily. We’ll spend the next few hours wrapped into each other in blissful contentment, actually communicating, actually seeing each other, actually being present in the room while the other recants their menial daily routine. Not like they need to. We already know the other’s schedules by this point. We have invested so much time in each other so that when the inevitable fade begins and our toxic combination becomes evident, we know how to respond. Our silent pact. Our unsaid agreement that we are in this, no matter how abrasive and unnatural we become to each other as a result of being with each other.

You ignore me for a few days. My subconscious mind musters up the energy for a scene.