I’ve been waiting nearly six months for this. Not this exactly. But something like it.
Not waiting exactly. I stopped doing that, having expectations, a long time ago. But those close to me assured me I would hear something – some sort of word or gesture or acknowledgment – someday.
Tuesday is someday.
I am leaving dinner with my girlfriends at the Birchwood Kitchen. Lindsey and I are considering going to Martyrs to hear an Afro-Caribbean band. Our friend Toast has put us on the guest list.
I look down at my phone. There’s a Facebook message. It is from Mr. 700 Miles.
My heart stops.
Mr. 700 Miles. The first man who ever walked out of my life without a word. (Strangely, I have had this experience twice now. I’m certain there is some sort of lesson in here I haven’t yet mastered.)
A man I grew up with but didn’t really know. He lives about 700 miles from Chicago – ergo the name.
He was going through a divorce when we reconnected on Facebook. I was on the other side of mine. Our stories were remarkably similar. Very quickly, an intimacy blossomed between us – first in status updates. Then in private messages, telephone calls and Skype dates.
I was smitten. I felt like I’d always known him. And at the same time, like I’d been waiting my whole life to meet him.
And then one day he was gone. No call. No text. No Facebook message.
I reached out to him a single time – about five days after missing our Skype date – and left him a message telling him it was clear he couldn’t “do this.” That I had no desire to convince him otherwise. And that I was sad. Sad we weren’t “doing this.” But more than that, sad he couldn’t tell me.
I reminded him we were friends. That we had always been friends. I told him I wasn’t angry, and implored him to contact me. To tell me what was going on for him.
Two hours later, when I hadn’t heard from him, I knew that I wouldn’t.
And then, Tuesday…”Hey.”
I looked up from my phone, leaned into Lindsey and said, “Let’s go hear music and dance.” My reaction surprised me.
Once upon a time I would have freaked out. I would have burst into tears. Or worse, burst into drama.
Once upon a time I would have dashed home (no mind that I had other plans) and called or messaged him and waited for his reply. Or if I did go out, I would check my phone all night. Or at the very least, I would talk about it, about him, and nothing else – all night.
That’s not what happened.
Instead, I sent a text to a mentor and friend who knows every intimate detail of the story of Mr. 700 Miles. I let her know I had received his message. That I was going to hear music with Lindsey. And planned to do nothing until morning.
And Lindsey and I did talk about it, about him – some. And we talked about other things too.
She marveled at my calm. I felt empowered.
“I’ve been ‘waiting’ six months. He can wait a night. Let him squirm.”
These are not my words. But there they were.
And then we danced. At times, we were the only ones on the floor. I felt confident and sexy. I wondered if the bass player was single. I did not check my phone a single time.
Around 10:30, we left.
When I arrived home, I went to his Facebook page. Some wise, intuitive part of me guided me there. His status read, “I was hacked please don’t open messages.” (No punctuation.)
My heart sank a little. Not because I wanted him “back.” Not because I still wanted to “do this.” Because I thought I might get an answer. A courtesy. Because I thought my friends might be right.
Because I thought he might prove to be closer to the man I thought he was, instead of the frightened boy he turned out to be. Because I missed my friend.
But in that sinking, I recognized a victory. A miracle, really. My response, or lack thereof. And it was all mine, regardless of who reached out to me, Mr. 700 Miles or his Hacker. I acted different. I was different. I didn’t try to be. I just was.
I didn’t just feel empowered, I was empowered. I didn’t just feel confident and sexy, I was confident and sexy.
And I did not check my phone a single time.