TBT: The Original “California Guy”

Warning: This is going to be a long post.  I loved how this story began, but the ending was… well, the end.

March 2014: I’d been seeing someone for a few months that, of course, didn’t live in NYC.  He lived on another continent, but traveled for work 75% of the time and would always stop to see me before heading back home to Austria.  He was a nice guy, looked great on paper, but something was missing.  A spark?  Forget spark.  There was no fire.  Undecided if I should keep it going or call it, I did what anyone else in my position would do: embark on a week-long trip with a very good (male) friend that we shall call “D” for some snowboarding in Jackson, WY.  A little bit more distance from the situation, a change of scenery, would surely help add some clarity.

D and I have been friends for 20+ years and were both dating and in situations we weren’t 100% sure about.  In Wyoming, we would meet up with one of his friends and her friend.  She would go on to become his girlfriend and she’s awesome!  It was the four of us riding together for a few days of the trip, including the day that we hiked up to the top of the Crags.  This is a single-line trail, well over 10000ft, on a warm, sunny day with beautiful views.  D was at the front and I was at the back, and had radios to communicate.  We all stopped, took in the thin air and admired nature after that long hike!  There was a young woman behind me on the trail who was from the area; she advised on what was beyond the ridge – trees, and lots of them!  She took off shortly afterwards.  On the other side of where she was, maybe about 50ft away, was a guy.  I asked if he was from there to see if he could offer a second opinion, but he said he was from California.  “Useless”, I thought.  He asked where I was from, and I said Brooklyn.  We exchanged a bit of small talk, but D radioed and said it was go-time.  I strapped in, said bye to the guy, and peaced out into the trees, making fresh tracks and loving life.  The image in the header of this post is from that day, at the top of the Crags, with a portion of him at the very far left of the photo.

The next afternoon, my friends and I were stopped somewhere mid-mountain when someone rode by me and shouted “What’s up, Brooklyn?!”  My friends turned to ask me who the hell I knew out there.  I said, “I’m with everyone I know!”  Completely confused, I looked back at the guy and after a few moments recognized that shit-eating grin.  As I continued to strap into my board, I gave him a head-nod and said, “What’s up, California boy!” and rode out.  Please keep in mind that we are all wearing goggles, helmets, heavy jackets, etc.  I am not dressed in any sexy or sultry way; quite the opposite actually.  How did he even recognize me?  I asked D that same question at the end of the day when we were at the bar at the base of the mountain.  He’s always said that I’m noticeable and stand out.  I still don’t understand that, but whatever – maybe he’s right.  It was just D and I at the bar discussing this over whiskey and wings when a waitress comes over with two shots on her tray.  She asks, “Are you Brooklyn?”  D starts laughing and I’m once again confused.  “I guess so?” I tell her.  She presents us with the shots.  I’m holding the shot glass and am suddenly paranoid; has he been watching me stuff my face with wings this entire time!?!?  SO EMBARASSING!!  I slowly turn in my stool to scan the room when I see someone clear across the room holding up a beer glass.  I raise my glass and smile, and we all have a drink.

I turned around in my stool and go about regular business when D says, “Now you have to go over there.”  I tell him that I have to do no such thing, and will just send him and his two friends a pitcher of beer.  D tells me to stop being an asshole and just go, but I genuinely didn’t care to.  FIIIIIIINE.  Do I have wing sauce on my face?  Food in my teeth?  Do I look at least remotely presentable?  He signs off and I walk to them, having no idea wtf I’m going to say or do.  At this point, I had no idea what this man looked like since I’d only ever seen him from a distance..  He could’ve been 16, buck-toothed and cross-eyed.  Clearly, I had zero expectations and as far as I was concerned was doing this just to be polite.

When I got to their table, holy fucking shit.  I introduced myself to him and his friends, made small talk, etc.  Of the three guys, I only remembered one name – his which starts with a “C”.  He was incredibly handsome, brown hair, blue eyes, wrinkles like he spends a lot of time in the sun, and that shit-eating grin that I recognized earlier that day.   The guys were all from various parts of California and staying at the mountain (I was staying in town, maybe 7 miles away).  One of his friends said that they’d been planning a weekend trip to NYC that summer.  I of course offered to be  a local source.  After maybe 10 minutes, I saw my other two friends walk into the bar so I said I had to go back.  We exchanged pleasantries but not any contact info, which was totally fine by me, and I went back to my friends.

D had already briefed them on what went down with the shots, and they asked if I got his number.  No, and I didn’t care.  I asked the waitress to send him and his friend (one already left) a pitcher of beer, and we raised a glass from across the room one more time.  There was a point right before my friends and I were leaving that this guy was alone so I told my friends I was gonna go over and say bye.  They said ok, but to hurry because the last shuttle was going to leave in about 20 min.  I walked over, extended my hand, and said how it was super nice to meet him and that he should hit me up if he and his friend come to NYC.  You know those awkward handshakes that last a little too long?  That’s what was happening.  I didn’t know how long we’d been like that, but when I realized it, I yanked my hand back because – hello, you’re seeing someone else who’s crazy about you!!  He asked what I was doing that night; dinner with the gang because the two were leaving in the morning.  Was I riding at Jackson tomorrow?  No, D and I are going to Grand Targhee.  And then he was leaving for home the following day.  It was really time to go, so I said bye and left to meet up with my friends who had already gathered up all my stuff.

