February. Just after a rough, lonely Valentine’s Day. I answered an ad on Craigslist personals and this guy—an adorable, funny, and very animated sculptor—had lots of potential. From my growing confidence came the decision to put everything on the table right up front. My flexible views of monogamy, my taste for physical intensity—all of it. Like putting up a big sign that read, You must be this tall to ride.
He responded enthusiastically. After a couple dates, confessional emails and breathless text messages, came The Sex Date. Oh, the anticipation was delicious. I was ON. Set an incredible scene and had a lot of fun. The sex? Well, I thought we were off to a good start.
The next day, signs of trouble. I couldn’t get a read on it, but I knew something was up. We parted with the promise of seeing each other soon. In the week that followed, the pace, tone and intensity of communication dropped off precipitously. The following date was pleasant but went nowhere. The night of our next date…7:00. No call. 7:30. Still nothing. I decide that my cut-off is 8:30. I’ve been here before. It’s like a hundred paper cuts. 8:45, I left a message. 9:00, the phone rings.
“Yeah, I don’t think this is going to work out. I’m not ready to be in a relationship right now.”
“Thanks for understanding.”
It’s what I do.
This time, at least, I didn’t waste time wondering what the hell I did wrong. I was grateful for the piece that I got and didn’t complain because what was the point? It was short and intense and beautiful. And I knew that it was just one step towards something better. I sensed it coming.
Still. It stung.
In the midst of all this came a very handsome reminder of how much my life has changed in the past three years.
Set The Controls For The Heart of 2007.
He’s hot. Incredibly hot. And nerdy. I’m sitting across from him at a networking event for Web designers. I don’t recall getting much networking done because, well, I AM SITTING ACROSS FROM AN INCREDIBLY HOT NERD. And there’s beer.
I’m married. He’s attached. We keep in touch, become friends. One day, a year later, I stumble across a very, very juicy piece of information about him and that opens the door to a completely unexpected bond. Over the next two years, he becomes a lifeline in the slow-motion wreck that my marriage was becoming, as well as the subject of some extremely intense fantasies and dreams. It was a crush. And not the sweet kind.
He becomes The Catalyst—the person, the thing, the unbelievable circumstance—that sets off a series of decisions that lead me to where and who I am in the present.
Because I resolved then—consciously or unconsciously, I couldn’t tell you now—to become someone worthy of his attention. And that Someone had been laying dormant within me for a long time. Whether or not that got me anywhere with him didn’t matter. It was the spot on the horizon that kept me moving forward, forward, forward.
And Now Here We Are, Back In The Winter of 2010. At A Bar In A Ski Lodge, Of All Places.
I didn’t give myself the time to think myself out of it. I took his face in my hands and kissed him. I couldn’t have done that before. To be so bold? To expose myself that way? No. Not possible.
In that moment, I was thousand days away from the woman who sat across from him at the networking event.
I thanked him. Told him, not everything, but enough.
He knew all along, of course.
At Last, We Arrive At The Present.
I answer another ad on Craigslist. This time, in the “Casual Encounters” section. I KNOW. It’s that dark alley you’re not supposed to go down. But I’m horny and feeling confident. By now I know the drill. I know I can take care of myself.
Another sexy, dirty nerd. Right away, the situation explodes with intensity and promise. Once again, I put everything on the table and it is welcomed with a brand of enthusiasm I haven’t encountered before.
The sex? Amazing. Everything I’ve wanted. His sense of adventure and intensity matches mine. Explicit text messages. Steamy IM sessions. Naughty photos on demand. An evolving wishlist of sex acts and scenarios. I’m in a near-constant state of arousal. I can’t believe my luck.
And I realize…I have become the woman worthy of The Catalyst’s attention. In fact, I’d say I’ve surpassed that and become more. There’s still that spot on the horizon, the goal I keep working towards. But with all the things I’ve experienced over the past year, I’ve redefined that goal entirely on my own terms. I expect to fuck up. I expect to be surprised.
I expect to never actually get to the end.