I chalked up that meeting to a fun holiday memory, and nothing more.  I was going to go back home in a few days and back to someone who really really liked me.

The day that D and I were leaving, we boarded the shuttle from our hotel.  Since there was a bit of space, we sat on separate benches.  A few moments after I sit down, the guy wearing big old Prada sunglasses who is across the aisle leans over and asks, “You wouldn’t happen to be from Brooklyn, would you?”

OK, at this point, I’m like, WTF.  I look closer, beyond the Prada, and recognize that he was one of the guys from the other day.  Jesus!  He starts laughing and says that C is never going to believe this, and proceeds to take a selfie with me and sends it to him… all while I’m in shock and still trying to process all this.  We chat for the ride, and get to the airport and end up going our separate ways.  Jackson Airport is tiny, so we inevitably see each other again at the gate because umm… we are on the same flight to Salt Lake City.  He tells me that they were truly planning a NYC weekend that summer and could I give him my number.  We board the plane and tell him it was nice to meet him, and see them in NYC.

D is laughing the entire time.

We land in SLC and I get a text from a number I don’t recognize.  It’s C.  So begins the 10-month long transcontinental love affair.

We talk via text everyday and FaceTime 1-2x per week.  He came on strong, full court press, and who was I to resist?  I’d already ended things with the Austrian guy because this… this was too uncanny to ignore.  C and I were never supposed to get together and I’d purposely avoided him.

Within 10 days of him getting my number, he books a flight to NYC for a weekend at the end of March.  I went to SoCal in April (during which time I attended a work event with him).  We met up in Sedona in June.  He came to NYC for his birthday in July.  I went out there in August or September, then again for a couple days before Thanksgiving.

It was so incredibly easy to get caught up in the events, but the logical side of me knew that he was never my boyfriend, and I’m not the girl to pressure a guy into a relationship.  Even though we both said we were not spending time with anyone else, I knew something was off… that this guy was never going to be committed to little old me.  And why should he?  He’s 41, a total stud, and has a hefty income with the toys to prove it.  Besides, that summer he introduced me as his “friend” to one of his friends.  That pretty much sealed the deal for me, whether I liked it or not… and I didn’t.

When I saw him that November, I knew that was going to be the last time.  I’d made a New Year’s resolution that 2014 was going to be “Sucka-Free” and this guy was clearly not worth the time, effort, or funds.  We still spoke via text everyday and FaceTimed a bit less.  For me, it was hard to let go because we were never supposed to meet!  Yet we still did, and for the most part, got along really well.  When January came along, I vowed another Sucka-Free year, and realized that it was time to shit or get off the pot.  That November, he caught a glimpse of reality and what a relationship would be like, and he wanted out.  He said he wasn’t good at relationships, always fails at them, and doesn’t seek them out.  Every now and then, however, he said he meets someone that he wants to try with, goes hard in the beginning, but pulls the plug.  There were several holes in his side of things, but I didn’t bother questioning them.  C even said that he would’ve continued meeting up wherever and doing what we did (going big at dinners and events, lots of sex, etc.) which was clearly NOT OK with me, and borderline insulting.  He wanted all the perks without any commitment.  Nice try.

Even though I knew that everything he was saying was true, and that this was the outcome I was expecting, none of this was easy.  Part of me was so disappointed that this was how our unlikely story was going to end, but I knew there was not going to be any other way.  I loved the story of how we met, and so did he.

Every guy always wants to be friends afterwards.  WHY??  We are not friends.  We were never just friends.  Stop asking!  Okok, I agreed to it then realized this was stupid, and just ghosted myself.  He’d text me every now and then.  At first I would respond with very short texts, five words or less.  Eventually I just started responding with screenshots or images, but never of myself, and not with any words.  The last text I got from him was in March when I was in Japan… and I never responded.  In April, he somehow found me on Instagram!  HOW!??!  He doesn’t have Facebook, and we were never on any social media together.  I didn’t even know who it was at first!  A week after accepting the follower request and noticing that this person had liked my recent photos, I was sitting in my friends’ guest room in San Diego and looked at their profile.  OMFG!  HOW DID HE FIND ME!??!  Aside from the fact that we hadn’t spoken in months, what – the – fuck?!  My name is not in my profile, and you can’t search by email address.  Shit.  After telling my friends, I decided to play along for a while so he could see that I was back in SoCal, even just a few miles from him one day, and that I was doing great – which I was!

Also, after looking at his profile, one of my suspicions was confirmed: yellow fever.  A white dude with nothing but Asian girl friends?  #diversity  #tryitsometime

After about a month, I was officially DONE.  I blocked him and changed my IG handle.  Haven’t heard from him since mid-May.  Doubt I’ll ever hear from him again, and ya know – I’m good with that.

Spending 10 months with him taught me that I deserve more, but more importantly, after a pretty horrific relationship that ended two years before I met C, it taught me that I am capable of getting close to someone again.  Maybe that’s all that he was in my world for.  If so, he served his purpose and I’ve definitely moved on.

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